The Thursday Thesis – 30/5/2019
Warning: Do not listen to the audio version of this blog if you are driving or operating machinery, as it contains hypnotic language patterns and may induce rapid Trance.
Mention to anyone that you’re a hypnotist and you’ll often get funny looks from them.
To many people there’s the image of the stage hypnotist and people quacking like ducks as they waddle around him; to others there’s the Svengali-like figure exerting mind control over his victim.
But hypnosis – or Trance - is a natural state which we all pass into and emerge from throughout every day of our lives, and Hypnosis has been recorded in human history since the dynastic period in Egypt, around four thousand years ago.
So – if everyone does it every day - why do people have strange ideas about trance and struggle to define what hypnosis is all about?
Here’s my favourite definition of Trance: the condition of focused attention and the establishment of acceptable selective thinking.
One thing that training in hypnosis has taught me is that people are in trance for almost all of the day: their family trance, their work trance, their geezer-down-the-pub trance – behaving differently from one context to another.
Any parent who has lost their child for what seems like days on end as the child is absorbed in the latest computer game will have observed this, just as we have all seen people staring intently at their phones, impervious to the world around them. Computer games are designed to create absorption in order to keep the user in the game and create dependence by a carefully constructed pathway strewn with rewards and schemes: they are designed to induce trance in the players and to offer them a more engaging experience than dealing with reality.
They’re not zombies, they’re just in trance and are not paying attention to what we call reality – just like I did as a child transforming myself into Spiderman, a Commando, the Wolves’ captain or my flavour-of-the-week favourite pop star.
Being aware of trance phenomena has been a huge help when I’m working with my guitar students – particularly the ones who tell me “...I have no musical talent / I can’t play guitar... / I have no sense of rhythm...”which is just about everybody!
The problem isn’t that they lack talent or haven’t been blessed with a “Gift”: the problem is that they’re stuck in a trance and don’t know how to get out of it. Over a lifetime they’ve accumulated evidence which supports the “no talent” statement or any other belief they hold about themselves: they have learned to focus their attention on what they cannot yet do and to only think in terms of how hard it would be for them to learn.
It’s a circular belief system – a positive feedback loop – which demands that the student pays close attention to what they don’t know how to do (because they haven’t tried it yet), reminding them that they can’t play guitar and reinforces the belief that learning to play will be super-hard...especially for someone like them, who has no talent or natural gift....
They have a robust system of self-reinforcing beliefs and focused attention: that’s a Trance.
Here’s the rule: if you’re not aware of it, you can’t affect it.
That means we’ll rarely experience a change in ourselves unless we pay attention to how we move through the world; how we think, how we interact with others, how we talk to ourselves and how we
view our experiences every day.
How may we know to wake if we were not aware we are asleep?
The other really cool thing I learned from hypnosis is what hypnotists call “Utilisation” – the process of using everything that happens as being a natural part of the client’s journey into Trance.
For example, let’s suppose that - as the client relaxes ever more deeply and becomes more inwardly focused – a car alarm goes off in the street outside. The imperturbable hypnotist will utilise the unwanted noise to reinforce the client’s focus, as though the blaring horn was just another component of the mechanism of Trance, by saying “...and as you notice the sound of a car alarm in the street outside, you’ll simply pay closer and closer attention, now, to the sound of my voice as the car alarm grows quieter and more distant with every breath you take and every beat of your heart... and you notice once again that the sound of my voice takes you deeper and deeper down into the feelings you have that are the most relaxed feelings you’ve ever had, in the way that is most right for you...”
This is a very powerful technique for the hypnotist to use, but suppose we just stole that idea and applied it across the everyday business of living?
What new meaning could we make from the flat tyre or the laddered stocking, the deal that fell through or the date who stood us up?
“...And as I leave the cinema and I attend to my breathing, I can thank my lucky stars that I can quickly eliminate her from my enquiries, which means that I retain a space in my life for someone who will show up for dates and who will be a better partner for me...this is a good thing”.
Suppose we figured out how to make everything that happened to us a necessary precursor to our success or achievement of our worthy goal?
Wouldn’t that be a Trance worth going into?
© Neil Cowmeadow 2019
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