How Lauren Kessler, a professor at the University of Oregon, is using hypnosis to change our beliefs about ageing. Professor Kessler took a year to investigate the anti-ageing movement, made herself the test subject and then wrote a book about the experience: ‘Counter Clockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate, and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-Ageing.’
Kessler says that the anti-ageing movement focuses too much on trying to influence the ageing process from the outside in, “We spend a huge amount of time thinking of face creams – you should obsess over your cortisol level and what you are doing to age yourself from the inside out.”
She claims that her research identified chronic stress as being one of the major causes of ageing and that it affects cortisol levels, known as stress hormones, that cause physical disorders associated with ageing.
She prescribes hypnosis, combined with exercise and healthy eating to control cortisol levels in the body, and after her one year research project using herself as the subject, says she now feels younger, fitter and healthier than her chronological age.
Kessler says “All of the credible sources point to the fact that ageing is 70 per cent biological choice and 30 per cent genetic. The science is real and in my generation (50 and older), it empowered me personally in a way that I hadn’t felt before.”
Research into psychoneuroimmunology suggests that if you think of yourself as old and unwell, you are less likely to do anything to change your circumstances. In other words, your attitude can influence your body’s biology, and therefore your biological age.
The key to her research is to keep the body moving with exercise by using hypnosis to keep focused, motivated and to believe you are as young as you tell yourself you are. She believes that the body responds to the age you believe yourself to be.