Christian writer Kate Orson explains why her past experiences with the new age mean that she would never try hypnosis and hypnobirthing.
Before coming to Christ, I spent 20 years following new age practises; yoga, meditation, breathing, visiting psychics and experimenting with developing my own psychic skills. I used hypnosis for childbirth and also to tackle issues like fear of flying. I would never use it now.
Hypnosis is presented in our culture as a secular practice that focuses on the subconscious mind. However, when it was originally invented by Franz Mesmer in the 18th century, it was regarded by most people as a spiritual practice. For example, in the book Clairvoyance And Thought Transference, by Dr. Scott Lawrence (1916) hypnosis is described as the "lowest rung on the ladder" in a journey towards clairvoyance, and spiritual mediumship, which God calls an abomination. "There shall not be found among you anyone who… practises divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord ." Deuteronomy 18 -10-12.
When we are in a trance we are susceptible to spiritual deception.
One of the psychics I followed had developed her skills as a child after being hypnotised by her father. She received information from a group of nine supernatural beings. Past-life regression was developed after patients who were hypnotised back to early childhood began spontaneously recalling "past lives". This suggests to me that when we are in a trance we are susceptible to spiritual deception.
Our brains do not exist in a vacuum, and the trance-like hypnotic state has a similar effect on the brain waves as meditation. Meditation can open up doorways to be influenced by the demonic realm. In my many hours spent meditating I occasionally experienced supernatural phenomena such as perceiving a being in the corner of my room and hearing what I thought was a dead relative speaking to me. The Bible describes Satan as "the father of lies" (John 8.44) and says that "Satan masquerades as an angel of light." 2 Corinthians 11:44. It’s clear that when the Bible tells us to seek a relationship with God, it does not mean entering trance-states where we are susceptible to spiritual deception. We are warned to "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." 1 Peter 5 -8-9. The word hypnosis comes from the Greek "hypnotikos", meaning "putting to sleep", which is the opposite kind of state we need to be in to stay safe from the devil.
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Spiritual experiences may seem a far cry from using a bit of hypnosis to relax and release fear about childbirth. However, demonic oppression can occur in a way we are not conscious of in the present moment. While hypnosis might "work", it can open doorways for potential for spiritual warfare, or lead people astray into new age practises.
Elise, is a Christian who prepared for her birth with hypnobabies (a self-hypnosis childbirth course). When it came to the actual birth, Elise found that the hypnosis didn’t work well and she relied on God instead. She said: "I prayed a lot during labour and had to trust God to help me. There is definitely an element of surrender during labour. Trusting God through that surrender helped me a lot more than the hypnosis did."
After the birth Elise noticed that she strayed from her Christian faith. She said: "Even though I didn’t use the hypnobabies in the actual birth, it did open several doors afterwards. I was more open to visualisation meditation, and tried spirit guide meditation." Life circumstances also led to her trying the law of attraction to manifest when her family had financial difficulties. Thankfully, Elise discovered information about new age deception, and why these practises are dangerous. She has now returned fully to her faith.
While I was not a Christian when I gave birth, I can’t help but wonder, why would we as Christians need birthing tools such as hypnosis when we have God?
'During my own labours, my husband read extracts to me from the Psalms and other pieces of favourite scripture.'
Laura Brett, a former midwife, said: "I never felt comfortable with 'hypnobirthing', and thankfully managed to avoid it other than one delivery I observed as a student. Like everything else, it’s been hijacked. Normal breathing techniques in labour have been given fancy names as the woman focusses on other things during labour to take her mind off the pain of her contractions. But, at its central root it is a form of hypnosis - a dictionary definition of this is 'the induction of a state of consciousness in which a person apparently loses the power of voluntary action and is highly responsive to suggestion or direction' - in other words, the woman’s mind is being controlled by some other force - but what exactly is it?
"During my own labours, my husband read extracts to me from the Psalms and other pieces of favourite scripture. I had photographs of things that were special to me, such as beautiful places I’d visited to remind me of the magnificence of God’s Creation and we played worship music in the delivery suite on a CD player. This could arguably be used as a form of spiritual birthing for Christians as it’s keeping your mind soaked in God’s word and allowing the spirit of God to minister to you through the worship."
Laura now describes herself as a spiritual midwife who is involved with deliverance ministry. She said: "We see the sad consequences and deep healing which is required for many people who have engaged with such techniques. As believers in Jesus Christ, we are set apart, to be in the world but not of it, with the blessed assurance that the Lord is with us and that he will never forsake us - even in the climax and mystery of childbirth!"
Ultimately when we are looking for help to bring peace to our birthing process, or any other life struggle, why would we ever need more than calling out to God, immersing ourselves in his word, or praising him through music? The world may tell us that we need hypnosis, meditation or other practises. The world may try to convince us that God alone is not enough. As Christians we must respond to all of these temptations by drawing closer to him.
To read a different perspective on this, see: 'I'm a Christian midwife and here's what I think of hypnobirthing'