Saturday, December 6, 2014

Can Changing A Bad Habit Be Just A Dream And A Sniff Away?

Change is really hard. There are some people who find change so hard that they will not even consider the need to make a change.  Others may acknowledge the need to change something in their life, and they may even want to change, but they find making a change too overwhelming.  Especially today in our busy, hectic lifestyles, making a change requires time and energy that we do not always have.

As a holistic coach, I specialize in walking people through the process of change one step at a time.  However, many times people feel like they are not doing it right because the old habits some how feel more comfortable for a period of time.  This is completely normal and it will pass.  Old habits and beliefs have become a part of us and the subconscious mind is lazy and relies on them.

What if you could reprogram the subconscious mind?  What if it could be done easily while you sleep? No, I am not selling you anything.  Exciting new research has found that people can strengthen their ability to break bad habits by reprogramming the subconscious mind to make new associations with a habit, which in turn allows one to change a habit more easily.  The researchers exposed smokers to pairs of smells while they slept.  For example, cigarette smell was paired with the foul smell of rotten eggs.  The smokers did not wake up during the experiment and had no memory of the process.  These smokers did report smoking less the next week.  Interestingly, the smokers who were awake and were exposed to the smell pairing did not smoke less.  During sleep, people dream, and the dreaming serves as emotional and learning processing and consolidation.  There is no conscious knowledge of this, but we need it for physical and mental well-being.  This is one of the reasons sleep is so crucial for our health.  In the experiment the smokers were exposed to the smells while their brains were undergoing this process and had the capability to learn in this unconscious state.  The sense of smell affects the brain and the brain was more receptive to the smell pairing message during this time of sleep.  When one is awake, there can be a conscious resistance to learning from the subtle sense of smell.

The opportunity to learn new associations when we sleep and improve our life by making better choices is fascinating.  More importantly, it is a tool that can be used to help us create the life we want to live in a relatively easy way.  It is also a reminder that everything we are exposed to affects us in some way.  Smells during sleep impacts our mind without us being aware of the process.  Therefore, we should choose the things in our environment with great care.

Stay healthy & well,

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