These are some notes from the last workshop on Meditation and Self Hypnosis
I hope they make sense in isolation, but feel free to ask about point that needs to be clarified
Stress is the result of prolonged activity of the sympathetic nervous system. It is the curse of our age. There is more information in one edition of the times than a medieval man would have read or heard in a lifetime. And a lot of this information will cause us to become alert to danger or stressed. We can easily find ourselves in an almost permanent state of alert in which the sympathetic nervous system is activated, preparing us for a quick response to a danger that never materialises.
Meditation and Self Hypnosis are possible ways of dealing with this stress.
MEDITATION The Benefits
Here is a list of the summary of results of many of the scientifically conducted studies into meditation.
What is Meditation?
It is a highly alert state of mind. It requires one to remain psychologically present in the moment without analysing or evaluating the details of whatever happens in and around one and therefore without adding to or subtracting from it in any way.
What is hypnosis?
The state of hypnosis can best be described as a state of highly focused attention with heightened suggestibility. Hypnosis is sometimes but not always accompanied by relaxation.
It should not be difficult to realise that ‘alert’ and ‘focussed’ are interchangeable, as are ’heightened suggestibility’ and ‘without analysing.’
Although it may not be obvious until you become familiar with both, but meditation and hypnosis are very, very similar states of mind. Indeed, many people who meditate with a view to changing or improve a particular aspect of themselves will, without realising it, be using self hypnosis, but without calling it such. Often they will be doing it in a very imprecise and haphazard way. This article is about making this practise more systematic and with a greater overall understanding.
Lets start with a simple meditation. Focus on your breath. Be aware, even very focussed, but don't think about it. You could pick a view out of your window or an idea or word to focus on. Focus without considering is what some might call ‘The stares.’ You know those moments when someone might say, “a penny for your thoughts”, but you don't have any. Focus, stare and go blank.
How do you know if you are doing it right? Simple, if you're feeling better at the end, you are probably doing it right.
With hypnosis one tends to get a person to focus on feelings in their body while they also focus on your voice, and yes you can get them to stare at a swinging watch or your eyes, but the result is actually almost an identical state of mind to meditation.
Let’s just cover some important points about hypnosis.
Hypnosis is not:
▪A peculiar altered state
▪A mystical state
When in hypnosis a person is:
▪In a natural and harmless state
▪Able to come out of hypnosis when s/he wishes to.
The term originally meant sleep of the nervous system, and the originator of the term tried to change it later as it got misunderstood, but by then the term had stuck.
Think of it as the sleep of the sympathetic nervous system or turning the alarms off.
The Conscious and Unconscious - When we de-activate the sympathetic nervous system we open up the communication between the conscious and the unconscious.
It is common to use an ice burg as an analogy of the conscious and the unconscious. The small bit above the water being the conscious and the vast bulk of it below the water represents the unconscious and that’s ok up to a point.
But I like the imagery of a company office block with the executive board room at the top; the conscious. The communication between the floors is what we are looking at. Are the doors open, are the phones working.
When the activity in the board room is frantic, the staff keep out, when there is quite open relaxed attitude, the staff come and go with their ideas and take away instructions.
You could picture the the bridge of the star ship enterprise.
What we are talking about is opening the doors from the conscious to the unconscious.
Picture the starship enterprise. Klaxons screaming, gravity all over the place, jets of steam shooting out of random ceiling joints, lights flashing, random men in red sweaters running around inevitably to their deaths. There’s Klingons on the starboard bow, there’s Romulons coming up the rear. Everyone is focussed on emergency action. All the doors are shut to stop a hull breach from causing a catastrophic systems failure. The communications system is essentially shut down except for emergency information. No one is tending the hydroponics lab, no one is eating, chatting, sharing ideas, playing 3D chess, or having politically significant inter racial relations.
That is your sympathetic nervous system in full alert.
We are talking about turning the alarms off. Open all the doors between departments. Let the different parts talk to each other. Not only the executive management telling the production dept what needs to be done, but the production dept listening to the design and research dept, the customer survey dept letting the planning dept know what is going on.
Every part of you listening to every other part of you and being able to respond. Do you listen to your body?
In the next blog, we shall look at an example of how you can use meditation/self hypnosis to make changes to ourselves.
What we shall work on. Visualising can often help.
What is the image of you in your own mind and what is the voice of you inside your head.
Do you surprise yourself when you see a photo you didn’t know was being taken?
When you talk to yourself, when you rehearse what you are going to say, or ask yourself questions, or the voice as you type, or read. Whose voice is it? If you picture the person the voice belongs to, is it you? Is it a younger version of you? A thinner, fitter, version?
This is the version of you that you most likely project, most of the time. We have all seen people who look one thing in a photo shoot, but when you meet them, you realise they are quite different.
When you see the gorilla walking with a drop dead gorgeous girl, totally out of his league. But then you realise, that he has genuinely believes that he is God’s gift to women. And that is what she sees. He probably thinks it because his mother told him all his life that he was. I think Sofia Lorien said that nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is.
What if you changed that version of you? What if you created that version to be confident, strong, calm, disciplined etc.
Does that person laugh? Shout? argue with you? disapprove of you? Love you? That voice is more in touch, hence the Freudian slip notion.
Turn the alarms off.
Open all the doors between departments.
Like looking in a mirror, but what you see is your inner self. This is the person you must look at. Is it shrivelled with guilt? reduced by and contracted by others. Scared and hiding. Alert and ready to bite. Self pitying and bitter? Angry at the world like a spoilt child who hasn't got their way? Is it an axe welding maniac only just kept in chains.
Look and be honest. Put a face to the voice.
How would you like it to be?
Create your Change Intention according to your particular image and desire.
Have a word with yourself. Into state, open the door and have a word with yourself. What does the inner you need to hear.
How to construct a change intention
Anyone who has written functions into a spread sheet or even written programmes for a computer will realise that you need a whole different language with a particular grammar and syntax. If you want to add up a list of takings over a year, see the total, then see the total after a percentage deduction, then see what that would be in an average month to set up a standing order into a tax savings account, writing that into the function box on a spread sheet won’t get you the result you need. You have to know the language of the machine to get the obedient but stupid machine to co-operate. Anyone with a dog will know that it isn’t just a matter of using the right words, but also the tone of voice, stress, intonation and body language that you have to get right. Also of course dogs learn associations and context and themselves develop conditioned responses.
Let me explain the basics of the language of the unconscious. Somewhere between computers and dogs.
Emotion needs to be sincere, not the words. Negatives are ignored. No time tenses. The unconscious doesn’t know the difference between real, remembered or imagined.
Emotions need to be sincere.
All programming of the unconscious is proportionate to the depth of emotion associated with the message. You could repeat the best phrased affirmation a thousand times but if it is empty of emotion, you are wasting your time. But if it is invested with a strong emotion, once will make it stick. Compare the warning on the side of a packet of fags, with the fact that once when I was 16 a girl I really wanted to get to know a lot better, said, rather casually, that there was something very sexy about the way I lit my roll up. Bang, embedded. Lighting a cigarette was instantly associated with the positive prospect of getting laid. Again, one very traumatic experience is often enough to instil a phobia or set up a trigger for a psychotic episode later in life. If I could show you a kung fu technique once, and if you could get actually attacked that day, and if you used that technique and won. You would remember that technique like it was your name.
So an affirmation that goes “I’d be so happy if in the future I had a blah” will be associated with a sincere emotion of lack, grief, need, not happiness. Even shortened to “in the future I will have Blah” will be understood as “I’m upset that I lack a blah” You’re still focussed on your need, or your sorrow. Ideally, in terms of the unconscious language, actually feeling happy that you have a blah, would be best, but if you can’t bring yourself to image this because it feels dishonest with yourself, try to re-phrase this as “I’m happy that I have a blah on the way”, picture it as in the post, you’ve ordered it and you’ve had notification that it has been dispatched, it’s yours, you have one, you are just waiting for it to be delivered. “I’m happy that I have a blah on its way” will work meaningfully so long as you are actually happy/excited.
If you actually do not want the thing, your unconscious will also be aware. If you want blah because you think you should, because others expect it of you, but really have a reservation, your emotion will not be sincere. It’s easy to have ambitions that are self-delusional lies. Often these are the result of parents, peer groups, propaganda or persuasive advertising. Always start with honesty.
Don’t tell a child with a glass filled to the brim not to spill it, tell them to be steady. Don’t tell someone with erectile dysfunction not to think of failure. “Don’t think of a blue elephant” will work as well as “do think of a blue elephant” If you concentrate on only escaping what you fear, you will be focused on it so much that your filter system will present it to you all the time. Don’t run from the beast, you will be running backwards; run to safety. Don’t run from poverty, focus on abundance. Don’t run from depression, focus on the good stuff. Don’t try to control anger, encourage tolerance and even indifference. If you avoid the monster by looking out for the monster, you’ll see it everywhere. You must have noticed that you’re unconscious will fill in any unclear details with what we anticipate seeing. Any pattern in half-light will become faces or figures; the dressing gown on the door that becomes an intruder. If you expect the guy in a leather jacket to be a thug, when a fight starts, you will see that he started it. If you expect your partner to be unfaithful, every look, wrong number, text will be signs of infidelity. Try saying, don’t be jealous, don’t get angry, don’t notice the pigeons, don’t notice your thong etc.
Remember that your unconscious is a willing, though dumb, servant. Tell it to look out for dangers and they will be everywhere. Tell it to look out for insults, threats, opportunities etc. and from that vast resource or un-noticed data your obedient unconscious will find them or fill in the gaps to create them.
This is an area that most people find difficult to get their heads round.
Let’s start with the past and most people will get it. When we are reminded of a past event, when we experience a memory, our unconscious will process the images as if they were current, because the experience of the memory is current. We can be scared, angry, upset, elated, grateful etc. etc. The more emotional the event, the better it is remembered. (Non-emotional events are hardly remembered at all. Fixing/reworking memories to have a different, or less emotional associated is do-able, but is another topic, I’ll give a hint at it only.) It would be fairly pointless to say to someone re-living a terror, “but it’s not happening now” they are experiencing the emotions associated with the memory.
“I had a terrible past. I was abused” is understood as “my life is terrible, I’m abused” Unless you are chronically physically injured by the abuse, then it is the upset caused by the abuse that affects you. If the memory upsets you, then the upset is present and it is irrelevant (in terms of the effect on your unconscious) that the actual abuse is over. This is why simply talking about a past event, can actually make the current trauma worse.
Start by visualising the child that was, from another’s stand point. From the view of the grown-up you, watching. Say, “that child is being abuse”. Be sympathetic, be angry. Now make the picture black and white, put it in an album and close the book. Now consider you. And state, “I am safe and strong. Confident and in control of my life.” Create an image of that to get excited about, feel the strength, the safety etc.
The unconscious does not get the future tense. “I will have a blah”, will be interpreted according to you sincere emotions, as either “I’m upset that I lack blah”, or as “I’m excited that blah is on its way”, but better by far to think “I have a blah in my path” so that it is in the present tense. You can get just as excited about future events as you can about past events as you can about current events. If you want to make changes in your future path, in the direction that your unconscious is leading you, then you need to get excited about the possibilities that are ahead. Does that mean you are guaranteed to get them? Well no. But the run up to Christmas when you know you have good things waiting for you is a lot nicer than the run up to root canal work. In both situations it is possible that you might die the night before and they might not happen, but one is still nicer to live in. Remember you can only live in today, so the journey has to be good.
Creating Change Intentions / affirmations for yourself.
We all use affirmations all the time. But many of them are negative. “I just can’t lose weight, this is my natural shape” “You’ve got to be from the right background to really make it big” “Its all about having the right contacts, and I don’t have them” “Women don’t tend to like men like me” “I’m unlucky” “I always get the cold that’s going around” “I’m not confident about doing things like that” “ I’m only happy when I’ve got a drink in my hand” “I’m just someone who gets angry easily” “I tend to freeze in situations like that” “I can never think of the right thing to say” “God don’t mention maths, my brain goes numb at the thought”
Of course if you recognise any of those, you’ll know they aren’t affirmations, for you they’re merely a statement of the obvious.
Your affirmation needs to have a clear Visual, but with as much other sense input as possible, it must be Positive, it must be Present, and it must be Emotive.
Start simple. Chose a character or personality trait, you would like to increase. Don’t think in terms of one you don’t have; of course you have it, or you wouldn’t even be able to imagine it, to have an idea of what it would be like, to be able to want it more!
Picture a situation in which someone with that trait would react in a particular way. Now picture the situation, but with you reacting in that way. Now picture it again, but from behind your own yes. Play it over again, with more details. Now go into the future and look back at it. So if you want the confidence to perform a solo at the Albert Hall, picture the scene in the dressing room or the party afterwards. Now put the image of that scene just ahead of you on the path that you are walking.
Abundant confidence is on my path. My confidence is growing fast and it’s exciting to think of the person I’m becoming.
Some ideas about how your change intention could look.
Each and every day I am calm, secure and relaxed.
I am becoming more assertive and confident when I speak to colleagues.
Each and every day I accept myself as I am.
Each and every time I enter hypnosis I relax more deeply.
I find it easy to stop smoking.
I am excited that a confidence is on the path ahead of me.
I’m excited to become the slimmer me that is already part of my future.