Thursday, February 28, 2008

Nearly ninety days in... 2008. Are you on track?

Certified Stress Management expert (and hypnotist) Rick Allen led a terrific teleseminar on goal setting around the first of the year. Those who don't make New Year's Resolutions tend to set goals: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-defined (SMART).

Where to you want to be, this year or in five? How do you want to live? What do you want to do differently? With NLP, change begins with a well-formed outcome. An outcome is well formed when it is within your personal power to change, when it is within a specific context, and when it is ecological (congruent with your values and situation).

Rick had listeners vividly imagine their outcomes, or goals. That's the first step, which is partly rooted in, "If you don't know what you want, how will you formulate the steps to get there?"

To get to Seattle, for instance, there are a lot of intermediary steps. If I'm driving, I have to get on I-5 and pass through Vancouver, Centralia, Olympia, Tacoma, etc. I need petrol and a car. I probably need an address in Seattle, or else I could stop at the city limit... but I probably wouldn't reach my desired destination.

The other part of the equation is, "If you don't know what you want, how will you know when you get it?"

For example, if you say you want more money, and I give you a quarter... well, you got what you said you wanted, but it's probably not what you meant.

So, to continue with the Seattle illustration, what's the address? What are the landmarks? What sequence are they in? What position, or orientation, do they have?

Don't know the steps or the landmarks? One good way of finding out is to ask someone who's been there.

Goals help us get where we want to be, but they need to be SMART. Now is a great time to review your New Year's Resolutions and 2008 goals and check them for well-formedness.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Book review: Practical Guide to Self-Hypnosis by Melvin Powers

At the beginning of every comedy hypnosis show, I tell the audience I'll be keeping the volunteers who can go into hypnosis most quickly and easily, and that if I excuse them, it doesn't mean they can't be hypnotized -- it just means that tonight, they may be feeling distracted or may be having a hard time concentrating, for whatever reason.

Nevertheless, an excused volunteer often comes up later and says to me, "I guess I can't be hypnotized."


Powers's book is a godsend for those people who have had trouble entering hypnosis or recognizing that they've entered hypnosis. He spends a lot of time in his book addressing people who may experience challenges when they attempt self-hypnosis. He provides many, many exercises, procedures, tests and deepeners, assuring everyone of success. (I happen to agree with Powers that anyone can be hypnotized.)

I think the biggest value of this book is in the amount of time and spece Powers spends exploring the question of why some people struggle with hypnosis. If you have been experimenting with self-hypnosis and haven't gotten the results you want, the problem is probably covered in this little volume. You may have been

  • afraid

  • skeptical

  • resisting

  • trying too hard

  • under some misconception about hypnosis

  • feeling uneasy with the hypnotist

  • convinced it won't work

  • unwilling to spend the necessary time

I think Powers covers just about every problem people may encounter, and he provides solutions (which will also work if you are having trouble being hypnotized by someone else). This is a great little volume.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Portland Story Theater, Part Two of Four

Portland Story Theater's opened the second show of its 2008 series with Alton Chung's solo storytelling concert. Unfortunately, I was out of town opening weekend (I like opening nights), and tied up Friday of the following week, but I slipped in under the wire and caught the closing night. Okage Sama De (I am what I am because of you) recounts the stories of five men -- four of Japanese descent and one Jewish -- and their experiences during World War II.

The tales are fascinating in their exploration of assumptions, preconceptions, and resentments, not only those of white and Japanese Americans, but of mainland and Hawaiian Americans of Japanese descent, and encounters between Japanese Americans and Germans. But they are also deeply moving tales of heroes that bring to mind the Greek myths of heroes and gods.

I had never heard of the 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT), which was composed entirely of Japanese American. Chung describes it reverently, saying that for its size and duration of service, it is the most highly decorated unit in all of US Military history. I am trying to remember if I have ever gotten through one of Alton's concerts completely dry-eyed. If I have, it wasn't this one. Fortunately, I'd planned ahead and had plenty of tissue. To think that those young men, many barely out of high school, volunteered for military service while their families were in internment camps... wow.

Chung augments the first-person stories with photos of the men represented. Five folding chairs sit on the stage, and as a preamble to each story, Chung unrolls a photo of the man portrayed in the tale. He assumes the character of each narrator with unique tonality, tempo, vocabulary, gestures, and posture, personifying each man as he remembers his experiences of the war.

Chung gave a remarkable performance, and he's performing portions of the show around the USA. Check his Web site at and don't forget to check out Rick Huddle's upcoming solo show with Portland Story Theater. If I know Rick, his performance will be as unforgettable as the other solo shows have been.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Walkabout Trance Beach Resort Getaway

I'm back from Hermosa Beach and the Walkabout Trance Beach Resort Getaway, where the seminar topic was Rapid and Speed Inductions, Anywhere, Anytime, Anytrance. It was WONDERFUL! There were folks from Detroit, Texas, New Hampshire, Atlanta, Portland (two, besides me), Seattle, and all over California. There was even a guy from India. Some had been hypnotists since their teens; others had never hypnotized anyone before -- or been hypnotized themselves. Of 50+ people, maybe a dozen women. I met some absolutely dear people, and the time went by far too quickly. My warmest thanks to Richard Clark for all his time and effort, and to Brian David Phillips, and to David Fontenot, who I was told started the ball rolling by launching Hypnoticon in Atlanta, which brought Brian to the USA for a rare visit (from Taipei).

Some of the most valuable stuff for me:

1. Getting to do rapid and speed inductions over and over again with different people; noticing what "worked" and what didn't; beginning to see for myself the patterns I'd heard described for years; being in a well-lit room and developing my sensory acuity for noticing signs of trance in 1-4 minutes. (You gotta pay attention!)

2. Improvisation. Brian's exercise -- the Speed Trance Train -- really forced me to let go and PLAY. Since then, I've played with the Teakettle Induction, the Doorbell Induction, and the Peanut Butter on Toast Induction. I love, love, love the "anything can be an induction" philosophy.

3. Roll-over into something different. The skillsets that Brian taught emphasized being able to quickly and seamlessly modify what you are doing -- more of what works, less of what doesn't -- with inductions, deepeners or skits. I know this is old hat, but I had a new experience of it, and I'd like to be more flexible, so it was very valuable and I'll be practicing more deliberately (and playfully).

4. Affect/Emotion. Brian talked a lot about chaining positive emotion to physical phenomena ("the higher your hands go, the happier you feel") and leaving people better than we found them. When I was doing one of the exercises and mentioned to my partner that he felt almost like when he was a little kid at Disneyland, his hands leaped about eight inches. WHAM. I flashed on something I think Tony Robbins said: The only reason anyone does ANYTHING is for the feelings they get. I think one common element in my least successful bar gigs was that I didn't spend as much time telling my volunteers how wonderful and fantastic they felt, and how that feeling got stronger the more they responded. Whoa. Light bulb.

5. I have a completely different view suggestibility tests! Now they are like playing with a Brain Chemistry Set for Christmas! How fun!

At lunch on Day One, we went out in competitive teams to hypnotize people on the boardwalk. When we got BACK from lunch, people shared experiences. That was a real eye-opener and made very clear to me (again) that IT'S ALL ABOUT MINDSET. Or context. Be very careful of the words, "I can't." What was "out of bounds" for some people was well within the comfort zone of others. The sharing of information and encouragement really touched me.

I got trance phenomena from six people at lunch. I guess not bad for my first 90 minutes ever! It was hard at first to walk up to strangers, but two of my teammates showed absolutely no hesitation and no fear. Victoria and John, you inspire me!

Day Two was more of the same, only the goal was to deepen the state... I think. My brain pretty much imploded by then. We played with pendulums and ideomotor-response demos as openers (and as marketing leave-behinds). My Third-Eyed, One-Holed, Flying Purple Pendulum is a wonderful memento. Thank you Brian and Lorraine!

On the first day, I surrendered to beginner's mind and just played around and experimented. Day Two, I began to worry more about "improving," I felt like I'd forgotten a lot of stuff, and I started to feel self-conscious around the more experienced hypnotists. But I came home excited, having learned a lot, met some fabulous people and enjoyed Southern California sunshine. Orion is much higher in the L.A. sky than above the 45th Parallel in Portland. It is good to be home, and I'm so grateful for the new friends and skills.