On a Venn Diagram of health and wellness offerings, it's hard to say where hypnotherapy would be. Somewhere near the margins, I imagine. Despite the absence of adverse side effects, it's being very cost-effective, or it's broad applicability, the entrenched PR problems of hypnosis usually overshadow other factors. The same feedback loop of messaging continues to cycle making little to no dent in the public perception or understanding. News stories and articles about hypnotherapy sessions usually go something like:
- Would this person make me cluck like a chicken/swing a pendulum?
- They didn't make me cluck like a chicken/stare at a swinging pendulum.
- We talked and they listened intently and asked interesting questions.
- We did some relaxing exercises that felt like guided meditation.
- I left feeling calmer and more peaceful as opposed to more agitated or worked up.
- I still don't get it. Maybe you'd like it?
It's an echo chamber of the same non-starting narrative. There are exceptions, of course, but I never cease to marvel at myself and my colleagues working in this field so deeply trained in listening and language, and so seemingly unable to explain itself.
Living and working in the vibrant and thriving wellness scene (it's a scene) in NYC, I notice often the conflation of luxury products with health and wellness services. Sometimes the marketing is boldly unethical. There are degrees and some are more egregious than others, but it's so pervasive now that containing it feels like a battle that's already been lost. It was due to this that reading my friend, Rachelle Robinett's recent article titled "I Helped Turn Wellness Into a Luxury Good. Now It's Out of Control" was refreshing and cathartic. I'm going to leave a few excerpts below, but please read the whole thing if you've come this far. Her story, in my opinion, is necessary and timely. I admire her courage and honesty in telling it.
"I see how wellness has become another way to display wealth, and commodifying health is more dangerous than fetishizing clothes. I see how it thrives on inventing new ailments, creating social pressure to cure them, and selling snake oil for how to do it. I see how, by embracing the idea that well-being must be bought, we’re becoming more and more distant from ourselves—our bodies, our minds, and our health."
"My new clients regularly confess that they don’t know how to make simple meals for themselves, how to get to bed on time, how to fall asleep without medication, or how to make time to work out. They can buy the potion, but they can’t buy the time to mix it into a smoothie (or a glass of water for that matter). These issues are serious, and correcting them is so much more important and effective than any supplement."
"...from within the industry and with everyone’s wellbeing in mind, these are some of the ways I've learned to find health in more of the right places:
Try food first
As someone who has studied herbal medicine for many years, I firmly believe that food can do more good (or harm) to my body than any potion or pill. I believe that simply eating more vegetables can nix the perceived need for fancy remedies for most people, and produce is a hell of a lot cheaper too. Those “basic” foods you can find at most grocery stores often have fewer ecological and socioeconomic side-effects than so-called superfoods. By basic, I mean things like lettuce, carrots, garlic, and apples. And the more local, the better. As long as I'm mindful of my consumption, I'm on the right track.
Question products (and my motives)
While most of the wellness products on the market today aren’t inherently bad, details—such as quality, ingredients, and intent—really do matter. Before I buy a product, I ask myself: "Is this a shortcut that's going to handicap me in the long run?" "Is the intent to make me dependent on something rather than capable of caring for myself?" I read ingredient labels—not the marketing messages. I do research, check reviews, and get referrals from people I trust. And obviously, I question my sources. Searching terms like “the benefits of” is a sure way to get some confirmation bias. Need proof? Google “the benefits of Twinkies.”
Not everyone needs a healer and a supplement regimen
Perfect-health potions are a perpetual obsession of our species. I resist peer-pressure to have a healer, an astrologer, and a 12-ingredient daily smoothie. Or any unconsidered supplements in my life. (Unless it’s really good-quality probiotics. Just kidding, kind of.) If I'm taking supplements, I reality-check them once in awhile. Am I truly feeling better? Is it really worth the money? Nothing can counteract the effects of a poor diet or imbalanced lifestyle; if that were possible, we’d have a hangover cure by now.
Mind the social media
Today, every person can be a brand, and every brand can seem like a person; social media is full of blurred lines. So it’s on all of us to think about what we post, like, and share. It may be harmless to overshare over-styled smoothie bowls, but it can be harmful when celebrities endorse overpriced and untested products that none of us fully understand. (I recently suggested that a woman stop taking maca—which she'd tried after seeing it in her Instagram feed—in the evenings. Maca is known for increasing energy, and she was suffering from insomnia.)
Vegetables, sleep, exercise
Vegetables, sleep, and exercise remain the unchanging foundations of wellness. I try to avoid today’s conveniences that pardon me from focusing on those basics. If delivery meals means forgetting how to prepare a meal, or breathing apps distance me from my ability to know when I need to stop and breathe, they may not be worth it.
My health is my own
My wellbeing is my responsibility, but it’s also my adventure. It should be a source of happiness, not anxiety. How I feel, what my medical test results show, and the way I'm able to live my life matter far more than being on the latest superfood bandwagon."