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Native American wisdom can help us all to relax

By Joseph Pond

About three dusty miles away from my childhood home in southern Arizona was a Yaqui Native American Reservation that I spent some time at visiting friends.

The Yaquis were made famous by Carlos Castaneda, who wrote about their religious beliefs and the teachings of a mysterious shaman named Don Juan. I didn't have a Don Juan in my life, but one technique that a friend's grandmother taught me has repeatedly proven its value.

It did so again last week, when I ran into an old friend who was panicking over an imminent job interview.

"Joseph, brilliant," she said. "You need to calm me down." I remembered this friend's grandmother. She had been trying to tell us boys to adopt the peaceful spirit of desert animals. As an adult I understand we were probably just being too loud, but the exercise remained fascinating to me.

I told my panicking friend to close her eyes and, while inhaling, to concentrate all her attention on the music that the birds were making. Then, while breathing out, I had her direct the airy and carefree qualities of that birdsong to the exact places in her body where she felt panicked. After about four minutes, she opened her eyes, smiled and said she felt about 75% better. She texted me later to say she had continued this way of breathing all the way up to the start of the interview and it had helped her remarkably.

I used it again when someone came for acupuncture. He had a painful frozen shoulder. For him, I suggested he focus - while inhaling - on the autumn leaves that were blowing around outside our window. While exhaling, I told him to bring that quality of free and easy movement to his shoulder. Whether it was the visualisation or the acupuncture, it worked.

Here's the technique: inhale while focusing on something external to you, and while you exhale, bring those desirable qualities to that place inside where you wish to feel differently. It's simple and effective and I like to think that I've brought a little Yaqui wisdom to Belfast.

  • Joseph Pond is a clinical hypnotherapist, an acupuncturist, and a mindfulness instructor. He is co-founder of Hypnosis Explorers NI and conducts workshops in hypnosis with PowerTrance. Reach him at josephpond@yahoo.com or at https://www.facebook.com/Belfast Hypnosis/ ?ref=hl/?ref=hl

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