The Toronto Hypnotherapist

Hypnosis and Toronto Hypnotherapy with Allan Clews.

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The Gurdjieff Teachings - Monday September 24, 2012

Posted on September 24, 2012 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

I am not a follower of the Gurdjieff Foundation, or even of the Gurdjieff Movement, but of the Gurdjieff Teachings.


There are Gurdjieffians who have access to all sorts of hidden secrets. People in the Foundation, or in groups linked to Bennett or Nyland or Staveley. I have heard hints of what Nyland and Bennett have passed on. I have even been offered membership in these closed secretive groups and have briefly lurked on the edges for a while, but the price was too high because I think humanity is now on borrowed time. And not just in terms of climate change; but in terms of uranium and plutonium and toxic waste and chemicals and human contamination. We are swiftly approaching the point of no return.


But since I am on the outside of these closed organizations, since I don't have access to their hidden resources and information, I have had to synthesize and use all of my wiles in order to develop my own understanding. I live, eat, breath and sleep these teachings. They are my 'idee fixe'. It is why I am a hypnotist today because hypnosis was obviously extremely important to Mr. Gurdjieff; having its own chapter in his most important work.


Mr. Gurdjieff was insightful enough to know what would happen after he died, that's why there are no "legitimate" Gurdjieff organizations in existence. Even the Foundation is just another bastard child.


As Mr. Gurdjieff approached the end of his life, various people begged him to plan for his succession and he stonewalled them. He didn't even appoint Mme. de Saltzmann as his successor. When he died all of his senior students got together and formed the Foundation. Eventually Bennett withdrew, along with Nyland, Staveley and others. So Mme. de Saltzmann really ended up as the head of the Foundation by default.


Then people began to confer a legitimacy on this organization that never came from Mr. Gurdjieff himself. Things may have been different if Orage had lived, but he didn't.


As I understand it Mr. Gurdjieff told at least three different people that he wanted them to be the person to take charge and lead the movement into the future, just to create division and discord.


I also believe that this was why he refused to copyright "Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson" because even though he may have buried the dog deeper, it is all there, including, as he said, how to make an omlette.


Now I have said this before and will no doubt say it again, I am not attempting to communicate with those of you who have been taught the secret handshakes and have been given the niffty decoder rings. I also know that if you are one of these people you are going to look down on me and snip at my heels and be condescending. But that is between you and your conscience.


Mr. Gurdjieff was a world teacher. He brought a completely unknown tradition out into the open and came and planted the seeds in the west. All I can do is to water the seeds that have landed near me and see what grows. I have spent 30 years grappling with these teachings. Banging my head against them over and over and over again. Perhaps I have shaken things loose in the teachings and perhaps I have only shaken things loose in my head. But at least I have tried.


I know those bastard organizations will never share what they know with me or the world. It is why I refuse to join private facebook groups devoted to the teachings and will only join public ones. It is why I am willing to make a fool of myself in public. It is also why I will share anything and everything I can in the hopes that others may be motivated to do the same.

Learning to Say 'No': An Exercise - Tuesday September 11, 2012

Posted on September 11, 2012 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

I used to have a real problem saying 'no' to people. So I know exactly what Thomas de Hartmann felt when Mr. Gurdjieff put him in a position where this became so painfully obvious (*see the bottom of this post to read de Hartmann's story). I felt de Hartmann's pain as I read it because I have felt those feelings inside of me.


Now in order to understand this exercise, it is necessary to be acquainted with the various elements involved in it. So let me properly set it up, so-to-speak.


There is a hypnotic language pattern involving the use of Tag Questions that was developed by Milton Erickson and isolated as a distinct pattern by the founders of NLP, John Grinder, who had a Ph. D. in Linguistics and his one-time student and collaborator, Richard Bandler, whose genius was his ability to intuitively model other people and effortlessly act, mimic and step into their abilities – something they called Modelling.




Now to use a Work example: "you could wish for both inner and outer freedom, COULDN'T YOU?" With the part in capitals "COULDN'T YOU?" being the Tag Question.


If you have something that you would like to bury a little deeper in a sentence so it doesn't stand out as much, you use a Tag Question. This is because we always remember the last bit a little bit better than we remember the bit at the first or the first bit [to use a little 'bit' of a hypnotic confusion language].


So we can use Tag Questions if we want to do the linguistic equivalent to what a magician does when he distracts you and deflects your attention.


Phrased more therapeutically: "I know you can forget all about that, CAN'T YOU?" [and notice from a therapeutic perspective – by using the word "that" instead of stating the problem, I pushed the problem even further away].


You can even play with the tense if you wanted to create a little more confusion and throw it slightly off-balance by deliberately mismatching tenses [and modal operators]: "I know you can forget all about that, HAVEN'T YOU?"


Now over time the use of this technique has been expanded as therapists have come to understand it. So if you have two pieces of information and you want one to remain more in your conscious awareness and the other to be slightly buried. You bury the one piece by saying it first, so the other is kept more top of mind.




Getting back to the thrust of this post. People who think they have problems saying 'no', do not have any problems saying 'no'. They could walk to the top of a hill and yell 'no' until they went hoarse. The inability to say 'no' is a social inability, it comes from the impulse of wanting to be liked and accepted. So in de Hartmann's (and my own) case it wasn't really an inability to say 'no', we got tripped up on the social aspect.


The two ideas, binary concepts, polarities, that underlay this in my case were:


"I want you to like me/how can I be of service" (that is, I want social approval);




"what's in it for me".


Or the polarity of: Social-Approval versus Self-Interest.


Now the way to heal yourself from being stuck in the "YES" position is not to reflexively adopt the "No" position.


So if you, like me, [and yes, for those in the know, I did this deliberately – and for those of you who didn't notice anything, look how I just put a little instruction in there: 'you like me']... so if you, like me, know what it is like to have this switch stuck in the affirming position, and you want to bring more balance into the process; the next time someone asks you to do something that pulls up those feelings that de Hartmann so succinctly described, you might quietly say something like the following to yourself (and this is positive/negative) or even to the person who asked you:


"Even though a part within me wants you to like me," then hold one of your hands out in front of you and physically represent this part with your hand, "another part within me," and hold out your other hand to physically represent this part [or using Work terminology – this 'I'] within you, "insists that I ask you: what is in it for me?"


[Please note: this little act of involving the hands was something that Grinder and Bandler discovered made this type of a process even more effective, so always include the hands when doing this.]


Now returning to what we said above, we can change the emphasis, or the way we represent this polarity by flipping it around. That is, we can phrase it positive/negative or negative/positive depending on which part we wanted to bury and which we wanted to bring to the front.


The reverse of the above is:


"There is a part within me," hold out one of your hands, "that insists I ask, what is in it for me? Even though another part within me," holding out the other hand, "wants you to like me."


If you want to say 'no' to someone, this technique will allow you to play with the polarity (something that can only be done from the reconciling position). If you want them to focus on the denying part, then put that at the end. And if you want them to focus on the feel-good affirming stuff, you can soften it by putting that at the end and leaving this top-of-mind.


The harsher lead in to 'no' (or the affirming to the denying): "Even though a part within me wants you to like me, another part within me, insists that I ask you: what is in it for me?"


The softer lead in to 'no' (or the negative to positive): "There is a part within me, that insists I ask you, what is in it for me? Even though another part within me, wants you to like me."


And whatever you do, always remember to use your hands.




(*"One morning when I passed through the center of Essentuki, I noticed a poster advertising a special evening... Later that day when I walked with Mr. Gurdjieff and Dr. S., I spoke of this quite casually.


"Doctor, you hear? He's inviting us to the club this evening. What? Will you invite us for supper?..."


"This was bad. A supper during the inflation cost a tremendous amount of money and I no longer had an income coming in each month. But there was nothing for it but to go ahead with this plan, because I hadn't the courage to say no. That evening I took 500 rubles (in former times a supper in the best restaurant would have come to no more than two and a half rubles) and went to the club. It was almost empty... Now my hell began. Mr. Gurdjieff played with me as if I were a child to whom one wished to teach a lesson. "Well, doctor, since he's treating us come on; it would be nice to start with some vodka and hors d'oeuvres. Then later --" It went on and on. I vividly remember to this day the oranges he ordered, because I did not have the courage to tell Mr. Gurdjieff I didn't have enough money and ask him to lend me some until we got home. How could I get out of the situation? It was agonizing. Finally I decided to tip the waiter and send him to my wife for more money... [F]inally the money was brought and the I paid for everything. The bill came to about one thousand rubles, enough for us to live on for half a month.


"Next morning Mr. Gurdjieff came to see us, and gave me the money I had spent on the supper. This was another extremely painful moment—not from the ordinary point of view, but because I realized I did not know how to behave like a grown-up man. Mr. Gurdjieff had told me so several times, but only now did I believe it. That morning Mr. Gurdjieff was not at all as he had been the evening before; there were not reproaches, no raillery. All he said was that what had happened had been done for my sake."


Thomas de Hartmann p 30-1 Our Life With Mr. Gurdjieff).

The Power of Struggle - Sunday September 2, 2012

Posted on September 2, 2012 at 4:55 PM Comments comments (0)

If we truly want to change who we are, if we truly want to transform our Being, then one of the most important activities we need to enage is to 'struggle.' This is because struggle leads to 'friction' and friction is one of the most transformative elements in the universe.


The friction that comes from the struggle between the seedling and the earth above it. The friction that comes when a butterfly breaks through its cocoon. The friction that comes when we struggle between 'yes' and 'no'.


And while we can struggle with the world, our fellow man, and our environment; and while we can struggle with a set of teachings and practices; these are all really secondary struggles.


This is because the real struggle, the one that ultimately has real meaning, is the struggle within between 'you' and 'yourself' and the friction that this creates.


When I have clients who are desperate to stop smoking or stop drinking, I ask them how long they have struggled with tobacco or alcohol. I ask them to describe their battles with these substances me.


They invariably describe the cigarette pack or bottle as if it has some kind of sinister magnetic qualities that are so irresitable they are forced to give into it time and time again.


Then I point out the obvious - or not-so-obvious - that they are really projecting far too much onto these inanimate objects. And that the real struggle has never been between themselves and the cigarette or the bottle. Because this supposes that they, as individuals, possess a unity to themselves that just isn't there when we examine the real evidence; because we are really more like a mass of contradictory, competing (and sometimes even surprisingly harmonious - if only for a moment) parts.


The real war, the real struggle is not between themselves and the tobacco or the booze; but between two competing parts within themselves. One that recognizes the destructive consequences of continuing as they are, and one that doesn't want to stop.


And it in not as if the part that doesn't want to stop, is merely stupid and ignorant. It is not nearly as foolish as some make it out to be - because it has its own reasons for smoking or drinking. It has its own complex needs, beliefs and reasons for doing what it does: Whether it is to mask unpleasant feelings and emotions, or to block-out and overwhelm all of the contradictory and inconsistent parts within.

Behavioural Filters & Metaprograms - Monday August 27, 2012

Posted on August 27, 2012 at 8:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Imagine going back in time and watching two young hunter-gatherers get handed two identical sacks containing an equal mixture of blackberries and raspberries that they are then told to sort.

They both decide to sort for the blackberries.

One of them reaches into their sack and begins to remove every blackberry; while the other reaches into their sack and takes out everything that is not a blackberry.


They both achieve identical outcomes; even though one filters for the things that match, and the other for things that mismatch.

The various individuals who helped to develop the second-wave, or new-code phase, of NLP have identified nearly sixty such 'metaprograms' or behavioural filters. Ways we sort and filter our experience of the world.

Now I don't really like the NLP term 'metaprogram' because these are not 'beyond' or 'meta' programs. I see them more like what linguists call language parameters, which are more like simple subconscious binary-switches that can be flipped one way or the other. Though not to 'yes' and 'no', ‘on’ or ‘off’, but in this case to 'match' or 'mismatch.' Or to look for similarities or differences.

For instance, Linguists have determined that the difference between any language comes down to the way a limited number of binary switches have been set. So that a single binary parameter called 'head first' or 'head last' accounts for one of the most obvious differences between English and Korean. In one language the ‘head’ comes before the ‘complement’ and in the other it comes after.

So If this single switch is set one way, you will say ‘I ran there’; while if it is set the other, you will say ‘I there ran’.

Now Ouspensky quotes Mr. Gurdjieff encouraging us to study ourselves by engaging in self-observation.


Metaprograms are binary perceptual filters we use to help us make decisions by either focusing on the small details or the big picture. They could even be called our decision-making apparatuses.

So how do you make decisions. How are your metaprograms or binary-filters set?

Do you generally ‘Move Towards’ things you like or ‘Move Away’ from things you dislike. For instance, if you wanted to move, would it be because you wanted to move to a new neighbourhood, or would it be because you wanted to move away from where you are.


Are you a ‘Self-Referencer’ or an ‘Other-Referencer’; for instance if you were asked to clean a room how would you know when you were done? when it met your standards, or when it met what you imagined to be the standards of the person who asked you to clean it.

Are you a ‘best-case’ or a ‘worse-case thinker.’ Is this filter set so you see the glass as half-full or half-empty.

Do you prefer to focus on the ‘big picture’ or on the ‘details.’

If you were asked to describe what the experience of being on a rollercoaster would you describe it as if you were looking out of your eyes (associative) or would you give a more ‘bird’s eye’ explanation (dissociative).

I want to leave you with a parting thought.

I, you a parting thought, to leave want.

Whenever you see two, always think of three.

Whenever you, two, see; you, of three, think always.

So learn to play with these switches. Play with them one way and then play with them the other; and then step between them into the reconciling position. So if you go shopping, don’t just focus on what you want, or on what you don’t want, but focus on both what you want and what you don’t want. Allow some of the food to attract you and some to repel you.

How I Would Help a Client Deal with a Severe Medical Condition - Thursday August 23, 2012

Posted on August 23, 2012 at 6:55 PM Comments comments (0)

I have been asked how I work on serious medical conditions with hypnosis. This is an example of how I would work with someone who has, dyshidrotic eczema, a serious skin condition (most conditions can be dealt with in four sessions, however the more serious ones can benefit from five or more).


The first session usually involves the least time in hypnosis because there are forms to be filled out and a need to find out more information. (I like to talk to my clients on the phone before the first session to get information, but I invariably have more questions when they finally come in for their first session.)

This probing for information involves getting a case history of this illness, including details such as:

- what triggers an outbreak (such as specific allergens like zinc or nickel, coffee and caffeine, or even the presence of certain people);

- when is the worst/best time of day/week/month/year;

- what situations make it worse (such as sunlight);

- what situations make it better (such as vacations);

- what techniques/medications/lotions help and how do they help;

- what techniques/therapies have been tried and which ones were successful and why;

- what role does diet play (particularly if Irritable Bowel Syndrome or yeast infections are present).

This probing is designed to uncover possible triggers, the role stress and anxiety play, and to learn more about things that have really helped (one of the things that hypnosis can do is to magnify or diminish reactions - so for instance, if some particular gel brought a real soothing feeling, this memory can be recalled while in hypnosis and even increased).

It is also aimed at uncovering an emotions that might play a role in the creation and maintenance of this disease (for instance some - though not all - sufferers of eczema often have what can be described as 'mental eruptions' where antagonistic feelings against the self/others/the world/events/life etc. just seemingly erupt out of nowhere) and uncovering any other possible metaphors that can be used later (such as an inability to handle certain events, or a volcanic eruption).

This segment concludes by discussing the nature of hypnosis and some of the common myths and fears associated with it (such as: you will not lose control, you will not blank out and will hear what is said etc).

Then we get to the heart of the session.

-The development and a deepening of the trance state;

- Introduction to the control centre of the mind where the client uses their imagination to scan their body and see where there are any problems. The Control Centre is used as a central metaphor and it is used to lead to all other imaginal exercises (in both this and all other sessions);

- The Soothing, Healing, Magnetic Orange-colour Liquid: An imaginal exercise designed to reduce physical tension, unease and discomfort;

- Footprints on the Beach: An imaginal exercise designed to teach the subconscious mind how to restore the body's own internal homeostatic balance;

- Reboot: An imaginal exercise designed to help the cells in our body re-live the feeling of vibrant health;

- Palm Leaves and Flowing Honey: An imaginal exercise designed specifically to help with eczema;

- Direct suggestions to relieve pain, reduce the size of inflammation;

- Giving the subconscious as detailed as description (from a medical and scientific perspective) of the physical nature of the symptoms and the way that these symptoms can be healed. Metaphors are then developed (and which are amplified in further sessions). In the case of dyshidrotic eczema this could involve metaphors such as the emergence and eruption of a volcano which then stops spewing lava and eventually gently sinks below languid and healing waters of a tranquil lagoon;

- analog tools for controlling the condition are also introduced (such as a dial and gauge that the client can imagine);

- an introduction to quietening and cleansing various brain structures (particularly the amygdala and deep limbic system - which are the source of emotions) is also taught;

- if there is a relationship with IBS or stomach and digestive processes then an introduction to, and calming of, the vagus nerve is introduced (through the vagus nerve we have brain cells or neurons in our vocal chords, lungs, heart, liver/gall bladder, spleen, kidney's and stomach and digestive system);

- Teaching self-hypnosis (this actually begins early in the session because I am always prodding the client to become aware of how various parts of their body feel during the session). This is done by having the client emerge and then getting them to immediately take themselves back down into the hypnotic state by recalling the physical memory of being in hypnosis;

- Giving of exercise(s) which should not take more than two or three minutes to perform during self-hypnosis throughout the week.

The session concludes with a debriefing.


The session starts with a series of questions relating to the previous session and the previous week. Then we move into the trance portion where:

- the metaphor of the control centre of the mind is used again;

- some of the imaginal exercises, metaphors etc. of the first session are revisited (and new ones possibly developed based on the results of the first session), particularly those involving healing metaphors (such as the erupting volcano growing quiet and then slowly disappearing leaving smooth tranquil waters and analog controls (turn down a dial and see the needle on a gauge lowering, making the volcano stop spewing lava and ash, turn it all the way down and see the volcano slip beneath the water etc);

- this session focuses on a number of therapeutic goals and direct suggestion is employed to help reduce pain and itchiness and the size of the inflammation etc;

- however, the primary goal of the second session lies in uncovering any possible emotional causes or triggers and this is done through the use of various hypno-analytical techniques, particularly age revivification to find the event or events that helped lead to this illness (or uncovering what hypnotist call the Initial Sensitizing Event);

- these emotions are then connected to the amygdala and deep limbic system and metaphors involving the cleaning and bringing higher wisdom to bear are introduced;

- we continue describing in as exact a detail as possible the nature of an over-active immune system and encourage the immune system to dial down its response (using the image of the dial and gauge).

The session ends with the teaching of self-hypnosis. Here the client is given some short exercises to do during the week and is also taught how to perform various hypnotic pain control techniques (that were included in the first and second sessions). This is followed by a debriefing.


The session starts with a series of questions relating to the previous session and the previous week. Then we move into the trance portion where:

- the metaphors and imaginal exercises of the first two sessions are used again as well as direct suggestions to reduce pain and itchiness and the size of the inflammation etc;

- this session follows the emotions uncovered during the previous session and attempts to uncover the individuals or situations that played a role in the development of this illness (including the emotions uncovered during the second session) with the intention of releasing any negative energy and patterns that others created and which support this illness. This is done through the process of forgiveness.

The session ends with the teaching of self-hypnosis and the giving of very short exercises to do during the week (including a continuing emphasis on pain control techniques). Followed by a debriefing.


This is similar to the third session (and includes numerous imaginal exercises, metaphors, analogs, direct suggestions etc). However, the main goal of this session is to explore the client's own role in the development of the illness (including the supporting emotions) with the intention of releasing the negative energy and patterns created by the client and forgiving yourself for your mistakes.

THE FIFTH SESSION (most problems can be dealt with in four sessions, however, the exceptional nature of this problem requires a little more work)

This is very similar to all of the previous sessions in terms of imaginal exercises, metaphors, analogs, direct suggestions etc. And while the subconscious will be asked to recall the specific event (if there is one) that triggered this condition in the first place, the main goal is to make sure that the client now has enough practice and skill with self-hypnosis, pain control techniques and enough experience with the various exercises and metaphors that they can then continue the healing process on their own.


Mindfulness and Hypnosis - Tuesday August 21, 2012

Posted on August 21, 2012 at 8:10 PM Comments comments (0)

The understanding and practice of Mindfulness has seeped from the world of ancient mystical practices (primarily, though not exclusively, from Buddhism) into present-day psychology and psychiatry. And as with hypnosis, Mindfulness has been subject to numerous rigorous academic studies over the last 30 years that have scientifically proven it has the power to help people deal with a whole range of issues.


This research indicates that practicing Mindfulness can improve the immune system, lead to more balanced brain-wave states, and recover more easily from disturbing and challenging emotional experiences.

The growing body of research has also proven that training in Mindfulness can help people deal more effectively with pain, stress, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, addictions and many other problems.


Things which hypnosis has also been clinically proven to help.

This is why I like to think that they are like two sides of the same coin, because they both involve the focusing of our awareness: one inwards and one outwards.

Can Hypnosis Help Me Overcome My Fear of Spiders? - Monday August 20, 2012

Posted on August 20, 2012 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (1)

QUESTION: I have a really deep fear of spiders. Seeing one sets me into the full panic mode. Even just thinking about it right now is making me feel a little anxious. My older sister doesn't like spiders, but she doesn't freak out like I do. When I was 14 I fell asleep and woke up with some red bites on my arm that my Dad thought were spider bites. Even then, they didn't really freak me out. That began about 6 months later. Can hypnosis help me?

ALLAN'S ANSWER: This sounds like it is a problem that is deeply rooted in your subconscious. Fortunately, hypnosis has a good track record when it comes to helping people deal with fears like this. I would recommend that you try to find a well-trained hypnotist who is very experienced in the use of Age Regression. It will probably take four or five sessions to eliminate this problem (it depends on the length of their sessions and how experienced they are).

They will look for two events in your life that could be years apart (and vary in their intensity): the Initial Sensitizing Event (ISE) and the Symptom Producing Event (SPE).

The Initial Sensitizing Event would have occurred the first time you felt frightened by spiders and it can usually be traced back to early childhood. It doesn't even have to be severe or memorable.

Our body has an amazing ability to protect itself. It is part of our evolutionary make-up. It is good to fear something that is dangerous.

Unfortunately, this mechanism can operate pretty blindly at times: we eat a peach just before we succumb to the flu and even though the peach had nothing to do with our getting the flu, our subconscious somehow links the two so that the next time we see a peach we automatically feel a tinge of nausea.

Or we see a spider and our older sister screams in terror and runs away. We are not really sure what happened, but her scream and fear triggered various neurons to fire in some deep emotional parts of our brain (particularly our amygdala).

This triggers an automatic fear-response that causes a series of cascading events to happen in our body. Our blood-pressure rises and our heart-rate spikes up. Our adrenal glands start spewing norepinephrine and cortisol. Our immune system shuts down. Millions of tiny valves open and close and blood is directed away from our brain and stomach and pumped into our large muscles so we are ready to devote everything we have to either fighting or fleeing.

And somehow our subconscious mind now links the image of a spider to this fear response. So the next time we see a spider we feel a tingling of apprehension. And this is how it should remain. Except years later something goes wrong and things go a little haywire. You fall asleep and wake up with bites. You are not even certain (because you were sleeping at the time) but you think you were attacked by spiders. This thought begins to haunt you. It seeps into your subconscious.

And because your subconscious is really stronger, faster and more powerful than your conscious mind, within a few years you have a full-blow phobia. And because your subconscious really IS stronger, faster and more powerful than your conscious mind, you cannot talk or think your way out of this problem (because thinking and talking are activities performed by your conscious mind).

This is where the hypnotist comes in, because they have been trained to communicate with the subconscious. They might invoke a specific type of memory (perhaps of remaining calm and aware), use metaphors and sensory-rich visualizations, and make direct suggestions. They might have you imagine dials and gauges that are linked to your norepinephrine and cortisol levels and then teach you how you to use the power of your imagination to turn these dials down.

Then they might use Age Regression to take you back to the initial moment you first became afraid of spiders (which in this imaginary example was when your older sister freaked out and ran away). Then they might have you see this event as if you were sitting in a large movie theatre watching it on the big screen. They might even have you imagine that you are watching these clips forwards and then in reverse. They might make the images turn black and white and then have them move further and further away as if they were being moved down a long hallway (to help you dissociate from the trigger).

They might even get you to hallucinate being that little 5-year-old boy who first developed that fear when his sister screamed and ran away. They might get you to go one step further, and hallucinate that you are having a conversation with your 5-year-old self where you explain why he doesn't really need to fear spiders. They might even get you to ask your 5-year-old self for his help. This is really designed to help you to integrate the deeper, more primal parts of your brain with the higher, more evolved parts of your brain (in particular with your pre-frontal cortex which is supposed to inhibit such overblown responses).

Please keep in mind that phobias are curable. You do not need to let them control you and effect your life in such a deep way. Certain natural processes within you (in particular the deeper, older parts of your brain) have simply run amock and gotten out of control and it is just a matter of training your subconscious to stop being such a drama queen.

Why Did My Friend Do Things He Would Never Do While on Stage with a Hypnotist? - Friday July 20, 2012

Posted on August 20, 2012 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)

QUESTION: I went to a live hypnosis show with a friend who is really shy. He volunteered to go on stage and ended up doing the silliest things and acting like a complete fool and doing things he would never do. Then when it was all over, he denied doing any of it and accused us of making it all up. Yet hypnotists claim that no one can be made to do anything they don't want to do. They also say we will remember everything that happened to us when we were in trance. Why the discrepancies?


ALLAN'S ANSWER: This is a great question. Firstly, a shy person is never shy with their closest friends. In fact, I bet that when he is alone with you, he has a wicked sense of humour, is a bit of a practical joker and loves to make you laugh and smile. In other words, beneath his shy exterior he is probably a bit of an entertainer.

So it wasn't so much that he ended up doing things that he would never do, but rather he did things he would love to do if he wasn't held back by his shyness.

Secondly, I would also be willing to bet he did remember being on stage and acting like a fool. I am also willing to guess that the stage hypnotist stated (in a very theatrical way and said as much to the audience as to your friend) that your friend would forget everything. This really gave your friend "plausible deniability" (or an excuse to pretend it never happened).

Of course, it is possible to induce amnesia with hypnosis. So while it is most likely that your friend consciously remembers what happened, it is possible that he is such a good hypnotic subject that he pushed it from his conscious awareness.

What you have to understand is that as stage show has a radically different goal from a therapeutic session. One is geared towards entertainment and the other towards healing. One wants people to act as silly as they can to get laughs, while the other is focused on healing, transformation and growth.

The first thing a stage hypnotist will do is ask for volunteers to come up onto the stage with them. Then they will do a quick suggestibility test that accomplishes two things. Firstly, it allows them to determine those individuals who are highly hypnotizable. And secondly (and far more importantly) it allows them to see who is willing to play along with them.

As someone who is interested in the therapeutic application of hypnosis, my goals are very different. I want my clients to remember everything that happens during their session. So when they come to see me (or they visit my website), I make sure to stress that they will recall what happens because this is an important element of the healing process. I want them to gain "insight" into their subconscious motivations (which is why we often refer to this type of work as Insight Work). I want them to bring those hidden impulses into the light.

I should also mention that hypnosis is remarkably effective in helping people overcome shyness and social anxiety. So if your friend ever wants to come out of his shell and be really entertaining, he should find a reputable hypnotist who is trained to help people with this problem.

Hypnosis and Taming the Amygdala - Saturday June 9, 2012

Posted on June 9, 2012 at 11:50 PM Comments comments (0)

The Amygdala are twin clusters of almond-shaped neurons located about two inches directly behind each of our eyes. They have been described as the emotional heart of the brain and are responsible for encoding emotional memories and activating the fight-or-flight response when they perceive or imagine danger.


Let’s say we are in a forest picking wild raspberries and a bear suddenly thrashes its way out of the bushes in front of us. Now in order for our conscious mind to respond to this threat at least six inner steps must take place.


If we just focus on the visual pathway (hearing would also play a large role), the image that enters our eyes is relayed to the Thalamus (step 1). The Thalamus then projects it to the primary visual-processing area located right at the back of our head (step 2). The primary visual processing area then sends the image to the secondary processing area (step 3) where it is matched with the forms and previous associations of a bear. This area then projects this information to our Pre-frontal Cortex (step 4) immediately behind our forehead which then projects instructions to an area near the top of our head (step 5) which then relays a message to our Hypothalamus to start us running (step 6). At which point we would probably already be dead.


Fortunately/unfortunately, the brain has evolved over millions of years and a much more ancient part of our brain can hijack this process. So the bear thrashes its way out of the bushes and this image is relayed to the Thalamus (step 1) which then sends this information both to the conscious mind (following the route outlined above) and the Amygdala (step 2). The Amygdala, or the fear-detector, alerts the Hypothalamus to start running (step 3) before the conscious mind is even aware what it is running from.


So not only does it get us running in three rather than six steps, the pathways that the information is relayed along are much closer together further reducing response time.


Now when something like this happens the Amygdala also floods the brain with chemicals that cause this memory to be imprinted in a very forceful way. So the next time we walk past that bush of raspberries the Amygdala will light up even though there is no danger. It will also continually be monitoring our environment for anything similar: perhaps the cracking of twigs or a big blurry movement and make our body respond as if it were in danger.


This is fine up to a point. However, in our world the Amygdala might light up whenever we hear a siren, or when our boss yells at us, or when we have to speak in public. It can even take a specific incident - perhaps from a time we were nearly hit by a car, or when we were yelled at by someone as a three-year-old - and generalize it so that various other things can trigger this response.


The mechanism is highly implicated in all forms of anxiety, including public speaking and even performance anxiety.


Now when the Amygdala light up they send signals to the Hypothalamus which then produces a neurohormone (CRH) which then stimulates the Pituitary Gland to produce a major anxiety producing-hormone (ACTH) which then floods into the blood stream. ACTH has various effects on the body, the most important being that it stimulate our Adrenal Glands which in turn flood the body with things such as adrenaline and cortisol and other stress-related bio-chemicals.


Collectively all of these biochemicals cause the Immune System to shut down (the body doesn’t want to waste precious resources on the Immune System when our lives are in danger), blood pressure to spike and blood and other essential nutrients to be directed away from our brains and stomachs and into our large muscles (we don’t need to engage in abstract reasoning or digest food when our life is at stake).


As a result, it hampers our ability to learn. It affects our ability to sleep. It can lead to diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and various other digestive disorders (and is the reason anxiety is often felt in the stomach). It can lead to strokes, pulmonary embolisms and heart attacks. It turns off our Immune Systems which in turn makes us more susceptible to colds, the flu, bacterial and viral infections. It can also lead to sexual problems such as an inability for a woman to have an orgasm and to premature ejaculation for a man.


And as if this wasn’t enough, the large muscles that are activated by this process are fuelled by sugar and fat, so it also dramatically increases our cravings for sweet fatty foods, which in turn can have a ripple effect in terms of making us more susceptible to diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other illnesses.

Hypnosis and the Brain - Saturday June 9, 2012

Posted on June 9, 2012 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (0)

To simplify something that is really far more complex, it is as if there are two people living inside of us. One more-or-less known familiar and one hidden and deeply mysterious.


There is our normal (conscious) self that is thoughtful and reflective. It is centred around the words and images that flow through our minds. It is swayed by reasonable arguments and tends to work through issues in a logical fashion. It operates at a slower, more deliberate, pace. It would never get angry or fearful or anxious or depressed, and in fact, it feels quite helpless when it is overwhelmed by these feelings. This is because one of its functions is to inhibit these feelings so that they do not overwhelm us.


Then there is our other (subconscious) self which is faster and more volatile. It is the seat of our emotions and tends to be “reactive” (that is, it is the part in us that just reacts without thinking). It can flash angrily (or fearfully or despairingly) up into our awareness and ambush and overwhelm our normal self (in part because it is faster than our normal self).


Now while most people are not really aware that they have this dual nature, those suffering from problems such as anger management, anxiety and depression, and who feel they are constantly at war within themselves have some inkling of it.


This dual nature is actually a product of our evolution as a species. This is because we have an inner brain that has its own separate neural circuits, and we have an outer or higher brain (the neo-cortex, which is sometimes called the mammalian brain because it is only found in mammals). And it is the conflict between the two of these (and the structures that mediate between them) that is the cause of so many of our problems, particularly those that involve our emotions.


The mammalian brain is supposed to control and inhibit the darker impulses of our more primal brain (where our emotions really reside). However, many of us experienced traumatizing events when we were children. Events that happened when our higher brain had yet to fully develop. And unfortunately, these events often create defective neural circuits in us that we can carry around for the rest of our lives. Circuits that often impair our ability to lead the type of lives we were meant to live.


Now it is not as if this more primal part of our brain is supposed to be antagonistic and at war with the higher part. It actually wants to help and protect us. For instance, most of us who have driven for a number of years have undoubtedly been in a situation where we were driving down the street thinking whatever thoughts we were thinking (that is, we were centred in our conscious mind), when the quicker, more primal part of our brain (our subconscious) suddenly jumps to the forefront and takes over the steering wheel and we miraculously swerve to avoid a car (and it is so quick that all of this happens before our conscious mind was even aware that we were in danger). Well this part of our brain is also the source of those feelings that tend to rise up and overwhelm us.


This is in part, because within this ancient area of our brain there is a structure called the amygdala (it is actually a twin structure because we have a right and a left amygdala in either side of our brain) which is the seat of our emotions.


It is where those memories of the emotionally traumatic events we experienced as children are kept (and where all of our emotional memories are stored). And it is actually is the source of all of our emotions including anger. And it just needs to be cleansed, re-educated and its circuitry integrated back into the whole brain so that it's impulses can brought back under the control of our higher brain.


Fortunately, because this is part of our subconscious mind, hypnosis excels at helping us to do this.

Emotions and Evolution - Friday June 8, 2012

Posted on June 9, 2012 at 1:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Although we are extremely complex machines, we can simplify this by saying that we have three brains: an intellectual brain in our heads; a physical brain in our cerebellum, spinal cord and body; and an emotional brain that extends from our stomach, heart, lungs, throat, mouth, face and eyes - right up to our tear ducts.


Unfortunately, our educational system is primarily geared to training our head brain, with a minor emphasis on our physical brain (through sports and physical education). There is almost no attempt to educate and develop our emotional brain. This is why we have university professors and professional athletes who act like small spoiled petulant children when things don't go their way.


True evolution and transformation must necessarily involve the balanced and harmonious development of all three brains or centres. As a result we must do lot of work on our emotions just for this part to catch up.


We have learned how to study and control our thoughts (though only to a certain extent). We have also learned to move and control our physical body (again, only to a certain extent). Yet few of us have similar control over our emotions. Our feelings just happen.


Someone cuts us off in traffic and we erupt into road-rage. Someone looks at us a little longer than is polite and we find ourselves growing more and more uncomfortable.


Anxiety and depression have become rampant in our society and these are both emotional illnesses that have taken a life of their own and slipped beyond our control. Far too many of us walk around filled with dark and gloomy emotions; subconsciously reacting to every smile or frown we encounter and reacting to rain and snow as if they were personal insults.


Part of the problem is that our emotions are much quicker and more powerful than our thoughts and they seem to arise out of nowhere as an unstoppable force; making us honk the horn or wave our fist, or curse the weather, before we are even aware of what we are doing.


Fortunately, tools such as hypnosis, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programing) and other techniques can be used to help make up for this shortfall, because the subconscious brain is also the emotional brain.


I know that when I am working with a client, I always smile if I manage to provoke some kind of an emotional reaction; even if it is merely a single tear rolling down the side of the face. Because I then know that I have reached the emotional brain.


But then I believe that the future evolution of humanity must necessarily involve a transformation (and cleansing) of our emotions. We really have to learn to smile at the rain and to be placid in the face of the driver who cuts us off.


In other words to stop reacting to every little slight, hurt or inconvenience. To stop reacting and start acting. To become balanced three-brained beings.

Emotions and Illness - Friday June 8, 2012

Posted on June 9, 2012 at 1:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Physicians and scientists have been taught to take a very mechanistic approach to the body. Particularly when it involves disease and illness. Someone has a lung infection and they treat it with antibiotics. Another person has cancer and they cut it out with a scalpel and flood the body with radiation and toxic chemicals designed to kill any cancerous cells.


We are treated like a mechanic would treat a car. Fortunately, this view is slowly changing as more and more people are beginning to recognize the role our thoughts and emotions play in the development of an illness. Unfortunately, unlike a cancerous cell, a 'cancerous thought' or 'cancerous emotion' cannot simply be cut out or irradiated.


For instance, an illness such as Diabetes Type II is more than just an inability of certain cells in our body to transform or expel excess sugar/glucose. Now while there is a strong genetic component to diabetes because it clearly runs in families, if it were purely genetic then if one identical twin got it, the other would also have to come down with it. Something that doesn’t necessarily happen.


Now while there is a genetic component to this illness, environmental factors also play a big role because Diabetes Type II is also linked to diets that are high in sugar (or carbohydrates and lactose - which are converted into sugars/glucose during the digestive process) and sedentary lifestyles. This is partly why we are seeing a dramatic increase in the levels of diabetes in our society because of the poor substandard nature of the western diet and lifestyle.


However, there is also a strong emotional factor to developing this illness as well, because people who become diabetic also tend to feel that life lacks "sweetness." It is as if their illness is not just a physical disease, but a physical manifestation and even a 'metaphor' for their emotional state.


This is because people who suffer from diabetes (Type II) also have a tendency to beat themselves up emotionally; particularly when dealing with the past.


As a hypnotist I have been trained to pay particular attention to a diabetics' 'shouldve's' 'couldve's' and 'wouldve's' because a diabetic will inevitably spend a lot of time beating themselves up for the things they did or did not do in the past ('why did I let her walk away' or 'why didn't I study that subject' or 'why did I study what my parents wanted me to study rather than following my heart' etc).


So to simply take pills to lower blood glucose levels and not to work on the emotions and the 'lack of sweetness' in a diabetic's life, is to fail to work on all of the dimensions of this illness.

Love Yourself Always and Everywhere - Friday June 8, 2012

Posted on June 9, 2012 at 1:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I was on the subway the other night when I saw a woman who appeared to be in her late-thirties board the train and sit down across from me. She seemed confident and self-assured, though I knew this was a lie.


I felt like moving across the isle and sitting beside her and whispering: "Stop hating yourself. Stop punishing yourself. Stop beating yourself up. Stop putting yourself down. Stop being so angry with yourself." I felt like saying: "Learn to love yourself as you are right now."


This was because I saw the tell-tale small red spots just below her cheekbones. Spots that told me all I needed to know about the feelings of hatred, loathing and anger she directed towards herself.


Unfortunately, what was true for her is true for most of us.


I have met so few people who are truly comfortable in their own skin. Especially for women in today's world, because they are inundated with pictures of air-brushed models and other cultural expectations that are impossible for any woman, even if they really are a supermodel, to live up to.


Most people would be so much better off if they just learned to love themselves. And this is where it gets real interesting, because as a hypnotist, I know that one of the most important keys to inner change and healing is to unconditionally love and accept ourselves as we are right now. Somehow loving and accepting ourselves without requiring anything to change, leads to big changes.


The person who says 'I would begin to love myself if only my skin were clear', or 'I would begin to love myself if only I were fifty pounds lighter', or will never develop that clear complexion or lose that weight (and if they somehow manage to do so by starving and torturing themselves - will regain it and a little bit more).


So my advice to all my clients is: begin here in this present moment, right now, to love and accept yourself just as you are, because the more you do the more you will change. It is one of those wonderful paradoxes created by the subconscious mind.


All too often we look at ourselves as if through high-powered binoculars. We magnify our flaws well out of proportion. I know this because I've been there, I've done it to myself. I hated myself until I was in my late forties. I continually put myself down and got angry at that extra weight and those spots in the mirror. I certainly never felt comfortable in my own skin. And it was only when I finally turned those binoculars around that my perspective changed.


And the interesting thing was that when I first starting saying 'I love myself' it sounded so false and hollow. It sounded like such a lie. Fortunately, I knew in my gut that I was poisoning myself with my thoughts and feelings about myself and so I just pushed on.


I also knew that those propagandist's were right and that a lie told often enough becomes accepted as the truth. So I lied and lied and then lied some more to myself. I even made a recording of this lie and listened to it whenever I was on public transit.


And just like I had been promised, what started out sounding hollow and untruthful slowly became the truth (and should have been the truth all along).


Every now and again I relapse into my old ways and spend a brief moment in that state self-hatred and have come to realize that not only does that thought/feeling/belief lack any true reality, but it is also the most toxic thought/feeling/belief we can have.


It 'is' the distortion. It is the big lie and lacks any kind of objective truth and is more like a subjective wallowing in a topsy-turvy land filled with subjective perceptions.


So take a moment (and if you can say this while looking into your eyes in a mirror even better):


"I love and accept myself AS I AM RIGHT NOW."


Then say it again.


And again.


And again.


Repeat it to yourself as often as you can.


Repeat it whenever and wherever you have the presence of mind to do so and watch it change your life as it seeps down into your being and becomes a subconscious truth.


The Milton Model of Hypnosis - Thursday May 10, 2012

Posted on June 7, 2012 at 7:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Milton Erickson, who was a medical doctor and psychiatrist, is probably the most famous and innovative hypnotist of the 20th century. He never counted down from ten or seemed to do any type of formal induction. Yet his results were remarkable.


He developed what is now called Conversational Hypnosis. People would be talking to him, having what they thoughts was a normal conversation and then notice that their arm was floating in the air, or they couldn't move or feel any pain.


He was studied by two men who went on to use much of what they learned to create NLP or Neuro-Linguistic Programing. One of these men, John Grinder, had a Ph.D. in Linguistics and was able to analyse the linguistic patterns Erickson used.


The Milton Model and involves using:


1. Mind Reading

2. Lost Performatives

3. Cause and Effect

4. Complex Equivalents

5. Presuppositions

6. Universal Quantifiers

7. Modal Operators

8. Nominalizations

9. Unspecified Verbs

10.Tag Questions

11. Lack of Referential Index

12. Comparative Deletions

14. Double Binds

15. Conversational Postulate

16. Extend Quotes

17. Selection Restriction Violation

18. Embedded Commands

19. Embedded Questions

20. Covering All Ranges of Possibilities

21. Utilization

22. Context and Meaning Reframing

23. Building Excitement and Expectations

24. Truisms About Sensations and Time

25. Open Ended Suggestions

26. Single Binds

27. I'm Not Going to Tell You ...

28. Compound Suggestions

29. Phonological Ambiguity

30. Syntactic Ambiguity

31. Scope Ambiguity

32. Punctuation Ambiguity


Here are examples of these in action;


So as you look at these words on your screen [pacing current experience], I know that you are wondering what I am going to say [mind reading].


Some [lost performative - because it doesn't state who these people are] say that this is an extremely important element of communication [nominalization, because the verb 'to communicate' - has been turned into the noun - 'communication' which strips it of some of it's meaning and this makes the word more open and pliable].


In fact, when we engage in the complex Linguistic processes of deletion, distortion and generalization, the subconscious is forced to fill in the blanks [cause and effect].


Of course, practising these patterns by writing them out is like practising juggling with scrunched-up paper towels [complex equivalent] because it slows the process down and makes it easier.


However, just by reading this far, you are obviously interested in this topic [presupposition]. In fact, as someone who likes to communicate, you must be fascinated by this whole topic [presupposition].


And every time [universal quantifier] you are [unspecified verb], you will learn more and more [cause and effect]. And we all [universal quantifier] know how important this is.


Now you must [modal operator] realize by reading this far [pacing your current experience] how important it is for everyone [universal quantifier] to learn how to communicate better because communication [nominalization] is vital in today's world. As a result, you should [modal operator] really be interested in this because mastering these patterns will increase your effectiveness at work [cause and effect]. In fact, you can learn how to change [unspecified verb - because the verb - 'to change' - is not linked to any specific action].


Now as someone who likes to communicate, this would be a good skill to have, wouldn't it [tag question]? You could probably see some [universal quantifier] uses, couldn't you [tag question]? In fact, it [lost performative] seems really useful, doesn't it [tag question]?


One [lack of referential index] can learn these techniques so that they become automatic.


In fact, this would make you better than a lot of others [comparative deletion because who these others are is not specified].


The best communicators in the world [comparative deletion] use these patterns automatically. Some [lost performative] even have no training and do it automatically.


Can you grasp the importance of what I am saying, or will you need a little more time [double bind - because even though it seems like I am offering you choice, the end result is the same - this is merely the illusion of choice]? Now are you going to try to digest this right away, or will you prefer to take your time [double bind]? Would you like to think about that [lost performative] now or later [double bind].


Can you make sure that you tell me what you think of this topic [conversational postulate - because even though this is phrased like a question, it is really a command - this is especially noticeable when spoken]?


I once attended a seminar where a lady told me that her father taught her it was important to always speak very precisely. Of course, they later changed when they realized that there were major exceptions to this rule [extended quotes - because I quote a lady quoting her father - but I don't specify who this last 'they' refers to: it could be the lady or it could be her father].


These patterns can even sense when things are not quite right [selectional restriction violation because patterns can't sense things - this is more noticeable when written down]. Just like when the clock tells me I am running out of time [selectional restriction violation because clocks don't speak].


Now some people think it is a good idea when staring at the computer screen to TAKE A DEEP BREATH AND RELAX A LITTLE [embedded command - which work better when spoken because you change the tone slightly]. You might even BECOME AWARE OF ANY TENSION IN YOUR BODY [embedded command]. Of course, when working on the computer [lost performative because I don't specify who] it is always a good idea to TAKE A MOMENT AND SENSE THE WHOLE BODY AS ONE ORGANIC WHOLE [a Gurjieffian flavoured embedded command].


I wonder when you are going to NOTICE YOUR POSTURE AS YOU SIT THERE [embedded question]? I would also like to know when YOU WILL REALIZE HOW IMPORTANT THESE PATTERNS ARE FOR SOMEONE LIKE YOU [embedded question]?


Perhaps you will realize how important this is now, or maybe you will realize this tomorrow, or next year, or maybe it'll take a long, long time [covering all of the range of possibilities - so you cannot negate what I say because one of them will be right].


Because as you sit there reading these words on the screen [pacing your current experience] you might [modal operator] notice the colour of these words [utilization] and how this plays a role in what you are learning [cause and effect]. Now even though you can look at this screen and see the words and whatnot, it is really quite surprising when you pull your gaze back and realize that there is far more light than dark lines on this screen. Just like you can stop and realize that there are moments of silence embedded within the spoken word. So look for this light and listen for that silence if you really want to learn [context and meaning reframing].


In fact, I know you'll be delighted to learn [mind reading] that you already know how to do much of this [presupposition]. You might even be surprised how often and how effectively you use these patterns when you are at work. So when you STOP AND THINK ABOUT IT, wouldn't it be wonderful if you learned how to wield your words more consciously so that you will be even more effective at work [building excitement and expectation].


Of course, if you thought that you could naturally absorb the tools you needed to communicate better, you would not have to take the time to read this far [a truism about time], would you [tag question]?


Now, in some very specific ways you are beginning to realize just how powerful your thoughts and feelings are, and you are beginning to get a sense of just how much you will change [open-ended suggestion because the nature of the changes is not defined] and that is pretty darn exciting [building excitement], isn't it [tag question].


Of course, you also know [mind reading] that the more self-hypnosis you do and the more work you do on yourself, the more you will change [a single bind].


Now I am not going to tell you, just how much you have already changed in your life [I'm not going to tell you... a statement used to indirectly make a claim].


I wonder just how surprised and delighted you will be when you realize just how much you have changed, as you watch the clock approaching midnight on New Year's Eve [compound suggestion - the first suggestion is covered up by a statement fact].


You do, of course, know that if you write the right words you can certainly right some wrongs. And while we can't right every wrong when we write, we can right some of them. To relax as you pretend to see a bee flying in the air, or maybe to look in a book and to see a b in a book of... a... b... see... how easy it is to change when you have the right tools [phonological ambiguity - best if heard rather than read].


Last week I 'officially' hypnotized a friend for the first time, while they returned the favour and hypnotized me. Of course they realized that hypnotizing hypnotists can be tricky [syntacic ambiguity - did he find it tricky hypnotizing a hypnotist, or did he find that this hypnotist (me) got tricky when hypnotizing him].


Sometimes I find it very easy to allow my jaw to relax even deeper as you read to these words [punctuation ambiguity - again more effective when spoken because you just can't go back and re-listen to it].


Mistaken Beliefs from Childhood - Thursday March 8, 2012

Posted on April 17, 2012 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Somewhere deep in our childhood many of us absorbed lies and falsehoods that we now believe to be true. Perhaps we learned to believe that we were unlovable; or that we have such little value we must go out of our way to prove ourselves; or that the world is filled with evil and darkness. This means that if we wish to change and embrace the future, sometimes we must make a detour into our past.

What is "Being"? - Tuesday March 6, 2012

Posted on March 6, 2012 at 6:05 PM Comments comments (0)

There is a Hindu term called samskara. I like to think of samskaras as metaphorical karmic seed-particles.


Samskara has been defined by the Dictionary of Common Sanskrit Words as: "Whenever an action is performed with the desire... [a] sanskara is created... These accumulate and determine the situations with which we will be presented in the future and will influence the scope of future actions."


What this really means is that everything we see, hear, smell, taste, sense, feel, think, speak, imagine, hallucinate and even dream leaves some kind of an impression, some kind of a residue, somewhere inside of us. And I like to think that the sum total accumulation of these impressions is my Being.


And not that I am endorsing re-incarnation (and not that I'm not endorsing it), but I also like to think of Being as the 'linga-sharira' or the transmigratory-self which made up of all of our accumulated samskaras. This is the part of us that leaves the body at death. It is not permanent or immortal, though it may seem that way relative to the physical body.


So it can grow and evolve and change over time. And this is important to understand. Our Being is not a static 'thing' and is more like an inner garden that we can grow, cultivate and nourish (of course it can also devolve and be overrun with 'briar's and thorns').


Now it is important to understand is that there are three ways of raising the level of our Being.


One is to enhance it by refining the quality of our impressions: this is easiest done by harnessing the faculty or power of Mindfulness (sanskrit: smriti). If you were just asleep in these words - that is, reading them in a state of non-Mindfulness and were absorbed in the words and lost to the ‘self’- you were creating a certain level of impression (level 48), but if you now begin to at least sense your hands (and ultimately your whole body) you will be seeding your Being with higher impressions (level 24).


This is why everyone should be practicing at least an hour of inner exercises every day (and this can be as simple as sensing your body breathing while standing in a lineup; to deliberately working your way through the sensation of every muscle and bone in your head).


The second way is to negate, burn off, extinguish our darkest impressions. This is where hypnosis excels because as George Gurdjieff observed, hypnosis allows us to unfix a previously fixed impression. There are also other techniques for erasing things on the inner ‘hard drive’


And the third is to step into the Reconciling Position and stand between light and dark, good and bad, happiness and sadness.

The Hypnotized Hypnotists - Sunday February 26, 2012

Posted on February 29, 2012 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)

There is something deeply hypnotic about being a hypnotist. This is both good and bad. For instance, it can really facilitate the process if you can go into a trance along with your clients. Perhaps relaxing your own arms and legs as you ask your client’s to relax their arms and legs. Slowing your breathing and going deeper and deeper as you pull them along.


The down side, however, lies in the fact that one of the reasons hypnosis works is because it bypasses “the critical factor of the conscious mind.” This part is like a sentry or gatekeeper that is meant to protect us by preventing any old random suggestion from being uncritically accepted by the subconscious mind. Unfortunately, this means that if the hypnotist goes into a trance they can begin to uncritically accept any old nonsense if it is presented in the right way.


The is best illustrated by the fact that well over half of all hypnotists practice Past Life Regression. Uncritically accepting something that is not supported by any evidence (unlike numerous other applications of hypnosis).


Now please keep in mind that I spent three years studying Hinduism at university so I am very open to the theory of reincarnation. I wish it were otherwise, but there is just no evidence to support the idea we can access past-life memories through hypnosis.


To learn more...

Mindfulness and Hypnosis - Tuesday Febrauary 21, 2012

Posted on February 21, 2012 at 10:00 PM Comments comments (0)

Hypnosis and Mindfulness may seem like opposite techniques. After all, hypnosis requires us to enter into progressively deeper trance states, while Mindful techniques help us awaken more fully to ourselves and the world around us.


Fortunately, in spite of their apparent differences, they are very complementary and can be used to enhance each other. For instance, we can begin the hypnotic process with a progressive-relaxation induction that also takes you through the steps involved in developing a Mindful awareness of your body. In other words, we can use a Mindful self-sensing exercise as the basis for an induction - so that not only do you go into a trance, you do so by learning how to begin developing a Mindful awareness of your body.


Once you are in a trance we can also get you to "hypnotically rehearse" certain Mindful techniques such as self-sensing, or Mindful looking, listening and smelling, or self-remembering (which combines these two).


We can even get you to hypnotically recall a moment when you were plagued by a dark ruminating thoughts, or were unable to escape from a heavy oppressive feeling. And then take you step-by-step, while in trance, through some powerful Mindful techniques for gaining control over them. Then we can reinforce these techniques with post-hypnotic suggestions so that you are then able to call on these new skills in your regular life.


We can also use post-hypnotic suggestions to help you develop a more Mindful awareness of yourself throughout your day. Perhaps suggesting you take a moment, breath in and become more Mindful of what you are thinking, sensing or feeling every time you open your front door.


We can give you powerful suggestions to develop radical acceptance and a non-judgemental awareness and then get you to hypnotically practice them.


We can use the trance state to uncover the causes of some of your more persistent unpleasant feelings and help you to neutralize them using age-regression and inner child techniques. We can also teach you, while in a hypnotically receptive state, numerous Mindful techniques for diminishing the hold these and other emotions may have over you.


We can use the trance state in order to accentuate some of the more powerful aspects of Mindfulness such as the inner separation it creates. Then teach you how this inner detachment can be used to help you step back from and become more tolerant of repetitive thoughts and feelings.

Tweets - Tuesday February 14, 2012

Posted on February 15, 2012 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

There are no harmful emotions. Emotions only become harmful when they get trapped.


Emotions usually become trapped in childhood, before the advanced parts of the brain have had a chance to develop.


Trapped emotions are like festering wounds. If not released they can have a corrosive effect on both our emotional and physical health.


If a lie told often enough becomes a truth, why not tell the most outrageous lies. Perhaps “I love myself” or “I love my physical body.”


Anger and hatred directed inwards, are the most corrosive emotions we can feel. Perhaps even more so than cigarettes.

No child wants to grow up to hate themselves. It’s strange how that happens.

It is alarming the number of people who don’t feel comfortable in their own skin. What does this say about our society?

If every time we look in the mirror we hate what we see, this sends a toxic message to our body.

Every emotion we feel is connected to molecules floating around in our body. So if anger fills our body with angry molecules, what does love do?

Stress inhibits digestion and the immune system, directs nutrients from the brain and makes you crave sugar and fat. They all add up to bad.

Emotions come and go but your body must last a lifetime. And it is easier to fix anger, rather than wait and have to fix your heart.

If more people learned to love and accept themselves, this would seep out and there would be more love and acceptance in the world.

If anger directed towards ourselves leads to such suffering, then why be angry with ourselves.

One of the worst emotions a child can feel is to feel unworthy.

Think of your smile as a light-switch and every time you smile you let a little light out of your heart.

The Imaginary is Not So Imaginary - Monday February 13, 2012

Posted on February 15, 2012 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Thoughts are not these abstract intangible things. They have both electrical and chemical properties and can have a profound effect on our bodies. A thought does not just flash through our head without leaving a trail. And even though we can talk about our “imagination” as if it doesn’t really have any reality, every time we imagine something - even something imaginary - there is an elaborate electrochemical process that occurs in our brain. A process that can lead to profound changes within our bodies.


There is a guided meditation called ‘The Lemon Experience’ that hypnotists often use to demonstrate the power of thoughts. It involves imaging you are in your kitchen and pulling a lemon out of the fridge, cutting it into quarters, and then imagining you are taking a bite out of one of the pieces. If done properly, you will notice that your mouth grows moist and you begin to salivate.


The problem with this demonstration is that a thought is not supposed to make you salivate. That is only supposed to happen when food is involved. Salivating is supposed to be an automatic process that is beyond our conscious control. Yet we can make this happen with just a thought. Because thoughts are powerful things.


So the next time someone says it is all in your imagination, you can reply: “Tell that to my pituitary and adrenal glands.”