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Published November 24, 2013, 11:30 PM

'Rewriting the programming': Hypnotist helps clients get to the root of their problems

WEST FARGO – Bryan Ackley is a Royals fan, but it was Los Angeles’ team that introduced him to hypnosis.

By: Meredith Holt, INFORUM

WEST FARGO – Bryan Ackley is a Royals fan, but it was Los Angeles’ team that introduced him to hypnosis.

As a 16-year-old ballplayer from Kansas, he read about the Dodgers using visualization techniques and hypnosis to improve their game.

He started researching and practicing their methods on his own, and within a year, his batting average went up almost 100 points.

“It was more effective than spending two extra hours at batting practice; it was more effective than weight-lifting,” he says.

Three decades later, 52-year-old Ackley, now a certified consulting hypnotist, is helping others eliminate their self-sabotaging thoughts, misperceptions, fears and behaviors so they can achieve their goals, too.

In a few different locations in the Fargo-Moorhead area, he offers one-on-one sessions, group classes and workshops through his multifaceted business, Infinity Lifeworks.

Ackley says hypnosis can help with stress, sleep, fears, smoking, weight, confidence, motivation, relationships, and school, work and sports performance.

Hypnosis is described as a “state of highly focused attention that increases your ability to accept suggestions, which, in turn, makes it easier for you to set aside limiting beliefs that get in the way of your success.”

Ackley compares it to being so engrossed in a daydream, book or movie that everything else around you fades away.

When it does, he can help clients address the subconscious conflicts that hold them back.

“Hypnosis is one of the few times you can access the subconscious mind directly,” he says.

For example, subconscious “programming” for someone with a weight problem might sound something like this:

“When I was 4 years old, I was walking down the sidewalk with my mom when I tripped, fell over and skinned my knee. I was crying, and my mom leaned over to say, ‘I know what’ll make you feel better: ice cream!’ ”

At that moment, the food-comfort connection is made.

“So you could consciously say, ‘This food is killing me,’ but your subconscious mind doesn’t agree,” Ackley says. “The only way to beat that loop is to rewrite the programming. And that’s what I help them do.”

Jen Springer started working with Ackley to address her claustrophobia issues.

The 40-year-old Fargo woman used hypnosis CDs in the past but wanted to try it in person.

“It’s much easier to listen to somebody that’s right there and not get distracted, and you’re also held accountable, because you’ve got your appointment, and you can actually get it done,” she says.

She was expecting to make progress within a few sessions (which she did), but she also had the added benefit of overall relaxation.

The sessions helped Springer control racing thoughts, quiet her mind and sleep. It also gave her the tools to improve her meditation sessions.

“Basically, he’s just guiding you down into a deep relaxation state, and by having him there, he can help you focus and be present and get to that space of deep relaxation, where you can discover things that maybe are keeping you from achieving whatever you want to do,” she says.

Ackley says his biggest challenges are the stigmas and misperceptions about what he does.

“A lot of people never try this, or it’s the last resort, because they’re afraid of the word hypnosis,” he says.

People who use hypnosis for entertainment are like magicians who create illusions, he says. They give the audience the impression that they’ve “taken control” of participants’ minds.

“That’s not what happens. There’s no way I can make someone do something that they’re vehemently opposed to,” he says. “In fact, in order for hypnosis – even self-hypnosis – to work well, the person has to want it to. That’s one of the key ingredients.”

The more committed the client is to the process, the greater chance they have of success.

Ackley isn’t a doctor, a psychotherapist or a counselor. Rather, he’s a guide, who received his training with a University of North Dakota grad in Southern California.

“They (clients) do it, not me; I’m a facilitator. I’m not controlling anything, I’m just a facilitator,” he says.

At first, Larry Goughnour was a little worried about doing something he didn’t want to do, but the 62-year-old Fargo man quickly learned that wasn’t an issue.

“It’s more of a relaxation to release the chatter in the mind and to release the stronghold of the ego on your thought patterns,” he says. “It opens you up to receive the gentle suggestions to think in a different manner, and once you hear that and your mind accepts that, it’s logical, and it helps to heal you.”

Goughnour says Ackley helped him find the source of his fears dealing with accounting about halfway through his first session.

“Once you meet and face that situation again, it can clear it up for you,” he says. “Then you can proceed on without those difficulties.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Meredith Holt at (701) 241-5590

Business profile

What: Bryan Ackley’s Infinity Lifeworks

Where: Ackley practices in a few different locations, including Body Sava, 725 Center Ave., Moorhead, and Leshe Naturals, 90 Morrison St., West Fargo.

Online: www.infinitylifeworks.com

Contact: infinitylifeworks@gmail.com, (701) 552-7468 (office) or (701) 793-5612 (cell)