Saturday, May 27, 2006

Hollywood Hypnosis

Fear #1: It must by like what I see on TV. (Or in the movies.)

I grew up watching Boris Karloff and Vincent Price moviews and while I don't recall seeing hypnosis explicitly portrayed, I definitely saw evil wizards casting spells with mysterious gestures, crystal pendulums, and the seductive monotony of the villian's voice.

Years later, in Telefon, I saw Charles Bronson turn into an assassin when someone whispered a hypnotic trigger over the telephone.

Creepy! And it has no relation to real hypnosis.

Hypnosis is not black magic or brainwashing. It is a naturally occurring state of mind that we pass through repeatedly all day long.

Hypnosis means our subconscious receives a message (suggestion) and begins to act on it without resistance, rejection or interference from the conscious mind.

This happens every time you come to a stop light. Do you consciously think, "Red means stop. I remove my foot from the gas, downshift, apply pressure to the brake, take the car out of gear, adjust my speed so that I come to a stop leaving space between my vehicle and the vehicle in front of me, before reaching the intersection."

Probably not. Your foot just moves.

A friend of mine said, "That's not hypnosis. That's a reflex."

Were you born with driving reflexes? Didn't you learn the behavior consciously at first? Maybe it has been a long time since you first climbed into the driver's seat of a car. Do you remember having to concentrate on every move? You had to practice again and again until you could do it with unconscious ease.

You probably don't remember learning to walk or talk, but that's another example of something you do now - automatically, reflexively, without conscious attention - that you had to learn with effort and practice.

Hypnosis is a tool for accelerating that "unconscious competence" and changing your behavior so that you can do it automatically, without struggling, using willpower, or arguing with yourself.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Five Myths About Hypnosis

At the Portland Chapter NGH meeting on May 13, Floyd Willis mentioned a mnemonic device developed by Tom Silver to describe common fears people have about hypnosis:


1. Must be like what I see on TV.
2. You can't hypnotize me.
3. Tell all my secrets.
4. Have total amnesia.
5. Stuck in trance.

I thought it might be fun to examine these one by one. Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Hypnosis to Improve Sports Performance

The Portland Chapter of the National Guild of Hypnotists met today, and the speaker - Floyd Wills - presented a talk entitled, "Blending Focus With Hypnosis: Mental Training for Sports and Personal Fitness." Meaty stuff! Wills covered theory and gave out real-world tested, nuts-and-bolts tools, passing along substantial, well-researched and well-presented material.

Wills has been practicing martial arts for 16 years and teaching them for seven. The techniques he taught not only fit athletes, but anyone who wants to develop laser-like focus in any area of accomplishment. These brain-based tools work with the whole mind and body. You can't train psychology and physiology separately, Wills says, because they are inseparably connected in our natural biology. Research shows that people are 80 percent more likely to give up on their physical training goals if the mental training component is lacking.

Illustrating facts with stories from his own life, from the lives of athletes and U.S. servicemen, and from folklore, Wills outlined four components that will move us through the blocks - distractions, doubts, fears - that keep us from accomplishing what we set out to do.

I love mnemonic systems - techniques that make things easy to remember, such as associating letters of a word with steps of a process (MYTHS for the five most common fears that block hypnotic trance, for example). Wills used several mnemonic systems in describing simple ways to structure and execute a mental training program.

I left the presentation with solid theory, and with plenty of hands-on tools. Wills included NLP patterns and hypnosis scripts for use with clients - or with ourselves. The packet he handed out also included a bibliography of books that explain things in more depth. It was a privilege and a pleasure to be in the audience and receive the benefits of his knowledge and experience in the martial arts, and to hear how these techniques transfer to the field of hypnosis.

Monday, May 08, 2006

New Portland Story Theater Performance!

I remember when I had to wait six months (or more) for a performance by Portland Story Theater. God must really love me, because I've seen them perform twice in the last three months - once around Valentine's Day and once last weekend, for their Mother's Day show: "Everybody's Got One."

If I were the sort of person given to hyperbole (heaven forfend!), I'd say, I wish every storytelling concert could be like this! To me, it seemed perfectly paced - the humor, the heartbreak, the mindboggling "Wow, I wish I'D seen that!" and the cringing "Yeesh, I'm glad that wasn't ME!"

I'm a huge fan of original material. There is something about personal narrative that engages me like nothing else. Maybe that's why the stories of childhood and adolescence had me rapt on the edge of my chair. So often, I hear people telling stories about childhood experiences, and they haven't really gained much emotional distance. The stories have become engraved and enshrined as part of a personal mythology. The meaning of those events has remained the same over the years. In the stories I heard last Friday, the tellers revealed how the meanings of their stories had changed; how their understanding of events had shifted, sometimes gradually, over years, and sometimes in a flash. Wow.

There's one more weekend to see "Everybody's Got One" - Friday and Saturday, May 12 and 13. I don't know when the next PST performance is planned, but I do know you don't want to wait six months. Lynne Duddy, Anne Penfound, Lawrence Howard and Rick Huddle have really put together something special. Go see!

Location, time, and other info is at their Web site,