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.
“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.
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.