The other day I was doing a trance induction on a friend (when people think you’re a hypnotist there is always a line to be hypnotized). To me experiences such as these gives a person an opportunity to practice skills that they don't always get to try out. It’s been a long time since I’ve induced a ‘formal trance’. So for fun I thought I would start with hand levitation just to see what would happen. I let them decide which hand they wanted to allow defy gravity and to allow to float seamlessly into the air.
They chose their right hand and we sat there and watched with amazement at how their hand was lifting without any effort on their part. I’m always amazed when I watch a good hand levitation it always just seems so magical to me. Now I’ve seen many hypnotists elicit arm catalepsy from clients but I have never seen them make anything more than an arbitrary use of this phenomena. My thinking when ever eliciting something from someone is how many different ways can I use this. I know that I don’t think of every way to use it but it at least gives me some different options that I wasn’t thinking about before.
As I sat there watching their hand levitate I began to think about instances and scenarios in my own life where I was fairly stiff and rigid in my thinking or in my responses to a particular situation. I began to think of this arm catalepsy as an example of rigid thinking or as a rigid response to a particular situation. I told my friend a story about how in certain situations in one’s life they can have rigid ways of thinking or relating to a particular situation and that they can feel the great deal of tension in the same way that they can feel it in their arm. I further went on to elaborate as to how that when someone tenses themselves in too rigid of a matter that they can begin to feel fatigue.
I further went on to explain to him that sometimes the best thing to do is to relax one’s arm and to notice the type of comfort and relaxation that they can experience in that situation. I continued to explain to him about how certain things in life can be reflections of other things and that people can use learnings that they acquire from one situation to another in the most useful way to themselves. Then I told them to go ahead and to head out of trance while he made a full wealth of the recollections of all the implications of my statements and that I was sure that he would understand what I was referring to.
I’m noticing that as I continue to develop my own style of working with people that there are a lot of things that I used to do that I’m failing to do any longer. In the past I was very patterns driven. Everything I did was within pre-ordained NLP patterning. When I was working with people I was constantly looking to see what patterns I could fit them into. Are they a person that I can run a change personal history pattern on? Maybe reimprinting? They look like parts integration person to me. Stuff like that. That was me in the beginning.
As I progressed in my experience I was constantly very outcome orientated. Meaning everything I did was for a specific purpose. Most of the time I was constantly looking to do something very specific when working with myself or a client. Am I changing a belief here? Am I trying to integrate some anchors? What am I attempting to do? That was my thinking.
Now, I’m progressing through much trial and error to exploration. Producing specific results is not something that drives me in my work anymore. Yes, can I and will I when working with someone produce a result, absolutely. And at the same time you can only do something the same way so many times without variation. The field of NLP and Hypnosis as robust as they might be and with as many different styles and personalities is only so big.
At some point in order to keep growing one’s skills they have to put themselves into a position where they are exploring phenomena and taking note of what occurs as they do. That’s where they are going to continue to build their skill. Playing with things like Amnesia and how many different ways can a person can use it. How many different ways does it manifest? What can you get people to forget and in what ways? How specifically can you get someone to forget one aspect of one thing? As well as how in general can you get them to forget something as well? And what type of mixes of in between can you create as well?
I’ve studied a lot of work of Milton Erickson the one thing that really impresses me about him. His collected papers those aren’t about his successes they are about his experiments and his explorations during his work. There were a lot of things that occurred in his work that he had no idea would occur however he did have some sort of idea that something would occur.
And ultimately I think that is where people are going to build their skill. Through exploration and experimentation. As much as people love to go to courses and purchase new CDs and DVDs and things of that nature your real growth in your skills will not be from those things. It will be from those times that you were messing around to see what you could do only to find out that you did something that you would never have thought of. I think we need more of that in general.
Milton Erickson and Linn Cooper in their book, ‘Time Distortion in Hypnosis’ conducted a series of experiments in order to explore the phenomena of expansion of one’s sense of time. They would induce a trance whereby they would then give the person they were working with suggestions that were designed to give them the experience having more time than they really did. They would then be assigned a task that they were to accomplish in a given hypnotic reality and told how long they would be given to accomplish the task. They would then be given a starting signal and an end signal by which they were to immediately cease taking anymore action in their assigned task at which time they would then report back to Erickson and Cooper as to their progress.
For example in one experiment subjects would be instructed that they were in a room sitting at a table and that there was a box of pennies in from of them. They were to begin to pull them out and put them one by one on the table and were to count the number of pennies as they put them on the table. They were TOLD that they were going to be given ten minutes to accomplish this task. In actuality they were given anywhere from 10 seconds – 1 second to accomplish the task through multiple trials. With each trial the subject would make it into the hundreds when it came to counting.
During some other tasks some subjects were given similar counting tasks in which they were TOLD that they would be allotted a certain amount of time and then in ACTUALITY they were given far less quite often as little as 3 seconds to accomplish what they were suppose to do. Quite often it was found that people could complete their task with as little as 3 second BUT when Erickson would cut their time even further people were unable to complete their task nearly as well as they had previously. The interesting thing to me was when Erickson brought them out of trance everyone of them had elaborate explanations for why they had not fared as well in the completion in this task as previously.
I think there is an interesting parallel between these rationalizations that would occur when people were in hypnotic trances and with clients. Whereas a client will come to a changeworker with very sound reasoning and logic and all sorts of explanations regarding their particular problem as subject in one of these hypnotic trances could explain what occurred in their situation in equally convincing terms. In both instances their explanations are equally real and in both instances they are equally fabricated.