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Study shows how imagination can help improve life

By Joseph Pond

Have you been washing the dishes lately? Doing the laundry? Are you exercising enough? Before you answer that last question consider a study from 2007 which overturned everything we know about the relationship between exercise and mindfulness.

Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer noticed that although hotel maids spent all their working day engaged in physical labour, their bodies seemed to reflect a sedentary lifestyle. She interviewed 84 maids and found two-thirds felt they weren't doing enough to keep fit and another third reported they did no exercise at all.

Half of the women received an education. It was explained that cleaning rooms, making beds, scrubbing toilets and other tasks more than satisfied the American Surgeon General's recommendation for daily physical activity. The workers were taught how many calories each task burned up. The other half of the women received no such training.

A month later, Langer noticed extraordinary changes. On average, the better informed maids began to reflect changes in their bodies that one would expect to find among the physically active: they lost weight and improved their blood pressure. Langer, who researches the effects and benefits of mindfulness, could find no evidence that the women had made any other lifestyle or dietary changes. The control group showed no such improvement.

As a hypnotist, I don't really believe in hypnosis as a special state; it's more like a structured daydream. It's another word for imagination and we all imagine certain things about ourselves which then affect our reality. Yet the Hotel Maid study is the first one I know of which demonstrates that becoming mindful of realistic perceptions - in this case, that the things you do matter - has powerful implications for all aspects of our lives.

  • 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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