Stub out by suggestion

Looking at the 35 people gathered at Vivendi Theatre, it would be hard to pinpoint why we were all there.

To the casual observer it would seem like any other social gathering on the island, a mixture of men and women of all ages and backgrounds.

The difference between this and any other get-together, however, was that we all had one thing in common; we were smokers and we wanted to give up – as painlessly as possible.

The Hypnosis Stop Smoking Seminar with hypnotists Tommy Vee and Derek Marshall was a 90-minute session that promised to change our lives and set us free from our smoking chains.

Tommy Vee, an ex-smoker himself, told us: “Giving up is simple, you just smoke or you don’t smoke, make smoking not an option for you.”

The way we were to do this was by hypnosis.

Vee started to talk about the reasons why and when people smoke and the associations we attach to smoking and how, at a subconscious level, we associate smoking with a pleasurable experience.

He then asked us to shout out reasons for stopping and as they came thick and fast,it was clear smokers, more than anyone, know the negativity of smoking far outweighs the fleeting pleasure of a cigarette.

How hypnosis was going to help was that we were going to use our subconscious minds to see ourselves as non-smokers, who were no longer ruled by this dangerous dirty habit that was stopping us being healthier, happier individuals.

Marshall talked further about the power of thought and what hypnosis is and does.

He spoke about the concept of “we are what we think”, how when we think positively we are more likely to experience positivity.

He explained that hypnosis was a natural state of mind in which you are in a deep state of relaxation, where you are open to the power of suggestion.

The hypnotist’s role is to keep you in that state and give suggestions to the subconscious mind.

Vee explained, “If you resist it doesn’t work. Let us guide you through. Attitude about reaching your goal is very important and expect it to work.”

This was followed by a bit of aversion therapy with horrendous facts about cigarettes and then it was time to start the hypnosis session.

Vee talked us into deep relaxation by breathing deeply, relaxing muscles and imagining a relaxing scene. So far so good.

As Marshall had explained, it was just like relaxing, and I was fully aware of all that was going on around me. In fact, just as I was beginning to think that I was one of these people who can’t be hypnotised, Vee did an experiment.

He told us to pretend our eyelids are getting heavier and heavier, heavy as cement, and that we can’t open them then on the count of three, try to open them.

For a few rather worrying seconds I struggled to open my eyes which felt like they were glued shut before Vee said we could open them.

This was very convincing and also rather scary, but it seemed to me it might be harder to change a habit of many years.

Marshall then took us back into deep relaxation and we were told to focus on the part of us that wanted to be a non-smoker.

Vee advised us to “go home and be a non-smoker tonight – tomorrow reconfirm. Make it not an option.

You are far more important than smoking. It’s the silent enemy. Release the power of choice. Now you don’t have to smoke. They don’t control you. You have the power to stop.”

We were then told to “erase all connections and images of smoking and instead replant an image of a happy, healthy non-smoker and to start thinking like non-smokers”.

At the beginning, we had been told that this session was just the start and we had to commit for 21 days.

To help us, we were given a “freedom kit” containing a CD that we should listen to at night before going to sleep, which would reinforce our commitment and an instruction sheet on what to eat and drink.

That sheet outlined that alkaline foods are good, acidic foods are bad. Coffee and alcohol should be avoided completely for four days, and longer if possible. \

We were told to complex vitamin B and a little baking soda, as it helps reduce acidity, and to drink lots and lots of water to flush the system.

Above all, expect to be successful.

I felt incredibly positive leaving the session, not about giving up smoking but just happy as if any negative thoughts were going to be strangers from now on. Ha!

Outside I talked to some other smokers who were podering whether it would work. And there’s the rub! Smokers are notorious prevaricators.

We want to stop because of the bad things we know smoking is doing to us, but we also want to cling to our treacherous friend. Have I given up?

No. But my excuse is I went to experience the session as a reporter rather than because I had made a commitment.

Speaking to Marshall a week after the session, he told me that they had tremendous feedback from seminar participants. “It’s such a great feeling when I hear from people that tell me they have been a smoker for over 20 years and have now been a non-smoker since the seminar.

“The subconscious mind is a very powerful thing. As my mentor (Las Vegas comedy hypnosis headliner) Marc Savard would say “Your physical change begins from within, so if you change your thoughts you can change your world”.”

He added “I have been overwhelmed with phone calls and emails asking for information on the next stop-smoking seminar.

People are so fascinated by the idea of making this type of change in a 90-minute session.

I will be hosting a variety of seminars in the upcoming months, including weight loss, stress relief, motivation, sales, peak performance, as well as another stop smoking. Dates, times and locations are still to be determined.”

Do I think it can work? Yes, if you go in determined to stop.

I think it does give you what it promises, an image of what you could be without the constant nagging guilt, worry and health problems that go with smoking.

Dates for future seminars can be found at www.caymanislandshypnotist.com.