Chaplain Paul G. Durbin, Ph.D. 

Picture with Joseph Hess at NGH Conference 2003


1 Body, Mind, Spirit:

2. Hopeful Expectations:

3. Presentation To Our Communities:

4. Misconceptions:

During local seminars, national conventions and discussions with clergy, I often hear the questions, "How does a minister integrate hypnosis into his/her ministry and how does a minister introduce hypnosis to his/her congregation and community?" Though I am a hospital Chaplain and not a local church pastor, I have been thinking about how I would handle this situation if I were the pastor of a local church. (though this chapter was originally presented to a group of clergy, its contents can be used by non-clergy as well.)

I am aware that there are more misconceptions about hypnosis in our communities than there is knowledge. I understand that some may consider hypnosis as mind control, hocus pocus, or a tool of the devil. Do these misconceptions prevent us from using hypnosis as a valuable tool of pastoral care or do we educate our people about the useful benefit of hypnosis. My response to my own questions is that we educate our people. We teach them that we may use hypnosis for overcoming unwanted habits such as smoking, nail biting, etc; weight reduction and weight control; improve concentration, memory, and study habits; improve athletic ability; overcoming phobia, fears and blocks to a wholesome life; and pain reduction.

Of course the reduction and elimination of pain should not be done at the expense of proper professional medical care. Self-Hypnosis may be used when the problem calls for an aspirin or other non-prescription medication, but if the problem persists, one should see a doctor, as pain is an indication that something is wrong and one needs to know what is causing the pain. Hypnosis to relieve pain can be used to augment proper medical care.

One means to introduce your congregation to hypnosis is through your sermons. Though I have references to importance of imagery in a number of sermons, two are more to the point. I share portions of these two with you today.

(1) Body, Mind, Spirit:

The first is titled "Body, Mind, Spirit" and the text is Romans 12:1-12 which has the powerful words in the second verse, "But be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

For several years, I have been speaking of what I call "the human trinity". We are all familiar with the Holy Trinity of God, the three in one: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. We humans are also made up of a trinity of our own for we are three in one: Body, Mind and Spirit.

Paul saw this human trinity a long time ago. His understanding of our total being: body, mind, and spirit is demonstrated in the 12th Chapter of the book of Romans. He calls us to total commitment to God which means giving our all: Body, Mind, Spirit. Paul writes, "I urge you, therefore, Bretherm, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." (Roman 12:1) Many Christians may have a problem with the verse for some see the body as wicked. The body in their mind is something to be despised and ashamed of. The incarnation of Christ emphasizes the importance of our body. The spiritual worship of which Paul refers is the offering of one's life and all that one does to God.

Paul says that we can offer our body in worship through a change in mind and spirit. "But be transformed by the renewal of your mind" to accept the idea of body, mind, and spirit in unity as being the total person, one can no longer separate life into the sacred and secular.

God's command to Moses on Mt. Sinai, "Put off your shoes from your feet, for the place on which you stand is holy ground" did not mean that only that particular piece of ground was holy. God was saying that wherever Moses or you or I may be, that is a holy place for us for God is at that place.

I follow the introduction with illustrations of how we can use the mind and spirit to enhance our life through meditation, prayer, and hypnosis. I conclude with: "When one is functioning in all levels: body, mind, spirit, life is more joyful, more productive and more healthy. We should allow positive thoughts of health, love, trust, faith, righteous living, and confidence to be our first thought in the morning and our last thought before going to sleep at night.

D. Henry Knight Miller states "By faithful reiteration, build into your mind those qualities you desire to express in your life; thoughts of love, health, happiness, success and power. These thoughts are the raw material with which mind, the master builder, the God power within, constructs or reconstructs your life. Give the Builder evil material and the house he builds will be on sand. It will fall. Give the Builder good material and house not made with hands will withstand all the storms and ravages of time; firm, strong, and unyielding as the Rock of Gibraltar."

(2) Hopeful Expectation:

 The second sermon is titled "Hopeful Expectation" Romans 15:4-13. Verse 13 reads, "Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." I began by referring to other messages of hope written by St. Paul. By these and other reference to hope, does Paul mean that we should live our lives in a dream world of wishful thinking? "I wish I had this, I wish I had that." Is that what hope is all about? "No!" Hope in biblical language is not wishful thinking, but confident expectation of that which is not, but can be. Paul is calling upon us to live our lives in hopeful expectation.

Hope is the outreach of our inner life for courage, meaning, and wholeness. Hope is the reality which transforms mere existence or even self-destructive tendencies to a life lived by positive affirmation. This positive life affirmation is more than giving lip service to hope but it is a way of live. Sometimes our hoping is for something specific while at other times it is more our openness to life's opportunities. In either case, the person of hope lives in a world of open doors and hopeful expectation for the good in life.

It has been said that there are no hopeless situations: there are only people who have grown hopeless about their situation. In the light of experience it is easy for us to despair when things go bad. There are times when we are tempted into a cynical acceptance of a situation and to say, "What is the use?" These are the times when we are tempted to accept a defeated attitude that neither people, nor the world, nor our situation will ever be better. I believe that if we earnestly seek an open door, we can have hope and find meaning in our life. Someone once wrote, "If God shuts one door, He opens another."

We can use hopeful expectation of our physical, emotional, and spiritual improvement and well-being. We are discovering that many of our body's functions which we felt we had no conscious control over can be significantly influenced by our mental attitude. Through relaxation and visual imagery can learn to control body functions to include the ability to raise or lower temperature and blood pressure, to reduce tension, stress, and pain and to speed up the healing process.

By the use of relaxation, imagery and hopeful expectation, we can have greater affect upon our body and life than we ever thought possible. To follow this procedure you should become as relaxed as possible in either a bed or a chair. When you are comfortable, close your eyes, relax, and let your mind's eyes begin to help you. Imagine the discomfort vanishing, see your illness healed, see your broken bones mended and your wounds healed. As you visualize these things with hopeful expectation, your body begins to respond in a positive helpful way. You are not totally under the control of your distress. Your mind can help you to improve and heal. Visualize or imagine what you want to happen as if it has already happened gives your subconscious mind a model to work toward. It is part of God's healing plan. It will help you experience a better quality of life.

Lew Miller, who was told he would never walk after being wounded in World War II, began to imagine himself, walking, running, driving a car, raising a family, and working. He believed that he would be healed and said, "To believe is to have complete faith in your prayers (thoughts). To believe that you have already received, you need only to visualize yourself as processing it now. Belief in your mental images is the perfect expressions of faith."

This hopeful expectation and visualize imagery enhances a person's own immune system which helps you fight germs and infections, decrease tension and stress and helps one alter the stance of helplessness and hopelessness. These methods along with traditional medical treatment and faith in the God who cares can help in healing. Even with those illnesses and injuries which cannot be helped, hopeful expectation brings about an improved quality of life.

The God of hope will cause our hope to grow. The horizons of our hope will expand as God is allowed to be creatively at work within us. In midst of frustration and conflict there is hope for inner unity and harmony. In the midst of destructive and threatening human relationship, there is the hope for mutually enhancing and fulfilling relationship. In the midst of the pain and wonder of human existence, we live by hope which is based upon faith in God.

Whereas the person of despair lives with a sense of being trapped, the person of hope feels that somehow there is a way out or a way through, and there is the potential for meaning in his or her situation. The person of hope is able to wait, not simply in defeat and resignation, but in anticipation of what is not yet, but can be.

This hopeful expectation can be used not only for health but for every aspect of your life. See what you want to happen in your life not as daydreaming, but as a goal to attain. By doing so, your subconscious has a model to work with. What you think about deeply enough and often enough, you tend to become.

It is extremely important that we allow ourselves to be confronted with the radiant hope of the early church. In the time of the church's beginning, when social, political, and economic condition often seemed intolerable, the people of faith maintained their hope. Radiant with hope, those early Christians talked about hope, sung about hope and lived hope. We can also live in hopeful expectation because of God's love toward us as shown in Jesus Christ. So let us hear St. Paul once more, "Let hope keep you joyful, in trouble stand firm, persist in prayer.

In addition to sermons, you can lead classes for your congregation and community on the positive values of hypnosis to improve life. Jesus said, "I am come that you may have life and have it more abundantly". Hypnosis is one of God's gifts for the more abundant life.

You may want to discuss the use of hypnosis with your church Board of Directors, with women's groups, men's groups, young people's groups and for open classes for any one interested.

(3) Presentation to our Communities:

To spread into the community, let other churches and civic clubs such as Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, etc. know that you are available to speak on the positive uses of hypnosis. You can prepare presentations for time frames of 15 minutes up to an hour and a half.

I share with you a short presentation I use for a civic club meeting. It can be expanded as time allows and can be adopted for a church group presentation. When we hear the words "Hypnosis" we have a mental picture of what hypnosis is. What comes to your mind when you think of hypnosis (give individual an opportunity to answer) By your answers, it appears that your understanding of hypnosis is based upon the performance of a stage hypnotist or a movie you have seen or a novel you have read. These sources can give you a misunderstanding of hypnosis. Clinical hypnosis is quite different from that of the stage hypnotist or the image of hypnosis as presented in movies or novels.

Hypnosis is really a very common experience which each person goes through from one to many times each day. It is like watching television and becoming so interested in the program, that someone can talk to you, but it just does not register. Has that ever happened to you?

Hypnosis is similar to traveling to a place you have been before, but your mind is on something else and without realizing it, you have passed where you wanted to go. Even though you are not paying attention to where you are geographically, you are driving safely. Your subconscious mind is protecting you, because you are keeping a safe distance between your car and the car in front of you and you are subconscious mind were on automatic pilot. (if time permits, I will give a short history of hypnosis: Genesis 2:21-22, sleep temple, Gasner, Mesmer, etc.)

Your subconscious mind will also protect you in hypnosis for it will not allow you to do anything against your personal or moral convictions. If a suggestion is given that is against your personal or moral convictions, you will either not follow the suggestion if it was a minor thing or you would come out of hypnosis if it was a major concern. Hypnosis is not mind control. You are in control. The hypnotist is only a guide. Some people believe that when you are hypnotized that you are unconscious or asleep, but such is not the case. You will hear

everything I say and you will remember much of what I say. Even though I tell each client this, sometimes he/she will say, "I don't think I was hypnotized. I heard every word you said."

(4) Misconceptions:

Some other misconceptions are: (1) A person will not come out of the hypnotic trance. False. There is not a case in recorded history in which a person failed to come out of hypnosis. (2) A post hypnotic suggestion lasts forever. False. A post hypnotic suggestion may not be followed at all or last from a few minutes to life time. (3) Only weak-minded people can be hypnotized. False. The more intelligent and imaginative the person, the easier it is to be hypnotized. (4) Hypnosis is anti-religious. False. Hypnosis is neither anti-religious nor pro-religious. It can be good or bad depending on the hypnotist and the client. (If I am speaking to a church group, I expand on this point). (5) A person has to be in a deep trance for hypnosis to be helpful. False. People can respond favorable to self-improvement suggestion even in the light state. (6) If you get rid of one symptom by hypnosis, another symptom will take its place. False. Symptom replacement rarely ever occurs.

(5) Conscious and Subconscious Mind: How does hypnosis work? Though we have only one mind, our mind is made up of two parts. We have a conscious part which consist of about 10% of our thinking power, and the subconscious part consist of about 905 of our thinking power. Our mind is kind of like an iceberg for only a small portion of the iceberg is above the water (conscious mind) while the great majority of the iceberg is below the surface of the water (subconscious mind).

The conscious mind is a logical, analytical, reasoning, two plus two is four part of mind. The subconscious is not logical. It controls our breathing, pulse rate, blood pressure, heart rate, etc., and it seeks to meet our deepest needs, expectations, and desires and it seeks to continue any habit. The subconscious has two peculiarities which helps us in hypnosis. Whatever the subconscious mind believes is true, it directs your body to act as if is true whether it is or not. The subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between imagination and reality. One day while running, I saw a long crooked object which I perceived to be a snake. My heart beat increased, my breathing changed, and I felt fear. I was ready to run in the other direction when my eyes focused, and I could see it was a stick. So in hypnosis, we use imagery and proper suggestion to help to bring about the wanted changed in a person's life.

Today, I will teach you a self-hypnosis procedure that you can use for improving your life. When practicing self-hypnosis, suggestion should be stated in positive statement instead of negative ones. The subconscious understands positive statement better than negative ones. Repeat the suggestion. The use of visualization and imagination adds to the success of the suggestion by providing the subconscious a model to work with. Do you have any questions?

I usually follow with the hand heavy, hand light suggestion to demonstrate the use of imagination. I then teach a progressive relaxation, self-hypnosis procedure. If time permits, I will do some demonstrations with individual volunteers. Use hypnosis properly and it will lead you to a better eye.



1. Prepare presentations for time periods of 15 minutes to an 1½ hours depending on time frame given.

2. Use lecture, group participation, perhaps a demonstration.

3. Have handouts available such as typed page with information, brochure, advertisements.

4. Use audio/visual aid as available and appropriate.

5. Example of an outline for a Hypnosis presentation. Portions of this outline can be left out and others that you think are important can be added. (Outline for a Stress Management presentation on a separate page).



1. How I became interested in hypnosis

2. When you hear the word "hypnosis" what comes to your mind?

3. History of hypnosis: (Adam’s rib - Genesis 2:21-22, sleep temples, Mesmer, Gasner, Hell, Braid, Esdaile, Erickson, Elman, WWII, AMA.)

4. What is hypnosis: (Normal natural experience. Give some common everyday examples of going into the hypnotic state.)

5. Anyone who can think, reason, communicate can be hypnotized. Only 3 things can prevent a person from being hypnotized. They are unable to think, reason, communicate; fear and resistance.

6. Misconceptions: (Go over some of the misconception about hypnosis.)

Some misconceptions to consider:

(1) A hypnotized is unconscious or asleep. False

(2) A person may not come out of the hypnotic state. False

(3) A hypnotized will obey any suggestion given by the hypnotist. False

(4) There are no dangers attached to hypnosis (Primarily true but some exception: sticking anesthetized hand with a contaminated needle, induction of false memories)

(5) A post hypnotic suggestion last forever. (A suggestion may not be accepted, may last from a short time to forever.)

(6) Only weak-minded people can be hypnotized. False

(7) Hypnosis is anti-religious. False

(8) A person has to be in deep trance for hypnosis to be helpful. False

(9) If you get rid of one symptom by hypnosis another symptom will take its place. False

7. You can use hypnosis to: (Go over some of the uses of hypnosis such as: improve memory, rid self of habits such as smoking and nail biting, weight control, improve self confidence, Improve athletic abilities, relaxation, stress reduction, pain control - with physician’s referral except in an emergency, communication between conscious and subconscious mind, and other improvement needs.

8. How does hypnosis work: (Conscious and subconscious mind)

9. Value of imagery and visualization. (Proverbs 23:7 "As a person thinketh in his/her heart so is he/she." Proverbs 28:8 "Where there is no vision the people perish." South Pacific "You’ve got to have a dream. If you don’t have a dream, how you gonna have a dream come true."

10. Suggestibility exercise such as "taste the lemon, hand heavy-hand light, etc.

11. Individual demonstration if desired and appropriate.

11. Group demonstration such as progressive relaxation exercise.