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Ep.98: Calming Anxiety Through Hypnosis with Stephanie Dalfonzo

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | Sep 12, 2018

In today’s conversation with Stephanie Dalfonzo, we talk about anxiety and hypnotherapy. She had a career as a DJ in the ’80’s and the early 1990’s. She went by the name Stevie Knox on the radio and after her last radio job ended, she suffered with a tremendous amount of anxiety and insomnia. She then started to research holistic approaches to anxiety. Twenty years later after releasing her own anxiety, she became a speaker, author, meditation teacher, and clinical hypnotist. She is going to share with us simple action steps that has helped thousands of people, release their anxiety, stress and fear.

LINKS AND RESOURCES:

5 Easy Ways To Calm Anxiety: Download Here

Get her book, Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Freedom: How to Build Resilience and Overcome Anxiety: Click Here

TRANSCRIPT:


Robyn:                 Hey everyone and Welcome back to VIBE. This marks a big transition for me. I’m recording for the first time in my new home in Park City, Utah. I know I’ve mentioned this once or twice and so that move has taken place. I had a lot of anxiety about it, which is something we’ll talk about in this episode and also I think the next episode. And I’m really delighted that as I’ve sort of crossed a threshold of something I’ve been anxious about the last two years as I planned to move away from where I raised my children, move away from where I went to college and taught at a University and established my career and have lived really my entire adult life.

I’m going to interview Stephanie Dalfonzo today about, about anxiety and about hypnotherapy. She had a career as a DJ in the ’80’s and the early 1990’s. She went by the name Stevie Knox on the radio and after her last radio job ended, she really suffered with a tremendous amount of anxiety and insomnia. Those two things seem to go together often. And she started to research holistic approaches to anxiety, probably similar path to me because I’ve mentioned several times that anxiety has been my lifelong demon and at two different points I actually took SSRI’s for it because it was actually crippling my life.

And so I’m excited to learn from her today. Twenty years later after getting on top of her own anxiety, Stephanie is a speaker. She’s a yoga and meditation teacher. I’ve noticed that these things go together hand in hand. People really seek out meditation and Yoga when they suffer from depression or anxiety. And she’s a clinical hypnotist. She’s also the author of the book: “Goodbye Anxiety, Hello Freedom”. So she is going to share some things with us about simple action steps and how she’s really helped thousands of people, from people in their early teen years, all the way to people in their eighties, to release them from anxiety and stress and fear.

So welcome to the vibe show Stephanie Dalfonzo.

Stephanie:           Thank you Robyn. And I’m really excited that I am your first guest after this recent move. Congratulations, because that was a big move.

Robyn:                 Thank you. Yeah I was realizing that I moved to the Provo/Orem area to go to college at 18 and I moved right after my youngest child turned 18. So there’s a lot of symbolism there and a lot of things to reflect on. And I’ve conquered a lot of battles and fought through a lot of life transitions in the meantime, and this is just the latest one. And it’s a lot easier when you know that this is going to lead to a lot of great things even if there’s some painful parts about the process.

Stephanie:           Right, none of us get through unscathed, do we?

Robyn:                 We don’t. We all get to walk through fire a number of times in our lives and it makes us a lot more interesting to talk to and learn from. So tell us about your background. How’d you get into hypnosis? Tell us a little bit about your battle with anxiety. What did that look like? I think a lot of my podcast listeners are going to relate to that.

Stephanie:           Well, I think so because honestly, Robyn, I didn’t know that I was dealing with anxiety. I was 35 years old in 1995. My last radio job was The Morning Show and my kids were still little and I had incredible insomnia. Like, whoa, this was horrible. And you know, you talked about medication a moment ago, and so I went on medication. And as I’ve now understood this is very common for so many people. It worked for a short time and then it didn’t work anymore and things got even worse, like way out of control. And the doctor was like, well, hello, insomnia, meet anxiety. I had no idea that I had been dealing with anxiety my entire life because it was all I knew. That constant undercurrent in the background, when that’s all you know, you don’t realize that there’s another way.

So you know, after the medication worked and then it stopped working, I went on a mission. I was like, okay, there’s gotta be another answer. And the very first thing I learned was EFT, emotional freedom techniques, tapping. Which is now, you know, considerably much more mainstream than it was. But you know, back in 1995 when Gary Craig was first rolling out this tapping thing that’s like acupuncture without needles and I’m now a quote unquote stay at home mom telling people about, “oh my gosh, let me tell you about this amazing new thing I learned”. People’s eyes would glaze over. Like, oh, okay.

But it helped me to learn how to sleep again. And it helped me to learn how to start calming things for me. Because I think that’s the thing for me that I noticed with the anxiety is, you know, it’s that undercurrent in the background, that constant, you know, “errrrr” and so when you can calm it even if it’s, you know, for a moment here and a moment there, that to me is how and why I titled the book “Goodbye Anxiety” instead of “managing anxiety” or “cope with anxiety”. It’s truly about, oh, okay, not pushing away from it, but oh, this is what I’m feeling, now I can do this and calm it.

Robyn:                 Yeah, it was actually an employee of mine who said, let’s interview a hypnotist and let’s learn a little bit more about what hypnosis can do for people who are struggling. And I used to hypnotize my oldest son’s baseball team when they were in tournaments. I would have them all lie in the grass and it was a very strange request when I told the coach, I said, “let me have a crack at these kids”. I had to kind of calm him down about the fact that we’re not going to do what people think of when they’ve seen a stage hypnotist. So I kind of want to go through the basics here because people think of it as something that’s done for entertainment and it’s a bit of a gimmick. So let’s go to sort of the basic things. What is hypnosis?

Stephanie:           So hypnosis is something that everyone listening to this show has experienced. And a lot of people are going to be like, “What? What do you mean? I’ve never been hypnotized?” And yet it’s simply a focused state of awareness. So, um, my daughter who’s now 29, when she was 16, she was so excited to come home from Driver’s Ed one night and say, “Mom, we were talking about highway hypnosis tonight”. Because just about everybody listening has experienced one of these two things. Either you’re in the car driving somewhere and you get there and you don’t remember the drive. It doesn’t mean that you were unsafe and like, you know, Oh, you weren’t aware of what was going on. It just means that your subconscious mind, which is your powerful part of your mind, was having you drive safely while your conscious mind was off dreaming about the upcoming vacation you have or, you know, chewing over something from the past.

Um, so at that moment in time, your focused state of awareness was not on what you were doing as far as driving, but your subconscious mind had you driving safely. The other experience, if we have people listening who are not drivers, if they live, say in New York City and they take public transit. If you go to the movies and they want you to cry and you find yourself tearing up, or if they want you to jump and you jump out of your seat, for that moment in time, you’ve forgotten that you’re sitting in a movie theater. You’re just so into what’s going on, on screen that you have bypassed what’s called the critical factor. And that’s that conscious awareness of, “Oh, I’m sitting in the movie theater with a bag of popcorn on my lap”.

So those are very common experiences of hypnosis. So it’s a very naturally occurring state. Although, when we use it for stage hypnosis, you know, that’s for fun, and that’s for entertainment. And um, you know, thankfully when hypnosis was getting a bad rap, you know, many, many years ago, thankfully the stage hypnotists are the one who wins, who kept hypnosis still going. But that is quite different from when you use hypnosis in a therapeutic setting to effect change in yourself. Um, you know, one of the biggest misconceptions that people have is, a) “I can’t be hypnotized”. Well just about anybody can be hypnotized if they want to. And like that’s the biggest thing is they have to want to and then b), they have to have enough of an IQ to be able to follow what the hypnotist is asking them to do.

So when you were guiding the boys in the baseball team, you know, one or two of them is probably like “Wuh, Wuh, Wuh” tuning you out. But then the other guys are like, oh, they’re just listening to the sound of your voice and they’re going into that calm place that you’re asking them to go. So just about everybody can be hypnotized when you go to the stage shows and you see somebody who is taking off their shoe and talking into it, like, um, “Get Smart” decades ago in that TV show. Um, it’s because they go there with that anticipation of, you know, this is going to be fun. It’s going to be entertainment. Maybe I’ll do something funny. But in a clinical setting, you know, I’ve never made somebody bark like a dog or cluck like a chicken even when they’ve asked. And I have had people ask me over the years, you know, “Can you make me do that?” And that’s not what it’s about.

Robyn:                 Yeah. And you know, I didn’t hypnotize my son’s baseball team very many times because, you know, I just got this sort of stare like “what do you want to do to our boys”? But I would say “All I’m doing is taking them into a very deep, relaxed state where they are very suggestible. And then I’m going to take them through visualizing and engaging their mind and their muscles in feeling what it feels like to hit a home run, feeling what it feels like to hit a line drive. Because the boys get up to bat and their nerves get the best of them and their anxiety takes over. And that’s when we are more likely to make mistakes and bobble the ball if we’re fielding it or strike out if we’re at the plate”. And so I said, “All I’m doing is giving them a better chance at succeeding”. I will say, like I’d said, I didn’t do it very many times, but every single time that I was involved in hypnotizing the boys, they did win. So they won tournaments being hypnotized.

So tell us a little bit about why that happens and why that can be useful for performance?

Stephanie:           Well, so if you think about just sports performance, think about every Olympic athlete that you’ve ever watched, whether you were blessed to be in person at an Olympics competition or watching it on TV as most of us. You know, I think of Michael Phelps who, you know, good Lord, greatest swimmer ever, right? I forget how many gold medals it was, six or eight, that he got that one year. And if you saw Michael Phelps always before his meets, he would be there with his headphones on and you could see him going into this zone. And it was because he was doing that mental dress rehearsal. And so he didn’t just like close his eyes and think, “Oh okay, I’m standing there on the gold podium and yeah, yeah, I won another gold medal”. He’s going through every stroke, every kick, every turn on the wall, going through as if he’s actually in the pool doing that and it becomes muscle memory.

So many of us, like if we know, oh my gosh, I’ve got a meeting with the boss who called me into the office tomorrow. We are going through every possible scenario, that is the worst case, right? You know, oh my gosh, it’s going to be…dah de dah dah de dah. We’re in major anxiety mode. And a lot of times it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If, however we go to it from a different perspective and we are going through acting as if, feeling as if things are going exactly the way they want to, then we’re prepaving that to have a much greater chance of happening. And I say a much greater chance because we can’t control how the boss is going to react, how the other team is going to be playing, in the case of the kids with the baseball team, all we can control is ourselves. But when we can harness the power of our subconscious mind, we can achieve almost anything, right?

So we know that it helps with performance. It helps with just about anything possible. I remember when I did my hypnosis training many, many years ago, seeing a very old black and white grainy movie that was shot in, I think by the BBC, of a woman experiencing a c-section with hypnosis and no other anesthesia. Like, Whoa, that’s pretty powerful.

Robyn:                 So we can literally conquer pain if we tap the power of this?

Stephanie:           Oh yes. And I’m so, so glad to see finally there is more and more research in a medical situation showing that hypnosis in procedures and surgical procedures is effective. There is a book called: “Prepare for Surgery, Heal Faster” by Peggy and I can’t think of her last name, which has been out probably for at least 10 years. Um, there’s another woman at Harvard in Boston who is really doing a lot with the medical field. So it’s not like it’s brand new, you know, we’re actually going back to things that are natural, you know, just like I know you’re also into essential oils, you know, they’re not brand new either, right?

So it’s coming back to what is natural for ourselves. And you know, our powerful subconscious minds, if we think about our brains in terms of like a picture of an iceberg, right? You see the top of the iceberg, there’s only 10 percent that’s above the water and we can represent that as our conscious mind. And then the biggest part underneath the surface, that 90 percent represents our subconscious mind, which is really where our power is. When we go to sleep at night, our conscious mind shuts off and yet thankfully our subconscious mind keeps going. It has our heart beating, our lungs breathing or digestive system working as. So our subconscious mind is where our real power is. It’s not always, you know, quote unquote easy to access it though.

In the case of, a childhood trauma, I don’t know if you’re aware of the ACEs study, Robyn, where they did this amazing research study, and this is from the nineties, it’s only really coming to light now. Uh, it was Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control, surveyed 17,000 adults and asked them 10 simple questions about childhood adversities that they had experienced. And it totally correlated that the higher number of these adverse childhood experiences that you experienced, the greater chance that you were going to experience obesity, diabetes, depression, addiction, suicide attempts on and on as adults. Like, there was this direct correlation to it.

And I touch on that in my book and three days before my book was published, I was thrilled to see that Oprah was talking about this on 60 minutes. And what’s so exciting for me as a hypnotist about that is, you know, she’s saying, “Okay. The question now is not what’s wrong with you. The question is what happened to you?” So here’s this precursor, you know, the higher you score on this test, greater chances you’re going to have these issues to deal with as an adult. And I was shocked. You know, this is not a test you want to score well on. Unfortunately, I scored pretty high on this one. I was shocked at how high. What’s exciting for me as the hypnotist is that just because you experience things and yes, there’s a much greater chance that you’re going to experience these things in adulthood. You can short circuit that.

So there are childhood cellular memories. And I know you talked with Bradley Nelson about cellular memory with heart transplants. But we have that as, you know, not transplants, but just people as well. We have these cellular memories from childhood and using skillful hypnosis, you can change that cellular memory. And so no matter how much you scored on these ACEs, these adverse childhood experiences, you can short circuit that and not be obese and have diabetes and cancer and addictions as an adult. It’s absolutely incredible to me. It’s like, I was so thrilled that there’s finally this research that backs up what I’ve been saying for so many years.

Robyn:                 Yeah, I think that probably Oprah was talking about it because there’s a very hot book right now that I read recently called: “The Body Keeps the Score” by a medical doctor named Bessel Van der Kolk. And he talks about that very research you’re alluding to about how children who have what clinically is called adverse childhood events are predisposed to all kinds of mental health problems, but also physical health problems. I mean, you touched on diabetes and cancer and so that really points to our need to be aware that 90 percent of the iceberg, the subconscious, there’s stuff going on there that we can’t just sit down in a chair and do talk therapy with someone. And sometimes those adverse childhood events are things that we don’t actually have conscious memory of.

I scored very high on that myself and had a lot of trauma and abuse in my childhood and not like for a few months or from a neighbor, but for 18 years straight. And um, we have to resolve it. And that’s what leads a lot of people like you and me into the helping professions, is a desire to resolve our own issues and become as healthy and whole as we can be. And so part of what I wanted to do with this conversation is just kind of get to the very basic things that people are afraid of when it comes to hypnosis. Maybe explain a little bit about, you’ve mentioned that even the stage hypnotists, even when it’s for entertainment, they ask the person for permission to hypnotize them because they’re going to look like a fool as the hypnotist on stage if the person is resistant to it, someone has to volunteer for it and then actually give permission. Right? But can people get stuck?

Stephanie:           So the stage hypnotist is looking for the most suggestible people in the audience. You know, they’re looking because they don’t want to have somebody like me who would go up there and ruin their show. However, in a one on one situation, you know, it doesn’t matter. I don’t have to see, how suggestible are you? First of all, you have to trust who you’re working with. And one of the things, I kind of get on a soapbox about this, but, um, you know, I was trained 14 years ago and I was so blessed to train with who out of anybody I have trained with since then, is absolutely the most brilliant hypnotists that I’ve ever trained with. And I’ve trained with a lot. Her name is Melissa Tier. She’s based in New York City and she said: “Most hypnotists are using scripts and you are not going to use scripts”.

And like I didn’t understand, you know, you hear that and you think, alright whatever. And now, after all these years, I am so blessed that I had that as my foundation. Because, you know, if I have a script for anxiety, well your experiences that led to your anxiety are completely different than mine. And so if I take that one size fits all approach, um, chances are it’s not going to help you resolve your issue. However, if I trust that you and your subconscious mind, your higher wisdom has all the answers, then we can find out where those answers are and we can heal it and resolve it in a very gentle way. The oldest person that I’ve worked with and I’d love to say so far because who knows, you know, who’s gonna come my way in the future, was 82 years old.

This 82 year old woman, who was like, “I don’t want to live like this anymore”. She had been living with extreme anxiety that had been translated into some real physical challenges and she at 82 was like, “I don’t want to deal with this anymore”. And we found out where it came from and no surprise it was from her childhood from severe trauma that she experienced as a child. And then we healed it in a very gentle way. And then she, you know, I’ve lost track of her now. I don’t know if she’s still with us or not. But she was living life on her terms. She was living a free life. And a script would have never let me help her with that. If I had a script for the quote unquote condition that she was labeled with, which I, you know, I don’t do that, I don’t go with those labels. But if I had a script for that, chances are I would not have been able to help that woman to get free and, you know, bless her heart that had 82, she was willing to say: “That’s it. I’m not living like this anymore”.

So, if somebody is listening to this and thinking, “I’m interested in checking out hypnosis or hypnotherapy”, I would just caution you that you ask somebody for a referral. Find out somebody who has experienced it with someone that they trust. Because again, if somebody comes to me and for some reason they don’t trust me, we’re never going to be able to get where they want to go. Um, but, you know, a) I’m pretty friendly so can get people to trust me. And b) I’ve been doing this long enough now that I have no skin in the game.

Years and years ago when I first started my hypnosis practice, um, our local newspaper had run an article on me and I had got a flurry of activity which was really nice. And I had these two men in their sixties come. They both came the first time in the same week and they came for the same amount of weeks. And they both were like, “Oh, yeah, I want you to hypnotize me”. But the underlying factor was, “I’m not gonna let you hypnotize me, little lady”. And so back then, you know, I was trying six ways from sideways to be able to help them. And now I would just laugh and say, “You know, okay, I’m not the right person for you. Let me give you a referral to somebody else.”

Robyn:                 Interesting. So is that probably the biggest frustration in your work is people who kind of see it as a parlor trick and are kind of wanting to trip you up?

Stephanie:           Years and years and years ago, Yes. Now, not anymore. Because, when I first started, like before I was actually done with my certification, I had already rented an office, I got a brochure. I had a website, which, you know, back then that was still like, whoa, really? You know, I had all of this stuff ready before I even had my certification because I knew on that first day of my hypnosis training I was like, “Oh, I have really stumbled into something so incredibly powerful”. But I would witness these things that were just almost like you would term miraculous, Robyn. It was like amazing to me that I could help somebody. Like, so simply help them make these amazing life changes.

So at the beginning there was a little bit of that imposter syndrome of like, “Am I really doing this”? Now, I’ve been doing it long enough and I’ve witnessed enough miracles that if somebody is um, you know, if they’re skeptical, first of all, if they’re skeptical, I love helping them find the “Wow, this is really powerful.” But if they’re like, “Ooh, I want to try and trip you up”, I’ll give them a referral to somebody else because you know, we’re not meant to work together. And that’s okay.

Robyn:                 So we all think of, well, I can’t speak for the way everyone thinks, but what we hear the most about is probably the use of hypnosis for weight loss and for smoking cessation. So what other kinds of things do you really like working with clients?

Stephanie:           I absolutely love working on the real core. And this is why I went into anxiety, full focus. And why I wrote the book. Because just about everything that somebody would come into my hypnosis practice with, just about everything, had a component to do with anxiety, right? It’s so pervasive. So, you know, if someone comes to me now, I’ll still do some weight issues, but I don’t really do stop smoking anymore. Because, and I’m a former smoker, you know, full disclosure, which is why I was so good at helping people to not just stop smoking but to become nonsmokers for life, because I understood it from the inside. But many times people were calling for hypnosis for smoking and they didn’t really want to stop. Right? They were looking for that magic wand. And when I still had my actual brick and mortar office, I kept a trick wand in my office and I would whip it out and I’d say: “Ta Da!” and then the thing would wilt, right? So I’d go, “Oh, sorry, there is no magic wand”.

So what I absolutely love is when we get to those juicy spots of, and I have a really gentle way of being able to do this, where we can get to those childhood traumas, those childhood experiences and change that cellular memory. And heal it and free you. And those traumas, by the way, Robyn, aren’t always capital t traumas. It sounds like both you and I have experienced capital t traumas in our childhood, but many times those childhood traumas are actually small t traumas.

There was a woman that I will always remember her. She was 62 years old and I would write in my appointment book what someone was coming in for. And she was coming in for help with weight. And I opened the door to my waiting room and she didn’t have any excess weight on her. And I was like, “oh, okay. Maybe I wrote it down wrong” And we started talking and no, she was there for help with weight. And it ended up that it was all tied to when she was five or six years old. Her father had come home with one of those junky jewelry boxes with the plastic jewels on the outside and her mother started screaming and throwing a fit because “how dare you bring her a present and not bring me one”. And we did the healing work around it. She came back the next week and she said, “You know, I don’t know why, but I just don’t feel a need to be perfect perfect anymore”. And I laughed because, I knew, but you know, I didn’t need to point it out to her. What was important was she finally felt that freedom.

Robyn:                 So sometimes hypnosis can help you with not the thing that you came in presenting with, but the thing that underlies it?

Stephanie:           I would venture to say I’ll go out on a limb here, Robyn, most of the time, it’s not what you think it is. You know, people will come through, I have a webpage, it’s called: sheconquersfear.com and it’s this beautiful young girl named Sarah who came to me at 19 with this abject fear of flying. Like, oh, she was not going to go on her family vacation. And, the mother sat there with her, she came in for the girl’s first appointment. And she said, “Oh, we know exactly when it started…” And I smiled and I said, “Maybe, maybe not”. And sure enough, it did not start where the mother thought it did, but we found where the root cause of this was and we were able to heal it.

And if you go to that website, Robyn, you will see this beautiful young woman skydiving out of an airplane. You’ll see another picture of her co-piloting a small airplane. She’s gone on to build a business called “The Five Foot Traveler” and has traveled around the world to all seven continents. So where we think, and again this is where we get tripped up in our conscious mind. Albert Einstein said, “You can’t solve a problem from the same level of consciousness that created it”.

So we create the problems in our conscious mind. And then we think, “Oh, I know where this started”. And it’s almost always not where we think it started, which is why I have spent tens of thousands of dollars working with hypnotists and healers to work on my own stuff. Because I can’t consciously go back and say, “Well, I know it was this that started this”. I’ve had other people guide me to find where those, whether they’re small t or big t traumas, are from my childhood.

Robyn:                 Hmm. I was wondering if there are principles that people can take from learning from you as a hypnotist and in the book and apply some self-hypnosis. Is self-hypnosis and meditation the same thing? Or can we tap our own subconscious without having to go pay a professional at least some of the time?

Stephanie:           Yeah, we can. We certainly can. And self-hypnosis and meditation are very similar, right? They’re very similar. Yet with self-hypnosis, a lot of the time you’re trying to get somewhere, you’re trying to get to an issue to be able to resolve it. And if they’re minor, if they’re not that big deals, yes, certainly we can, we can resolve some stuff on our own. But when we’re talking about, you know, big issues, you really need to have someone else help you with that. Somebody who knows how to guide you through that. So that, you know, if you’re veering off over here, the professional knows how to soften that and bring you back in a safe way.

But by all means, you know, self-hypnosis…again, I was trained in New York City and I don’t live in the city, I live, um, I don’t know, it’s not suburbs, but it’s also not way out in the country, but it’s kind of the country. So I’m very sensitive to noises. So I’m being trained in hypnosis where there’s sirens and traffic and all of these noises and yet we learn how to do self-hypnosis using all of those sounds to help us to go even deeper. So, again, the whole concept of Oh, it has to be quiet and you have to be relaxed. Not really. You can be in a strap hanger on the subway in New York City and do self-hypnosis.

Robyn:                 Hmm. Interesting. So what specifically do you find is useful in your practice of hypnosis with anxiety? Talk a little bit about how you have overcome your own anxiety. Because I haven’t overcome mine, but I’m highly self-aware of it and it isn’t crippling for me and it doesn’t cost me sleep anymore. So, I would really more call it managing it, then completely overcoming. Sounds like your book is very ambitious in saying, say goodbye to it. Do you no longer have anxiety? And just talk a little bit about anxiety and hypnosis.

Stephanie:           Okay. So the reason that I take that bold word and say “Goodbye Anxiety” is because, when we say we’re managing it, or were coping with it, you know, it still has the upper hand. Are there times that I feel anxious? Yes. And yet if we go on a scale of, you know, how are you feeling it now? Zero to 10, zero to 10. If you start catching it, whether it’s with hypnosis or meditation or any of the techniques that I talk about, if you on a regular basis are catching it as it comes up, like so you feel it as like maybe a two or three and oh, I do this and bring it down and bring it down and bring it down. Then it doesn’t become like the Tasmanian devil. My experience of anxiety used to be, zero to 60 in a nanosecond because it would just be off to the races.

And so it’s about building those new neural pathways. The old neural pathways are, this happens and I go into this feeling, this feeling of anxiety, this feeling of panic and you know, it happens again in a nanosecond. So when we start, and I love again, now you know, there’s research to prove it Robyn. That now when we start building up new neural pathways, “so okay, oh, this stimulus happens and I start to respond this way instead”. Then we begin to get the upper hand of it. That no longer is it just, you know, running willy nilly saying, “Okay, I’ve got you”. And that is a chance for us to, in that split second of any action, there’s an action, there’s always a split second and we can go into our old patterns of reacting of however we react with anxiety, um, or we can take that split second and at the beginning it does take conscious awareness and begin to respond in a different way.

So whether that is, dropping yourself, if you have the opportunity, dropping yourself into self-hypnosis and you can do that very quickly, or doing a breath exercise or doing some kind of energy work or one of the, I’ve got 35 different techniques in the book. One of them is taking a tennis ball or a water bottle or something and simply passing it side to side from hand to hand so that you are crossing the midline of the body and balancing both the left side and the right side of the brain. And as you’re doing that, it starts calming everything. It stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system.

So hypnosis, you know, when you think about, okay, a hypnosis session where you’re working with someone, okay, that’s a chunk of time, you can drop into hypnosis in a very short amount of time. And again, if it’s, if you think about, if you’re starting to feel anxiety because you’re going into an interview setting for a job or you’re going in for a situation, a meeting with your boss and you’re not really sure how it’s gonna go, if you take a few moments, and you go drop into self-hypnosis and you see, feel and imagine that you are doing exactly as you want it to be. You’re feeling calm and confident. Your voice is strong. You are feeling, you know, very present and grounded. There is a much greater likelihood that in that meeting, that’s actually how you’re going to be.

Robyn:                 Interesting. So I think of creating new neural pathways, there’s just a lot of talk about that. And you mentioned that you can go to neural training. And I’ve mentioned too on the show that I did Dave Asprey’s 40 years of Zen. And we had electrodes on all four quadrants of the brain and we went through forgiveness exercises and I’ve described what that experience was like. There are people who are doing research on how you can create new neural pathways using psychedelics. Um, you know, mushrooms, the chemical version would probably be LSD. And there’s Ayahuasca. And we haven’t talked about that on this show. You’re saying that hypnosis is a way to create new neural pathways for healing?

Stephanie:           Yeah. Yeah. And it’s simple! I think first of all, you know, I think that must’ve been incredibly amazing to experience that with the electrodes on, and to actually be able to see it. And Dr. Joe Dispenza does that in some of his trainings, as well. To actually be able to see those changes in your brain is astounding. And yet without having to go to a training and really without having to totally understand all of this with the pathways and neural pathways, like if you just start doing something different, if you think about in terms of learning a new exercise, again, going back to the baseball team with your son when he started, he didn’t know what he was going to do with that bat or ball right. But after he did it again and again and again, those neural pathways got built up so that you helped him and the other boys on the team to reconnect to those neural pathways and to strengthen those neural pathways of, yeah, I know what to do, right?

To move the anxiety out of the way and Oh, I can go back to what I need to do. There have been amazing studies where they’ll break people into two different groups and have one group, um, pull on a spring with their index finger. And then, so whatever the time frame was, say it was a week. So after one week, they’re physically pulling on this spring with their finger. And then the other group isn’t actually doing that with their finger. They’re just imagining they’re imagining that they’re pulling on that spring with that same index finger. And almost as many people in that group will have a stronger muscle in that finger as the ones who were actually pulling on the spring.

Robyn:                 Hmm. Fascinating. Yeah. One of the things that was most powerful to me about doing this neural training, which was very expensive and it involved going to Seattle for an entire week, is that I saw on a chart what was happening in my brain when I would go into a period of reflection on someone who had wronged me and went through a process to forgive them and I saw my brain go into an Alpha state and I could see it. They didn’t know what I was doing and there they didn’t know what was going on in my mind. But I came out and they said, “Okay, about five minutes in what were you doing?”

And so what it did is it validated and it quantified and it made me more committed to checking in with myself and becoming more aware about when I’m going into a negative vibration and I’m dwelling on negatives in an unproductive way or replaying on a loop the wrongs against me or things that I have not resolved or resentments against another person. And, I had learned this from Vishen Lakhiani who runs “Mindvalley” after his experience with that 40 years of Zen. And that’s why I went, is that he and JJ Virgin and Joe Polish and the others who went, all of whom are colleagues and friends of mine, that the number one thing in the way of our being able to live in peaceful vibrations is lack of forgiveness. Have you found this in your work?

Stephanie:           Yes. And it’s interesting, with forgiveness. And I would assume that you’ve heard this as well, Robyn, your experience has been, you know, so many of us like, oh, we’re unwilling to forgive them because they did us wrong. The forgiveness is actually to free ourselves, right? Because, I’ve said this for so long, if you’re pointing a finger at someone, you’ve got three pointing back at yourself. And I’m not saying this because I’ve totally got that down because I will full disclosure, you know, I’m not perfect with that by any stretch of the imagination and it’s probably something that I will be working on until I take my last breath. But I’m a work in progress and when I realize that I’m judging someone else or I’m unwilling to forgive someone else, I need to look at what’s going on with me.

And so I always ask permission when I’m working with a client, you know, “is it okay to go here? Are you willing to look at this?” Because if somebody’s not willing to go to that forgiveness place, it doesn’t serve them for me to be like, “okay, now it’s time for us to go do this forgiveness process”, because, you know, they’re not ready for it yet.

Again, one of the things, why I’m so grateful I trained with Melissa was I had already been doing EFT, had already done all these other energy techniques. And I go to train with her and she’s like, “Well, yeah, it’s not just hypnosis. You’ve got to have this whole big tool bag full of techniques because if this isn’t working, you need to be able to gently veer off and go, okay, let’s go into this direction as well without saying to the client, well, this isn’t working, let’s try this instead”. So if someone is unwilling to go look at forgiveness or do a forgiveness practice, then there are other steps that need to lead up to that. But my experience, and again it’s something that I still am struggling with and am working on, my experience of when I have been able to forgive someone else, is so freeing for me.

Robyn:                 So freeing. Let me ask you a question about something that you referred to. I hear this alluded to, but I just wonder, this is so woo woo, that I wonder if it’s been quantified. You were talking about cellular memory. Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

Stephanie:           So what’s really fascinating to me is every seven years, every cell in our physical body has replicated. And I don’t know what the rates are, but like the eyes, I think are two weeks, the liver is whatever. They’re all happening at a different rate and time. But that in a seven year period, every cell in our physical body has been replicated. So when I’m working with, say, a 48 year old woman and we go back to an experience when she was four years old, there is not one cell in her physical body at 48 years old that was in her four year old body. And yet that cellular memory is still there and it’s still triggering in the present time.

So when I’m doing this work and you know, going back to where these cellular memories began, it’s not on a conscious level and it’s really like high level advanced work because it’s me coming in communion with the client’s higher self to go back and find where that is. Like I don’t ever say, “Okay, now let’s go back to when you were four years old and mommy slapped you in the kitchen”. Like, first of all, how would I ever know that? And second of all, that would be from the conscious level if the client had said, oh yeah, I know when I was four, my mom slapped me in the kitchen. Well, that’s the conscious memory when I connect with the client’s higher self and we’re able to go back to these situations.

And we’re not creating amnesia for it. That’s really something to be very clear about. We’re not creating amnesia for the situation. Even if it is a big t, capital t, there can be situations where, um, you know, like a man in his sixties who had developed a fear of driving. And we go back to the cellular memory was he was this young child in the backseat of the car and his father was driving and freaked out and had to pull over to the side of the road and switched places with the mother. And so like, wow, why didn’t that manifest until he was in his sixties? But it didn’t. So when we go back and we find out, well, where’s that cellular memory? We didn’t change it. And like, okay, now you have total amnesia of this. It was, oh, I remember that that happened. But there’s no trigger there. There’s no charge. That’s what’s so exciting to me, Robyn. That’s when it’s like, oh, you’re free of it. Right? Again, it’s not creating amnesia. It’s getting free of the charge of that,

Robyn:                 You know, that is exciting and it has everything to do with why I started this podcast in the first place. Is that the old constructs, you know, you might say that talk therapy, in the helping professions, in the arena of trying to help people resolve trauma and move on from the things that have happened to us in our past and the problems in our relationships, they actually weren’t resolving very well. The psychology and psychiatry professions weren’t doing very well with helping people get emotionally well from sitting and talking through their traumas.

And you hit on something when I asked you about cellular memory, that goes to the fact that there’s a whole body of knowledge that we’re just starting to tap into with our understanding of energies that if a 48 year old woman doesn’t have a single cell in her body that was there when she was four years old, why does she still carry the charge of the trauma that happened to her? That she probably, even if talk therapy worked and it hasn’t been super effective, like I said, how amazing is it that we are now coming up with constructs including hypnosis to resolve issues in someone where we don’t actually have to talk through the situation. Because that woman may not actually have memories of what created the trauma.

You know, I spent a year working with children who were very severely abused and in an institution. And we couldn’t do talk therapy with them. And back then the best tool we had, this was pre emdr. And emdr is very is very much tops energies. The best thing we had was play therapy so that we could hope that children would act out symbolically their trauma so that we could help them with it.

But I love that we have quantified the fact that even though the cells have replaced themselves and there’s nothing in biology, there’s nothing in, you know, actual bits of matter that can explain why we’re still holding onto something from the past. That we can clear ourselves energetically. We can heal with these other modalities. So this has been a super interesting conversation. Stephanie. I would love for you to tell us where people can learn more about you, tell them a little bit more about your book and anything else you want to share.

Stephanie:           Okay, thanks. So you can find the book: “Goodbye, Anxiety. Hello, Freedom” at Amazon. It’s in kindle and paperback. You can get five of those techniques from my book for free. If you go to: 5easywaystocalmanxiety.com. You just put your email in and you’ll get five of the techniques which you can begin using. And most of these techniques, there’s 35 in the book, but most of these techniques are easy enough to teach a six year old. Because simple, I know that this is such a big part of your approach too Robyn, is simple shifts are what create lasting changes. So again, it’s: 5easywaystocalmanxiety.com. And you can find stephaniedalfonzo.com. Find me on Facebook and Instagram and twitter.

And Robyn, can I just say thank you. What a fabulous conversation and I really love and admire what you’re doing with this because you are really bringing healing in all forms to the forefront. And so I just, I thank you for that so very much.

Robyn:                 Oh, it’s my pleasure and thank you for taking time out of your busy day to share with us your wisdom. I can tell that you’re really passionate about what you do. And I know that our readers had expressed interest in hypnosis, so we dug around. We had lots and lots of hypnotists referred to us and my colleague Jessica Drummond referred us to you and I think very highly of her so I’m really grateful that you came on the show with us today. Thank you so very much.

Stephanie:           Thank you so very much. Robyn.

 

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