Words can kill you

Want to see the power of your unconscious in action? There’s a TED Talk that you should watch. It’s a subtle point, buried by the main message. But the lesson – if you hear it – describes how to take away a lot of pain. Not every pain for every person. A lot of emotional and physical pain, though.

The TED Talk is Tiffany Watt Smith: The history of human emotions. You may have seen it. If you have, did you catch the part where she says your own thoughts can kill you? Continue reading “Words can kill you”

Reactions to ‘Accidental Hypnosis’

Earlier I claimed that you can accidentally hypnotise someone, to the point where overhearing someone hypnotise someone else can hypnotise you. One of the reasons is that everything is hypnotic. Our brains enter trance states all of the time, so a normal conversation has good odds of hypnotising you.

A hypnotist, then, is someone who uses phrases and gestures that are more hypnotic. They combine them into an experience that’s more likely to hypnotise a subject. They then use the trance state for a specific purpose, whereas laypeople let trance states end. Continue reading “Reactions to ‘Accidental Hypnosis’”

How Impermanence Creates Emptiness

I’ve talked about my take on the old Buddhist idea of suffering (or ‘dissatisfaction’). I view it through the lens of impermanence – if our intrinsic rewards disappear through our fingers, we can never be satisfied with reality. The third characteristic of existence – emptiness – follows a similar idea.

Emptiness, also known as no-self or egolessness, is a strange idea for any sentient being to hold. I mean, it sure feels as though my mind continuously exists. There are no clear jumps or gaps. Sure, I don’t remember everything and my attention wanders. But that’s more like a camera with poor focus and no memory card. This idea is like the camera disappearing at times.

Does the mind persist, even when attention wanders? It could, except that anything “continuous” is an illusion. Continue reading “How Impermanence Creates Emptiness”

5 Tips for Struggling Meditators

Understatement time: meditation is good for you. I keep browsing the literature, trying to find something that meditation doesn’t do. It’s not easy, given that you can combine meditation with other skills. If there’s something that uses your brain – and what doesn’t? – then meditation is useful. But not everyone finds meditation easy. So, if you’ve struggled with meditation before, then here are some tips to consider.

Embrace the process of clearing your mind

Learning to completely clear your mind takes time. It’s a skill like any other. It takes practice.

Even when you’re able to do it, the process of emptying your thoughts is just that: a process. You can’t flip a switch to shut down your inner dialogue. It’s like slowly turning down the volume on all objections, criticisms and distractions. In other words, it takes time.

For a long time, your mind will “only” feel a little clearer after meditating than before. It might be a subtle change, but even a small step in the right direction has value. Stick with it and you’ll notice this improve over time.

Use your inner dialogue

Then again, who says you need to clear your mind at all? If that’s difficult for you, then here’s a thought: keep thinking.

You can meditate by fixating all awareness on a single sensation or concept. So why not fixate on your inner dialogue? Step back and observe your thoughts. Don’t judge, assess or manipulate them. Don’t let them influence you. Simply observe.

If your thoughts are turbulent and noisy, give this a go. You’ll find it easier than silencing them, but it has the same benefits.

Try different meditation techniques

If you think there’s only one type of meditation, that’s like thinking there’s only one type of sport. And if you struggle with that one sport, it doesn’t mean you’re not athletic.

I’ve mentioned two types of meditation already. Did you know you can meditate while going for a walk? Have you tried loving-kindness meditation? Does it change anything when your focus is on your breath, your thoughts or your right pinkie finger? Can you bring a scene or symbol to mind and fixate on that?

Have you tried self-hypnosis?

Meditate 40 times a day

Well, maybe not 40. Or maybe, yeah, try 40. Because if you are going to meditate 40 times in one day, that’s only possible if you, say, meditate every 15 minutes over ten hours.

Easy, right?

Of course, if you were to do this, you could only meditate for 20 seconds at a time. Any more than that and you’re not living your life. So, keep each session short.

You can be pretty easy on yourself in this case. You didn’t clear your mind? Of course not – you only had 20 seconds! But you do feel calmer and more focused, don’t you?

This takes all the pressure off. You can’t focus on results when you have to make your quota. Just shut up, meditate and get back to it.

Who knows. You might learn a lot more about meditation than you realise.

Use guided meditations

When starting off, it helps to have someone remind you to focus. Don’t underestimate the value of guided meditations. There are plenty of providers out there. I have a few free tracks if you’re interested.

Meditation is easier than you think. If you’re struggling, you might have the wrong idea about what to do or what to expect. That’s okay. There’s a lot of noise around meditation, so you can lose sight of the fundamentals. Practice and experiment with it. If you think something works for you, ignore the gurus and do it.

And if you want some more guidance, I suppose there’s always that free meditation guide I wrote…


Photo by John Towner on Unsplash

Everything is hypnotic

Last post, we explored a question: if A hypnotises B and C overhears, will C be hypnotised too? In answering that, we learned a lot about the underlying principles of hypnosis. But there’s another principle that we haven’t explored – one that also transforms the original question beyond recognition.

This new principle?

Everything is hypnotic. Nothing is without hypnosis. Continue reading “Everything is hypnotic”

Can you accidentally hypnotise someone?

I get this question a lot. Recently someone asked me: if A hypnotises B and C overhears, will C be hypnotised too? The short answer is ‘yes’. The long answer explores the underlying principle and grapples with what, really, hypnosis is.

But before I get into that, you can accidentally hypnotise someone. In fact, you’ve probably done it recently. Yes, even if you’ve never studied hypnosis. Yes, even if you’re “too strong-willed to be hypnotised”. (Which doesn’t make sense – but that’s a topic for another post). Yes, even if you think hypnosis is the stuff of fairies and unicorns.

If you live a normal life, you are hypnotising people – and being hypnotised – constantly. And most of it is unintentional. How can that be? It makes sense when you think about what hypnosis really is.

Continue reading “Can you accidentally hypnotise someone?”

What’s better than a free meditation guide?

Subscribers to my email list receive a free sample of Unlock the Vault: The Art of Self-hypnosis. This sample has a few cool tricks for quickly and easily putting yourself into a trance. Whether you want to learn better, focus, relax or delete a bad habit, it’s easier in a trance.

But I decided that I could offer more. Samples a great, but what I should be offering is a complete product.

I’m putting the final touches on my newest eBook: Mastery & Meditation. Many high performers from all disciplines – from executives to artists to athletes – use some sort of meditative practice. I’m not surprised, given its benefits.

Any meditation practice improves your mind. This guide gives you specific exercises to make these benefits even better. Mastery & Meditation includes:

  • proven tips on how to meditate (even if you’ve struggled with it in the past),
  • an easy way to tap into “the power of geniuses”,
  • how your mind keeps your body healthy,
  • a technique for relaxing in any situation,
  • the ancient practice that makes people enjoy being around you
  • what neuroscience says about enhancing your creativity,
  • how to get more of what you want (no matter what that is),
  • one psychologist’s surprising way to destroy any emotion,
  • improving confidence through playing to your brain’s strengths.

These are big claims, so there are references to the works of doctors, psychologists and researchers throughout.

Existing subscribers will receive a copy of Mastery & Meditation as soon as it’s done. Once it’s ready for uploading, the free sample of Unlock the Vault disappears.

But here’s the rub: I don’t know when I’ll be happy with Mastery & Meditation. It might be a week from now. It might be tomorrow. Who knows. All I know is if you want both free products, you had better subscribe before it’s too late.

The Root of Dissatisfaction

Evolution punishes complacency. The organism that is content with enough doesn’t have enough for long. A little bit of greed drives you to find that little extra food. That impulse that says you’ll be happy after one more purchase? It keeps you stocked for the leaner months.

But I don’t believe that this dissatisfaction is a feature added to our brains by natural selection. I think it’s a fundamental part of our neurological makeup. A useful one from a survival perspective. But it’s intrinsic to who – and what – we are.

And, if I’m right, this teaches us how to be happier with what we have. Continue reading “The Root of Dissatisfaction”