MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
Military life can be stressful, not only for active duty service members, but for their families as well. Marine Corps Community Services hosted a hypnotherapy class Sept. 28 aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego to help people find calmness amid their hectic lives.
The two-hour class was free for Department of Defense employees, their family members and guests, and provided tools necessary to live a more enjoyable, stress-free life.
“This class was intended to identify what their stressors are and empower them to make changes with the tools I provided them,” said Linda Stark, certified clinical hypnotherapist.
At the beginning of class, Stark handed out pamphlets that helped participants identify what triggers their stress. As they filled out the pamphlet, many attendees were surprised at how many stress triggers pertained to them.
Christine M. Blake, a Coast Guard spouse, said she came to the class looking for serenity after having a baby recently, her husband’s possible deployment and everyday stressors.
After everyone shared stressors they were looking to overcome, either vocally or by submitting it to Stark on paper, she explained how she’d help them achieve peace.
“This is a very natural state, and I’m going to help you get there,” said Stark, referring to hypnosis.
She explained that hypnosis changes the brain waves, makes the participant feel accomplished and gives them a wonderful sense of well-being.
Stark explained hypnosis works on many people, from those trying to cope with everyday stressors to basketball players hoping to win their next game.
One example she likes to share is based on three basketball teams. Each team was challenged with improving their game. One team increased their practice to two daily sessions, another kept their normal practice routine and the third didn’t practice at all--instead they went under hypnosis imagining practice.
Stark claims out of all of the teams, the hypnotized team improved the most. This shows how hypnosis can work if people allow themselves to focus.
“It gives them a dress rehearsal for what they want to do,” said Stark.
No person can be hypnotized if they don’t want to be, and if someone is hypnotized and doesn’t feel comfortable, they can snap out of it just by opening their eyes, explained Stark.
“I think if they’re open to it, it can be a very useful tool,” said Andrea Callahan, health promotions.
Hypnosis started with everyone looking up at the ceiling and closing their eyes once they felt comfortable.
“Get in touch with your breathing,” said Stark, “See yourself on a path, going further on the path.”
Shortly into the 30-minute session, heads started to bob and muscles in participants’ faces started to relax. Stark talked the class through their stressors by giving them different scenarios. They were to first imagine themselves walking down a path meeting up with friends and family to cheer them on. They then encountered a large mountain they had to climb, but with each step they were to let go of a stressor by taking a rock out of their backpack and tossing it. When they reached the top, they were stress-free and had the love and support of their family and friends giving the participants peace of mind.
Stark counted to five to bring the group back from hypnosis. A few participants said their minds wandered too much during the session. Stark explained their minds would wander less the second time around.
“I felt like I was sleeping for hours, I don’t even know how long it was going on,” said Staff Sgt. John Ciupak, adjutant, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment.
Ciupak came to the class to get information to help him worry about stress less and left feeling very relaxed.
“I recommend this for others, I was kind of surprised. You don’t know if you can be hypnotized but it worked,” said Cuipak. “It was abnormal for me; she put me into a weird state of mind, kind of like I was asleep until she counted to five.”
After opening her eyes Blake also experienced a sense of relaxation she said.
“The class was helpful with giving tools,” said Blake. “Only time will tell if it helped me to change things.”
Participants received a CD with a hypnotherapy session on it and a handout with suggestions on how to help decrease stress, such as setting limits, not doing too much at once and maintaining an active lifestyle.
According to Callahan, the idea for this class came from a tobacco-cessation hypnotherapy class held aboard the depot.
“The other class is how we got the idea for this,” said Callahan. “There were many successful participants from the other class, so we hope this class leaves feeling relaxed and enjoy themselves.”
Stark hopes to continue giving sessions abroad the depot to help give back to the military and their families.
“My goal is to help people become independent,” said Stark. “Hopefully by giving participants ways to deal with stress, they will be.”