Franz Mesmer was a hypnotist so early to the field, they hadn’t even named it yet.
He was an 18th Century doctor and astronomer – two unrelated disciplines, which he saw as connected.
His view of the universe was that everything – living and non-living – contained an energy field. By manipulating these fields, you could cure the incurable and resolve the unresolvable.
Many cultures say the same.
I mean, isn’t that just chi – or even The Force from Star Wars?
Mesmer gave this energy a name – something that has changed meaning over the centuries:
Already, some of you bristle with how unscientific this is. I disagree. Whether or not he was right, he followed the evidence, developed hypotheses and tested them. That’s science. Automatically rejecting a theory because it sounds wrong isn’t.
Consider the evidence Mesmer worked with.
He cured hysteria by administering iron particles dissolved in a solution, then running magnets over the patient’s body – hence the name.
Then he found he didn’t need the magnets or the iron. He could run his hands over a patient – not touching, but close enough for them to feel something – while staring into their eyes to create the same results.
Again, some of you rebel against this.
Is that it?
Yes and no.
I could argue and explain and reason why what he did worked. Rather than be swayed by my words, why not give it a go yourself?
Hold your hand over a part of your body, like your chest or torso. Get as close as you can without touching the skin, hair or clothes there.
Mindfully wait and observe what happens.
Or another exercise. Find a mirror and stare at your right eye’s reflection. Do your best to keep your eyes open for as long as you can – not even blinking.
If you feel the urge to giggle or look away, let it pass.
With either exercise, you’ll probably enter a deep trance state quickly. If you’re used to meditating, it might feel strange, not like your usual trances.
Not good, not bad – simply different.
This is a simple exercise anyone can do by themselves.
Now imagine someone trained in this art doing it to you. Imagine that trance you felt, only hundreds of times more powerful.
So, no, Mesmer wasn’t ‘just’ almost touching and staring at people.
He was mesmerising them.
(No points for figuring out where that name came from…)
He hypnotised them without words and without contact – simply gazing at them and passing his hand over them.
He got results no one else could.
But, alas, he wasn’t without controversy. A few things stopped mesmerism supplementing medicine all across Europe – one of them being how hard it is to teach it.
Another big obstacle was how… unfashionable it was.
The scientists of the era didn’t like this mystical-sounding theory. So they poked around, eager to disprove it. They couldn’t find this ‘animal magnetism’ force in nature, therefore Mesmer’s explanation for how it worked was wrong, therefore mesmerism is junk science.
A child could spot the logical errors in that reasoning, but it was enough to set back the theory.
Science may be the perfect pursuit of truth, but scientists are only human.
Still, it’s hard to keep a good idea down. Mesmerists still practice and refine the arts, plus Mesmer’s work laid the seeds for the next generations of hypnotists.
There’s no such thing as the one true trance state. Ericksonian trances feel different to meditative ones, which are different to mesmeric ones…
Sometimes you need one or another.
That’s why it pays to learn many, deeply.
Your introduction to the wonderful world of trances is right here:
Isn’t it strange how much life rewards positivity? I don’t mean in the sense that the universe is waiting for us to smile. I mean in real, simple and common sense ways.
Under the old corporate model, folk worked best when given a title, a cubicle, precise instructions and enough money to be motivated follow them. It didn’t work great then, and it’s getting worse over time.
It turns out happy employees are effective employees. Money gets folk to show up, but it won’t invite them to be their best selves.
Take mental health. It’s plausible that focusing on becoming mentally tough would make you… well, mentally tough. And it certainly helps, if you do it right.
A better strategy, though?
Practice gratitude and anticipation.
And then that improves your physical health too.
If health and wealth aren’t enough for you, the benefits don’t stop there. Positivity makes you more popular, your senses sharper and your days brighter.
It makes life fun.
But I know, I know.
Some of you are scoffing so hard I can hear you from here.
“Not all life is fun. Some folks are hardened criminals. Some folks we have to fight a war against. Where’s all you sunshine and rainbows now, William?”
If you want a fleeting sense of power and righteousness, you should beat criminals and toss them in a hole. If you want to, you know, reduce crime, then take a more humane approach. Take a look at the experiments Scandinavia are running where they try to rehabilitate criminals.
It’s better for the criminals, the workers at the prison and society as a whole.
As for war, I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t get messy.
But it reminds me of a story where Coalition forces captured an enemy leader (I’m a little vague on the details). This dude was tough as nails and, naturally, refused to collaborate.
Think torture would get useful information out of someone like this? He’d just lie to make it stop. At best, he’d make an unwilling ally.
Every interrogation, they’d bring him cookies that he’d ignore. Then someone twigged that he’s diabetic, so they brought him sugar-free cookies and that did the trick. He opened up and started working with the good guys.
No, this seasoned warrior did not sell out his comrades in exchange for dessert. My version here skips a lot of context – trained interrogators building up the relationship and trust, etc etc.
But it wasn’t the cookie that did anything. It was how they treated him as a human being.
Disagree if you want to be wrong and I still love you for it.
Either way, here’s a link you could read. It’s on a completely different topic, or is it?
I was researching Celtic healing practices the other day. It’s funny how folks blame Western culture for edging out all others, when Western culture was its own first victim.
We’ve lost a lot of wisdom from these times.
From what has survived, we see a few things – like how they healed their sick. They used a pretty common combination – the sort you see all over the ancient world:
Medicine, derived from local plants.
And rituals to activate the healing power of the mind – what today we’d call a placebo.
But druidic rituals weren’t pure placebo. If, in your mind, you’re picturing a crusty old dude saying “touch this ‘magic’ rock and, by the power of your own naïve expectations, you will be cured…!”
Well, that’s not doing them justice.
The actual rituals were far more interesting.
A common belief among the Celts is everything comes at a price. To save something, you must sacrifice something. So, to heal a broken arm, you’d create an equivalent – something that would appease the gods as much as your flesh. Then you sacrifice that as an offering.
Some of you are confused by that. “That, uh, sounds like a placebo to me…”
Whereas the hypnotists among you?
“Dissociation – healing by parts. That’s a clever use of unconscious symbolism.”
I don’t know the ins and outs of these rituals. Besides, I’m sure they varied between villages and centuries. But I’d bet my big toe that these rituals were hypnotic in everything but name.
After all, only the hypnotic rituals would be effective enough to survive the test of time. A placebo alone doesn’t stand a chance against hypnosis plus medicine.
Their approach to healing isn’t the only thing Ancient Celts have in common with, oh, almost every ancient people on the planet.
There’s also the matter of the Otherworld.
The elusive home of the gods and magic, full of health, joy, beauty and the abundance of nature.
Every culture has some version of this – a powerful world of magic, almost-but-not-quite at your fingertips, waiting for you to access it.
And you can access it by going down.
Deep into caves or cairns, or under the ocean.
When you get there, you can retrieve great powers to bring back to the surface world.
To Joseph Campbell fans, this ticks all the boxes of the monomyth.
To hypnotists, though?
It’s yet another unambiguous metaphor for your unconscious. When we talk about you going deeper, this is – on some level – what we mean.
So many cultures describe the same sort of surreal land, which you access the same way. Either there’s literally an Otherworld… or the Otherworld is our minds.
Hypnosis is so fundamental to human nature, I’m not surprised to see it in every page of our story.
Want to experience the inner Otherworld of yours?
This, right here, is the most thorough guide to that powerful place you’ll ever need:
If you listen to monks, scholars and philosophers taking about enlightenment, you’ll hear a huge range of opinions.
Some folks say enlightenment isn’t real. Or maybe it’s a theoretically reachable state, but no human has managed that.
Or maybe Buddha is the only one to achieve it.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have more generous definitions.
Things like we’re all already enlightened, except we’ve forgotten some of our true nature.
Or that everyone achieves enlightenment at the moment right before or after death.
These aren’t disagreements in the weeds, quibbling over details. These are drastically different interpretations.
It reminds me a little of hypnosis, how the arguments range from “nothing is hypnosis!” to “everything is hypnosis!”
Until you settle on an interpretation, these terms – hypnosis and enlightenment – can mean anything, so they mean nothing.
But let’s take a common, middle-of-the-road take on enlightenment:
Enlightenment is a state of mental purity. You’ve exorcised your demons, integrated your shadow and transcended your baser instincts. You can access parts of your awareness few folks can, letting you do anything from consciously slow your heartbeat, to stay completely still and focused for days on end.
Plus, there’s something ineffable about it. Someone can achieve all that and still be a bad person. With enlightenment comes a sort of wisdom and altruism you can’t fake.
This is some hardcore monk stuff.
I’m a long way off that.
A long, long way.
But I know the general path to reaching it:
Meditate a lot. Confront, defeat and accept every dark thing residing in every corner of your mind. Listen to your mentor, because it’s so easy to go astray on this path. There’s a fine line between integrating your shadow and succumbing to it.
Lots of folks meditate a lot.
Every day, even.
Are they becoming enlightened?
Well, some surely are… but no, not all of them.
The obvious metaphor is to think of enlightenment as like light, and I’m not one to pass up an easy answer.
Imagine a dark street – so dark you can’t see any of it. At one end is a streetlight, brightly illuminating a small patch of ground, dimly highlighting a few of the surrounding bits.
The light is the conscious part of your mind.
The shadow, your unconscious.
Enlightenment is when you can see the entire street.
At the risk of stretching the metaphor, that means venturing into the darkness to fix the other streetlights, one by one.
Meditation can do this… or it can protect your light, making it a little brighter.
And hypnosis is the same. It can do all sort of great things with the streetlight. It can make it brighter, change its colour, aim it at a different part of the ground…
None of which banishes much of the darkness.
Or you can use it to venture into the shadow – into your unconscious.
The advantage of hypnosis for this is your mentor is right there, guiding you. If they are skilled in the art of hypnosis and experienced in dealing with shadows, they’ll keep you on the right path.
Enlightenment isn’t right for everyone – I’m not even sure it’s right for me – but it’s a worthy thing to pursue. Every corner of your mind you illuminate makes you richer, stronger and freer.
You can start with something real simple here:
The Neural Reset.
For 95% of you, it’ll open up new parts of your mind in an easy, relaxed way.
For the other 5%?
You’ll know exactly how valuable it is to you, once you read the description:
If you’ve enjoyed (or not) more video teleconferencing than usual lately, you’ve probably heard someone say something like this:
“Okay, so, I know this meeting is running a little long, so I won’t take up too much of your time, but I want to quickly raise something and I’ll be fast about it because I’m sure we’re all busy and you want to get on with your day…”
From a logical point of view, this is utterly meaningless.
Worse – the person is saying they’ll be quick but, if they really valued speed, they could skip all of that.
What’s going on?
When folks ramble like that, it’s often a sign of anxiety.
And, well, I’m sure that’s a factor here.
Anxiety is generally up, and communicating over these technologies tends to make folks more anxious than face-to-face meetings.
But that’s not the full story.
See, a rambling preamble like that conveys no information in the words.
But it’s far from meaningless.
To put it in engineering terms, most folks see the words as data, whereas the voice is the carrier signal. The voice is just there to get the data across and you could replace it with some other signal without losing anything.
That’s not what we see though.
People talk differently over Zoom than in real life.
That’s because the signal and the data are the other way around.
The data is in the voice.
The chosen words are the signal.
That’s (partly) why folks ramble like this over video conferencing. The vast majority of communication happens non-verbally – through body language, vocal inflection and so forth.
Over a fuzzy, low-frame rate video link – or, worse, a voice-only link – most of your data channels are degraded.
The only way to feel as heard as usual is to use more words to say the same amount of stuff.
It’s amazing what you notice when you know what to look for.
Folks say humans are irrational. I disagree – everything we do serves one or more of our needs, even if that need isn’t obvious or healthy.
If someone’s behaviour confuses or surprises you, the problem’s on your end, not theirs. Just because you can’t see the logic, that doesn’t mean their crazy – it means you’re not looking.
Fortunately, you can learn to see more and say more.
To forge deeper relationships with people, no matter the medium.
All with a simple set of formulas, as powerful as they are flexible.
Plenty of folks think hypnosis only happens on stage, in therapy offices or in strange hidden corners of the world.
They don’t see how it happens every day.
Now, part of the problem is some people say “everything is hypnosis!” while others say “nothing is hypnosis!” If you believe everything is hypnosis, of course you say it happens every day.
Forget about all that.
Even using a middle-of-the-road definition – something like ‘implanting suggestions during an altered, highly suggestible state’ – it’s right in front of you all the time.
I don’t know why I thought of this example recently. It freaked me out at the time, enough for it to stick with me.
It was a snippet from The Biggest Loser. Is that still a thing – the reality show where people compete to lose the most weight?
This was early in the season. The contestants had to do something brutal – maybe haul dozens of truck tyres and throw them into a skip. You know, the sort of thing professional athletes do when they want to push themselves.
Never mind that these couch potatoes would be considered morbidly obese at half their weight…
Anyway, one of these guys – somehow – digs deep enough to carry the team and overcome the challenge. It was impressive to witness happen… and horrifying to see the aftermath.
He breaks himself.
Not physically, although I bet he was hurting the next day.
No, he was a mental wreck.
The moment the challenge ended, he dropped on all fours, openly weeping. Not eyes watering, not a few tears of pain and exhaustion – I mean full on bawling.
One of the personal trainers walks up to him, puts their hand on his heaving shoulder, and says something.
Was it “great job, I’m so proud of you, that was amazing, you’ve earned some rest”?
He goes straight into an awful speech, telling this poor man “you know you need to be here, that this show is the only way you’ll lose weight and be happy”.
If you don’t think that’s hypnosis, then you don’t know hypnosis.
And if you don’t think that’s sinister and evil, then you really don’t get it.
The undertone of the show is bad enough:
If you give up your friends, family, job, hobbies, stresses and temptations, and train harder than a professional athlete, anyone can lose weight!
This was overt cult-level manipulation.
I’m not saying that to be edgy or whatever. Hypnosis is powerful enough you don’t need to exaggerate it. This was taking someone normal, breaking them, then telling them they’ll only be whole again if they drink the diet Kool-Aid.
I doubt any of the big reality shows are/were any better. If you look, you can find plenty of horror stories from whistle-blowers and ex-contestants.
Not only did they not try to hide the psychological abuse, they revelled in it.
Oh, well – what can you do, right?
Well… you can learn enough hypnosis to spot it in the wild.
Then even more to learn to defend against it.
Anything less and you’ll lose a war you don’t even know you’re fighting.
Few mind training programs focus on this – on defending your mind from these attacks.
Monster Mind Edukaré does, sort of.
If you don’t care about this or don’t believe it’s as bad as I say, you can use it as a supercharged self-improvement program.
If you want to strengthen your mind, though?
Most of the 19 modules (and right from the first one) will make you less vulnerable to unwanted mind hacking and cult tactics like this.
Not immune to them, but a whole lot less susceptible.
Here’s the link:
You’ve probably heard the expression: Courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s taking action despite that fear.
On the one hand, that’s good advice. You shouldn’t use the presence of fear as an excuse to do nothing.
On the other hand…?
If you listen to interviews of people who took action and survived a dangerous situation – people like cops, soldiers or firefighters – you notice a pattern. These people, who no one would deny are brave, don’t describe what they did as “acting in the face of fear”.
Well, some of them might.
But there’s a deeper pattern, one they all demonstrate.
For many of them, they realise they’re in danger. The fear rises, maybe even enough to paralyse them for a moment.
Then they realise what they need to survive and simply do it.
Is that action despite fear?
Kinda, but not really.
It’s action driven by purpose. Their purpose – to survive – overrides everything else, including the fear. That’s how most of them describe it: once they know what to do, they feel eerily calm and focused.
If they paid any attention to their fears… well, they wouldn’t be focused on survival.
With an iron-strong purpose, though, you can’t focus on anything else.
Maybe your purpose isn’t to get out of this burning building. Maybe it’s to build a business, earn a degree or be a better parent. Once you tap into it, you develop the same level of focus.
So getting distracted by fear, pain or anything else.
Your mind automatically becomes more disciplined.
Many people wonder if there are any side effects, consequences or negative reactions to hypnosis and meditation. Some people, including younger versions of me, would tell you absolutely not.
Your mind only gives you what you’re able to deal with, I would have said.
Now, there’s some truth to that.
But if that were always the case, why would we see people respond badly to it?
Because of mind training, you might become tired, lethargic and unmotivated.
Or you become anxious, stressed or jittery.
You could trigger hallucinations, chronic pain or headaches.
Some people even have psychotic breaks. I’m not being cute with my language here – I mean full on episodes where they lose touch with reality.
And you might never recover from these.
Because mind training is like training your body. You can go from being perfectly healthy to crippling yourself by working out too hard, with bad technique or with unreasonable expectations.
Delving into your unconscious strains your mind – sometimes in a healthy way, sometimes not.
But like physical exercise, the answer isn’t to avoid it.
It’s to be smart.
Learn proper form, understand your limits and build up slowly.
Stick with it, be disciplined and be sensible.
Your mind is like any muscle. You can snap it… or you can develop it. You can leave it stronger and more flexible than it’s ever been.
Mental exercise is just as addictive as the physical flavour. Maybe even more so.
And the payoffs are even greater. What does lifting weights get you – better posture, more energy, a nicer physique? Mind training can get you all of that (yes, even the leaner bod) plus a few extra bonuses.
Like a sharp, analytical mind that retains everything.
Or creativity overflowing from you onto your screen, canvas or sketchpad.
Or simply happiness.
Want to get started?
Here’s a beginner’s guide to mind training, unlike anything you’ll find among meditation classes or those kooky games people pretend are brain training.
Unlike them, this works easily – even if you can’t quiet your mind.
Here’s the link:
Here’s today’s dumb question:
What do your hands do?
Or to put it more fancy-like, why did humans evolve our hands?
It answer is simple: to manipulate our environment.
Well, that answer hides a lot of complexity. Sure, our hands are tools (for, say, making shelter).
But they’re also weapons for hunting and warfare.
As well as tools for making other tools.
So, yeah, they manipulate the environment – in maybe the broadest sense possible. I mean, what have we invented that can do all of that as well? Robotic 3D printers and knives, maybe?
But even that generous description sells our hands short. You could talk a lot about how crafty evolution is, how nature is the master at optimising things – given enough time and selective pressure, of course…
All I’ll say on that, for now, is how nature reuses the same tools for different purposes.
As highly social mammals, we often need to show empathy, convey precise meanings, confront social rivals and make love.
And since we already had hands, why not use them to do all that?
That’s how nature rolls – why make something single-use when you can use it to do everything?
All this is why creativity comes from more than just your brain.
It can come from your legs – after all, we all know the wonders a good walk can do.
But what about your hands?
They can express creativity, obviously, but can they help you think that way?
Haha, what a hilarious notion.
Of course they can.
You’ll be amazed at how differently – how much more powerfully – you can think when you use your whole body.
It’s one of the many, many strange and transformative skills Monster Mind Edukaré teaches.
You can read all about it, and everything else you can learn, right here:
Trances are normal. They’re unusual deviations from your regular thinking, it’s true… but it happens all the time.
And the reason why is your brain evolved to go into hypnosis.
There are times when you know what to do. If you’re unlocking your front door, for example, that’s an easy, predictable task.
You’ve done it a thousand times before and never been surprised. It’s not like the lock will ever fight back or move.
Most things in life are more complicated than that. The simplest conversation is still wildly unpredictable. Even if you know exactly what someone will talk about, you don’t know how they’ll say it.
Times like these, thinking kind of gets in the way. Do you think about what you say to people, or do you have an intention and let the words fall out?
Athletes, artists and high performers know this. That’s why they talk about quieting the mind and not overthinking things. When you’re thinking without thinking – when your thoughts tumble and connect from one to the next – it’s easier to simply do what you need to.
In a simple view of the world, physicists should be great at baseball. They wouldn’t even need to practice. They’d calculate the trajectory, the angles, the velocity – and from there, they’d know how to hit a home run.
But that’s not how it works. You don’t need even a thimbleful of mathematics to knock it out of the park.
The best players practiced until it became natural.
Until they could do it without thinking.
Because thinking is slow. When a ball is travelling towards you, you don’t have time to calculate.
When you’re in the middle of a conversation, you can only speak and listen. If you try to think too much, the other person will know you’re not paying attention.
This is the role of trances in your daily life. They quiet your thinking, freeing you to do what you need to.
Sometimes it’s subtle.
Sometimes it’s impossible to ignore, like losing yourself in a flow state.
And it always leads to a better result than anything you could have planned and calculated.
If you’d like to use this style of thinking deliberately, there’s no training as complete as this: