Not that the first sessions had me feeling bad. Quite the opposite. I simply felt like today we went a bit deeper into my psyche, which might be a result of me becoming more familiar with Cahal's style and with hypnosis in general.
I like how Cahal blends traditional counseling with hypnotherapy.
First we talked for about fifteen minutes about what's been going on with me during the past week. My focus, of course, was on my Damn Bladder Problem. (Hopefully I'll eliminate the "damn" in my description of it when I feel more comfortable with a new normal, as the saying goes.)
I told her there were two ongoing storylines in the psychological drama within my head. One is a lingering sense of self-criticism and self-blame caused by my feeling that I failed to recognize and deal with early signs/symptoms of the bladder problem.
I realize this sort of judgement isn't productive, but it's been tough for me to stop ruminating about it. Cahal had an interesting observation that rang true to me: when I piece together chains of cause and effect that led to my health problem, I'm not seeing the entire picture.
Meaning, ruminators like me seize on parts of the big picture, yet fail to grasp the entirety of what went on. So when I berate myself for not having gone to a urologist before my bladder decided to go on strike, I'm not realizing that whether or not I did this or that, the outcome might very well have been the same.
That made me feel a bit better, so thanks to Cahal for that.
My second concern was feeling confined, like I'm in a cage -- albeit an expansive one -- since my bladder problem makes it difficult to travel, and my peeing now is on a schedule, rather than being "free form" like it was before.
I told Cahal that my wife, Laurel, has been looking into van conversions that feature a mobile bathroom. While I appreciate Laurel's concern, and recognize that this could make it easier for me to travel, I'm not all that enthused about the idea, since it screams "old man with a bladder problem" to me.
What does excite me is memories of how much I enjoyed my Suzuki Burgman 650 scooter that I rode for three years a while back.
Because I feel caged-in by my health problem, and motorcycle enthusiasts like to call cars "cages," this helps explain why my psyche has been longing for a freer form of transportation, maybe a three-wheeled Can-Am Spyder for increased safety over what a regular motorcycle offers.
So those themes set the stage for the hypnosis session.
After getting me nice and cozy with eyes closed in her zero-gravity chair (poetic license, of course) via progressive relaxation of my head, eyes, arms, legs, and such, we went back in time to my troubled 16-year old self.
This was when I first recalled feeling that all was not well with the world, that it was really shitty, in fact, because my mother's alcoholism was in full bloom, and things got really weird at night when she was drinking heavily. Now, the first few times Cahal had me recollect childhood memories struck me as a bit strange, since I had trouble seeing a connection with my present problems.
But I'm beginning to understand the wisdom of why she does this in her hypnosis sessions. At least, I'm gaining some understanding from my point of view.
Cahal asked me if the painful experiences my 16-year-old self had were caused by me, or by the situation I was in. I had to answer, "the situation," since I couldn't see how I was responsible for my mother's drunken ravings that I couldn't help hearing, even with a pillow over my head, from the bedroom next to hers.
Likewise, my current difficulties aren't really caused by me, even though I'm the one experiencing them. They're caused by my Damn Bladder Problem. At least, most of them. (Naturally I wasn't perfectly happy before my bladder problem; I just had different sorts of difficulties.)
So it was freeing to relive some painful memories and realize more fully than before that I wasn't the cause of them, nor was my mother, really. We were both trapped in a situation not of our own making -- which fits with my long-held conviction that free will is an illusion, albeit an illusion that is very difficult to see through, or give up.
My favorite part the hypnosis session was near the end, when Cahal introduced me to a bag that was purple for some reason (best not to wonder too much about the why's and wherefore's of hypnosis, especially during a session; but I couldn't resist Googling this, and did find a You Tube video about a purple bag hypnosis session that seems similar).
The marvelous thing is that everything went into the bag. I mean, everything.
Cahal likely was reading from a script (I had my eyes closed, so couldn't tell), but this doesn't matter. If it was a reading, it was a highly dramatic reading, beautifully done. What went into my purple bag was every conceivable thought, memory, emotion, experience, desire, fear, pain, worry, joy, experience, imagination, whatever.
The bag must have been infinitely expandable, because by the time Cahal was done, I couldn't envision any part of me, or my life, that wasn't in the bag -- past, present, future, it all was in the purple bag.
Then...the good part.
I was asked to take out of the bag what I really needed, and wanted. Cahal loves the word "useful," so I'm pretty sure she used that term to describe what should come out of the bag. This is the stuff I need to keep. The rest could be discarded. Which we did in a football-like fashion.
The bag was kicked away. Far away. So far away, it went into interstellar space. And beyond. For all I know, the bag has reached the edge of the known universe. Maybe even the edge of the unknown universe.
Now, as with my other descriptions of my hypnosis sessions, I realize that I'm not doing justice to them. And I'm being much more analytical in those descriptions than my state of mind was during the sessions. Like I said, for me hypnosis is an intriguing blend of counseling and... something else that's difficult to describe.
I only speak a few words during our sessions. So the work that's being done, and it might be better to call it play rather than work, is happening mostly on an unconscious or subconscious level. Or rather, on a visualizing/feeling level rather than conceptual/thinking level.
I have a feeling -- that's all it is, a feeling -- that the benefit I'm getting from Cahal's hypnosis sessions isn't something that I'm aware of. Which sounds sort of strange, since usually we know whether we're getting our money's worth from someone. Yes, ordinarily this is true.
But I've read enough neuroscience books to realize that most of what we are isn't known to us.
Our conscious awareness is just the tip of a much vaster unconscious iceberg. A thought comes to mind and we think, "I'm having a thought." Actually, though, the thought came from elsewhere, not from an "I," because there is no one at home inside my head, certainly not me.