Mary in sessionHealing Through Hypnosis
Interview of Master Hypnotist, Mary McCandless,

Cobourg Centre for Hypnosis and Natural Healing,

by Elizabeth Palermo,The Link, Winter Solstice 2016


The idea of being hypnotized tends to evoke images of people seated on a stage, falling asleep to a count of three and then doing something embarrassing. That’s showbiz of course. Despite being exploited for entertainment, hypnosis helps many people lose weight, stop smoking, overcome anxieties and fears, and manage pain. It can work for almost anyone and any age.

The key to hypnotherapy is establishing trust with a certified hypnotist who creates the right setting for relaxation and focused attention. Mary McCandless is a Master Hypnotist living and working in Cobourg who will spend up to two hours initially getting to know a client. “Sometimes you meet someone and say, ‘Oh yeah, they get me.’ They have a similar language,” says the 64-year-old who’s formerly from Toronto and is also a Reiki Master.

“You can’t change the story, but you can close the book…”

A certified hypnotist guides a process of quieting the mind so the client will consider suggestions that enable releasing what holds them back. It’s not about intellectualizing why the client is feeling a certain way, but using special exercises where people can let the old storyline go. “Hypnosis is reframing and retraining the subconscious mind,” says McCandless, explaining the subconscious stores old feelings and emotions – usually imprinted on the psyche from a very young age – like books lining shelf after shelf in a library. “You can’t change the story, but you can close the book so it no longer affects you.”

It’s not uncommon for people to think they’ll fall asleep or lose control and cluck like a chicken when hypnotized! Rather, many hypnotherapy clients come into a heightened state of awareness that allows self-exploration and healing. “It’s impossible to change habits without a quiet mind,” says McCandless. “I’ll begin with something like a guided meditation: ‘Follow your breath. Begin to notice where you’re holding tension. Relax that…’ and the person uses their very powerful mind to relax.”

When McCandless works with people recovering from surgery and in great pain “We find a way for them to relax and then positive suggestions can be given: ‘I am in control. My body is healing itself easily and effortlessly. I am healthy and happy. Each day I get better and better,’” she says. “I think of the subconscious as where the diaphragm is – your intuition, your gut, where the ‘fight or flight’ instinct resides, the solar plexus, your inner home. Sometimes we have to clean it out. I call it dumping the junk. Letting it go.”

For Nancy Smale of Castleton, hypnosis has helped her lose more than 40 pounds. She has struggled her whole life to keep weight off and now in retirement has kept the weight off for two years – her longest ever. “We worked a lot in the beginning on self- esteem and past emotional stuff, and then as we got going we worked with food and weight loss.” Hypnosis changed everything for Smale, who listens to recordings of her sessions at home.

Not feeling good enough consumes so much of our collective psyche experience – and the best suggestion, the sincerest message we can give others, especially children, McCandless says is, “You can do anything you focus on. It completely overrides the ‘I’m not good enough.’”