Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Using Your Brain

Scientists can summarize how the brain works in carrying out simple tasks like picking up a pencil. The thought of picking up the pencil arises; the eyes locate the pencil; the occipital lobe registers the image; the temporal lobe finds past associations that lead to new thoughts or choices arising; the frontal lobe maintains attention while it also works with the parietal lobe to initiate the body movement to reach for the pencil and to establish the sensory anticipation in the fingers of what the pencil will feel like when finally grasped; the parietal lobe confirms the feeling of the pencil in the hand; and the cerebellum simultaneously directs fine motor control to actually reach out and grasp the pencil. Throughout the process, electrochemical activity is ongoing through the nerve cells as neurotransmitters pass the messages required to coordinate this symphony of activity.  Once the pencil is grasped, however, the actual creative process to use that pencil to write or sketch or tap out a rhythm becomes more mysterious. Andreasen describes the understanding of how creativity happens as “hunches, buttressed by modest evidence”.
          My own use of hypnosis to access a person’s subconscious allows exploration of associations, episodic memory and free associations. Hypnotic induction provides access to memories of events in a trance state that were not physically experienced (whether considered past life experiences or fantasies). Inner life explorations such as dreamwork and meditation can also demonstrate these aspects of the mind. I believe that creativity stems from some access to unconscious mental places where words, thoughts, and ideas can combine freely and take shape as creative output. I also believe that like any mental process or learned skill, neural pathways can be built and strengthened by repeated use, so once one starts to create, one can get better at it just as repeated hypnotic inductions make it easier for a subject to enter the trance state. Similarly, post hypnotic suggestions can help us better access and make use of our own subconscious associations. We can use such creative processes and supports to keep our brains active, if not evolving using our natural ability of neuroplasticity.
          Ultimately, creativity is the product of the creative person interacting with their specific environment including both internal and external factors. Nature and nurture work together to shape the human mind. Similarly, I think that the brain’s chemistry and the unique personal circumstances of each individual work together to shape creative work.

Amoroso, J. (2012). Awakening past lives. Virginia Beach, VA: 4th Dimension Press.

Andreasen, N.C. (2005). The Creative Brain. New York, NY: Plume.

Dispenza, J. (2007). Evolve your brain: The science of changing your mind. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications Inc.

Hinshaw, S.P. (2010). Origins of the human mind: Course guidebook. Chantilly, VA: The Great Courses.

Kappas, J.G. (2009). Professional hypnotism manual: Introducing physical and emotional suggestibility and sexuality (5th Ed.). Tarzana, CA: Panorama Publishing Company.

May, R. (1975). The courage to create. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company Inc.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Hopes and Dreams

As a hypnotherapist, I believe that everyone's dream symbols are unique. This is rather strongly and clearly supported by the fact that dreams are direct communication in the language of the subconscious mind. Also, stronger meaning behind the dreams that come later in the night is explained by the stages of REM sleep that occur during the night. It is not until the third stage of REM sleep that "Venting Dreams" where there is stronger potential for symbolic meaning and presentation of what the subconscious is trying to communicate occur. The typical timing of this later stage of REM sleep puts it close to dawn for many of us.

The Ashanti culture says that "dream incidents are real events". It makes me wonder how much of the symbolic messaging of our dreams is being driven by the proactive work of focused meditation, positive affirmations, or setting our own intentions before we start to dream as opposed to just receiving what the subconscious chooses to present. This is the true power of the dream quest. It is not just a matter of learning from your dreams, but of actively directing them to help augment what you are trying to achieve. That is pretty cool and aligns nicely with ancient Tibetan “dream yoga” that says that dreaming provides us unlimited possibilities. Even though we can make changes to our dreams, we should always try to drive those changes toward the positive support of our goals. It is important to have both hopes and dreams.


Hypnosis Motivation Institute (Producer). (2006). Dream therapy. [DVD]: Available from Panorama Publishing Company.

Moss, R. (2009). The secret history of dreaming. Novato, CA: New World Library.

Reed, H. (2005). Dream solutions! dream realizations!: The original dream quest guidebook. Mouth of Wilson, VA: Hermes Home Press.

Wangyal, T. (1998). The Tibetan yogas of dream and sleep. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

What are you doing to stimulate your own Creativity?

This past Spring, I had the great experience of being in a creativity class with a group of insanely creative people. Just interactive with creative folks is in itself inspiring. Being in beautiful Andalucia at the same time wasn't bad either. The two experiences gave me a few ideas about inspiring and stimulating greater creativity in my life.

1. Spend more time in nature. Strolling through a beautiful countryside or city park while visiting Spain reminded me of how much the colors, the smells and even subtle changes of the air all influence my creative spirit. There are plenty of places closer to home where I can spend some time outdoors. It just took a transatlantic flight to bring that point home to me.

2. Walk. Lately I have fallen out of the habit of long walks. Such times of introspection and walking meditation help me recharge, allow time to examine all the angles of some issue or idea and are good for mind, body and spirit. I'm getting back to doing that and combining it with item 1, and from a practical perspective, with exercising my active dogs!

3. Find a focal point every day. Instead of letting the day get away from me, mired in routine, I resolve to find some point of focus each day. I'll look at things differently. I'll look at different things. Maybe I'll even look different. While waiting for admission to the show at the Royal Equestrian School in Jerez, crowds of visitors were watching riders warming up horses in an outdoor ring. I saw one guy that had his back to the great horses and riding being demonstrated as he took closeup photos of some flowers beside the warm up ring. My wife thought that was very funny. I thought it was interesting that he alone was following his own course rather than being part of the crowd watching what was behind his back. I want to be more like that guy.

What can you do that is simple, achievable and realistic on a daily basis to stimulate your own creativity?

Thursday, 1 October 2015

How Personal Mythology can Help or Hinder

Our families give us not only DNA, but also personal history and personal mythology. As our minds re-interpret and smooth the edges of facts from our memories and as we take in stories that have grown and shrunk in the telling as family legends, we build up internal stories and we add to them our subconscious associations. Positive and negative memories are collected and attached to ideas that may be from our own past memories, from phobias and fantasies, or from elements of our lineage. The smell of apple pie baking in granny’s kitchen can become locked in the subconscious as a positive association with feelings of love and warmth and childhood delight. Such a positive association may not be consciously understood or even remembered, but it can still make millions of people smile and feel at home when they smell cinnamon and therefore be highly profitable for potpourri makers.

From my ancestors’ experiences of valuing self-reliance and assuming the roles of providers and protectors of their children and families, I can see the genesis of some of my own attitudes. Although I have no children for which to provide and protect, I grew up with a strong sense of self-reliance and a sense that I must ensure the safety and success of my household. I believe that these aspects of my personal mythology have helped motivate me to provide support to my partner and have contributed significantly to our business successes over the years.

Considering these reflections alongside the experiences I have had in meditation, dream work and regression hypnosis, I can see how some of my own elements of personal mythology have also limited my willingness to engage with others and to share with them over the years. If one is defensive, closed and mistrustful of others, it is hard to focus on the positive and to benefit from the sharing of positive energies. It is hard to tell whether the personal mythology strengthens behavior patterns, or whether behavior patterns reinforce the personal mythology. I think that both are true. In order to truly make changes, one must recognize the underlying personal mythology.  Know thyself!

Hypnosis provides a proven method of accessing the subconscious directly in order to explore, understand and begin to make changes to the internal associations that you have that may be limiting you in some way. Unfounded fears or phobias such as fear of the water or (most commonly) of public speaking affect many people and most could not explain the source or reason for their feelings. Hypnosis is a safe, effective and powerful tool to help you better understand yourself, tap into the usually hidden resources of your own mind and help you make positive changes in your life. All those powerful associations embedded in your personal mythology don’t need to remain inaccessible.


Davenport, L. (2009). Healing and transformation through self-guided imagery. Berkeley, CA: Celestial Arts.

Feinstein, D., & Krippner, S. (2008). Personal mythology: Discovering the guiding stories of your past -- creating a vision for your future (3rd Ed.). Santa Rosa, CA: Energy Psychology Press/Elite Books.

Yapko, M.D. (2011). Mindfulness and hypnosis: The power of suggestion to transform experience. New York, NY: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc.