By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
Eyes are closed.
Her soft German voice guides the imagination.
'You are in a kitchen, your favorite kitchen,' the professional hypnotist said.
Looking around the dining hall at the Howard Johnson Inn in Killeen, every woman's chin rested on her chest with her shoulders slumped.
The 30 women were at the hotel for Thursday night's meeting of the Central Texas area council of the American Business Women's Association (Please, see related story on Page 3B).
But while the voice spoke, the ladies were there to do as the voice commanded. 'You see the familiar sights and smell the familiar scents. Breathe it in. Take it all in. It's warm and inviting.'
After a few minutes passed, the ladies, lost in a relaxed trance, were sighing deeply.
'You see a lemon,' the voice said. 'You pick it up. You feel it. You smell it. You start to cut it. Cut the lemon. Cut the lemon. Now eat.'
Mouths start to salivate. Faces squinch and lips pucker, all at the thought of a lemon's sour taste.
'You are done now,' the voice said. 'It's time to come back now, here to this room. Slowly, one, two, three.'
At that point, everyone's eyes opened. Voices murmured. It was over.
Ann Richardson's demonstration on hypnosis lasted less than 10 minutes.
At her Copperas Cove business called Triapolis, Ms. Richardson offers massage and hypnosis therapies to dozens of people everyday. The ABWA Central Texas area council invited her to discuss her daily practice during its first quarterly meeting.
Before the program started, Shirley Carey of Killeen, a member of the Central Texas ABWA Globe Branch, said Ms. Richardson's knowledge can help others as they try to stay true to their New Year's resolutions.
'Lose weight. Quit smoking,' Ms. Carey said. 'Those are the kinds of things we're all saying this time of year.'
Ms. Richardson helps people accomplish those tasks via stress reduction, body relaxation, positive suggestion and imagery.
Her therapy seeks to improve self-image, improve sleep and aid in pain management. Licensed and certified, she says her treatment can also help people to quit: biting their nails, grinding their teeth and wetting their bed, as well as stop: drinking, using drugs, procrastinating and being jealous.
Ms. Richardson calls her work motivational coaching, a practice that can help people conquer bad habits and cope with chronic ailments. And she often sees results after just one session.
'It's all mind over matter,' she said. 'Just like with the lemon. There was no lemon here, except in your mind's eye. But your mouth salivated.'
Ms. Richardson used that example to describe how the mind controls the body.
'Hypnosis is self-hypnosis,' she said, pinpointing the theme of her discussion. 'I can only guide you.'
Wanting to disassociate any myth clouding the truth of her trade, she said 'the hypnosis you see on TV - people barking like dogs and clucking like chickens - is staged hypnosis. It's not what I do.'
She said her work extends the hypnosis that naturally happens within the mind of a person.
'You're hypnotized a lot,' Ms. Richardson said. 'You just don't know it.'
As examples, she talked about driving a car and watching TV.
'Missing an exit and realizing it 10 miles later. You're hypnotized,' she said. 'Watching TV but not knowing what the show is. You're hypnotized.'
It's self-hypnosis, Ms. Richardson reiterated.
'Your subconscious mind is 100 times more suggestible than your conscious mind,' she said. 'It takes cues from your environment, telling your conscious mind what to do.'
The environment, therefore, determines the adult a child will become, the hypnotist said.
'As children, we are born the way God made us, innocent and pure,' Ms. Richardson said. 'But we grow up, and we're poisoned and programmed by the environment.'
The 'truth' we get from our parents is one example of this phenomenon.
'If all you hear is your mother saying you're lazy and good for nothing, your subconscious mind accepts it as truth,' she said. 'This causes you to grow up doubting yourself, never fully recognizing your potential.'
Hypnosis, she continued, then becomes the tool to teach your subconscious a new truth, a new foundation that will help you to succeed.
The way hypochondria tends to affect more than one person within a single family was another example Ms. Richardson used to describe how the environment poisons the mind.
'The more a mom complains about her health, the sicker she gets,' she said. 'A daughter overhears the non-stop complaining and starts to feel similar pains.'
Hypnosis can stop it.
'Most people only try it as a last option, but it works so much more thoroughly than anything else,' the professional hypnotist said. 'The trick is to get your conscious mind to agree with your subconscious mind. That's all it is.'