All posts by Curtis Ryals

Three Ways to Keep Your resolutions

Three ways to keep your resolutions

With the start of the new year many people make resolutions for themselves, but few people stick to them for the long run.  Whether you have made a resolution or not, you probably have an idea of how you want the year to turn out, or some goals in the back of your mind for ushering in an improvement in your life.  While some people do follow-through to make that a reality, after a few months, the motivation typically fades, the inspiration wanes, and the vision is lost.  There are however ways to help ensure that you can follow-through with your vision for the long haul.  Even if you are not one who typically sets resolutions, this can be useful for any goal or change you wish to make.  Of course, the Madison Hypnosis Center can help you with this as well.

  1.  Setting intentions.  This is the step that most people are familiar with when it comes to resolutions; setting your intentions.  Intentions are what we would like to happen.  They are our planning and imagination and desires mixed together to set a goal.  This is the first step to creating what you want, and they are important, but many people get it wrong.  Often, it is only the end result that makes it into the intention-setting rather than the whole picture.  In this, most intentions amount to not much more than a fantasy. It is like looking at the top of the mountain and expecting to instantly be there, instead of looking at the journey it takes to get there.  Figuring out what you want, what your intentions are, involves not only the ideal outcome, but what steps need to be taken to get you there.  For example, feeling more confident, or restoring your health, are great goals, but the intentions need to include the changes necessary to get there, such as changing your self-dialogue or making different food choices.  Often people know what they want to change, but not in what way.  This is where the Madison Hypnosis Center can offer help in figuring out the path forward. 
  • Attention.  Once your intentions are set, not only for the end goal, but for the path to get there, it is time to work on your attention.  Attention is the key to making any change, and it comes in many forms.  You can pay attention to how your body feels, your emotions, your thoughts, or your actions during the process of accomplishing your goals.  You can notice the patterns that arise and the areas when you have been getting stuck.  When you have that awareness, and when you pay attention to it, you become empowered to make a choice on how to proceed.  For example, if you tend to procrastinate, you can notice what that resistance to being productive feels like in you body.  You can notice the subtle emotions in the background, and the thought patterns that arise when you have a task to complete.  As you begin to notice these things, rather than let them operate on auto-pilot, you get to decide how you react.  Hypnosis can help you explore your capacity for attention to these things.  Taking the time to explore your mind, your consciousness, and experience, gives you the room to begin to create.
  • Action.   Once you have a well-defined vision for what you want and how to get there, and once you’ve become aware of your thoughts and feelings surrounding those goals, you can begin to act in a way consistent with your goals, creating the outcomes that you want.  Every action you take after all, has an impact on the outcomes you want, either working toward that defined end, or away from it.  The awareness you have cultivated with training your attention allows you to make a conscious choice and act according to your will.  But what about those actions we take that we are not really aware of?  You can work to bring attention these actions, but of course this is something that hypnosis can help you with as well.  By helping you to change your own internal dialogue and self-report, you begin to change those automatic patterns in action.  In changing those actions, you may even bring awareness to different patterns, feelings, or habits that you weren’t previously aware of!  It becomes a self-reinforcing cycle.  As you change your actions, you change your awareness, all the while connecting it with your intentions.  Intentions can change as you accomplish our goals and they become more automatic.  That’s when you can start the cycle over from step one, or simply enjoy the change and progress you’ve made!

As usual, you can always schedule an appointment if you want help with your goals or resolutions.  We can either reinforce previous changes you’ve made with follow-up sessions, or we can work on something new.  For the month of February, I’m offering $54 off packages of 3 sessions or more to anybody who mentions this newsletter.  Feel free to spread the word to any friends or family who may be interested. 

News and Upcoming Events:

Curtis Ryals of the Madison Hypnosis Center will be giving ethics training at the International Certifying Board of Clinical Hypnotherapist (ICBCH) Winter conference in February.  The focus of the training will be “Autonomy and Consent in Hypnosis” and will cover a wide range of ethical issues around informed consent in hypnosis. 

Curtis will be giving a similar presentation in August at the largest growing hypnosis conference in the United States, HypnoThoughts Live.  This talk will be focusing on the major ethical issues that impact the hypnosis industry as a whole. 

Workshops: The Madison Hypnosis Center will soon be conducting group workshops for smoking cessation.  These workshops will incorporate brief hypnosis exercises, but will focus more on teaching self-hypnosis skills and self-guided cessation techniques.  Stay tuned for dates and times.

Seven Tools To Alleviate Anxiety

Many of the people we see at the Madison Hypnosis Center suffer from anxiety and are looking for relief.  Below are some ways known to help alleviate anxiety. 

Tai Chi for Anxiety

1. Body mapping– Body mapping is a way of gaining self-awareness and control over your body and mind through focused attention.  It is a way to train your mind to be aware of the mental and physical connections in your body.  There are many ways to accomplish this such as yoga, tai chi, meditation, and kinesthetic exercise.  All of these allow you to gain an awareness over your body and reduce anxiety.  Once you gain the awareness over you body, you are then able to better control how it responds.  You can adjust your breathing or body language to be more calm and confident.  You can relax the tension that often comes with anxiety and change the emotion.  Which brings us to the next tool to combat anxiety:

Breath Work for Anxiety

2. Breath work-  Controlling your breathing can be a great tool to alleviate anxiety.   It is a great way to quickly and easily change your physiology.  By physiology, I mean your blood pressure, heart rate, neural network activation, hormone response and more.  There are many different breathing techniques.  Two techniques that work particularly well are 4-7-8 breathing, and mimicking blowing out a candle with a full breath.

Exercise for Anxiety

3. Exercise- Exercise is a great way to deal with anxiety.  In the context of acute anxiety, a bout of intense exercise can relieve symptoms and change the freeze response to releasing the tension through a mimicked flight response.  Again, the exercise also changes physiology in a way consistent with better emotional regulation.  A regular habit of exercise also improves anxiety for the long term.  Regular exercise relieves stress, allowing you to decompress regularly.  It improves heart rate variability which has been found to be an indicator of stress and anxiety.  And regular exercise changes the shape of function of the brain in ways more consistent with emotional regulation.

Being Present for Anxiety

4. Being presentAttention and awareness are vital tools in the tool kit to combat anxiety.  Anxiety is often a response to expectations of thing yet to come (which are often false or unrealistic expectations).  By refocusing one’s attention on what is happening around them, it reduces the focus on potential future events.  I often have my clients practice brining their attention to the moment of zero.  When you focus on the moment of zero and you bring your train of thoughts to focus on what is immediately in front of you, the anxiety tends to disappear as you realize that you are completely safe, and that you as a person are ok, no matter what else is happening in your life. 

Nature for Anxiety

5. Nature-  Taking a break in nature is a great way to not only alleviate anxiety, but improve overall health as well.  Recent research is showing what nature lovers have known all along; being in nature is good for our minds and our bodies.  Several things happen when you take a break in nature.  You become more focused on the present and the things around you.  You vision changes from tunnel vision to periphery.  The sounds and the colors change from typical environments.  The air changes as well, and you tend to breathe more deeply, usually accompanied by light exercise like walking or hiking.  Being in nature doesn’t have to involve a trip to the mountains or the ocean.  It can be as simple as a back yard or a neighborhood park.  Forest bathing is an old practice that has recently become popular in the United States.  Try stepping away for a few moments of time in nature. 

Reducing screen time for Anxiety

6. Reducing screen time-  Screens are a part of modern life.  Whether it is a computer or a phone, most westerners spend an incredible amount of time looking at a screen.  This impacts attention and tunnel vision as described earlier, but it also creates a dopamine response cycle.  In short, your phone and most aps on them are designed to keep you addicted to them by providing short bursts of reward.  This activates the reward system in the brain which is the same circuitry responsible for anxiety.  Taking a break from screens can break or reduce anxiety and the activation of those parts of the brain responsible for anxiety. 

Hypnosis for Anxiety

7. Hypnosis- Hypnosis is a wonderful tool for anxiety management.  In a way it is an amalgam of many of the methods above, but it also has its own spin.  Hypnosis is a state of focused attention during which you can change your internal dialogue and your internal representation of thoughts and feelings.  With hypnosis you can change how you experience certain stimuli, and you can change your behavior to that stimuli to be in line with your intentions to feel confident and relaxed.  Hypnosis is a way of gaining autonomy over your automatic responses.  The Madison Hypnosis Center invites you to enjoy a free relaxation recording, or schedule an appointment with our professional hypnotists here: Book a Session

What I Learned From a 72 Hour Fast

Fasting has become a popular activity and there are many ways to fast.  Intermittent fasting has become a popular method to improve health and lose weight, but there are other fasting methods as well, such as a water-only fast.  I have fasted many times in the past, but usually only for a 24-36 hour period.  I have always been intrigued by longer fasts, but have not been able to maintain the fast for various reasons.  Recently, I was able to fast for 72 hours with only water and coffee.  This is my experience from fasting and is not intended to be representative of what anybody else may experience.  Also, fasting can be dangerous, so you should consult your physician before attempting to fast.  This blog post is simply my first-hand experience and cannot be taken as medical advice. 

There are many reasons that people fast.  It can be for health, to jump start a diet, to lose weight, for spiritual reasons and for many other reasons.  For me, it was multi-faceted.  I have been wanting to do a longer fast for a while.  I find it to be an excellent exercise in self-control and a great way to change my relationship to food.  While the fast can be uncomfortable at times, it is empowering to know that its actually not that bad. 

I also wanted to fast for health reasons.  There is a lot of recent research coming out about the beneficial health effects of fasting.  One phenomenon is autophagy.  Autophagy is when your body’s metabolic processes being to use your body’s cells for energy.  Research has shown that the body tends to go after damaged or inefficient cells first.  There is also evidence that this autophagy helps maintain a healthy brain.

One particular part about this process that intrigued me was research has shown that your immune system resets after a 72 hour fast.  What this means is that your white blood cell counts (one of your immune cells) reduce in number as the autophagy takes place, and that after you begin feeding again, the stem cells in your body are activated to produce new white blood cells.  Whether or not this has beneficial health effects is still being studied, but research has demonstrated that this can be useful for patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation therapy when done under the supervision of their doctors. 

There is also research that indicated fasting impacts your gut microbiome.  Research on the microbiome is emerging quickly to show that it has a range of effects on the body, mind, and behavior.  The microbiome has been implicated in many physical and mental health diagnoses.  Changing the microbiome in a favorable way then could lead to improved health.  Though more research in this area needs to be done to support these conclusions, I wanted to experiment with myself to see if I noticed a change. 

I began my fast after Father’s day weekend.  I had been eating too much that weekend and when I awoke the next morning, I decided it was a good time to start fasting.  In hindsight, I would have liked to have prepared for the fast better by switching my diet to healthy foods and more fruits and vegetables.   

Upon awaking, I was already 10 hours into the fast.  The first day of the fast was actually very easy.  I chose to skip my typical breakfast, and considering I had eaten a lot the day before, this was not difficult.  I did start the day off with coffee as I usually do.  I was very busy at work, so I didn’t even notice that lunch passed without eating.  I was drinking a lot of water throughout the day.  While I did not track my water consumption, I would estimate I drank about a gallon of water, or more each day.  That evening, I had to prepare dinner for my two young kids.  This was the first challenge for me.  While I did not feel hungry when there was no food around, when I had to have food in front of me, and had to cut it, cook it, and serve it, I noticed that I had a strong desire to eat.  It did not feel like hunger per se, but I felt my compelled to eat and had to resist a strong urge to eat, despite not feeling hungry.  It felt more like a conditioned response to the sight and smells of the food.  I sat at the table while my family ate, and I drank water.  I slept very well that night.

The second day of the fast, I woke up feeling great and refreshed.  I started the day off with my usual coffee and went into my office to work.  Instead of taking my usual lunch break, I decided to attend a yoga class.  From what I have read, it is not recommended to exercise intensively during a long fast, but I was feeling really great and energized and decided to give it a try.  The class went well, and I felt strong and balanced.  After the class however, the fatigue hit me.  I became quite tired and irritable.  I also started to notice quite a bit of hunger, and I wasn’t thinking clearly.  It was particularly difficult to make dinner that night for my kids and had the same sensations as the day before, only stronger.  This time I noticed a bit of hunger going along with it.  I noticed that I was feeling irritable with my kids over little things that don’t usually bother me much.  Later that evening, I took some time to simply rest and relax.  I was having doubts if I would be able to make it a third day, and almost broke the fast that night.  I was considering if I would be able to handle the crabbiness and hunger while functioning as I needed to the next day.  That night, I felt very hot and was sweating throughout the night and had very vivid dreams.  I have no idea if this was related to the fast or not, but it was interesting!

The third day of the fast, I was expecting to wake up hungry, but I wasn’t!  I actually felt pretty good and it renewed my confidence that I would be able to make it a third day.  I had my usual coffee and noticed that the irritability had subsided.  I was feeling pretty good and continued the day drinking only water.  The hunger and the irritability had disappeared, but I noticed I was feeling a bit weak.  Climbing stairs was particularly when I noticed it.  I was able to climb them just fine, but they were tiring, and I had to take it much more slowly than usual.  I was preparing dinner for my kids that evening with no problems and didn’t even want food.

Fresh food from the garden

I broke my fast that evening.  I did this by picking fresh, healthy vegetables from my garden and making a make-shift soup.  One thing I noticed about breaking the fast, is that it seemed like a switch went off in my mind.  When I took my first bite, the hunger returned, and I wanted to keep eating.  I chose a variety of leafy greens (Bak choy, spinach, swiss chard), garlic scapes and garlic, Shiitake mushrooms, radishes, and chili peppers, and boiled them in water and vegetable broth with seasonings and a bit of salt.  It is recommended to break long fasts gently, with light foods that are easy to digest.  I may have overdone it a bit with this concoction as my stomach felt a bit upset after eating.  After finishing my soup, I felt over-full, likely because my stomach had shrunk and was not used to any sort of volume.

Breaking the fast

The next day, with my fast being over, I ate breakfast (more soup with eggs in it) and had my coffee.  I no longer noticed any adverse effects of the fast.  The tiredness and irritability and hunger were all gone.  The only thing I noticed is that I’m a few pounds lighter, less hungry, and more energized.  I feel more empowered to eat on my own terms when I am truly hungry, rather than according to a schedule or temptation.  As I did not take a blood or stool sample before and after, it is impossible to know exactly how my immune system or microbiome were impacted, but I do feel good.  There is a mental clarity and physical relaxation that my body is experiencing.  I am also motivated to continue to put healthy fuel into my body as I took the effort to clean it out.  Long term fasting is likely something that I will experiment with again in the future. 

While fasting is not encouraged as a tool for weight loss, at Madison Hypnosis Center, we customize weight loss sessions to meet your needs and preferences, and can help you get a handle on healthy eating. To schedule an appointment with one of our hypnotists, choose a time that works well for you here:

Summer 2019 Newsletter- Madison Hypnosis Center

Hello Everybody!

I hope you are doing well and enjoying the beautiful change of season.  There are many changes that have developed with the Madison Hypnosis Center in which you may be interested.

© 2018 Ruthie Hauge Photography |

The Madison Hypnosis Center is pleased to announce an addition of a certified hypnotists to the team at the center. Lorilee Hamann, Ph.D. is joining us as a hypnotherapist and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She is a board-certified hypnotherapist through the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH) and has received her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. She has received her nutrition training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and her Certificate from Cornell University’s Plant Based Program. She has completed the UW Health’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and incorporates mindfulness as the foundation of all that she does with clients. Lorilee specializes in plant-based eating for a healthy lifestyle and ideal weight management but offers a full spectrum of hypnosis services and nutritional services.  To schedule an appointment with Lorilee,  see her availability here.

lorilee Hamann photo.jpg

In other news, Curtis Ryals of the Madison Hypnosis Center has recently joined the board of the Madison Area Wellness Collective (MAWC).  MAWC is a non-profit organization with the mission to foster meaningful connections between wellness practitioners and the communities we serve.  There is a Health and Well-Being series offered by members of MAWC at the Mutual Aid Network of Madison’s Mutual Aid Workspace. Each Sunday at 2:00 is a wonderful offering in the “Sunday Skool” series.:

June 16, With Susan Frikken Your Body: Learn It. Move It!. Relieve It! This class will offer BASIC anatomy in every-day language and BASIC (but POWERFUL and EFFECTIVE), INTERACTIVE and EASY tips to help you MOVE (sit, stand, work and play) better. Also, learn easy SELF-PAIN MANAGEMENT.

On June 23rd, the Madison Hypnosis Center will be presenting in the Madison Area Wellness Collective’s, ” Wellbeing Series: Health and Resilience of Body and Mind. Curtis will discuss how the state of hypnosis can be used to promote health and wellbeing in a natural way. “Hypnosis for Wellbeing” will offer the basics of what hypnosis is, how it works, and how it can be used to manage anxiety, change health habits, promote weight loss, and manage pain. Attendees will have the option to participate in a brief guided meditation (hypnosis).

June 30 with Iris Mickey – “Yoga Tools for Stress Management :  Join Certified Yoga Therapist, Iris Mickey, for breathing practices and Yoga Nidra, a guided meditation for deep healing and relaxation.”

The Madison Hypnosis Center started offering training and hypnosis certifications.  There will be an upcoming opportunity to learn how to do hypnosis at the center and obtain a certification through the International Certifying Board of Clinical Hypnotherapists (ICBCH).  Stay tuned for upcoming classes, or let me know if you are interested! 

Curtis has also started offering ethics training to other hypnotists at  Curtis has been selected as a faculty member to present at the international 2019 NGH convention. He will be presenting on Ethical Reasoning for Professionalism in hypnosis:

Have a wonderful weekend, and Happy Father’s Day to all the wonderful father’s out there!

New Madison Hypnosis Team Member

The Madison Hypnosis Center is pleased to announce an addition to the team of certified hypnotists at the center. Lorilee Hamann, Ph. D. is joining us as a hypnotherapist and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She is a board certified hypnotherapist through the National Guild of Hypnotists (NGH) and has received her Ph. D. from the University of Wisconsin at Madison in Curriculum & Instruction. She has received her nutrition training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and her Certificate from Cornell University’s Plant Based Program. She has completed the UW Health’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and incorporates mindfulness as the foundation of all that she does with clients. Lorilee specializes in plant-based eating for a healthy lifestyle and ideal weight management.