Tameside Reporter & Glossop Chronicle

Readers with better memories than my own may remember a certain reporter promising rather smugly to give up smoking with minimum fuss at around this time last year.

Well, your honest reporter must now report that in September last year he fell in spectacular fashion off the wagon and proceeded to make up for nine months as a non-smoker by resuming his 10-a-day roll-up habit.

In fact you could say, he fell off the wagon, rolled off the road, bounced down the hill and landed lung first in the soft and smelly.

Luckily, your honest reporter doesn't give up easily (no pun intended) and in December this year, enlisted the help of local hypnotherapist Gary Maddison to help kick the habit once and for all.

Gary is a far cry from the stereotypical, intense-eyed hypnotist.

There's no gazing deeply into anyone's eyes, swinging pendulums, psychobabble or mystic mumbo-jumbo here.

In fact when visiting Quit For Good at the Old Chapel off Oldham Road, Ashton, its clear that it is such imagery that modern practitioners like Gary are keen to shake off.

Speaking in his broad Oldham accent, he explains: "People think when you go to see a hypnotist, you lose control, but that's not true.

"Hypnosis in the media tends to be stage hypnosis and people doing things against their will in films, but in actual fact, its nothing like that at all.

"Your subconscious mind won't accept suggestions it doesn't think are good for it."

Hypnosis can be used to treat a variety of ailments and symptoms, from sexual dysfunction, to depression, obesity, confidence and self-esteem and irritable bowel syndrome.

Gary says he has even cured one woman of a fear of novelty slippers!

After a brief explanation of the process and an interview in which we talk through what I hope to get out of the session, its time to settle down in the chair, dim the lights and allow Gary's voice to send me into a deep trance.

It’s immensely relaxing.

I can actually feel myself getting heavier, sinking deeper and deeper into the chair as he speaks and, contrary to my own preconceptions about hypnotism, I'm conscious of Gary's voice throughout the entire procedure.

The process involves a visualization exercise - almost an exorcism in which I imagine looking at a mirror image of myself.

However, there is one difference, my reflection is a non-smoker.

After listening to the differences between myself and my goody-two-shoed, non-smoking counterpart in the mirror, the two of us step forward and merge.

And that's all there is to it.

I am brought slowly out of the trance. Its a little bit like waking in the morning, there is a slight reluctance to give in to the pressures of the waking world - a deep temptation to stay deep in my relaxed state - but once I have woken fully, I feel alert and refreshed. But not much different.

All that takes place later, when something rather strange happens. I don't feel like smoking. Scratching my head in puzzlement, I throw my tobacco in the bin when I arrive home.

During the weekend, something even stranger happens.

I go to the pub, fully expecting to be irked by the temptation to smoke. I even sit outside among the smoker, trying hard not to sound like an escapee.

"Cigarette?"

"No thanks. I'm a non-smoker, you see. Cured rather suddenly and miraculously just last night actually. Marvelous eh!"

For more information on booking a session with Gary, phone him at his practice on 0161 330 7025 or visit his website at www.quitforgood.co.uk

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