The strange way I rediscovered how to meditate

Some of you might wonder what qualifies me to talk about meditation. I’m a certified hypnotist, sure, but that only covers part of this blog. What about the rest?

I learned to meditate from the school of life.

Then from a hypnosis school.

Then…

Well. Let’s start with that.

My introduction to meditation

Life is plastic. If you don’t like something, you can change it.

I don’t know when I picked up that philosophy. It was probably a mix of things. I’ve believed it for as long as I can remember. When I was young, neuroplasticity was creeping around the edges of mainstream acceptance. Most people – including scientists – talked about the brain as if it were some rigid, inflexible thing. The brain would rewrite itself, sure, but intelligence and other attributes locked in at an early age. Even today, some people believe this but back then, it seemed common.

Neuroplasticity made sense to me at a gut level. I was thrilled as it permeated popular awareness.

And I wasn’t happy as a teenager. I didn’t like who I was. So I put philosophy to action and decided to improve myself.

I was angry. Not violent or full of rage – more… irritated at everything. The only satisfying things were distractions, like video games. I suppose I was happy overall. Just full of a sense that nothing was right, even though it should be.

The people I couldn’t stand the most were just like me. Overly critical, passive aggressive and simply annoying to be around. It’s humbling to see your worst qualities in others and hate them for it.

So I turned to meditation. I didn’t know what I was doing. I knew it involved quieting the mind, so I did that. For a time, I sat cross-legged, eyes closed and focused on emptying my thoughts. My goal was nothing short of becoming a better person. My method was to stop thinking for moments at a time.

It was raw, unguided and completely naïve.

And it worked.

My anger transmuted into a feeling like joy – white-hot, burning happiness that threatened to explode from me. I was happy, cheerful and exuberant. I was probably just as annoying to be around… but I felt so much better. And people seemed to like the change.

With all the confidence only a teenager can feel, I declared myself done. I had fixed myself so I no longer needed the tools. I stopped meditating and got on with my life.

Meditation: the life-habit that I needed, not the one I deserved

I entered into my university phase. With it came opportunities, growth and new stresses. I like to think I handled everything fine. People liked me, I made new friends and I found ways to express myself. I had creative outlets, including ambigrams and poetry.

Even so, the stress built and my newfound joy kept degrading back to irritation. It was not fun to watch myself devolve like this. I denied the problem for a while, then realised I needed to fix it.

But meditation wasn’t working anymore. I dusted it off, only to find that I couldn’t concentrate. My thoughts were loud and I couldn’t turn them down.

Besides, I knew that turning the anger back into joy wasn’t the answer. I couldn’t express it at the time but the happiness I felt wasn’t satisfying. It was like the happiness that comes from succeeding in a job you hate, or watching a beautiful sunset while your house needs repairs. Or something. It was an empty joy. I was missing something.

So I drifted through life. I turned to distractions more and more. I left university, got a job. And still I sleepwalked. I burned with creative energy but my concentration grew worse – too poor to channel it into anything meaningful.

Something had to change. But what?

Learning meditation via hypnosis

In retrospect, it’s obvious. I needed greater insight into myself. I needed the tools to work with my thoughts. What better way to learn these than hypnosis? After all, hypnosis gives you insight into others. It allows you to work with their unconscious.

That makes it sound so mechanical. But a wacky definition of hypnosis could be meditating in someone else’s mind. Hypnotic and meditative trances are essentially the same – learning to draw someone else into this state teaches you more about it.

This makes hypnosis sound like expert-level meditation. It’s hard enough to manage your own thinking…

I’m sure people will disagree with me on this. But, yeah, learning hypnosis makes you awesome at meditation.

And there’s more to it than this. You can only hypnotise someone after you hypnotise yourself. The early researchers called this the hypnotist’s trance; today, people call it H+. It involves clearing your mind and aligning your intention. If there’s any doubt or hesitation in the hypnotist’s mind, the trance won’t work. And the only way to enter this state is through self-hypnosis or meditation.

That’s how I learned to meditate properly – by hypnotising myself into it. Doing to for yourself is easy when you can do it for others.

And once you’ve experienced a deep, transformative trance, you realise that meditation is much more than clearing your mind.

Meditation as hypnosis (and vice versa)

Not every hypnotist is a great meditator. The principles are similar enough that they can be. But, unless they’ve sat down and thought it through, they might not see the parallels.

I have that it through. I can’t stop seeing the parallels.

This is what makes me confident to talk about meditation. I have no formal meditation experience or qualifications, true. But I have enough knowledge to be dangerous… plus my hypnosis qualifications. Together, they give me a unique perspective on both disciplines.

And a great way to be a world leader in a field is to look at from a different field. Leibnitz was a diplomat. Benjamin Franklin was a politician. Darwin trained as a medical doctor.

Milton Erickson studied medicine, too.

So, yes, I’m mostly self-taught with meditation. But since this learning combines practical experience, a lot of failure and the outsider effect, consider my education accelerated.

It’s worth seeing my style for yourself. It won’t cost you anything to receive daily reminders about mindfulness, monologues about meditation and the occasional problem-dissolving prose.


Photo by Ian Keefe on Unsplash