An Interview with Katya Lovejoy of Higher Self Hypnotherapy
With the merging of science and spirit, Katya has brought deep and meaningful modalities into her Higher Self Hypnotherapy practice. With the goal of bringing self love and the release of trauma to her clients, Katya is empowering her clients to live sustainably fulfilled lives. Read below to get a fuller understanding of Katya's work which also includes a Total Immersion Sound Journey along with the warm and wonderfully deep Cacao Ceremony which originated in Guatemala.
How would you describe what you do to the layperson?
I am a Hypnotherapist, Spiritual Teacher and Guide. I help people identify and release their self sabotaging thoughts and behaviours along with the physical holding patterns and energy blocks that have been keeping them stuck in various parts of their life. This enables my clients to step more fully into their personal power to create a life that feels more fulfilling and aligned with purpose.
The main focus of my work is trauma healing and shifting relationship dynamics to help people release victim consciousness and step into the reality of their spiritual nature, that spiritual power we all possess to create reality.
You have both a neuroscience background and social work. What came first?
It has been an evolution from science to spirit, or rather, the merging of the two. What led me to even want to go into the field of trying to understand human experience came from my own struggles with depression when I was young. I had the thought that I needed to understand the brain in order to understand why people experience suffering and how to help them.
I graduated with a BA in Neuroscience and whilst I learned really fascinating things it was clear I was not looking to study neurons and neurotransmitters. To be honest I didn't know fully at the time what I was looking for as I did not have the spiritual language. I came from an intellectual and academic family so it was just kind of expected that science is the way. My dad was a Buddhist and taught me about meditation from an early age, so I did have the spiritual leaning, but I started off in realm of Western healing. Ultimately, neuroscience didn't resonate with me as my purpose. I was interested in counseling as a form of healing, so I started an MA in social work but quit the programme after a year. I was being pulled to study a more spiritual discipline and eventually I become an advanced Yoga Instructor in the Tantric lineage. That really opened my eyes to a larger understanding.
I was still fascinated by psychology and consciousness and did end up going back to finish my Masters in Social Work. I really wanted to help people on a deep level only I still felt something was missing. I literally stumbled across the Wellness Institute in Issaquah Washington and then my whole path changed. The modality that is taught there and in which I am trained is called Heart Centered Hypnotherapy. It was originally designed for Therapists, Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists and Psychologists and is based on Jungian Psychology, Gestalt Therapy, and Eriksonian hypnosis. It also has elements of Shamanic practice and energy work, so it is really assessing and addressing the totality of a person.
What makes Hypnotherapy so successful?
In hypnotherapy we are relaxing and bypassing the critical conscious ego mind which is analyzing, questioning and judging. When we are in a trance state, we are more receptive to new, healthy suggestions, and we also have access to more information about ourselves and the world, because hypnotherapy helps to relax that critical questioning part of the mind. Only 10% of our experience is conscious and 90% is in the subconscious and the unconscious: that is all of our emotions, instincts, interpretations, intentions, intuitions, creativity and deeper meanings.
By simply relaxing deeper into our consciousness through various trance techniques, we can tap into a larger field of awareness, and into the collective and universal consciousness. I never fail to be amazed when I witness the information that comes through people. In addition to getting powerful clarity about pivotal points in their own lives, I've witnessed people tap into the motivations of their ancestors, get information from past lives, and even channel God's wisdom with so much certainty from that place. The whole process enables people to understand their past and the meaning of their traumas.
People think hypnosis can be like mind control or that you lose conscious awareness. That is all just myths based on the media. The reality is the hypnotic state is a natural brain state that we go in and out of every day. We go into trance states when we watch TV or when we are driving.
Hypnotherapy is therapeutic work done in trance states, and it is really powerful as an adjunct to the more traditional work. Having trained as a Psychotherapist I have much respect for talk therapy and its benefits. Some of my session are just talking. We may have a deep hypnotherapy process one week and the next week we just want to talk about it.
Everything has its gift. Yet studies have shown that hypnosis has a 93% effectiveness rate after 6 sessions, compared to a 38% effectiveness after 600 sessions of psychoanalysis.
Other studies have demonstrated that subjects who did Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in conjunction with hypnotherapy had 70% greater improvement than those who did Cognitive Behavioral Therapy alone. There is incredible potential in this work.
Describe the way your training in both Psychotherapy and Neuroscience impacts your sessions.
I am trained as a Psychotherapist with a background in Neuroscience so we talk a lot about scientific issues and the brain. I explain how we are changing neural pathways. I talk about neuroplasticity and our goal in rewiring the brain and rebalancing the nervous system to find more calm, safety, and trust. Because most of what we learn about ourselves and the world comes from relationships, we do a lot of relational work and talk about victim consciousness and codependency. We talk about the body and how we dissociate when we feel triggered, which prevents people from being able to fully feel their feelings and how this keeps trauma stuck in the system.
Before we do any kind of trauma work, we first do a hypnosis just to get them in touch with their inner resources, because a feeling of emotional safety and personal empowerment is my first priority. If they are not feeling safe they are just going to constrict and go back into protection mode and will not get into those deeper levels and their deeper understandings.
Once they are resourced, I open up the space for them to receive any messages from their higher self. And they will come up with these amazing affirmations. After the session they say, "That was so cool, I did not know that was inside of me!"
The fact that I have done trauma informed training helps me feel really confident in my work. Many coaches and hypnotists may want to work on trauma but are not too sure how to handle somebody who dissociates or regresses back to a traumatic moment. All my studies have helped me feel really safe and able to hold that space for people. I have witnessed through hypnotherapy some really horrific things that people have gone through and yet I see them transition their relationship with those experiences and come out on the other side feeling more empowered, more in control, more able to feel safe to be fully expressed.
Who are your clients and how long on average do they stay with you?
The people that come to work with me tend to have already been in some type of therapy, coaching, or healing already but find they are still struggling with the same problems. That is how they find me and we get to go really deep and clear out some old beliefs and behaviours that have kept them small, disempowered and in victim consciousness. So many people struggle with being able to love and accept themselves and this is the work that I have personally found and I have witnessed in my clients that truly helps people find that self love, which is so healing.
I have quite a range of clients. There are people who are devoted to the work who have been with me for a few years, as the work can last for a lifetime; there are always so many more layers, as well as more mastery we can get. I have people who are with me for shorter periods of time to work through an issue. On average, three months is a good amount of time for people to feel empowered and to have worked through one issue very well. Then sometimes people will decide they want to take a break from the work at that point and integrate and live it and then come back when new issues arrive. They know I am always available for them.
Explain Total Immersion Sound Therapy
One of the events that I offer is something called Total Immersion, a Sound Journey that is based on neuroscience. It is a combination of the Yoga Nidra guided meditation practice with Binaural Beats delivered through wireless headphones.
I started practicing Yoga Nidra, a guided meditation from the Tantric tradition, without having studied hypnosis even though I had a sense that Yoga Nidra is an ancient form of hypnosis. Inadvertently this led me to become certified as a hypnotherapist. Hypnotherapy has definitely accelerated my Yoga Nidra practice and my ability to guide people on expansive and healing inner journeys. Yoga Nidra is now one of my specialties and I train others how to facilitate.
Nidra translates to “sleep” and 20 minutes of Yoga Nidra can equal four hours of sleep. It is deeply restorative and great for helping you relax. It is a guided meditation journey that harnesses the body and mind’s natural process of sleep to release tension from each level of our being: from our physical body, mental body and emotional and energetic body. It is a spiritual science that drops us into a hypnagogic state which is that place right in between being awake and being asleep. Yoga Nidra is the pathway to helping to clear out what’s been stuck in the deeper parts of our consciousness.
Binaural Beats are a sound healing modality in which each ear receives a slightly different frequency of sound and the brain responds to that discrepancy by synchronizing the brain hemispheres. Typically one side of the brain is more active and dominant. It switches throughout the day, and this is normal, it is how we are able to function in the world. When we get into meditative states our brain moves towards hemispheric synchronization. The Binaural Beats helps us to get to that brain state faster.
The Total Immersion events have become very popular and people love going on these deep inner journeys. We sell out almost every time, and I’m so grateful for the great response!
Do you do any other events?
I am moving into a different direction based on my own personal spiritual journey, away from technology and more towards ceremonial circles with the plant spirit of cacao.
What is the background to Cacao Ceremonies?
Cacao is raw chocolate before it is processed. It grows within 20 degrees of the equator and it is considered a plant medicine. The ancient Mayans and Aztecs were the carriers of this medicine and found it to be so valuable they would use it as currency.
The scientific name for cacao is Theobroma, which means Food of the Gods. And that is what the Mayans and the Aztecs considered it. There is a Mayan prophecy that says cacao will emerge from the jungles and spread around the world when humans have lost touch with their hearts. Now you are seeing, at least where I live in Southern California, there are cacao ceremonies everywhere and it is getting more mainstream.
How did you train to be a Facilitator of Cacao Ceremonies?
I had already been working with cacao as a receiver for about 2 years and it was important for me to go to Guatemala, from where the cacao comes, to be with the land, to work with the spirit down there and get permission from the spirit of cacao to potentially lead ceremony.
The first time I went to Guatemala it was great but I did not feel ready to lead a ceremony. A little while later, I went on a Vision Quest which is a Native American Initiation Ceremony, and during that experience the cacao spirit came to me as part of my Vision. I had an inner knowing that I was ready to share this medicine with the world with humility and integrity.
It continues to be an evolution for me as I learn and experience more.
How do you prepare for a Cacao Ceremony?
The raw cacao from Guatemala is processed only to the degree that the cacao beans are spun and heated so they become like a paste. It is packaged into a one pound block and that is what I take back from Guatemala to the US. To prepare the cacao for the ceremony, I chop up the cacao, and in keeping with the relationship I have developed with the cacao spirit, I sing, speak and bless the cacao, asking her to help me spread her medicine in a good way and to please bless everyone that drinks you.
I put the cacao in hot water and mix it together. I add different things like cinnamon and cardamom. Cacao is one of the most bitter substances on earth, even though cacao is so sweet in what she does for us. I have honey available at the ceremonies which is the way the Mayans traditionally used to sweeten it. You can also add cayenne pepper to amplify the effect of the cacao.
We sit in a circle and we open sacred space by calling on spirit in the native way addressing the 7 directions: east, south, west, north, above, below and then centre which is our own heart. We drink the cacao and offer gratitude. It takes about 20-40 minutes before the cacao becomes fully dispersed in the body.
It is an interesting that there is no record of how Mayans would do their cacao ceremony. We just know it was a very important part of their culture. This gives us a lot of freedom to be creative. You will see a lot of cacao ceremonies that are combining cacao with ecstatic dance or cacao with yoga or cacao with kirtan singing and chanting. The way I feel called to work with cacao is for emotional and therapeutic work. This was inspired by Keith Wilson, also known as the Chocolate Shaman, in Guatemala
I found out about Keith in a documentary where he was doing inner child healing facilitated with cacao. I thought his work was amazing, especially as inner child healing is such a big part of the Heart Centered Hypnotherapy. I wanted to learn more and went to Guatemala so I could study and talk with him as well as sit in a few of his ceremonies. Today I buy the cacao through Keith, as he is connected to the Mayan families that grow the beans and is committed to sustainable and ethical harvesting of this sacred plant, as well as supporting the local Guatemalan community.
How does your role as facilitator come in at this point?
It depends on the theme of what I want to do. A few weeks ago the theme of the ceremony was intimacy and connection. We had a sharing circle, did some partner exercises with eye gazing and and some journaling. I like to incorporate physical movement to release tension in the body and get the blood flowing which helps to circulate the cacao. At the end of the ceremony I will do a guided meditation journey to integrate everything we have worked on.
What are the benefits of a Cacao Ceremony?
Cacao increases blood flow from the heart and on an energetic level is opening the heart chakra. It can be really powerful for therapeutic work because it is helping us to drop down from the mind and into the heart consciousness where we access the subconscious. This in turn opens up our intuition and creativity. It facilitates intimacy, creativity and emotional release. The shamanic (and tantric) belief is that our seat of our true power and wisdom is in the heart.
Cacao has lots of physiological and psychological health benefits. Cacao helps us release on the physical, energetic and emotional levels, whether that looks like tears, expressing or creating so you get to process things that have been stuck on all levels.
Despite being two separate modalities, Cacao also relates back to the Heart Centered Hypnotherapy in this way.
The Cacao Ceremony seems safer than some of the other popular ceremonies, especially Ayahuasca.
From what I understand, you cannot resist Ayahuasca. If you take it you are going on a journey! You can resist cacao, if you really want to. If you don't want to allow your heart to open, if you do not want to look at your emotions and allow them be released, if you don't want to go into the inner workings of your mind - you do not have to. It is like a lubricator. What Keith says about it is that Ayahuasca will grab you and bring you through the door on the journey and you are going on that journey. Cacao will bring you up to the door and it is up to you whether you want to go through it.
It sounds wonderful
It is wonderful. People are laughing, crying and having aha moments. People are connecting with one another and it is really beautiful. These events tend to be smaller and more intimate than the Total Immersion Sound Journey. I love the headphone event, I came up with that idea to combine the two, and I birthed the experience into the world. I am the only one as far as I know that has at this point combined the two. Still, when we are all wearing headphones we are not really connecting with one another. It is a great inner journey in which you connect with yourself. And this other offering that I do with the cacao there is that internal connection, and also more connection with others. It's so healing because so much of our pain comes from feeling disconnected.
What is the goal of your combined practice, Higher Self Hypnotherapy
I thank Spirit all the time for bringing all this together. There was a moment in my life when I had quit social work and I had already become a yoga teacher but I was waitressing as it was hard to survive as a yoga teacher in NYC. I felt lost and I did not know why I had explored all these different trainings and modalities; they all seemed so unrelated, or at least I couldn’t see how they would come together. Now I can see how everything is all coming together in my work. I am extremely grateful for this path.
My goal is to help people to align with their Higher Self, to master their reality, to release victim consciousness and step into their power. The Higher Self is that powerful part of us that is connected to Spirit, the part that keeps us moving forward on our life’s path toward fulfillment. My goal is to support others in living from this place.
As I mentioned, so much of the work is about trauma healing. Being a human is an inherently traumatic experience. We have all experienced trauma to some degree. I consider trauma as any instance in which we had to go into a protection mode and we took on a limiting belief about our safety to be fully expressed in the world. What’s interesting is that the ancient Greek word for trauma means “wound” and I think that is where a lot of our trouble comes: identifying with the wound. The German word “traum” means “dream” and that is fascinating to me because in Shamanic understanding we are all dreaming our world into being. This is supported by neuroscience and quantum physics. There are imaging studies that show that those same parts of the brain get activated whether we are living an experience or just visualizing and thinking about it. So we can literally dream things into existence. In quantum physics the theory is that anything that arises out of a quantum field is affected by an observer. I believe that our subconscious is a mirror to that quantum field.
What does that mean about our waking reality too? Is it possible that it is a fiction? What is fiction and what is reality? It is really just about our perspective. We get to choose that. This is where I find hypnotherapy and the trance work to be so powerful as it gets into those meanings that we make about things.
So many people struggle with being able to love and accept themselves because our subconscious has taken things that have happened to us in the past and made conclusions about what we are worth and what we deserve. We have locked into our subconscious shame, fear and guilt, again based on what has happened to us in the past. That needs to be accessed and cleared in order for us to really tap into the love that is already there. It is already present; it has just been covered up by the other stuff.
It is amazing because you are really giving people an opportunity to reclaim their life and live in a more empowered way
I truly consider it a co creation. I am holding the space and I have a lot of tools but it’s got to be the person who does it. When I feel awe in a session it is not awe about me and my power, it is all about the person in front of me and their insight, awareness, connection to Spirit (even if they don’t walk in feeling that way), and power. All hypnosis is self hypnosis. It is kind of like cacao. If you are really resistant you're not going there, you have to be willing to do it.
What is your message to the readers?
My message is that there is no part of you that is unlovable. It is possible to connect with the divine love of your creator, to really feel and experience that and to channel that energy through yourself and to yourself so that you can really feel and live what it means to love yourself.
The path of healing trauma and turning self sabotage into self love takes courage and willingness. It is a path of responsibility, but with great responsibility comes great power. You came here to be fully expressed as a spiritual being with the potential to create whatever you want.
On this journey it’s so important to feel your feelings because they have a message for you. Once you can understand those messages of what has happened to you and integrate them, you can meet yourself in a whole new way. No matter what has happened to you, you have so much power available to you. You can rewire and reprogram your subconscious and your nervous system to live in a state of more love and joy. You truly have the power to create the life that you want.
You can find Katya's website at: https://www.katyalovejoy.com/ where you can sign up and get immediate access to her 3-step process for releasing self-sabotage.