Sports hypnotist helps jocks find their zone

Seattle Post Intelligencer - 10 February 2009

BELLEVUE -- I am on a bridge over a beautiful creek, about to meet a man who looks just like me. He represents my unconscious mind. I am going to ask him to help me find a job and be healthier and more creative and more in touch with my body.

"I'm glad to hear you saying this," he says to me. "I can give you this."

I am actually sitting in a recliner with my eyes closed, listening to Craig Sigl and soothing music in a darkened room, being hypnotized. I am trying to figure out if I'm on to something or have really hit bottom this time.

Sigl, 45, is a registered hypnotherapist who helps athletes improve by tapping into their unconscious -- or subconscious -- minds.

Bothell High School kicker Nick Kaylor swears by Sigl, saying: "I can't get enough of this stuff. If I had enough money to do it every single day, I'd do it in a heartbeat."

After spending five sessions with Sigl, Kaylor hit a big field goal in a nationally televised game against Skyline and thinks he's become a much better kicker overall.

"I needed an edge to help me focus and battle through pressure situations," said Kaylor, who plans to walk on next year at Washington State.

His confidence has skyrocketed. In a self-induced hypnotic state, he will tell himself: "I am the best field-goal kicker in the league. I always make my kicks."

Rob French, director of golf instruction at Jefferson Park, used to play well in practice rounds and terribly when it counted in tournaments. He was hard on himself and filled with doubt. Sigl helped him to accept a bad shot and focus on the next one.

"Whether I win a golf tournament or not, he really cleared my mind of a lot of stuff," French said.

Through Sigl, Edmonds-Woodway swimmer Ali Abadi has learned to put himself in the zone before every race. He has consequently recorded personal-best times.

"Craig has helped me gain confidence," Abadi wrote in an e-mail. "He helped me to be able to block out the factors that (adversely) affect my races."

The mind fascinates Sigl, who initially worked solely with golfers. He calls himself "the golf anti-practice expert," believing that more progress can be made in the mind than on the range.

If you think it's hocus pocus, ask Tiger Woods about it -- according to an Internet search, he has used self-hypnosis since he was 13.

Sigl starts with a basic equation: Performance equals potential minus interference. Athletes, or those who want to lose weight or ease pain, need to get rid of the interference.

"You teach the mind how to tell the body how to feel all the time," Sigl said.

This is accomplished by accessing an athlete's altered conscious state and incorporating a different way of processing information.

"The zone solves all problems," Sigl said. "You want to get rid of the old programming. Everyone wants to get in the zone, and hypnosis is the fastest way to do that."

I went to Sigl's office for an interview and thought I was in Bellevue only to find myself in la-la land. Like some of his clients, I was willing but skeptical.

Stretched out in a cushy leather chair, I prepared to be hypnotized. As my eyes closed, Sigl told me a "warm ball of relaxing energy" was going to start at my head and travel through my body, all the way down to my feet.

"We want to achieve a level of inner awareness where special learning takes place," he said.

Sigl told me to imagine that heavy liquid was being poured into my legs and feet, and that soon, I would not be able to lift them even if I wanted to. He was right -- I tried to lift them and couldn't.

"It's time for you to own your inner power, time for you to become the president of your own fan club," I hear him say. "You can create your own abundance; you can solve issues outside of your own awareness."

If I'm not totally "under," I'm at the very least in a Michael Phelps-like minus-the-bong state.

Sigl tells me to go to a beautiful place, and I picture myself in Maui at the Ritz-Carlton. I see the beach and the waves and girls in bikinis and, best of all, the waitress bringing me another cocktail.

Then he asks me to walk toward the bridge, where I have that conversation with the other me.

"I have three questions," Sigl says. "Can you let it all go? Are you willing to let it all go? When will you let it all go?"

There's this huge wall that stands symbolically between me and my potential. But Sigl says the ground is trembling, causing the wall to crumble and fall. I'm emerging as a new person, ready to tackle anything.

"You're feeling empowered," Sigl says. "You recognize your strength, your talent, your maturity. This is who you are, this is your truth."

We are nearing the end of the session, and I am about to "wake up."

"Amazing changes are taking place," Sigl says. "The unconscious mind knows what needs to be done. The color red will remind you that you are calm and confident about your future, and remind you of your brilliance."

Half an hour later I saw the color red on a traffic light, and it did remind me of something -- to stop. I guess I'll need more work.

When the session concluded, Sigl asked me how long I thought it lasted.

"Fifteen minutes," I said.

"It was 31," he said.

So that leads me to believe I was somewhere I'd never been before. Whether it translates to a new job, 20-pound weight loss and better golf game, I have no idea. But in the coming months, I'll go back to that bridge and find out.

Hypnosis is very effective in enhancing sports abilities, enabling the client to focus on their achievements, being able to concentrate on the end goal and not be affected by problems along the way.  Hypnotherapists at The Harley Street Hypnotherapy Clinic in London, use hypnosis to treat many issues such as sports enhancement, sexual issues, weight loss, stop smoking, confidence, panic attacks and much more.  Speak to one of our hypnotherapists today and let hypnosis change your life for the better.

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