Nashville, TN 37220
Music City Hypnotherapy
Nashville, TN 37220
Music City Hypnotherapy
Nashville, TN 37220
Music City Hypnotherapy
Nashville, TN 37220
Music City Hypnotherapy
Nashville, TN 37220
Things to Remember for Difficult Conversations
This evening (from whenever I began writing this) my wife and I are going to have dinner with one of my best friends from college who I haven’t spoken to in the past 5 years. I haven’t spoken to this friend because we had what many might call a “falling out” 5 years ago from one of those conversations that I wish I could do over again. We’ve all had those conversations. They haunt us while we’re in the shower or trying to fall asleep at night. Maybe you weren’t wrong, or maybe your heart was in the right place. However as the conversation plays out, you could have articulated your message better. Of course, it’s always possible you were just out of line.
Because I’m not interested in blogging to make myself look bad (who is?), I’m going to spare you the details of my specific situation and instead offer you what I have learned from these difficult conversations. It’s my hope that these pointers will help you check yourself before you give an intervention or express that you have been hurt by something. Hopefully these ideas will empower you to love honestly and minimize those falling outs we’ve all suffered before.
Think it through
A simple question to keep locked in the back of your mind is “Is what I’m saying critical or affirmative?” If it is critical, ask yourself “How can I criticize constructively?” If you aren’t creative enough to come up with a way to do so, you might as well shut up.
Be prepared to have the conversation if your message isn’t well received. Be able to defend your perspective, be ready to be calm and tactful, and be ready to suffer the consequences that your words may have on your life and relationship. The most common worst-case scenario is you lose a friendship. For this reason, it’s always important to assume that the words that leave your mouth can’t be unheard.
Know your place
It’s best to ask yourself whether or not you are the person to be delivering the message that your friend is hearing. One of my favorite proverbs is “Never take advice from someone you wouldn’t trade places with.” People don’t tend to receive messages from those they don’t see as credible. If that isn’t established, a difficult conversation runs the possibility of being an unheard waste of time that just burns a bridge.
Another important question to ask is “Am I a consistent enough presence in this person’s life to be saying something this personal to him or her?” Just because you have a history with someone doesn’t mean that you know where he or she is in life right now. This is one of the easiest ways to over-step. The more consistent you are in someone’s life, the easier it will be to have the conversation for you as well as your friend. However, there may come a time when you feel the need to have one of those conversations out of responsibility (for example: “If I don’t say something, I’m afraid no one will.”). Then, it always pays to come to the discussion with as much humility as you can muster.
If possible, listen first
The longer I live, the more I learn why a wise man is slow to speak. It makes sense that all anyone ever wants is to be understood, but you will go further in life if you seek first to understand. So when having a difficult conversation, ask as many questions as possible. Be as compassionate and as loving as possible. The words you speak will hold more value if they are carefully rationed and they’ll be more relevant if you are listening closely.
Be as objective as possible
Whatever it is that needs to be expressed, it can wait. The more serious it is, the more you want to be sure that you have not only thought it through but also checked yourself emotionally. Be sure that you have given yourself a chance to cool down. Make sure that you can have evidence or specific examples to enforce your position. Your emotions are important, but the more you use them to communicate difficult ideas, the more you run the risk of coming across as irrational.
Even if the conversation is centered on your feelings, it is possible to approach your feelings in an objective manor. Simply make “I feel…” or “When you… it makes me feel…” statements. No one is entitled to argue with how you feel but you. However, in order to stay objective it is vital that you don’t speak for anyone else but you. Avoid using “He said,” “She said,” or “A lot of people think” in your speech.
Ultimately you are in control of you, and that’s it
If something bothers you enough for you to feel the need to have a sit-down with someone, you’re going to have to find a means to get over it whether or not the person you speak with is able to correct matters to your satisfaction. It is important that we have the freedom to express ourselves safely. However, we will always come to a point when we have to take responsibility for the way we feel.
This means that if you get to be free to choose how you feel in life, so are others. A sociopath may try to take control over another person’s thoughts and feelings, but you shouldn’t. So remember that if you feel bad and would like to be honest about it, your goal is to explain how you feel and not to make them feel how you feel. Bypassing guilt and shame will lead to a more productive dialogue.
Hypnosis and Dogs
It doesn’t come as a shock to anyone that I’m a “dog person.” This month, we celebrated Rico’s 3rd birthday (21 in dog years). In that time, the therapeutic affect he has had on my wife and myself has been pretty obvious. I’ve even suggested that he’s made me a better hypnotist. So I thought I would spend a little time talking about the healing powers of man’s best friend.
It’s wonderful getting to learn to love something like a puppy. From the moment I first got to hold him, I was in love with him. It was a crazy feeling for me, because most people that I love that much have benefitted me in some way. All he was able to do was lick my face and pee on my floor, yet that was enough to make me want to buy him the best food, pay outrageous vet bills, and let him scream through the night as we crate trained him. The first time he got attacked by another dog, it took my best friend an hour to talk me down.
However, my unconditional love for him is nothing compared to the unconditional love he feels for me. There’s a video on Vimeo about a special dog called “Denali” that I recommend if you’re looking for a good cry. In this video, there is a quote that goes something like “Imagine what it would be like if every time someone we loved walked into the room we completely lost our minds with excitement.” (I paraphrased because I couldn’t get through the video again.) Rico’s biggest flaws come from just wishing he could be closer to us.
I’ll never forget the first time we tried to train Rico to stay off the couch. He was getting to that stage of puppyhood where he wasn’t as easy to hold, so we felt like he should learn to lay on the floor rather than our laps. So when my wife gets to the couch, he jumps up, and she says “No, Rico,” and then puts him on the floor and says “Good boy!” Rico is a fast learner so it only takes about three cycles of this before he catches on to what’s happening. So he finally walks in front of my wife, leaves his hind legs on the floor, and puts his head and front legs in her lap as if to say, “You can keep me off the couch, but I’ll stand if it means I get to be a little closer to you.” I want learn how to love like this.
I’m of the inclination that it is my job to protect my dog and not my dog’s to protect me. I’m not saying that he wouldn’t protect me; I’m simply saying that I am his alpha and keeping him safe is my job (especially since he could be euthanized should he hurt someone trying to protect me). When I suggest security as a benefit to being a dog owner, what I’m really suggesting is peace of mind.
People and dogs alike are communal beings. So it’s no surprise that we may feel less lonely or more secure when we are in one another’s presence. Even the smallest presence backing you up or relying on you for security, can be just the extra motivation you need to feel secure. Even as I write this, Rico is sleeping by my side, and I feel better.
There was a break-in across the street just the other day, and while I’m not sitting in a state of paranoia, it feels good to know that if someone were to break-in on me right now I wouldn’t be going down alone. For all I know, he might just try to make friends, but his bark is scary enough to make most want to step no further. However, just having someone to snuggle with from time to time is enough to make anyone feel slightly more secure. After all, a dog can be just a security blanket that drools a little.
I’ve often joked that a dog is man’s best friend because a man would always love to have a best friend with whom he doesn’t actually have to talk. The more time you spend with your dog, the more you understand each other on an intuitive level. My dog knows the difference between when I’m getting ready for a client and when I’m getting ready to take him to the park. Sometimes all I have to do to make Rico sit is look at him a certain way, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
After one of my best friends had surgery, he told me that while he was recovering, his dog would follow him across the house to make sure he was ok every time he had to get up. Once when my wife and I came home from a weekend out of town, we saw that the door to our old house had been opened. I was afraid that there might be someone still in the house, so I told my wife to wait outside if she needed to call 9-1-1, and I told Rico to come with me to make sure the house was safe (I figured how Rico entered the room might change how I entered the room.). He refused. Now, no one was in the house, and it had been blown open from a storm that happened while we were out of town. However, the point is that Rico refused because he knew how freaked out my wife was. He decided he would rather disobey his alpha to stay behind and take care of what he and the alpha both love the most. We should all aspire to such understanding of a moment.
Of course, you’re used to hearing these last 2 topics by now. To put it plainly, your dog needs exercise and so do you. Neither of our species was meant to just sit around all day. Take a high-energy dog, and don’t give him mental or physical exercise. It’ll become the most obnoxious animal you’ve ever seen. In the same way, if you aren’t exercising your mind or your body, stress is going to pile up and make you miserable.
While an active dog isn’t for everyone, it could become a means or motivation for you to get active. When we go canoeing, Rico swims along side the boat. We both get exercise, and it makes him so happy and easy to handle that it makes me want to do more fun adventures with him (and thus, get more exercise). I would highly encourage anyone thinking about getting a dog to get a dog that challenges you. So many studies have shown that pets make people’s lives more interesting. Get an animal that’s going to force you to be a better version of your self.
Dogs also have this wonderful way of putting you in the moment. That might be because while they seem to love so much, their lives are so short. Since they have fewer moments than we do, they naturally process them more fully. Also, dogs are wonderful at not having stupid distractions floating in the back of their minds.
That may sound abstract, but when you play with a dog, you might as well be the best person to have ever lived. When you come home from work, it must have felt like ages since he saw you. So when you take the time to pet a dog, really appreciate how soft his coat is. Imagine it making you happy as much as it may please him. In doing so, use your ability to connect to your pet as a means to connect to yourself.
Christianity and Hypnosis
Nashville has been referred to the “Belt-buckle of the Bible Belt.” With as many Christians and different denominations as are present in this town, I often run into people who’s faith is very important to them. Since Nashville is a growing and increasingly more diverse town, it’s no surprise that I meet people whose faith manifests in a variety of ways. Now I believe self-hypnosis and meditation to be increasingly more essential health practices. I want everyone in Nashville to know that these practices can bless their lives in a wonderful variety of ways, even if that means that I have to tell every single person myself. In the process of talking to so many people, I meet a few Christians who are under the impressionthat hypnosis conflicts with their beliefs. Since I was a Bible major in undergrad, I was intellectually attracted to the idea of making a case for hypnosis and Christianity working quite well together.
Before I go any further, I believe a disclaimer is merited: I don’t care what you believe. The goal of this blog post is not to change your beliefs but to challenge the both of us intellectually. If you are unable to handle contrasting opinions from both sides of the spectrum, you might as well not continue reading. I’m not going to pretend to not be biased about my perspective since I am a professional hypnotherapist. However, I understand that hypnosis and meditation are foreign and thus uncomfortable concepts to some, just as Christianity may be to others. It is not my intention to disrespect anyone’s beliefs, nor do I desire to cause polarity between the two subjects. On the contrary, I’d like to bring the ideologies together.
Some Christians’ Case Against Hypnosis
I truthfully believe that in order to be able to make a case for an opinion, you should be able to make a decent argument for its opposition. How would you truly know where you stand on an issue if you haven’t examined it from multiple angles? For that reason, I have compiled what I believe to be the strongest arguments there are in opposition to hypnosis, and these arguments will be the angle from which I make my case: that hypnosis and Christianity may in fact complement each other. I’ll be pulling from the Bible, arguments I’ve heard from others, and my study of psychology and hypnosis to make my point.
Argument 1: I shouldn’t put my mind in another person’s control.
This is one of the most common arguments for a Christian against hypnosis, and unfortunately, it only shows how little the person understands about hypnosis. First of all, everyone is can be manipulated, and you are given what I would consider hypnotic all the time. When you break it down, hypnosis is really just about attention and suggestion. So in my professional opinion, you are receiving hypnotic suggestions multiple times a day. When you watch a commercial and you get excited about a product or something the ad is saying to you, you enter into a mild hypnotic state.The marketing industry spends billions of dollars a year researching the best ways to appeal to your mind. So here’s how I like to put it: You’re already hypnotized, you might as well have a say in that process.
Secondly, despite the fact that you mind is constantly being over-loaded with hypnotic suggestions, you are responsible what comes into you mind, and no one else. Colossians 3:2 says to “Set your mind on things above.” If that’s a verse that you’d like to take seriously, I recommend hypnosis. Jesus himself understood that negativity and evil started from within. In Matthew 5 He discusses Hebrew laws and how the first offence of these Laws is always in your mind. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that if you had an exercise that enabled you to be more intentional about your thoughts Jesus would want you to partake of it?
You have heard the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court…
Matthew 5:21-22 NASB
Argument 2: It puts the focus on me not Jesus.
I have been confronted with the notion that meditation or hypnosis glorifies the self above the Trinity. I might argue that we have been given hypnosis as a tool, and all tools may be used for good or bad. Even scripture has been used to justify horrible things. However, when I read
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:17 NASB
what I understand is that the goal is to find a way to do everything in your life to Jesus’ glory. I know I’m biased, but if you aren’t able to find a means to use hypnosis to the glory of God, that’s the due your lack of creativity not do to the nature of the tool of hypnosis.
Sometimes, hypnosis can be such a powerful tool that people misunderstand it as something supernatural. The reality is, hypnosis is simply a more effective means of communication that is as natural as the sunrise. You enter into a trancelike state multiple times a day, and your unconscious is always working and learning in ways that will never cease to transcend your perception of self. Why would God give us this tool without wanting us to be able to utilize it for His glory? Philippians 3:16 NASB says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Meditation is a beautiful tool for doing just that.
Finally, I know everyone isn’t comfortable with this, but hypnosis can be the perfect space to embrace the presence of your Lord. For example, often when some clients are trying to over-come traumatic experiences, they may feel more equipped to handle reliving a memory if they have a strong and loving presence with them telling them it’s all going to be ok. I would understand if you were uncomfortable with the suggestion that the Lord speaks to you during hypnosis, so I would never insist that you interpret your experience as prophecy. However, if Christ does live in you, maybe that could be a wonderful way to experience His presence.
Argument 3: I am more susceptible to evil.
I cannot deny that there is a dark side to hypnosis. It has been taken to extremes as horrible as brainwashing, sure. However, the extreme to which we are all hypnotized is truly out of control. The way that the media, politicians, marketers, and even some religious leaders abuse hypnotic techniques to manipulate the masses is disgusting. As I’ve mentioned, the marketing industry spends billions of dollars a year doing research on the best ways to appeal to you so you will buy the right products. They learn what colors will make you happy or hungry and what sounds will make you feel like a kid again all to get an unconscious response out of you and sway your free will. In the same way, politicians are constantly polling the masses for every little bit of information they may need to win your votes.
The good news is that we have been given the ability to guard ourselves against temptation. In fact, we have been instructed to take control of our thoughts.
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
I Peter 1:13 NASB
The truth is hypnosis, self-hypnosis, trance, conscious, unconscious, etc., they’re all just ideas. Ideas that could be used for good or bad like many things. The Bible may not mention them because they hadn’t defined the experiences in such a way at that point in history. Further, I might suggest that some people might be afraid to experience hypnosis because they may fear that the may have to face the potential for darkness that lies in each of us. Either way, I don’t expect to sway anyone, and I fully understand that hypnosis isn’t for everyone. However, I will suggest that it is belittling of God’s potential to work in your heart to suggest that hypnosis is a tool for evil.
A Nashville Hypnotherapist’s Reflections on “The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment”
I wanted to share some reflections on this book because it’s a new favorite of mine, and because the philosophy that underlies this book is one of the fundamental perspectives with which I Now approach my clients. Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment is a New York Times Bestseller that many successful people (yes, I realize I read what Oprah tells me to) cite as one of their most influential books. One day, I was in McKay’s Used Books and I saw almost an entire row of copies in the Philosophy section for about $1.50. I remembered that I’m often seeing quotes of his, and my friends and clients alike had recommended him. So I bought one for myself, and later, my cousin and I decided to read it together. Now that I’ve finished, every time I’m in West Nashville, I’m going to go by McKay’s to buy the whole shelf for all of my friends.
Tolle writes about the Now. This moment. And this one. He proposes, rather convincingly, that all pain and trouble in life come from not living in the present moment. When we stress, we are either ruminating about something that has already happened or we are worried about something that hasn’t happened yet. In doing so, we miss the beauty that is all around us, and we create a reality that is plagued with negativity. In the present, we can come to understand that the world we live in is fascinating and beautiful. When this happens, we can come to a place where we transcend thoughts of good or bad and enter into a state of sustainable peace.
That sounds a little heady doesn’t it? That’s only because I summarized in a paragraph what he gracefully explains in 229 pages. The trick is to not over-think it, because over-thinking takes us out of the Now. The notion that he shares that struck me, personally, the most was our addiction to thinking. Tolle points out how we often confuse ourselves with our thoughts. You may have even had the thought “If people only knew who I really am, I wouldn’t have friends,” but what you meant was “If people only knew what went on in my head, I wouldn’t have friends.” That’s because you think you are your thoughts, when you’re thoughts are simply products of you. Our thoughts take us out of the Now, and we miss the beauty that lies within every moment.
I’ll use myself as an example. I am a pathological intellectualizer. I have fooled myself into believing that if I can make something make sense in my mind than I can have some sort of divine power over it. I’m sure I’ve even alienated friends not because I had a problem with their opinions but because I felt the need to highlight their inability to make an argument. While I’m not going to deny that intellectualization has benefited me in some ways, wrapping my head around a difficult occurrence doesn’t make it less painful. It simply takes me out of the Now, which can create even more pain.
Tolle suggests that when thoughts are focused on the present moment, we can always find our way to peace. Even if your Now brings you something negative, as long as you are truly present with that moment you can find a way to be at peace with your feelings. I’m not suggesting it won’t take practice, but the sooner you are in control of how you see the world the sooner you will be able to see it change to your benefit.
The knowledge that you can be at peace in all of the Nows may eventually lead to a wonderful state of joy. Gregory of Nicaea once said, “Concepts create idols; only wonder comprehends anything. People kill each other over idols. Wonder makes us fall to our knees.” I illustrated this once with an ink pin to a client. She was struggling with depression so much that it had taken her to the point of utter despair. I was able to take her out of that place by showing her how to be in awe of an ink pin. When you think about it, the pin can write a message that can make a friend’s day. The tiny ball in the tip of that pin that enables the ink to run smoothly across paper was, I’m sure, quite a feat of engineering to create. To top it off, most pins are plastic, which is decomposed organic matter. The utensil with which you write is made of dead, and likely extinct, animals and vegetation. To me, that’s fascinating. What if we could look at everything in our lives with that same appreciation?
It is possible as long as you stay in the now. Every single moment contains something to captivate our since of wonder. If we aren’t in the Now, I wonder what beauty, joy, and wisdom we could be missing.
A Nashville Therapist’s Analysis of “Daredevil”
Before I begin, I would like to state that I don’t know what is too much information for you. I will attempt to not reveal any spoilers regarding plot (at least not without saying “SPOILER”), but I feel like I should draw attention to the possibility that my analysis of characters and themes may give away more than you would like to know about the first season of Daredevil on Netflix. If you don’t know enough about the story or characters from the comic books or even that horrible Ben Affleck movie, you may want to stop reading. However, if that isn’t a concern of yours, maybe this post will be just the thing to get you interested in the show. So if you should avoid Netflix binging as much as I should, reading on may lead you into temptation.
I have always been obsessed with superheroes. I believe that superheroes make us imagine that you could be more than yourself. Many superheroes have super powers, and they make us wonder what powers we may be able to discover within us. Many superheroes don’t have powers but have just mastered themselves in interesting ways like Sherlock Holmes, Batman, or Ironman. Daredevil is perhaps the greatest example of a hero who over-came adversity in comic book history, and I personally had fun with Netflix adaptation.
Let me, as a closet critic, give my review of the Netflix production before going any further: I felt that Netflix’ Daredevil was probably the best super hero television show I’ve ever seen. The plots sometimes dragged a bit, but they were pretty intricate. It had comedy, brutal action, drama, politics, and romance, but just enough to leave you wanting more. The action sequences were superb. You could really see that Netflix has proven that they can contend with the likes of HBO in the quality of casting, editing, and cinematography.
In Daredevil, Matt Murdock is a lawyer who lives in New York in the neighborhood Hell’s Kitchen. He was blinded when he was 9, while he was getting an elderly person out of the way of a truck carrying toxic chemicals. The chemicals that blinded his eyes somehow seem to have enhanced the rest of his senses much further than an average human capacity giving him a Zen-like awareness of everything around him within a pretty large radius. After he learns to hone these senses (and of course learning what seems to be a variety of Muay Thai, Kung Fu, and Kali), it almost easy for him to fight crime.
One of the most interesting elements in the story are the paradigms that present themselves between Daredevil, or Murdock, and The Kingpin, or Wilson Fisk. Fisk and Murdock were both strongly impacted by their relationships with their fathers. We learn that Murdock’s father was used to taking a beating and that Fisk’s father was used to dishing one out. Those dynamics impact both the protagonist (Murdock) and the antagonist (Fisk). They were both twisted in their own right, and they both wanted what was best for Hell’s Kitchen. However, Murdock takes a beating for his city, while Fisk dishes one out for his.
We also see ways Fisk and Murdock parallel each other in relationships. They both struggle with decisions regarding who to trust or whether or not anyone is safe loving them. They take relationships from an “I can only trust myself” approach and a “My burden is goo heavy for me to have personal attachments” approach. Since it’s a comic book, I don’t think it would be too much of a spoiler to say that friendship usually wins out in the end, but I believe loyalty is about as much of a theme as duty is, whether it apply to their compatriots or Hell’s Kitchen itself.
Naturally, my favorite aspect of the story was its emphasis in the mind-body connection. In one of the episodes, he mentioned that he perceived a “world on fire” in his imagination. He had to be in close contact with all of his faculties and his senses to be able to know his surroundings and what was threatening him. He would even use that ability to detect details of people in the next room or even which rib was broken in someone else’s body.
Of course, the storytellers demonstrated these tendencies that many blind people are known to have to an unrealistic extreme. However, there was one dramatic detail that was rooted in truth. Murdock meditated so that his wounds would heal quicker. Studies have shown that people who meditate in preparation for and following a surgical operation will typically heal faster. Maybe meditation won’t make you heal like Wolverine, but it has been shown to strengthen your immune system and speed up recovery for injuries. I imagine it would have also come in handy for suppressing pain.
As a lawyer by day and a vigilante by night, it’s pretty clear that Murdock’s main goal is justice. It may be something other than superheroes that motivates you to be great. But whatever greatness you find in yourself, develop it an extent that may seem super. After doing so, you may just dare to make your world a better place.
Perception is Reality
I felt like this may be an appropriate topic to follow the “Secret of Luck.” But before I write any further, I feel as if I should disclose a bias of mine: I confess that I am what most people might call a “post-modernist.” To put it simply, I don’t believe in absolute truth. Of course, it would be ironic to say, “There is absolutely no such thing as absolute truth!” So I’ll give you a quick history of modernity.
Philosophers and historians often refer to the history of civilization up until the Enlightenment (though, some may say as early as the Renaissance) and the birth of empirical science as a pre-modern era. Up until that point, beliefs were determined by the influential powers, like the Catholic Church, and it was frowned upon to challenge them (as you would learn from the history of any early scientist). So during the days of pre-modernity, the dominant belief was truth. The Enlightenment gave birth to what we now know as the scientific method, and from the Enlightenment until about the 20 th century, the theory that reflected the status quo was the one that you could test and prove with some certainty. Civilization shifted from faith to reason, and we call this means of thought “modernism.”
During the 19 th century, it became popular to deconstruct the rules we were told to follow in regards to art, philosophy, and science, so that by the mid-20 th century it was commonly seen as necessary to challenge everything we thought we could know so far. What we have noticed through this post-modern era is that facts often change depending on what information we can access and even from what angle we can look at that information.
To illustrate this point, I often like to reference the park bench scene in Men in Black. Will Smith’s character has just found out that there are extra terrestrials on earth, and he wants an explanation for why people can’t know about their presence. Tommy Lee Jones’ character responds by saying, “Fifteen hundred years ago, everybody knew the earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that people were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.” Smith’s character’s point is basically that people have a right to know, and Jones’ character basically says, “What makes you so sure you really know anything?”
A few weeks ago, this idea became pretty clear when a picture of a certain dress broke the Internet. You may remember a picture of a certain black and blue dress that through the use of backlighting, probably some filter, and your own eyes and imagination may or may not have looked white and gold. Now I’m not an optometrist or neurologist, so I’m not going to address why you may have seen the dress a certain way. However, what I would like to talk about is how quickly people fought to the death (or as seriously as you can fight on social media) to defend their own perception. Regardless of what you saw, you probably didn’t enjoy the feeling of someone challenging your perception. In challenging your perception of something seemingly obvious, your unconscious’s entire perception of reality may come into question.
You may by now be thinking, “I see what you’re saying, but you’re talking about a dress,” so I’ll try to offer you a better example. It seems as if every holiday season, Fox News scrambles to find evidence of what they like to call “the war on Christmas.” In 2013 Megyn Kelly felt the need to announce that Santa and Jesus were both white to stay consistent with this agenda. Now, depending on your perception, she’s not wrong. The symbolic Jesus and Santa Clause have been represented by Caucasians for a long time. However, the earliest renderings we have of Jesus were made to look like Constantine for pretty obvious political purposes, and Americans may owe their depiction of Santa to Coca-Cola more than anyone. The historic figures (as Kelly refers to both of them) that these depictions were based off were both from the Middle East. Now, ultimately I don’t care what is literally true (if such truth exists) for either person’s race. The point is Kelly’s perception was being challenged, and she felt that to defend her position would be to support her agenda.
What we know today could always be proven wrong or incomplete tomorrow. We are limited to perceiving the world through our 5 senses and in 3 dimensions. Our since of smell is nothing compared to a dogs, we are virtually deaf compared to elephants, and our eyes can only detect color on a spectrum between infrared and ultraviolet light, and that’s assuming that human sensory perception is even moderately consistent. If you were to tell me that the sky was blue, it wouldn’t do me any good to argue with you, but it would likely be a false assumption to state with any certainty that my definition of blue was the exact same as yours. Furthermore, all reliable “truths” are dependent on presuppositions. When you say “The sky is blue,” what you are really saying is “The atmosphere within the first few miles of earth, during a clear day, under ideal environmental conditions typically appears blue to the human eye.” If any one of those variables change, so could the validity of the statement “The sky is blue.”
If your perceptions create your reality, we should start by allowing that “Truth” to keep us humble. Everything you think you know could be proven wrong tomorrow, and if you don’t entertain that notion, you may be doomed to never learn anything new. You could save yourself a lot of embarrassment by learning from Megyn Kelly’s mistakes, understanding that everyone has a reason for seeing the world how they do (sure, it doesn’t always have to be a good reason), and refraining from speaking in absolutes when possible because they’ll change depending on presuppositions.
Finally (and this may be the most important thing to take from all of this), if your perceptions create your reality, practice looking at your world in the most positive ways possible. Always look on the bright side, and find the goodness and fascination that life has to offer in everything and everyone you encounter. Perceive your world as positive, and watch it become so.
The Secret to Luck
I wanted to use the wake of St. Patrick’s Day to discuss the spirit and very nature of luck. My family was never particularly superstitious, but I grew up in a very Irish home, so the word luck was often heard. The more I grew and studied religion and psychology, the more I learned that there might be something of substance to luck rather than just superstition.
First of all, I believe that most superstitions come from reason or habit. In high school, I would always wash my sweats and spandex immediately after my wrestling matches to prevent getting skin diseases common in wrestling. In the same load I would add the pair of underwear that I was wearing during the match, and consequently, I usually ended up wearing the same pair of underwear every match. So like many athletes, I would joke about having my lucky underwear. In a similar regard, when you really think about what’s commonly considered “bad luck,” you probably often think of things that are just bad ideas. If you open an umbrella, you’re likely to break something. If you break a mirror, you may be finding shards of it for a long time. If you get in the habit of walking under ladders, something is libel to fall on you’re head.
Luck can be a powerful thing for the same reason that religious people are generally happier and live longer. If you live your life expecting to be blessed, you are more likely to notice blessings all around you, and in the same way, if you expect certain behavior to bring negative consequences, you won’t take certain risks. Please don’t misunderstand this as me trying to discredit all faith as superstition. My point is that what ultimately matters the most is our perspective on live, whether we get that perspective from faith or not.
Several studies have been done on this subject. I once heard of a study where lucky people and unlucky people where compared. It’s important to point out that what constituted the subjects as lucky was simply their own reports, although most had examples of occurrences in their lives that they believed were as good as evidence to there good fortune or lack of it. In this study, the researchers would interrupt the subjects’ lives in subtle ways to see how they reacted. At one point they would even leave $100 dollar bills on the ground to the subjects’ walks to work. Usually the lucky people would bend down and pick them up while the unlucky people would be so convinced that nothing good would ever happen to them that they would just keep on walking.
This is why I believe that our perceptions create our realities and not the other way around. Often times, our unconscious perceptions are more likely to work to prove us right than to make us happy. If you believe that a charm will bring you good fortune, than maybe that charm has simply become a reminder to recognize good fortune when you see it. Maybe that charm becomes a reminder to create your own good fortune.
I believe the way to create happiness is to become a pathological optimist. Practice finding the good in everything, everyone, and everyday. After all, Einstein himself said, “I would rather be an optimist and a fool than a pessimist and right.” If Einstein valued positivity over intelligence, I’m sure it wouldn’t hurt me to do the same.
Tips for Surviving a Nashville Ice Storm
Nashville has undergone a difficult few weeks to say the least. Because icy roads and Nashville hills don’t work together very well, Mayor Karl Dean urged people to stay home. Many were stuck in their houses for close to a week. When this happens it’s common to show a few symptoms of cabin fever if not a little bit of stress. This idea inspired me to share a bit of advice as to how to get trapped in a winter storm without loosing your mind.
Choose who you get stuck with.
Like most things, snow days are best when shared. If you know that “winter is coming,” make a quick dish and grab a few movies and board games and have a slumber party with some other friends who don’t have to work the next day. If that’s not practical, use the weather as an opportunity to spend some quality time with the family. Make some memories with the kids by finding a hill to sled down. Utilize being trapped with your significant other as an opportunity to build intimacy. Of course, we’ll all be getting a laugh in at the influx of baby announcements in the next couple of months.
Be sure to limit your time doing nothing.
Who doesn’t like to spend a day off binge-watching House of Cards? A day off is a gift from the heavens and I wouldn’t dream of suggesting you spend working the whole time. However, I will say that the longer you spend doing nothing the more quickly you will find yourself becoming restless. On the flip side if you mix work and play, you’ll begin to see your as a means to catch up on your to-do’s as well as some R-&-R. My wife and I were able to so some work for our jobs, paint a room and a dresser, clear the driveway, start scrapbooking, and clean the house all while catching up on our shows, watching movies, and getting some reading done.
Get some restful alone time.
I don’t care how much you love a person, if you spent every second of every day with them, you will sooner or later wear on each other. If you’re stuck indoors with family or a roommate, make sure you’re taking some time to work or play by yourself. I’m always going to recommend some self-hypnosis/meditation time. You may also want to spend some time working on separate projects. For the most part, when my wife and I were doing work for our jobs we ended up in separate rooms. That, in addition to some intentional quiet time, seemed to be enough to keep us from jumping at each other’s throats.
This always seems to make it into my lists, but that’s because it’s that important. If you start to feel restless or trapped, get a little bit of a work out in. Maybe you’re used to going out for a run, or maybe your gym isn’t walking distance. That’s fine. Often times cable companies have channels where you can watch workout videos on demand. If you don’t have cable, check out some YouTube videos. If you don’t have Internet, how are you reading this? Either way, don’t make excuses. You could do a few pushups, a few lunges, or even walk up and down your stairs a few times. Get creative, because those endorphins produced by your efforts will prove to be useful.
Have an adventure.
Look at the present as a story you get to tell now. Instead of sitting at home bored and hungry, bundle up and go for a walk to the closest store or restaurant. Make a memory of that time you called your friend with a four-wheel-drive so you could slowly move through traffic from hardware store to hardware store looking for salt. Whatever you do, stay safe while refusing to let the weather defeat you. Always remember that a unique circumstance is a memory in the making.
Hypnosis Takes Nashville
Music City Hypnotherapy is dedicated to making sure that the people of Nashville understand that hypnosis is an easy and natural process that can make you feel fantastic, if not change everything about how you live your life. For that reason, I’ve decided to make a few quick videos where I go out on the streets of Nashville, or any other city I find myself in, and show how easy and fun the experience can be. If through hypnosis I can give a few suggestions that can lead to a warm feeling and a smile on a cold and noisy day, imagine what a hypnotherapy session or a regular self-hypnosis practice could do for you!
The first video is of a street performer who expressed interest in what we were filming about. When I told him that I use hypnosis to help people, he got really excited and started bragging to me about all the things he had been doing lately to improve his life and his health. When I asked him if he wanted to have a quick hypnotic experience, he wanted to be sure that I wasn’t going to drug him. After I explained what was about to take place, he got a little more comfortable, and I dropped him into trance with a hand-drop induction.
When I’m working with someone that I need in a deep trance quickly, sometimes I like to bypass the long progressive induction into hypnosis. When you startle the mind into a heightened state the brain switches gears. The mind becomes overwhelmed and begs for relief. So when I yell, “Sleep! Deeper… deeper… deeper…” your unconscious is happy to comply. In the interest of full disclosure, this doesn’t work for everyone all the time. I usually wouldn’t use this method with a client until after they have experienced a progressive induction, but for the sake of a quick demonstration, it works well enough.
After this street performer dropped into trance, he came back out for a little bit, which is great because it enabled me to fractionate. Fractionation is when you bring someone out of trance, and then back down into trance causing him or her to reach a deeper state faster. As soon as his head rested on his guitar, his mind went somewhere else. He went from bragging and joking around with us to brutal introspection: “I’ve never been happy.” Then it dawned on him that happiness had manifested right under his nose and it came in the form of his guitar. Once he came out of hypnosis, he was inspired to get right back to rocking out. He seemed to have a ton of fun.
This next subject I met as a group of people was pouring out of a van. In a group of people this size, you’re bound to find that one person who is a bit of a clown or who is up for anything. That person will be your best hypnosis subject. However, the more I began to speak to this young lady, I noticed that she was a little nervous or excited, so I had to be a little more gentle in my approach with her.
The street noise was almost over-whelming, and that’s why I had to talk directly into her ear. For the sake of these exercises, I didn’t want to make anyone do anything too crazy. Some people just want to know what it’s like, so I oblige them by showing how simple it is. With her, I just bombarded her mind with pleasant ideas. When she came out, the trance followed her with a lovely smile.
I’m going to be making a more videos of hypnosis soon. I already have a few projects on the drawling board. Let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas for others.
The Hypnotic Skill That Could Save Your Life
Because of my love for martial arts and my hatred for violence, I’m often curious what hypnotic skills I could use when confronted by a potentially threatening situation. I was inspired to write this post by Jamie Lynn Spears (Britney’s sister) recent act of heroism that has been trending on social media. For those of you who don’t know, Ms. Spears broke up a fight at a Pita Pit by going behind the counter, grabbing a knife, and waving it around while yelling at everyone. As I watched the video I wondered what she was saying, if they suddenly realized how stupid they were being, if they were just calming down anyway, or they suddenly realized they could find their picture next to a “Washed-Up Teen Idol Stabs Herself in Fight” headline. Either way, the event inspired me to speak on the topic of non-violent ways to avoid violence.
The most basic hypnotic skill that I can think to apply is what we call a pattern interrupt. If the phrase isn’t quite self-explanatory enough, a pattern interrupt is any means of interrupting the pattern of a particular thought process. Sometimes when I have a friend or client who I can tell is sending the conversation down a negative path, I’ll say something interesting enough to grab their attention but random enough to get them to switch gears.
Richard Bandler said that he was inspired to utilize this technique when he made his first trip to Japan. When he met a Japanese man there, he automatically reached his hand to shake and say hello. When the Japanese man bowed leaving Bandler with no idea what to do with his hand, he instantly went into a trancelike state.
Another famous hypnotist, Derren Brown, once said that when he worked in pubs in London he would often be confronted by belligerent drunks who he could tell were looking for a fight. As they would begin to initiate trouble with him, he would calmly look them in the eye and calmly say something along the lines of “There’s an avocado tree that grows 6 feet below my front door.” Now that doesn’t make much since, especially given the context, so the instigator’s unconscious mind is stuck having to figure out why those words make since or are relevant, leaving him to lose original violent state of mind.
Something along these lines could change a persons though process long enough to make them forget about being violent and calm down, or it could simply give you enough time to get away. Sometimes you could simply interrupt someone’s state of mind by exemplifying a different state of mind. Maybe you remember the guy who breaks up a fight on a New York subway car simply by eating his chips, standing between those who were fighting, and remaining calm.
The Right Kind of Crazy
A martial arts instructor once told me that when someone wants to fight you, it often helps to convince him/her that you’re even crazier than they are. He told me that he’s even taken that to the extreme where he’ll start rolling his eyes, grunting, and drooling. That’s a pattern interrupt for ya! He said that some of the time, who ever is instigating will think “This guy’s lost it, and I’m not going to mess with him.” He then said other time the instigator will be crazy enough to identify with him, and a new friendship is borne. (Of course, if that doesn’t work, he is a martial arts instructor and doesn’t have a lot to fear.)
I’ve heard that surprise is the best way to deter violence. Next time you see a fight break out consider wearing your shoes on your hands and running around the fight yelling the lyrics to “Oops I did it Again.” I found a video of a man who was in the process of attacking a woman on the subway when another man comes up behind him and pulls his pants down. Now the hero who steps up, doesn’t take the fight further; he just stands his ground and makes it clear that he can’t get away with harming someone else. The aggressor is caught off guard, pulls up his pants, and walks away. It’s hard to look tough when someone’s caught you with your pants on the ground.
Kill with Kindness
Someone very wise once spoke about turning the other cheek and loving your enemies. I take that teaching very seriously, because I believe that we are all part of this human family and that causing harm to others is causing greater harm to you. Now, I don’t believe that turning the other cheek is about passively letting harm come to you. I think it’s about looking your abuser in the eye to show your humanity. After all, being broken, hurt, or sick enough to want to harm you fellow man is animal logic. Sometimes a reminder of that humanity is all that is necessary.
The best advice I could give you for defending yourself is run and hide. However, if that isn’t an option or that person is preying on someone more defenseless than you, it helps to have techniques for defusing tensions before they rise to a level that is dangerous. So practice interrupting patterns, be willing to out-crazy someone, and once you’ve distracted them, offer to buy them something to eat or drink. If someone walks up and insults you, ask them to sit discuss it in more depth. Everyone has a struggle that you could learn from. And who knows, you might meet a life-long friend that way.
Find Love This Year
My wife told me the other day that the beginning of the New Year is the busiest time for online dating sites. While I never would have guessed that, it makes sense. The holidays are a time when people who are lonely feel it the most, and the New Year is the time when those same lonely people are thinking about what they would like to change about their lives. So with that in mind, I thought I might give a few simple pointers on how to have a more successful dating life.
Get yourself together.
I’m constantly surprised by how many people I meet who are so fixated on the idea of finding someone that they are blinded to their individual shortcomings. So before you set out to find a love interest, stop and evaluate where you are in life, what you have to offer someone else, and how you feel about yourself. If you don’t love yourself, good luck convincing someone else they should love you. Furthermore, if you are at a difficult phase in life or if you don’t have a ton to offer another person, you may be going about dating irresponsibly.
Consider this: First, learning to live alongside another person is always a challenging task. So if your life isn’t where it needs to be before you begin a relationship, starting a new relationship will most likely just complicate your life. Or more likely, you’ll use that new person to escape from your previous reality only to make matters worse than ever after the infatuation phase wears off. Secondly, you have to understand that the person you are with may unconsciously be attracted to what is broken about you, and then you begin your relationship enabling each other rather than bringing out the best in each other. It’s the same reason why AA recommends that you don’t begin relationships with other people in AA.
I know I just said it, but I’ll say it again: If you don’t love yourself, good luck convincing someone else s/he should love you. In the same way, the best way to convince someone else that you are worthy of his/her time is by believing it yourself. I believe this to be the most important variable because I’ve seen it time and time again. We’ve all experienced that guy who seems to be able to get all of the girls, not because he has a ton to offer, because he’s cockiness is mistaken for personality. When I was dating, I remember a few occasions where women who I wasn’t initially attracted to were so confident and bold that they would have me eating out of there hands within the first 10 minutes of the conversation. We unconsciously mirror each other. Others are more likely to walk away impressed by you if you had reason to be impressed with yourself before you initiated the conversation.
Make an impression.
This is where you get to be a little creative. The reason why making an impression is important is because it because it becomes that person’s association with you. The secret is it doesn’t have to be as much of a good impression as much as it should be a memorable impression. Ask a question or make a comment that reveals something interesting about you. Make sure that that impression is something that you are comfortable living up to. When all else fails, engage whomever you are speaking to by asking questions about his/her favorite topic: him/herself. Practice being an active listener, and you’ll show anyone that you are dating material.
I truly believe that the reason why I was able to find the love of my life at an early age was because of my dating philosophy. I knew that just because I could charm someone didn’t mean that I could get her to date me. That’s what my strategy was meet someone I was attracted to, see if there was any chemistry between us, and say “I like you. Do you think I could take you on a date sometime?” It usually worked well for me because she would see my directness as a sign of confidence. If it didn’t work, it was a lot easier than trying to spend all of my time, energy, and money trying to when someone over who was just too polite to say she wasn’t interested. I got sick and tired of watching my college friends get so emotionally invested with people who were never going to date them (or didn’t even know they existed), only to be crushed when those they were perusing made it known that they weren’t interested. If I was rejected, I moved on with less damage done to my ego. I found my way to my bride a lot quicker that way.
Now, of course finding a date is a lot simpler than keeping her/him around. That advice will have to come another day. In the mean time, meditate on these variables. As always, if there is anything that Music City Hypnotherapy can do to help you improve in this area, don’t hesitate to let me know.
Lose Weight in Nashville
I wanted to take a chance to address the Music City directly. I’m incredibly happy to live here, because while Tennessee is still ranked 4 th in obesity, I see more and more businesses and infrastructure being designed with making Nashville a healthier place. I felt it would be a disservice to my clients to not give a few suggestions as to how to take advantage of what this city has to offer their health journeys.
These ideas are simply based on my observations of trends and recommendations of what has worked for my friends and clients. I do not recommend any one of these ideas, but rather a combination of these suggestions. Pick and choose what works for you. Just make sure that your health plans have variety and that they are consistent and fun. At the end of the day, you’re going to need to find your own structure, because you aren’t setting out to lose weight. You’re setting out to adapt a healthy lifestyle. Please send me your additions to this list. I am always looking for suggestions to pass on to others.
Initiatives like Walk/Bike Nashville have been progressively making the city of Nashville more commuter friendly. This city is riddled with bike paths that are a joy to discover. If you were to do a quick Google search, you could learn a lot about proper bike gear for commuters and how to plan your day regarding traffic and cleanliness. You could test out the idea one day by renting a B-cycle and touring the city for an afternoon. If biking isn’t your thing, you may be able to run to work. Be sure to check out running groups in town like Hill Runners, East Nasty, and Nolensville Running Club. Any decent running store or bike store will have recommended group runs or rides.
Utilize parks and greenways.
This relates to what I mentioned in commuting, but it’s worth repeating. If you aren’t taking advantage of Nashville’s beautiful parks or greenways, you’re missing out. Percy Warner Park is a stunning place to hike, and Shelby Bottoms Green Way goes for miles and miles. Don’t forget to check out the activities that Shelby Bottoms Nature Center hosts. You could bike, skate, walk your dog, or run these awesome trails. Play beach volleyball while over-looking the Parthenon at Centennial Park.
Eat quality and local food.
Not only is it good to support farmers who are close, you will be healthier to know more about the quality of food that you are receiving. Check out your local farmers markets. You never know what you may learn about what makes honey nutritious or the effect organic soap has on your health until you are talking to the people who made it. Be sure to check out restaurants in town that value the same principles like Star Bagel. Just remember to be mindful of portion sizes.
Get a membership to a climbing gym or yoga studio.
I’m noticing these activities growing in popularity. Climbing gyms are a fun way to learn to use your body, and they usually have workout options aside from a climbing wall. Yoga has also been shown to strengthen your core, increase your balance, and reduce stress. If you are looking to free yourself from weight, I recommend more intensive classes such as Power Yoga at Hot Yoga Plus.
Get your head right.
Often times we forget that the weight that piled on tells a story about how you handle stress or how you’re impulsive or how you’re lazy or how you’re sick. Whatever you issue/s maybe, your body can’t do anything that your mind won’t allow. If your body has been behaving inappropriately, you should get more in touch with your mind. Many have had success with getting motivated by the numerous trainers in town, and support groups like Weight Watchers have changed so many lives. Of course I’m biased, but I have to recommend hypnosis above all else. It is as simple as it is satisfying to learn to go inside your mind for the sake of reframing your unconscious. In fact, I believe that it can be so effective in controlling your eating and motivating you to exercise that I want everyone to know about it.
As always, I am eager to help you accomplish your goals. I want everyone in the city of Nashville to know that hypnosis can help you release weight. So as always, whether it be a consultation, a referral, or a treatment plan, I am at your service.
5 Ways to Accomplish Your New Year’s Resolutions
Happy New Year!!! Between Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, you’ve probably had plenty of time to indulge in holiday treats. However, a New Year is on the horizon, bringing with it all of the potential of change and a fresh start. New Year’s also brings a since of nostalgia for the year that is currently coming to a close.
So we are out with the old in with the new, and honestly, that’s what makes New Year’s Resolutions so great. We get to look towards the future and be excited about what’s to come. As we plan for our new New Year’s Resolutions, it’s common to ruminate on the previous year’s failed Resolutions. So to be sure we don’t allow history to repeat itself, I offer 5 Ways to Accomplish Your New Year’s Resolutions .
1. Start before January 1 st.
As the old proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago; the second best time to plant a tree is right now.” If you are serious about a goal, prove it to yourself by getting a jump-start on it. I know it’s nice to have a definitive point from where to start, but you can think about milestones later. Don’t wait another day to start becoming a better version of you.
2. Make sure it’s something you want, and not something you need.
As a hypnotist, if I get the feeling that my client is there because his spouse told him to come, I find it best to give him his money back and ask him to come back when he’s ready to on his own accord. I rarely have success helping someone change otherwise. It’s just as how rehab rarely works unless people want to be sober and hate doing drugs. So as you plan your resolutions, stay away from should’s and need’s. However, if you’re looking for motivation to pursue something you need, I could refer you to a great hypnotist.
3. Don’t do it alone.
This is so easy to forget. Some people’s goals are so personal to them that they don’t remember that there are others with similar struggles who could be instrumental in accomplishing your goals. People provide motivation, healthy competition, and learning, which is great because let’s face it, there is something to learn from everyone you encounter. Of course, there are more than one ways of finding community and even accountability. You may like to join a gym, take a class, join a support group, or even tell a bunch of friends about your progress and goals so they can encourage you. Just reframe from excessive selfies and social media posts. Humans are communal animals by nature. You are setting yourself up for success if you have plenty of external support.
4. Break your goal up into specific increments.
It is important to have long-term and short-term goals and milestones. Your long-term goal may be to lose some weight this year. Start out by making it specific. Maybe you would like to release 60 pounds this year (I say release because no one really loses anything on purpose). Then you have a shorter-term goal of releasing 5 pounds each month. Your goal for the week may be to exercise for an hour for 4 days out of that week. Your goal for the day may be to go to the gym and set up a membership. What every your goal may be, you have to be able to find a way to compartmentalize it with the rest of your life. That’s why we break it up and find milestones.
5. Celebrate every step of the way.
That celebrating starts now. As soon as you begin perusing a goal, allow yourself to feel like a winner. That will help you enjoy the work you put into your resolution, and as you shift how you see yourself, you unconsciously fulfill your own prophecies. If you are convinced that you are going to fail at your resolution, you will. Quickly. So tell someone about how proud you are of yourself (while exercising a reasonable amount of humility). Allow the small victories to make you feel good just like the big ones will. The ability alone to be grateful to yourself for the work that you have done for yourself can be powerful enough to get you to next December.
If you are interested in releasing weight, you may have times when you feel as if you are too far behind your schedule to accomplish your goal by the year’s end. For some reason, that enables us to decide to quit all together. Remember that you’re goal should never really be to lose weight, because even if you do lose it you can pick it up again. The ultimate goal is to adapt a lifestyle that is sustainable and healthful. This can be applied to any goal. At the end of the year, you want to know that you have adapted a new set of thoughts or behaviors that will continue to bless your life for years to come. For get your mind off to a good start, hypnosis might be the tool for you.
Become a Hobbyist Today
If you don’t already have a hobby, that needs to change today. Whenever I have a client who talks about needing a change, confidence, or something to reduce stress, I always recommend starting a new hobby. Everyone needs a variety of ways to connect to the world around them, and I find that not having many activities out side of you job and your chores leads to a life that is less than fulfilling.
I recently decided to take up Aikido. I have always been interested in martial arts, and since cycling season was winding down, I figured it would be a good idea for warding off the seasonal blues. Of course, since time is limited, I made sure that I was really knew what I was investing in. I couldn’t be more pleased with my decision. Aikido is a moderately non-violent martial art that focuses more on balancing yourself as an individual than on manipulating another body. Since I started, I’ve been reflecting on the benefits of the activities that we hold onto just for the fun of it. Before I really challenge you to find one of your own, I’d like to share what I find should be the benefit of any recreational passion.
You get to be bad at something.
After growing up in martial arts, I recently found myself as a white belt for the first time in 20 years. Donning a white belt after identifying myself as a black belt for so long was very humbling but important. I get to make a statement to my teachers and peers that I don’t know what I’m doing, and any help you had to offer me would be greatly appreciated. Also, what is great about being a white belt is I am almost guaranteed to learn something new every class.
When I invite my clients to take up a hobby, I prefer it to be a new hobby. My reasoning for this is I want my clients to develop the boldness to do something that they know are bad at. However, since they can understand that they are new at these activities and not bad at them, they can practice forgiving themselves for not being perfect. I find that’s good for everyone. In the same way, as they continue developing these interests, they will inevitably improve at these new hobbies, and in doing so, their self-confidence grows. That doesn’t even include the added benefits that may come with that particular skill.
Hobbies make learning fun.
Everyone enjoys obtaining new information. However not every means of obtaining that information is enjoyable to everybody. You may love reading but hate school. To adopt a new hobby is to learn a new skill. Start by making sure it’s one that you will enjoy acquiring. Martial arts tends to hurt at times, so I could understand if that process of learning isn’t worth the knowledge that person would obtain. However, I highly recommend your new hobby have some practical use to justify the time investment.
To give an example: you might like to develop your proficiency in a language. You could start tutoring refugees if you enjoy learning socially. You could take a class if you enjoy that setting, or maybe you even mix hobbies by developing an interest in music or movies in that language. Another example of how hobbies might be practical is as it may apply to gardening or exercise. Why not make it fun to make improve your health?
Your life gains balance.
This might seem pretty obvious by now right? I’ve already mentioned ways that hobbies could make your life more fulfilling, pleasurable, and healthful. However, I’m going to use a personal story to drive this point home.
My wife is really good at a lot of things, but she has never really had a preoccupation that she really took ownership over. The way I used to say it is she never really had “her thing” the way some people might. She likes her job, and she’s good at it, but it didn’t bring her the fulfillment that she craves in life.
Then she discovered roller derby, and a new woman was born (we call her “Cruella”). Now, she might scoff at me referring to derby as a hobby, but it has been the perfect outlet for her to develop and showcase her beauty, power, grace, intelligence, and attitude. Having watched her transition into Cruella, her life is night and day different. Stress was always inevitable, and I won’t begin to claim that derby has done anything to detract from that stress. But now there is purpose and deep satisfaction behind the stress she feels at derby. That satisfaction and purpose that she experiences in the derby world spills over in to her work life, and I imagine it makes it a little easier to deal with me as a husband too. It just goes to show that stress will affect you differently if you can assign purpose to it or gain an outlet for it rather than work to avoid it completely.
I’m not suggesting that everyone should pick up something as extreme as roller derby. But I will conclude with this bold statement: if you are working harder at something you don’t enjoy in life than at anything you actually do enjoy in life, your life is not up to the standards you deserve. Your life is fleeting, and it is worth seizing. It may take time, but it’s not too late to start shifting it towards a better balance between work and pleasure.
Choosing the Right Hypnotist
As scientific research continues to validate hypnosis for various uses, the field of hypnotherapy continues to grow. However, many still regard hypnosis as an “alternative health” treatment, which I interpret to mean “outside conventional Western medicine.” For better or for worse (and another day I could write separate posts making cases for both sides), many alternative health interventions are less regulated than medical interventions. A consequence of this is there is a lack of consistency regarding how many alternative health practitioners go about their treatments. Of all the people who practice hypnosis that you could find in Nashville, you could count the hypnotists that I would actually be willing to refer to you on one hand. I don’t say that because I believe that I belong to some elite class of hypnotherapist; I say that because this is my life’s calling, and that leads me to be a little protective of the craft. So rather than campaigning for legislation changes (which could possibly do more harm than good), I decided to take some responsibility for educating others on the most important variables to consider in choosing the right hypnotist. Hopefully this will lead the clients toward creating the standards for the practice of hypnosis.
1. Your hypnotherapist must meet your needs.
Whether or not your therapist can relate or adapt to you may be the most important variable to consider, because it may have the greatest impact on your therapist’s efficacy. A study was done where they compared different philosophies of talk therapy. What they concluded was no particular orientation that they considered was better than another, but in fact, the variable that made the biggest difference in therapy was the actual relationship between the client and the therapist. You need to be able to have a healthy relationship with you therapist (hypno or otherwise), and if s/he makes you uncomfortable or you aren’t able get along with him/her then your therapy probably won’t be very effective.
As far as this concept applies to hypnosis specifically, you may want your hypnotist to have a particular expertise. For example, I understand how hypnobirthing works, but that’s the type of topic for which you might want to be sure you see a specialist. In the same way, if you would like to see a hypnotist for chronic pain, you may not want to see someone who only works with smokers.
Finally, because hypnosis is such an adaptable process, no hypnotist worth her/his salt will ever read a script to you. Many like to be sneaky about it by pulling out a laminated sheet of paper (so it’s quiet) after they ask you to close your eyes. Every mind works differently, and every problem manifests a little differently. Sure, a script might be helpful still just as an mp3 may be. However, if you are paying your hard-earned money to tackle your serious and personal goals, you better be sure you are getting an experience that is specific to your needs. There is more to hypnosis than reading in a soothing voice.
2. Your hypnotherapist must be knowledgeable.
The topic of credentials is a tricky one, and when I say tricky, I really mean political. Any certification, degree, or accreditation that exists, exists because a few like-minded people got together and said, “This is our standard for other people to be counted as one of our group.” That may be a dramatic over-simplification, but the point I’m making is you can have all of the credentials in the world and still be horrible at what you do. On the other side of things, I highly doubt Milton Erickson (the “father of modern hypnosis”) ever took a certification course.
So you decide what’s important to you. Do you care if your hypnotist has a state licensure of some sorts (there isn’t a license for a hypnotherapist in the state of Tennessee)? Would you like for your hypnotist to have been educated in other schools of mental health treatment? What ever you decide, make sure it’s clear that not only has your hypnotherapist been educated, but that s/he continues to pursue knowledge that may help her/him to hone his/her craft. No responsible health practitioner ever quits training.
3. Your hypnotherapist must overtly care about ethical practices.
Your protection and the credibility of any health intervention both rely on this variable. Your hypnotherapist should give you waver or consent form to sign and should always start first sessions talking about confidentiality (and its limitations) and informed consent. If you are seeking treatment for pain management, IBS, or serious weight management, any responsible hypnotherapist will make sure you’ve seen a doctor to rule out any serious medical condition. Also if your therapist has a camera in his/her office, it’s usually a good sign because they care about their reputation and protecting themselves.
Lastly, no ethical hypnotherapist will allow you to come back to her/him time and time again without you making progress. Sometimes hypnosis can only get you so far on its own. Every therapist needs to know their limitations and needs to be sure the relationship ends when progress stops. I find it repulsive when any health practitioner allows her/his clients/patients to continue wasting money on treatment. That’s part of the reason I usually begin teaching my clients self-hypnosis from the first session.
Even if these variables lead you to decide that Music City Hypnotherapy is not the right fit for you, I want you to consider them. In fact, if you don’t think we would work well together, I’d be happy to recommend others who you might prefer. I am happily at your service, but no ethical or competent hypnotherapist gives you suggestions and then gets mad when you follow them.
From Meditation to Hypnosis
Since I recently wrote about how to start a meditation practice, I thought many might appreciate some insight on how meditation can be different from hypnosis. I choose to look at meditation and hypnosis as virtually synonymous yet completely subjective terms. Hypnotic or meditative experiences are inevitably going to vary from person to person. However, the terms seem to be used in different contexts. So I though I might share my thoughts on how those contexts may define the terms. These are my own thoughts and definitions (inspired by MANY others’). As you may look at the subjects differently, I appreciate any insight you have to offer.
To start from as objective of a place as possible, as far as can be scientifically measured, hypnosis and meditation are virtually the same thing. As mentioned before in Meditation 101, meditation and hypnosis both occur in on a brain wave state known as “Theta,” which occurs right before sleep. Meditation and hypnosis are both shown to help treat physical pain, help you relax, center your mind, and control your thoughts and emotions. As far as what can be measured and scientifically proven, meditation is the same thing as hypnosis.
The differences that I am about to list are purely philosophical. I like to think of meditation as a state of mind and hypnosis as a process for your mind. Hypnosis is more about learning. My friend Grace Smith says that hypnosis is “meditation with an objective.” When you sit in meditation, you find that trance state and begin to focus on balance, emptiness, and complete separation of self. Hypnosis utilizes that same process to redirect your unconscious and therefore your life so as to make quick change.
Transitioning into Self-Hypnosis.
Go into that meditative state of mind by focusing on your breath and relaxing your body, as discussed in Meditation 101. Imagine that you are in a special sanctuary. Your sanctuary can be some place in nature, a favorite travel destination, or even an imaginary world where you make all of the rules. Be sure that this is a safe place that you feel comfortable visiting over and over again in your mind. That way, your sanctuary may grow as your self-hypnosis practice does.
I find it’s helpful to make the sanctuary as adaptable as possible. For example, within my sanctuary there is a beach where I can balance my emotions, a dojo where I can connect to my body, a movie theatre where I can engage with memories, and a library where I can leave important knowledge and information I learn. Use everything as a mnemonic device or something to anchor to a thought or emotion.
Engage your senses in every way possible. I like to start by completely separating my mind from my body. I make everything feel heavier and more relaxed. Sometimes I even try to focus on an itch, and then relax that part of my body until the itch falls away. Then, when the time comes for you to focus on your goal, engage every sense and idea you can. If your goal is to feel motivated, remember a time in the past when you were motivated. How does motivation feel kinesthetically? How does it sound or look? You may be visual, auditory, or kinesthetic. Either way, connect to your objective with any sense you can. Sometimes you may not get visuals, but you connect to the experience emotionally or even intuitively. That is fine.
Keep a trance journal. Before you go into trance, write what you hope to focus on. When you come out, reflect on your experience. It doesn’t have to be detailed, but it will be a useful tool for tracking your improvement not only within your hypnosis practice, but also within your life. Nothing will feel more encouraging than being able to look back on what it took for you to over-come any obstacle or to tackle any goal.
I asked my Facebook friends to help me with a blog post about the excuses people give on not having a regular meditation practice. It lead me to decide that that blog post should come another day, because the most common response my friends gave me was that they weren’t sure they knew how to meditate effectively. So it felt necessary to make a post explaining how to meditate a priority.
First of all, I wanted to clear something up: as long as your efforts are coming from a positive place, there is no wrong way to meditate. A quick Google search will connect you to tons of meditation resources and even YouTube videos of guided meditations that you could listen to every day. I strongly encourage you to explore all of these resources so as to make your practice fit you exactly how it need to. Just remember that meditation shouldn’t be that complicated. For that reason, I’m going to make my advice as simple as possible.
Meditation can alleviate pain, stress, and fear. Meditation has the potential to make anyone a healthier and more balanced human being. However, the most important thing to remember is that this is a process for connecting to yourself and getting the most out of your mind. If you truly want to take everything you can get from this life, it’s time to start being intentional with your mind.
It’s about consistency.
Bruce Lee once said, “Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity.” This statement applies to any exercise and that’s just what meditation is: a mental exercise. Anytime you can meditate it will bless your mind, but the more consistently you adhere to your practice the closer you may come to self-mastery.
Start small. Twice a day, find a quite place to sit comfortably with good posture. You could turn off the lights or turn on a tranquil noise loop. Turn your phone off or on airplane mode. Set your timer, and just allow your mind to enter a relaxed trance state. You may like to start with 5 or 10 minutes, and eventually move your way up to 20 or 30 minutes twice a day. If you can’t give yourself an extra 20 minutes to an hour to simply be still, something in your life is too important to you. That intentional time should be as mandatory and natural as brushing your teeth.
Focus on your breath.
For the first week or so, you may want to simply allow your thoughts to wonder wherever they would like to go. As you relax your mind and your body, allow your breath to be what centers you. When you focus on your breath, you are brought back to the present. When you connect your mind to the present, all stress can progressively fall away. When others stress, they are typically ruminating about the past or worrying about the future, neither of which exist now. When you focus on every breath that moves inside you and nourishes you, you can come back to the present, because you don’t get nostalgic, anxious, or excited about the breath in your lungs. It simply is.
Set your intention.
Many like to use meditation to abandon sense of self or to open their minds. The reason for doing this is to release the erroneous predisposition that there anything separating us from the rest of the universe. Personally, I find it easier and maybe even more beneficial to start by focusing on one thing rather than nothing at all.
I recommend setting the simplest intention possible. It may be peace, motivation, self-control, confidence, and the list goes on. You may like to come up with a personal mantra such as, “It feels good to work hard,” or “I’m proud of myself today.” Keep all your thoughts on experiencing that intention. You could play a song in your head that connects you to that intention. You may go back to a memory that helps you connect to that intention. Feel it, see it, and hear it. You may just want to repeat that one word over and over again in your mind. Just remember to keep it positive. If you were to repeat, “Don’t be afraid of pigeons” over and over in your mind, all you would be reminding yourself is how much you actually fear pigeons. If I were to say, “Don’t think about a pink elephant,” what would be the first thing to pop into your head?
You will fall asleep. You will get distracted. You will forget to take the time. Get over it. Don’t get mad at getting distracted. Those distractions are as much apart of this universe as your intention is. Simply let it go, return to your breath, and go back to your intention. Sometimes, I find it rewarding to just see how those random distractions could be relevant to my intention. It’s just important to know that this is an exercise that takes practice to master. I truly believe that the reward lies within the understanding that simply taking the time is showing love to yourself.
Soon, I’ll be sharing what I believe to be the subtlest difference between self-hypnosis and meditation. If you have any specific questions, I would be happy to answer them personally. Remember that to access your unconscious is one of the greatest gifts you could give your life.
Change Your Habits, Change Your Life
We believe that everyone possesses a potential that transcends their conscious understanding. It is our desire to use hypnosis for giving people the tools to understand and live up to that potential.
Hey I'm Dan
DAN LAVELLE, M.S. CHT
Dan was born and raised in Memphis, TN. As the son of a nurse and a physician, he was raised with a passion for helping others and an understanding of the human capacity for health on physical, psychological, and conscious levels. Dan graduated from Lipscomb University with a B.A. in Theology and with a M.S. in Professional Counseling. He is currently working to obtain his counseling license. Dan received his Certificate of Hypnotherapy from the International Association of Professional Conversational Hypnotists. Shortly after, he started Music City Hypnotherapy. Since then, he has continued his education by specializing in pain management, and he is of the first Certified Soul Key Therapists in the United States. His passion is using hypnosis for the sake of helping others learn what they are capable of and helping them actualize a potential that may transcend their awareness. His specialties are the mind-body connection, pain management, existential issues, grief, and anxiety. In his free time, Dan enjoys playing guitar, cycling, and reading.
By Appointment only
Monday - Friday
10am - 6pm
My certification as a conversational hypnotherapist comes from the International Association of Professional Conversational Hypnotists. I was also certified in pain management hypnosis through Master Hypnosis Trainers. In addition, I was also among the first hypnotists in the United States to be certified as a SoulKey Therapist through Hypnosis Academy International.
It is my belief that health is at its best when it’s a collaborative effort. I hold the well being of the patient and good ethical practice to the highest importance. For this reason, I often provide referrals when I feel as though your needs extend beyond my professional competency. Furthermore, I will not see a patient for pain management unless they have seen a physician first.
I take time before each session to talk with you in depth about what you want to achieve. Sometimes it is in the client's best interests for me to suggest a route other than hypnotherapy, and sometimes the client does not realize what the root of the issue is before they come in. For this reason I want to make every effort to get to know you before we start a session to accurately address whatever the issue may be.
WHAT IS HYPNOTHERAPY?
Hypnosis is employing trance for the sake of using your susceptibility to suggestion to embed ideas that may enable you to bring forth change. Usually during hypnosis, you are not completely asleep, and you are aware of what the hypnotist is suggesting. You are simply in a state of mind to where you are more prone to enjoy what the hypnotist might suggest. Furmore during hypnosis, you can be in a place where your unconscious mind is more flexible and accessible.
WHAT IS TRANCE?
Trance is a generally more relaxed state of mind in which your conscious mind is more susceptible to suggestion. When you daydream, watch TV, read a book, pray, or meditate, you are in a type of trance. Maybe you’ve been studying and not notice the phone ring. Maybe you have been rolling up in your driveway, and you realize that you have no memory of leaving your job. Trance is something that we all experience, to varying degrees, on a daily basis.
WHAT IS HYPNOTHERAPY USED FOR?
Hypnosis has many uses from entertainment to healing. You could use hypnosis for changing bad habits, overcoming fears and anxieties, reframing past experiences, relaxation, focus, coping with pain, and even improving physical health.
WHAT ARE THE LIMITS OF HYPNOTHERAPY?
Hypnosis is not a miracle cure-all treatment. We will often recommend that you see a physician, a nutritionist, or other mental health professionals. However, we believe that hypnotherapy has the potential to be at the very least a helpful supplement to other treatments. When you make an appointment with us, part of what we will talk about during our session is other steps that would be wise for you to take to holistically address your issue. We do what we can to be sure that we are approaching you as professionally and responsibly as possible within our scope of practice.
WHAT SERVICES DOES MUSIC CITY HYPNOTHERAPY PROVIDE?
At Music City Hypnotherapy, we use hypnosis for helping with whatever it is that you feel you need to work on to become a fuller person. For example:
We also provide life coaching, consulting, and referrals.