Jizo Therapy is in its infancy: an eclectic set of theories I have strung together since 1988 when I started graduate studies to become a psychotherapist. The therapeutic qualities of Buddhism were only spoken of by Thich Nhat Hanh and a few others. The brain-imaging of Tibetan monks was decades away and weekend workshops with dozens of speakers were unheard of.
Roots of Hypnosis
Part of my work includes hypnosis, which has been around for as long as meditation — before Christ. In the early 1800’s Mesmer “mesmerized” in his salons, inspiring work by the neurologist Jean Martin Charcot who presented his findings on hypnotism to the French Academy of Sciences in the 1870’s. In 1885, Sigmund Freud spent time with Charcot and then he and his friend Joseph Breuer used hypnosis successfully in psychotherapy. Since then, trance has been formally recognized as a state in which transformation is possible.
In 1972, Herb Spiegel articulated how the “Eye Roll Test” was an indication of receptivity to hypnosis. Clinical hypnotherapists have been using the eye roll to deepen trance for years. (Dr. Spiegel also helped treat Sybil, whose case became the subject of a book and inspired two television movies.) In the late 1980’s, Francine Shapiro began using eye-movement, developing bi-lateral eye movements and tapping to aid in the resolution of trauma. Research bears out its efficacy.
In meditating upon the Jizo Bodhisattva, the protector of those who suffer, the wounded parts of us may be held safety without the expectation of being rid of the hurt places but rather in loving-acceptance of the trauma and difficulties of life, whether they are existential or neurotic in nature. In a sense, we are using a trance of loving-kindness to break the traumatic trance that conjures new trauma and drama to keep the familiar adrenaline flowing.
In my own work, I have integrated circular breathwork, “circum-respiration,” with a movement of the eyes that I call “circum-oculation,” to aid in settling down both psyche and soma in order to find inner safety. The metaphor for the inner safety is the figure upon which I have meditated: Jizo, holding an infant. In finding any part of our bodies where we are relaxed, we can begin to tap into the place within us where Jizo resides. From there, we can build a new experience with focus on where we feel safe instead of the familiar thinking of what is wrong, how we are not safe.