The Oxford Dictionary defines “Hypnosis” as “the induction of a state of consciousness in which a person loses the power of voluntary action and is highly responsive to suggestion or direction,” implying that a hypnotised person is powerless, under the control of some powerful hypnotist who exerts their will over their subject.
Using that definition, it seems unlikely that hypnosis even exists, and it’s not surprising that the popular conception of what it means to be hypnotised is a stage-show farce, more smoke and mirrors than effective personal change.
We don’t really care if hypnosis exists, if hypnotic trances are ‘real’ or ‘pretend’, if a hypnotist can overwhelm someone’s will against their better judgement or if hypnosis is just a show-biz sham.
We know, however, that people do vary in their suggestibility. That some people are more suggestible than others, that any given person is more suggestible at some times than others, and that any given person can put their brain into a more suggestible state by some simple relaxation and visualisation techniques.
In this ‘altered state’, when a mind is more suggestible, you will find that visualisation, metaphor and imagination can alter your mind, bypass your filters, in ways that you may naturally fight when in less suggestible states.
While others can perhaps guide you into a hypnotic state, every example of hypnosis ever encountered was in fact produced by the person being hypnotised. You can ONLY do it to yourself, even if you are instructed how to do so by others.
This suggestible state of mind can be useful. If we can convince ourselves to eat more healthily, or behave more profitably, or see more clearly, or ditch our bad habits, if we can bypass the usual disbelief and mental blocks that prevent us from doing these things, it seems churlish to argue about how exactly these things can work. And they can work. People undergo operations under no anaesthetic other than the suggestion they’ll feel no pain, they change their lives overnight under a suggestion that it can happen, they perform strange acts on stage that otherwise they would find difficult.
So the question isn’t “does hypnosis exist” but “how can we best use it, whatever it is, to our advantage?
The answer is, and this will be an answer we repeat often, that we get better at things though practice. We’ll get better at being in that state through practising being in that state. We’ll get better at giving ourselves useful suggestions by giving ourselves useful suggestions. We’ll get better at changing, by changing. We can even improve just by imagining that we’re improving.
So-called “hypnotic” change is effected by metaphor, visualisation, imagination and belief. Your brain finds it hard to tell the difference between seeing something and imagining something. You can test this for yourself by, now, imagining the heat of the sun on your back. By feeling it burning deep into your skin, warming you. You can close your eyes and enjoy the sensation of that light heating your clothes, radiating energy into your skin, your body, warming your soul. You can, right now, feel that hot sensation. It may not be easy at first, but the longer you pause and think about and imagine that heat, the more likely it is that you’ll start to feel that heat. Close your eyes now, and note how your skin is warming under the light of that imaginary sun. It may be heating your shoulders, or I may be wrong and it’s heating an area lower in your back, or your arms, but you certainly can pause to think about that warmth until you start to feel it somewhere on your body. Do that now and then continue to read when you have felt it.
You can fool yourself into thinking that you feel that heat, and equally you can fool yourself into thinking, feeling, seeing, tasting, experiencing, anything that it’s possible to think, feel, see, taste and experience. The power of your imagination can’t affect the world around you, but it can affect your own mind.
Which is what our visualisation guides are designed to do. We won’t hypnotise you and make you experience impossible things. Nobody can do that. The only person that can hypnotise you, that can force you to experience impossible things, is yourself. But if you let our files guide you, if you relax and use your imagination, you will soon find that you can improve your mind just through practice, through learning what it would like to have that improved mind. You won’t do impossible things, but you may be surprised at what’s possible.
Further, you don’t even need to be awake to use these skills. Your dreams are practice for the real world. They are metaphors and stories which evolution has built to improve and build your mind, to change the way you think. If you can suggest effectively to yourself that you will change your dreams, your dreams in turn can help to improve your perception of, and effectiveness in, the world.
How to use our Visualisation Guides
We think that the best time to review your day, and to prepare yourself for the next day, is just before you go to bed. This is the time when your self-suggestions can best influence your dreams in the night ahead, when you are relaxed, and sleepy, and more open to suggestion. So we have designed our files to guide you through a few minutes of imaginative visualisation which should help you to explore what a more transcended state will be like, to practice it, and to influence the way you behave the next day.
So each night, ideally as you lie in bed but before you sleep, you can relax, let your filters down, close your eyes, and start to imagine. You should be able to hear our guide, but not so loud it overtakes your entire consciousness. It will not magically put you ‘into a trance’. It will help you to put yourself into that receptive state, where you will be more willing to learn, to accept suggestions. It will not force you to do anything, but it will remind you not to become distracted, and to focus, concentrate on the images you’re trying to give to your own mind to teach it the lessons it needs to have the effect you desire.
For our first visualisation guide, we wanted to produce something which will have a real and immediately noticeable effect. Something you can measure, so we have built a guide to help you to increase your Perception Awareness. To help you to notice the world around you, and to increase your visualisation skills in order to make future guides easier to use.
Usually, we’d expect you to be in bed with the lights out ready to sleep before you started listening to our guide, but since perception awareness is all about being aware of your perception, it’s more useful in this instance, just this once, to keep the lights on and your eyes open. You will be paying attention to the way things look, and it’s hard to do that with your eyes closed.
So begin in the bedroom, ready to get into bed, but before you actually climb under the sheets. Relax, and start your player. The file will guide you as you relax further, probably closing your eyes, until you begin to reach that receptive, suggestible state. Then you’ll be asked to open your eyes, to really look at some object in the room. To examine it closely and pay attention not only to the object, but to the way it feels to pay attention to an object.
Later, you’ll be asked to turn out the light and go to bed, paying attention to your sense of smell and touch, then later to listen closely and pay attention to noises and sounds, then to practice your visualisation by remembering how the object you were examining earlier looked, before visualising yourself dreaming in more detail and remembering to pay attention to the world tomorrow.
We appreciate that to many people it’s hard to believe something so simple could actually have an effect. This is part of the reason we chose perception awareness as the starting point in our journey. If you don’t believe it can work. TEST IT. Do it most nights one week, that’s at least 4 times in seven days. We’re confident you’ll notice your world more, become more aware, and also become aware of the fact you’re becoming more aware. If you manage to not only listen to the guides, but also to follow instructions and imagine and visualise the things you’re asked to imagine and visualise, we’re sure you’ll see the potential in our methods.
Next week we’ll talk about what it actually means to pay attention, but if you’ve properly used this first file a few times between now and then, you’ll already be part way to understanding it intuitively, at least you’ll have improved your skill. You’ll have noticed yourself doing it.
For now though, here’s our first guided meditation mp3. The background music was written by Chemica Solutions especially for the Transcendence institute. As our course progresses, you’ll no doubt want to use our techniques in areas other than the ones we are concentrating on. Each of our files also comes with a “music only” track, which you can record your own voice-overs to. We encourage you to experiment with guiding yourself into different areas of your own psyche, improving your own mind, and if you hit on something that’s particularly successful for you then post it to our forums. This isn’t a guided tour. We’re exploring the path to transcendence together.