Month: May 2010

A Little Moment of Delight In Darkest Africa…

Surfing the net a few days ago I found this video of Damian Aspinall and his reunion with a long lost friend with a difference.  I don’t really have anything smart or witty to say about this.  It’s a definite “Aah” moment that I wanted to share with you.  You know, I’ve seen a lot of bad news come out Africa over the years, and it’s just great to see something a little more uplifting.  Okay, it plays to one of the stereotypes of Africa: big jungles and gorillas.  But then why not?  Africa does still have, thank goodness, both of those things.

And it has something else, too.  A certain amount of magic in its wilds that you won’t encounter anywhere else.  A little moment of honest feeling between two friends, no matter what species they are.

That’s enough to remind me, and I hope you, that yes, life really is amazing!

Paul McKenna and Me 7: Confusion Is The Doorway To New Understanding

I returned to the NLP session in the afternoon, and continued feeling pretty much overwhelmed.  Richard was demonstrating different techniques of hypnosis in the afternoon, and I sat in my chair like a zombie.  People moved around me during the breaks and practice sessions, and I joined in – but it was as if the whole day was now no longer real.  My consciousness had completely altered.

People seemed like projections on a wall.  My body felt distant, heavy and numb.  I was on the outside of it trying to get back in.  It was a feeling I used to get when I was a child walking with parents in crowded places: a sense of dislocation from the flesh, as if somehow I was not experiencing the world with my nerves and all the clunky machinery of the body – but more like I was a ball of air and that my sensations and thoughts moved through it unconstrained, without making any reference to the body whatsoever.  I was giddy at times, at others confused.  People flitted around me like shadows, and I didn’t who they were or what they looked like, but only what emotions they caused in me.

At times I even lost sight of who I was and where I was.  Richard was demonstrating a particular hypnotic technique at one point in the afternoon, and he stood with his back to our part of the room.  I craned to see what he was demonstrating.  Without thinking I called out: “Richard, I can’t see.  This whole half of the room can’t see.”

He looked up surprised, clearly himself surfacing from a trance.

“Huh?  What?”

“This part of the room – we can’t see…”

“You want to see?” he answered straight away.  “Then come up here.”

I felt a shock suddenly as the real world seemed to rush in on me.  “Oh shit,” I said under my breath.  The last thing I wanted was more of what I’d already experienced.  I went on to the stage with a real sense of nervousness.

The World Stopped Making Sense...

As I climbed the steps, Richard reached out his hand.  I was ready for him.  As he tried to do the handshake interrupt hypnotic induction, I kept aware of what he was doing, watching him lift my hand up in front of my face.  My defences were up.

But not for long.  Richard adjusted immediately, and with a deftness of movement he brought his fist down dramatically but very gently on my forehead.  “Sleep!”  And with the gentlest and most precise placing of thumb and forefinger, closed my eyes.

I felt myself drifting again.  I was pleased to block the world out – after all I was now standing at the front of the stage facing the audience again.  I dropped down, content with knowing that I needed to do nothing.  The world could just get on with whatever was happening in the NLP class, without my conscious input.

And so Richard demonstrated on me the hypnotic induction he was thinking of.  It was performed by moving the arms of the client in a particular series of points and withdrawals, moving first the left and then the right arm like pistons.

“You’ll see from this close, that’s for sure,” said Richard before he did it.  That was no lie, even though my eyes were shut.

Once it was done, Richard told me to make my body go stiff.  I felt myself tense a little, but that was all.  He placed his hands gently on my back and on my chest and push, testing to see how compliant I was.  He could clearly tell that there was something not quite as responsive as he wanted in me, and so he just seemed to fudge a few lines:

“When you open your eyes, you will go back to your chair and do whatever you need to do to learn as much as you can, and to bring more joy into your life.”

And then he sent me back to my chair.

The rest of the afternoon slid by in a dreamlike series of images and sounds.  At the end of the day, Richard performed a final trance on the whole group.  I can’t remember much of it, but when I came back from it,  I was a wreck.

I didn’t want to step outside the room.  I felt lost again.  An assistant approached me and took me to a side room, where there was a big leather sofa.  I lay on it and sobbed for about three quarters of an hour, completely at a loss as to what was going on in my head.  I wanted to just roll up and sleep for a hundred years, so it seemed.

But that wasn’t possible. After all, it was my birthday.  I was due to meet friends in the middle of town.

And the fact was that I had no idea how I was going to handle it.

Paul McKenna and Me 6: Birthday Tears

I sat there on the stage as Paul continued to move fast.  He asked me, while I was in this strangely heightened state, to run a series of visualisations.  In one, he told me to pick a writer that I really admired.  To look at that writer and see how they moved, see how they talked, think about what I admired of their work.  When I had done so, and had a clear image of what that writer was like, he told me to step into that writer and experience the world from that writer’s point of view.

He told me to notice really clearly what it felt like to be that writer, and to notice what learnings I could take from the experience.  I remember I chose Graham Greene.   Paul asked me to allow the learnings I could take from being that writer to “encode into my neurology” so that I could take those learnings with me into the future.

I did the same with another writer.  Who else should I choose but William Shakespeare, this time?  And finally there was Louis De Bernieres, whom I have admired for years.

The next part of the trance had me visualising sitting in a room with a script that I was working on, and finding that I was with the agents and editors of writers that I really admired.  We were all sitting and watching a movie of something I had written, and I found myself entering the minds of those agents and editors, to get a sense of what it was that they really wanted.  Again, I was invited to take these learnings and “encode them into my neurology”.

Then Paul asked me to visualise myself writing.  “Do you work with a computer or a pen?” he asked.  I opted for the computer, although I told him that I work with a pen as well.  Paul told me to see myself working at my desk, or wherever it is that is most comfortable for me, and feeling how easy it is to write.  To experience the feeling of ideas coming to my mind easily and quickly, and seeing myself enjoying writing a wonderful piece of work.  He told me to see myself day after day, and then week after week far into the future as I built up the experience, noticing how each day seemed easier than the one before.

Then he took me through the process of working the manuscript up, correcting it, tidying it, submitting it – and finally having it published.  He asked me to take inside myself and keep it there, so that I always held a clear expectation of what the future would bring.

Next, he asked me to visualise the cover of my book, and to imagine holding it in my hands. What colour, he asked, was the book?  Then he asked me to imagine, as I held it in my hands, seeing the title page.  And there it was: my future work in my mind and in my hands.

And that is about as much of the trance as I remember.  He did, at some point tell me that I should integrate the changes into my lfe only at the rate and speed that was appropriate for me.  Then he put me down deep again at some point, and finally, after much intense imaginative work, the session was finished, I was blinking at the crowd, and Paul was saying to me.

“So, there, how does that feel?”

I was out of my head.  I could only think of one thing.  The question he asked me, I ignored, because what struck me now was that this had happened pretty much as I had imagined it would happen, now, on this day, with Paul.  It was, I realised, a really significant day for me.

“Today is my 40th birthday,” I answered without answering his question.

The audience looked surprised and confused by the answer.  Paul gestured to give me a clap, and suddenly he was announcing with a whirl of friendly patter and talk that it was time to break for lunch.

I stood on the stage, not knowing what to do as a swirl of people started to move by me.  It seemed as if I could feel all of their eyes on me, as if my consciousness had somehow been massively expanded or as if I was hallucinating on some wonderful and terrible drug.  I saw someone come from the back of the crowd and shake my hand, and say he was Ben, and I heard him ask me how I was.  But I just wanted to pull away from everyone, but didn’t know what to do or what to say.  It was all so intense, and the room seemed to be a nightmare of overwhelming sensations, sights and sounds.

Then two faces appeared from the crowd and two arms seemed to gather me up.  The pair were a blonde woman called Wendy, and a bald man called Stephen.

“We’re going for lunch. Do you want to come for lunch with us?” They asked.

I felt like a child or an animal.  My brain wasn’t functioning how it normally did – and I went on an instinct that it was okay to trust them.  I wasn’t processing information, analysing and responding as I normally would.  It was as if I was a savage, a creature of little understanding.  So I followed them along like the little animal or the lost child I had become, and we went to a restaurant at the far end of a long road.  And all the while I could hardly say a word, and I looked around me with eyes that seemed to be seeing the world for the first time. There seemed to be no comprehension in my mind.  Just an overwhelming sense of confusion, and grief and pain and anguish.

A little later I was sitting in a cafe with them drinking some fruit juice.  And I wept and grizzled like a child as I drank it through a straw.