Saturday, July 3, 2010

Process Oriented Hypnosis 4: The Role of a Guide

I am writing a script, after this essay, to help people who are feeling an intense afflicted emotion so that they can get some immediate relief, right here and right now. An afflicted emotion is any emotion that has the mark of sorrow, has some element of pain within itself. There are three basic afflicted emotions. They are anger, fear, and sadness. Like the pain of an actual physical wound, the pain does serve a biological and social function. There is some message worth listening to within these emotions. Pain itself is a communication from the body to consciousness. It is some signal that, like a barometer, gives us feedback about where we are in our lives. These signals are reliable, but not always perfect. Our intellectual brain can interpret events incorrectly and put us into unnecessary emotional distress. But even when this is the case, the emotional signal can inspire us to do a mental correction and bring us back into peace.

Although I feel that there is a lot that we can do on our own to heal our own emotional life, I do recommend that people try out going to a good process oriented hypnotherapist and exploring what is possible with the guidance of a skilled practitioner. Not all psychotherapists and hypnotherapists know how to support every person through every emotional crisis or to easily, rapidly, and peacefully help people integrate their unresolved emotions. If it were so that every psychotherapist or hypnotherapist was this good, then the world as we know it would be rapidly evolving, changing, healing itself, and effectively working through all the political, emotional, and social challenges that are present in this world. It seems that there are a lot of moderately skillful therapists out there that can be of help. I do recommend a little shopping around. Just because a therapist has worked for a friend does not mean that they will work for you. There is some of rapport that is necessary for the work to be effective. When you call on the phone and interview a possible therapist, even if the interaction is a short one and seems a little formal, you can sometimes get a feeling for what the rapport will be. This can give an indicator of how well the sessions will go. If the rapport is not quite there, it might need to be created. It is an essential element to the process.

Theoretically, most of the time, it is possible to self process an emotion. One of the goals of process oriented hypnotherapy is to empower people to be able to process their own emotions to completion. It is meant to be a natural process, just as natural as the healing of a physical wound. And like physical wounds, most of the time we do not need to do anything special, the healing will take place as we attend to other things. Other times, when the wound is serious enough and big enough, it is wise to get special help from a doctor. If a bone is broken, we might need our bone set. Other things can be done to ourselves by ourselves with some bandages, potions, and taking time to rest.

When it comes to emotions, because they are already profoundly more social than a physical wound, sometimes getting help is necessary, to reconnect back to society as a whole through one representative of society. Human beings are very social beings. The birth process, the child raising process, and the education into an adult economic profession are all profoundly social processes and profoundly necessary. Even in Buddhism, where monks and nuns can often live the life of a very isolated hermit, some social initiation is required to set in motion a long and deep period of solitary retreat. When Milarepa is about to go into deep solitude, he only gets the blessings of Marpa after he proves that he can sustain the meditation process alone without getting stuck anywhere. Marpa double checks his process until it is clear that Milarepa can go solo and get the necessary results.

The reason why some kind of process guide is usually necessary is because it is sometimes hard to be impartial about our own thoughts. We are so used to how they are affecting us that they seem to be in the background and seem to create the feeling we associate with being normal. We do not really question our thoughts to see if they are truly serving us. When there is chronic anger, fear, and/or sadness, then life is giving feedback that our thoughts are not in alignment with our highest good and need to be adjusted. Emotions are the effects of our thoughts and our sensory information. We do not really choose to be angry, afraid, or sad, just as we do not really choose to get wounded. We might do some unwise choices that led to these emotions or led to us getting wounded. We might need to review and digest the information so that our totality can know that our intellectual brain is not going to make the same unwise choice again in the same kind of situation.

Part of what a process oriented hypnotherapist does with a client is to sense what has actually disrupted the fluidic trance. Every mental and emotional condition is really a certain kind of trance. These trances are either rigid and trying to maintain themselves or they are fluid and naturally flow into new states which in turn keep flowing into other new states. The key is to keep the process moving towards natural resolution. When we get up from a warm feeling of having had a lot of good dreams, we were doing good process. Our minds were simply flowing from one feeling to another, one thought to another, one insight to another, until it arrived at completion or integration. This completion is not the end of our life or the end of all our processing. It is like a rest place between two processes. It is like camping out between hikes on a long journey or reaching a plateau where one can rest for a while. Life itself is a vast number of interlocking processes that go on indefinitely and which constantly change with new needs and new challenges appearing on the event horizon called the present moment.

When a client comes in with a chronic afflicted emotion, then he or she is stuck in his or her process. This person is unwittingly doing something to block the process from completion. Although it is possible for this person to be aware of what this is on his or her own, the continued fact that he or she is stuck proves that he or she has not found what this is. Sometimes this is due to having a "victim orientation" where the person does not believe that he or she can do anything about a situation that is painful and is just remaining in the painful situation. The person is not really looking for the factors that he or she can control and can do to remedy the situation, but is instead looking at external factors that are causing pain that he or she cannot control. Paradoxically, behind the victim orientation is a kind of control drama. Many relationships are enmeshments of control dramas. This is different than taking a certain kind of emotional responsibility, setting clear boundaries, staying emotionally connected, and becoming emotionally grounded. Ideally, this is learned in childhood, but very few parents know how to teach this well to their children. In terms of what is taught in regular schools, there are seemingly practical courses like math, history, and biology, but very often not a single class on how to feel emotions and what to do with them. Instead, there are mixed messages that create impossibilities for children and teenagers, like "your hormones are out of control" and "do not act on your sexual desires or you will be punished severely".

There has been a fear that hypnotherapists may be like a Svengali or a Rasputin and use their hypnotic power to subjugate their clients and make them do their bidding. The stereotype is that they have intense eyes and send out a kind of telepathic control through their stare. While perhaps there is some psychic power like this, this is not what process oriented hypnotherapy is about. But curiously, people are already in some sense hypnotized by their parents, by their schools, and by their peers. People are unwittingly hypnotizing their friends and family to treat them a certain way. People are both the hypnotists and the subjects of hypnosis. There is a field of messages constantly being relayed, repeated, and reinforced which is producing the normal social trance that everyone is living within. If you listen to the social talk of any society and look for what is simply repeated and believed by everyone, you can feel this general trance. There are some power oriented beings who will try to inject their own suggestions into this field, but sometimes these suggestions "stick" and some times they do not.

It is easier for the messages of a hypnotherapist to "stick" because he or she is for the client and serves the client. When a suggestion sticks it is because it is congruent with what is needed by the natural trance of the client to help shift him or her back into fluidic trance. The process oriented hypnotherapist feels into what this message is by listening and then sharing, looking for biofeedback from the client about how the message is being received, and then crafting new messages to dialogue with what is arising, changing, completing, and dissolving within the awareness field of the client.

One of the things that I notice is what kind of pacing a person has with their own thoughts. Very often a person is thinking too fast to really feel the emotional tone of each thought. To a hypnotherapist of either kind, suggestive or process oriented, every single thought is significant and affects the whole tapestry of thought, yet people are thinking so fast, generating so many messages to themselves, that they can barely feel what they are doing to themselves, let alone adjust it to be more wholesome. They are thinking too fast so that they can be in emotional avoidance. They are already running an emotional disconnect. Paradoxically, this emotional avoidance leads to emotional overwhelm. If the totality needs to send an emotional signal to consciousness, it must get loud enough to overwhelm the avoidance in order to be heard. This, in turn, proves to the emotional avoider that emotions are intense, irrational, and painful, and therefore should be avoided even better. Very often a client will come in so that the hypnotherapist can help them get rid of the emotions that have broken through their avoidance. In other words, they want the hypnotherapist to collude with them in reinforcing their defenses to feeling.

But the vantage point of the hypnotherapist is to tune into the conscious mind and subconscious mind of the client, and to notice how they are interacting with each other. The emotional signal also came from part of the client and it is being repressed by the more conscious part. The main goal of the process orientation is to have the conscious and subconscious parts form a peaceful and synergistic whole which has greater resources to solve the life challenges that each of part has separately.

For Freud, who started psychotherapy, the subconscious had two basic components, the superego and the id. The superego was all the moralistic messages we internalized and become the voice of conscience for us, lead us to feel righteous sometimes, guilty other times, ashamed other times, or at peace other times. The id was a repository of all kinds of primitive instincts, a kind of left over from our animal evolution. Freud did not trust either aspect of the subconscious mind and felt it was important to have "ego strength" to keep these two aspects from totally running us.

There is another way of looking at this. What is called the "id" may be the older and wiser part of ourselves. When we are thirsty, it is signaling for us to drink water. When we are hungry, it is signaling for us to eat. When it is feeling angry, then it senses some threat that we might need to attend to. When it is feeling fear, then it senses something worth avoiding. The problem we have as human beings is that we have three brains, intellectual, emotional, and instinctive, and we do not know how to coordinate them well. The intellectual brain, in particular, is relatively new in terms of our evolution, and has not yet integrated itself with the two older brains. Part of our cortical evolution is to integrate all the messages of all our brains into a new synthesis that has not yet appeared in most humans. In other words, our evolution is incomplete. Fortunately, there is an "evolutionary impulse" which is guiding us forward to this completion. Karl Jung discovered this creative aspect of the subconscious mind. It is different from the superego messages and the id messages. It is the key element that the process oriented hypnotherapist wants to have activated, awakened, and active in the client. Then it is a matter of supporting what this part wants to do. It will integrate everything into a unified whole. If a stable connection with this evolutionary energy is made, then a person can be empowered to continue the process on his or her own, all the way to the very end.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Process Oriented Hypnosis 3

I wanted to continue to share the understanding of process oriented hypnosis. It is hoped that those reading this entry have done the exercise in "Process Oriented Hypnosis 2". Each discussion, exercise, or entry is designed to help a person get a different feeling understanding of his or her own mind. There are four basic levels of thinking. These are (1) associative, (2) logical, (3) empirical, and (4) psychological. The first is the level of mental conditioning. This level is reactive, habitual, and believes things because external influences, traumas, and life challenges shaping its thought. Many politicians know how to invoke associative thinking in people by using slogans and associating themselves with certain ideas and values, even if their actions and policies to do not logically conform to the idea. People will feel that they represent these ideas and values, even though there is no logical or empirical reason for doing so. This kind of thinking is passive and unreflecting. In our early childhood, this is the kind of thinking we grow into and out of. The brain is just learning how to work with symbols and associates them with each other depending on how it is presented to itself. If we are honest with ourselves, we will see that much of our brain still operates within associative thinking. Suggestive hypnotherapy implants new associations into the client. These implants are usually better than what has already been implanted there, because most hypnotists have an idea of what actually serves our happiness, effectiveness, and health. Our conditioning from external life is usually more random, but tends to be usually and mostly good. There are, however, what psychology calls "memes". They are like viruses on the level of thought and can spread within humanity, causing even painful wars. Communism and fascism were like memes that spread and caused a bloody revolution. Regardless of the objective worth of these ideas, the meme took hold of many brains and caused them to convert other brains (replicate the meme within new brain) or kill brains that could not be converted. There are many milder memes that periodically spread throughout humankind, like fads, and like small political parties. Sometimes there is something valuable and logical behind them, sometimes not. There are also emotional contagions caused by emotionally charged memes. Like physical viruses, we can gain immunity to these memes eventually. When the Nazi Germany collapsed and Hitler was deposed, Martin Heidegger, a usually brilliant and logical mind, felt he had awakened from a trance. The grip of the meme on his consciousness had been released. In one sense, Hitler had used authoritarian suggestive hypnosis to spread a memetic infection. Many people do not realize how they are hypnotizing everyone around them to believe and feel something about them. Part of process oriented hypnosis is to make this unconscious hypnosis more conscious so that we can be at choice about what our effect on ourselves and the world is. But because it does not involve aggressively implanting a new meme, it is a more meditation based process and may take slightly longer to work. Process oriented hypnosis can also be very fast, when a change is ripe and ready to happen. When the change does happen, it is relatively permanent because it represents a growth in consciousness.

We are not usually aware of how much all of us have been conditioned. This is because normal social consciousness is transmitted memetically from generation to generation. It carries changes to itself and transmits them to the next generation, each successive generation seeming to think that this way of looking at the world is the only one or the only sane one. It resists being aware of multiple viewpoints, because then it sees that "truth" is a conditioned set of beliefs and nothing more. This truth may have some relative survival value and may allow society to function relatively well, but it is not truth with a capital "T". This level of truth can only come when we transcend conditioning, even if the conditioning had the right view, merely believing the conditioning is not realizing the truth, any more than believing 2+2=4 means that you can add.

In the series of discourses called the Prajna Parmita Sutras, there is the Diamond Sutra. Much of Zen Buddhism is based on the methodology of the Diamond Sutra. It is based on the realization of emptiness. It is a realization of the nature of ultimate reality that cannot be conceptually or memetically grasped. In a sense, the purpose of the sutra is almost to "unhypnotize" us from all conditioned thinking and to make sure that the entire Buddha Dharma does not become a replacement conditioning.

Logical thought has to do with thoughts being consistent with thoughts. There is more a sense of what each thought means, the implications of a thought are deduced. Valid conclusions of thoughts from thoughts are derived. Contradictions are possible between thoughts. On this level, a thought can be illogical with respect to other thoughts being true. It means that two thoughts are sometimes mutually exclusive, both of them cannot be true at the same time. Logical thought, by itself, is not enough. The rules of any game represent a consistent system that defines what playing means, what winning and losing the game means. But this consistency is only within the game and may not apply to reality.

The next level of thought is empirical. This is where thoughts are tested by experiment to determine whether or not it is true. We ask ourselves what observation would be able to distinguish between "A" and "not A" where "A" is some thought assertion about reality and "not A" is the negation of this assertion. Since both of them cannot be true, we create an expectation about what reality is and see if this expectation is confirmed or not confirmed. Science emerges from empirical thinking, but is not the only empirical form of thinking. Science tends to limit its method to only finding out repeatable, testable, and reliable laws which govern existence. Historical facts do not always lend themselves to direct scientific investigation, though archeological research may be indirectly helped by scientifically derived processes like carbon dating and chemical analysis of pottery. Eventually different historical theories emerge and some kind of testing can determine which version is the one most likely to be true. But because historical events cannot be repeated, the proof for any historical theory remains probabilistic. There are times where a person may choose a lower probability theory as being true, because it may, for him or her fit into a larger array of probable historical theories better than the dominant theory. Events are can rarely be taken in isolation and other historical events or probable historical theories may eventually dovetail better with an alternative theory. Occasionally, some scientific revolution happens where a better set of laws more tightly describes the functioning of reality better than the previous version of reality. When this happens, the older theory is discarded in favor of the more advanced understanding. It is less a matter of one theory being true and another theory being false, but more a matter of one explanation being more in tune with reality and more practical to use as a basis of working with reality. If we make predictions on the basis of the more advanced model, we are more likely to be accurate.

The next level of thought is psychological. This is where our direct experience is the basis for understanding reality. When Buddha talked about "no self", he negated an idea of self that did not come from our direct experience. We do not have a self that we can directly experience. When we look within, we do not find a self, we find thoughts, emotions, and sensations. We find we can focus our attention on thoughts, emotions, and sensations. But when we look within, there is nothing that looks like a self. The feeling of self is transitory. In one sense, who we feel ourselves to be ceases every time we fall asleep. We eventually realize our deeper and truer identity as being pure awareness. This is more constant and can observe all states of consciousness and reflect them back like a mirror. This deeper identity can imagine itself to be what it reflects in its mirror or it can simply be the mirror and reflect everything that arises, abides, changes, and passes away upon its surface. When it imagines itself to be the contents of the mirror, then it is identified with a false sense of self and undergoes the karma of this identification. When the content changes, then there is a feeling of dying and sometimes anger, fear, and sadness. The art of meditation and process oriented hypnosis is to rest in this deeper place that we truly are and let our experience flow naturally.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Process Oriented Hypnosis 2

To give some idea of what process oriented hypnosis feels like, I invite you, here and now, while you are reading these words, to enter into a mild trance. Let these words help you. By simply reading these words and following along with them, doing what they suggest, you can enter into a mild trance. From the view point of process oriented hypnosis, everyone is living in some kind of trance, so in some sense you are already there. We are doing that is different from the trance of ordinary life is that we can choose our state. We can harmonize our conscious and subconscious mind into a greater functional unity and learn to shift our inner state more easily as result.

Before entering the instructions, I would like for you to simply check in and notice how you feel right now. Notice if you feel tired or alert, tense or relaxed, whether you are hunching forward or are gently erect, whether your jaw is clenched or relaxed, whether your neck is stiff or flexible, whether your shoulders are tight or loose, whether your lower back is stiff or loose, whether your feet are firmly planted on the ground or not, and whether your eyes feel bright or tired. Also notice any thoughts that you might be dwelling on or any problems that might be worrying you. Notice any emotions that might be floating around or just be part of your general mood. Notice if you feel serious or lighthearted, sad or happy, afraid or hopeful, angry or at peace, loving or nonattached, open or guarded, and joyful or dull. The check ins mentioned are not exhaustive, but are meant to help you access where you are right now. The check in does not have to be a serious intense inventory, but it is just to get a general feeling of where you are in this moment. You are free to make small adjustments if you feel that they will help, but before you adjust, just take a mental note of where you are.

I would like for you to place part of your attention on your breathing and keep part of your attention on these words. Notice how your belly is or is not involved in your breathing process. Now inhale and expand your belly. Let it expand as fully as possible without strain. If you feel yourself efforting to expand it further, then you have gone too far and can stop. Now let the exhale happen. From inhaling and expanding the belly, you have stretched the belly some. This means that in order to exhale, you do not have to do much. You can let the belly muscles relax and push out the air on the exhale. A little bit of pulling in is needed too, but it is a small effort. Let the belly feel like it is softening on the exhale. Then inhale again, making the lungs feel as full as possible without strain. The lungs should slightly press, from the inside out, against the rib cage, but not too much. You do not want to move into the feeling of strain. The movement of the rib cage is only a few millimeters, perhaps even just one millimeter. What matter is simply that the rib cage moves in response to the inhale. The amount of the movement is not important. More is not better. Then exhale again, softening the belly, and gently and slowly pulling the belly in, letting the air flow out. Then inhale again, as before, except this time notice if the rib cage is expanding both on the front and in the back. This is easier if your back is not leaning against the chair, but is free standing. Then when you exhale, make a soft whispering "hah" sound, elongating the sound across the whole exhale. Feel as if the air pushing past the teeth is making the sound. Then on the inhale, feel like you are making a soft whispering "eh" sound across the entire inhale. Next remove any slight pause between inhale and exhale and between exhale and inhale. Feel like you are breathing one smooth continuous circle of breathing. Removing the pauses makes the breathing go slightly faster. Take a pause from reading these words and do about 20 breaths. The number does not have to be exact, but err on the side of doing a little more rather than a little less than this amount. When you have completed the 20, then notice your inner state and how it feels. Compare this to how you felt before you started. Then move to the next paragraph.

Clap your hands and place your attention on the palms of your hands. Clap your hands strong enough so that you feel a tingling sensation in your palms. Keep your attention on your palms. You may notice that as long as you keep your attention on the tingling sensation in your palms that the tingling sensation will not fade away. This is how tangible the effect of attention can be. It can keep an organic biological sensation alive. If you clap, make a tingling sensation, and ignore it, then the sensation will fade away very quickly. This little exercise has deep implications for the mind and body connection. It has to do with how we are three brained beings and how the three brains interact with each other. These brains may be called the rational cortical, the emotional limbic mammalian, and the instinctive r-complex reptilian. In this exploration, we are only going to a certain depth with the neurological interconnectedness of these brains and their interconnectedness of these brains with the organs and functions of the entire body.

If you have lost the tingling sensation in the palms, then please clap again and reactivate this sensation. Keep your attention on the palms and notice your breathing at the same time, breathing in the same manner as we had done before. Notice if the sensation "pulses", getting stronger on the exhale, or not. If it does not, do not worry, but chances are you will feel some changes in sensation that reflect the cycle of inhaling and exhaling. See if you can, through, breathing, attention, and intention, spread the sensation throughout your body. Gently wish the sensation to move up the arm. If it does not seem to do so, then simply imagine that it is spreading up the arm and just keep attention on the sensation in the palms. Then focus on the soles of the feet and by intention and imagination feel as if the sensation in the palms is being generated in the soles of the feet. The sensation may not feel exactly the same, but some sensation usually appears through attention, intention, and breathing. If not, then simply imagine that a sensation is there and wish it to move up the legs. Through intention, attention, breathing, and, if necessary visualization and imagination, spread the sensation throughout your body. Again, in all these explorations you do not have to force results. If you find yourself straining, simply let go of efforting. Let the results come or not come. They will come slowly and easily. Our trying is not necessary. If it helps, then visualize the sensation as a shimmering white light spreading through your body. If you have trouble visualizing, then simply intend for the white light to spread through the body. In a sense, you are imagining that you are imagining white light. Even if you do not sense the results, they are being produced and will slowly accumulate until they are felt. Occasionally scan your body and see if any area needs to be "filled in" with sensation or white light energy. Notice if any area feels resistant to receiving this spread of sensation or light. Again, we are not trying to force results. Simply note that an area is resistant and probably tense. Let it be where it is and let it find its own way to relax, open up, and let go. Each of these resistant places can be used to deepen our state. Each of them is usualy an emotional exploration and can lead to an integration of some new information or experiences. This will make the part of our body available to our consciousness again. Its sensory and motor contribution can be part of us again.

When you have filled every place in your body with light, except of the parts not yet ready, then check in again and notice how you feel. Notice what has changed and what has not changed. Notice your general mood. You may wish to go back to the original check in paragraph to check how certain specifics are inside you.

Now visualize cutting a lemon in half and then visualize yourself sucking on the lemon, imagine the bitterness of the lemon, the tartness, and even imagine yourself biting into it. Notice if you are salivating. Most people, if they are visualizing sucking on a lemon for about one minute or less, will feel their mouth salivate at least a little. Again, this shows how our tri-brain is wired. It means that some part of our brain which controls salivation cannot tell the difference between a real lemon and a visualized lemon. We are not even believing that the lemon we are visualizing is real.

The principle that we are discovering through palm tingling and the visualized lemon is a deep one. It is interesting to feel this principle through an exploration. Think about what this could mean, when this same principle shifts us when we are watching an action movie, where our heat beat is racing during a chase scene with all kinds of buildings blowing up on the movie screen. Our bodies are feeling the scene partly as if it is in those scenes. It is pumping adrenaline into our bloodstream and mobilized for a fight or flight reaction. It is another case of a visualization causing a biochemical change, though too much of this can wear us out. In this case, the movie does a lot of the visualization work for us. When we consciously utilize our own visualization function, then we can choose our own state.

From the viewpoint of process oriented hypnosis, many of the illnesses in our bodies are the same as this principle in action. Some part of our subconscious mind is holding visualization and producing a result inside us. It may be a memory tape loop, where part of us is reliving a traumatic event over and over again, and experiencing all kinds of neurological reactions and biochemical changes. Modern medicine can sometimes overwhelm this biochemical action, but it may take repeated doses to keep neutralizing the effects of the unconscious visualization. It is possible to make the unconscious visualization conscious again and then let it go. When this happens, the body has healed itself. The subconscious mind may be trying to process the traumatic memory and may need to complete this process. Our survival oriented reptilian brain may need to "front load" a positive response to the traumatic event, to know what to do when and if the event happens again. This, too, can be done through a visualization. Sometimes, the event is complex and needs to be explored to the point where it is fully understood, and then the subconscious mind can release it. Much of what we do in dreams has to do with this kind of processing. Sometimes, however, this processing gets blocked from completion for all kinds of reasons. These missing pieces can be added within a process session so that the movement can complete itself.

Notice that in these explorations that you do not ever "lose control" other than opening up to the influences and needs of a larger sense of self within you. The conscious mind, through its attention, intention, and visualization is still a dynamic power in this process. Notice that the process guide is accessing the subconscious mind through the body and its sensations. It is partly induction and partly training that is being done.

There is an atmosphere of nonjudgment about the process. There is a check in to notice what has spontaneously changed that periodically is done. This can be done through the process guide scanning the body of the voyager or through the voyager self checking along the way. Sometimes self checking activates the "inner critic" that condemns and imposes its agenda on what is seen, rather than letting what is simply be. Sometimes the early processes have to do with learning to set aside the inner critic or learning to quiet its voice, so that fresh observations can be made. There is also nonjudgment about the inner critic. It is allowed to be, but its role needs to be decentralized some, so that other parts and other voices within can be heard and felt.

We usually have created an inner critic through internalizing the messages of our parents. The inner critic tells us what we must do to get parental approval and sometimes what to do to avoid getting punished. Although our adult self is usually clear that we do not need the approval of our parents in order to survive, our inner child and inner animal self equals parental approval with survival and feels fear when we do not get it. The inner critic is in some sense a product of a biological genetic program and our cortical development synthesizing in a new pattern. It is not so easy to release the inner critic because of this. It served its purpose, but needs to be outgrown at some point. Our inner critic can be the primary cause of all kinds of psychosomatic symptoms, including a tense feeling in the pit of our bellies when we are afraid about something happening and not happening, and "want to do the right thing". We can be run by our inner critic and it can be merciless, and we can be miserable as a result. Sometimes our inner critic gets fused with the image of god and we can live our lives in hope for heaven and in fear of hell as a result. Exploring and learning about the inner critic can be useful and can allow us to live in greater ease and grace with life.

There are also formative experiences. These were usually felt as traumas growing up. Sometimes from some events in the past we decided what reality is and are living those decisions even now. It is sometimes useful to review and update these formative experiences when we learn that reality can be different than the past. We cannot usually change those past events, but we can change what they mean to us. Through process oriented hypnosis, we can "time travel" back to those events and shift their energies. It is a delicate process, because we do not form our view of reality capriciously. There is a reason why we believe the way that we do. It takes a certain kind of wise exploration to unlearn, undo, and outgrow past survival patterns. Our subconscious mind wants to make sure that we are "trading up" to an improved version of reality, rather than a less useful version of reality. A more useful version of reality does not mean a better, nicer, and more happy picture of reality necessarily. If there are real enemies out there, our subconscious mind wants to know this and be prepared for them. Sometimes the subconscious mind will assume the worse about people in order to be prepared for those possible outcomes. Sometimes the subconscious mind is keyed to deeply scan for small subtle details that indicate that a real threat may be around. It might notice a quiver of fear in someone and suddenly become on guard. We can watch all this and notice how our subconscious mind operates. We can watch this without judgment and eventually find ourselves upgrading our internal software to function on a higher level. A process guide can help this shift to happen by working with how the subconscious mind is designed to grow.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Process Oriented Hypnosis 1

I wanted in this blog to share something about "Process Oriented Hypnosis". This is one of the interlocking healing modalities that I share with others. The other healing modalities are Tanran Reiki Energy Healing, Rebirthing Breathing, and Neural Net Repatterning. The healing modalities are interlocking in a number of ways. I started out doing energy healing and found that having the client breathe in a certain way vastly accelerated the healing results. Rebirthing breathing generates waves of pranic energy through the body. Energy healing can focus on specific blocks to the flow of pranic energy and open them up. What usually happens next is that some emotion will surface in the present experience of the client. The energy flow was trying to bring up this emotion as part of its healing process and the client resisted feeling the emotion because they did not want to feel it. With the support of an healing session, the energy tries again to do what it wanted to do and find conflict with the conscious mind of the client. I found that at this point process oriented hypnosis is helpful in order to help the client make peace with the natural energetic healing process that the body wants to do.

There are two basic kinds of hypnosis. The first one is suggestive hypnosis where the goal is to implant a suggestion into the subconscious mind and have this suggestion operate within the client. For instance, a person wants to quit smoking. The hypnotist will implant a suggestion or pattern of suggestions to help this goal. The suggestions could be as simple as "you have quit smoking", "you do not want to smoke ever again", "it feels healthy to not smoke", "you will feel an aversion to smoking", "if you feel tempted to smoke, an unpleasant sensation will make you not want to smoke again", and "whenever you think of not smoking, you will feel happy with your decision". The suggestions can be implanted by one of two suggestive styles. One is authoritarian style and the other is invitational style. The first one will have the hypnotist speak in a firm and knowing manner, like saying, "you are feeling your hand get heavier and heavier", "you are feeling no desire to smoke anymore", and "you are in a very deep trance". The second style respects the free choice of the client and shares in a more open ended language, like saying, "I invite you to go deeper into relaxation", "every time you exhale, you are moving deeper into relaxation", "feel how much you want to let this go", "let yourself go deeper", and "let yourself give your weight to gravity and let it hold you". Both suggestive styles do involve skillful use of language, and many hypnotists will, in the interview process, notice the kind of self talk that the client already does with himself or herself. From this they will design the language and thought suggestions that will prove useful to induce a trance and make the suggestions stick. Both require the free choice permission of the client in order to work. Some people will give it more automatically when they hear authoritarian language, while others will give it more easily with invitational language. My experience is that invitational language, because it openly respects the free choice of the client works better with almost everyone. When we feel an outside authority commanding us, we usually generate some unconscious resistance to the authority in order to honor our own free choice. In an advanced meditation, we learn we do not have to resist anything, can simply let the authoritarian voice be just another thought and let the thought simply not affect us. If we are at this level, we may not need the support of a hypnotic process. Usually those who use an invitational style of hypnosis will spend more time designing the language of the suggestions to harmonize with the client. This involves the study of neural linguistic patterns and healing metaphors, how to use body feedback to see how the suggestions are being received, and how to set up both the intent and the space of the hypnotic session.

Whether the suggestion is implanted through authoritarian suggestive hypnosis or through invitational suggestive hypnosis, it seems the hypnotic implant only lasts about 3 months. I have found in some follow ups that, if a person is time tracking, he or she will notice that, if for instance the suggestion is about not smoking, he or she is tempted to smoke again and that the temptation is as strong as before the hypnotic session. Sometimes a repeat session can reinforce the implant and allow the person to have another 3 months of relative success. Sometimes, though, the hypnotic implants will lose their force, as if the subconscious mind is gaining immunity to the hypnotic suggestions. Other times a person will experience what I call "rotation" where the addictive pattern will take on another form. Quiting smoking may lead to overeating.

The reason why this happens is because an addictive pattern is not merely a bad habit that can be eliminated. It serves a function in the emotional ecology of the person. It is usually used to repress an emotion that the person does not want to feel and which is usually linked with an issue or a problem that the person does not feel able to resolve. The addiction, then, is a partial solution to some problem. It may be in some sense a very effective solution, but the side effects of the addiction are the price a person must pay to keep this solution alive. Sometimes the problem feels so big that the addiction seems a very small price to pay. Other times the person does not weight the long term costs of the solution and only cares that the addiction solves the problem in the immediate here and now. The solution is solved by repression, by blotting out all awareness of an emotion.

Process oriented hypnosis does not attempt to implant a suggestion into the subconscious mind, but rather induces a trance that unifies the conscious mind and the subconscious mind into a functional whole. Rather than the two minds being in conflict with each other, they can function together. In this approach, the addiction is nonjudgmentally explored to see if it is a pattern that we can outgrow. In one case that I had worked with, the person wanted to quit smoking. I had her visualize a cigarette with a face on it and had her dialogue with her addiction. I contextualized her addiction as a relationship that she could explore through dialogue. Within only 15 minutes of dialogue, she changed her relationship with her addiction. She learned how to work with the repressed anger that the addiction was taking care of for her and outgrew the need to have this relationship. Without even implanting one suggestion to end smoking, she ended this addiction and did not even feel a temptation to smoke again. She had relationship closure with this whole addictive pattern. She emailed me three months afterwards to say that she was still feeling free from of any desire to smoke. She had done this because I shared that suggestive hypnosis tends to fade in power around that time and because this was her experience with a suggestive hypnotherapist. She had attained the same goal of being free from smoking that suggestive hypnosis tried to do, but more permanantly.

There is still a chance that the addiction may return much later, but it will not be because an implant is losing power. It could be that the emotional solutions she had learned may not fully work for her in a future challenge and that she might be tempted back to what was, in part, a supportive relationship with a price (side effect). She might give into this temptation or she might take the temptation as signal to empower herself to work through the emotion on her own or seek a less toxic supportive relationship. She could even go for another session at that point with a process oriented hypnotherapist to feel what her resources are to move through the emotional challenge that is arising. Each time some growth will happen and she will most likely outgrow the temptation to return to the addiction completely.

One way of looking at the difference between suggestive hypnosis and process oriented hypnosis is that each contextualizes the situation differently. In the first kind of hypnosis, the conscious mind of the therapist is placing a thought implant into the subconscious mind of the client. The client is agreeing with his or her conscious mind to have the therapist do this. So two conscious minds are in agreement to effect a change in the subconscious mind. The conscious mind is not cooperating with the subconscious mind, but is imposing its own agenda on the subconscious mind.

In process hypnosis, the subconscious mind is considered far more than a repository of suggestions, but is the larger mind that is running almost everything. When, for instance, I learn how to drive, the learning is stored in the subconscious mind. I find, for instance, that I might rapidly brake for a person who has stepped out in front of the car by surprise. Before the conscious mind had figured it out, the subconscious mind has already stopped the car. After a while, most driving is really being done by the subconscious mind, my conscious mind is tending the road, while the subconscious mind is pushing the gas pedal and operating the clutch. The relationship between the two minds is a functional unity. I can become conscious of anything the subconscious mind is doing and take it over, and visa versa. Anything my conscious mind releases is taken over by the subconscious mind. This kind of relationship we can call "a fluid relationship". The two minds are harmonious and are really part of a "unity mind" that includes both.

In Buddhism, the division into just two minds is considered oversimplified. Traditional Buddhism has Eight different kinds of consciousnesses operating within a functional unity. Amritayana Buddhism has twelve different kinds of consciousneses operating within a functional unity. The Buddha may have said that he had mapped 366 different levels of consciousness, but found only eight were needed to be known for the attainment of nirvana. Because Amritayana Buddhism focuses on also healing the mind and body beyond aging, disease, accidents, and death, it needs to notice four more levels of consciousness. Because modern culture is very externally focused, the division into only two levels is what most people use. Whatever we are conscious of and can command with conscious intention is the conscious mind, and whatever we are not usually conscious of and cannot command with direct conscious intention is the subconscious mind. Sometimes a hypnotherapist with psychic leanings will add the "superconscious mind" which has paranormal abilities. This is dividing the subconscious mind into its storehouse of conditioned learnings and our evolutionary potentials.

In Amritayana Buddhism, there is a level of consciousness where the body is an expression or creation of the subconscious mind. On this level, we unconsciously create all the sensations and symptoms our conscious mind is experiencing in the body. In the Qabalah, this is sometimes called the "formative level" (not a good translation, because there is more than one formative level, the Qabalah is a fairly large map of consciousness). We experience this level in a rudimentary way when we are angry and feel an upset stomach as a result. What conventional medicine calls "psychosomatic illnesses" is felt on this level of consciousness very directly. You do not have to deduce that some body symptoms are caused by subconscious thoughts. You can feel the whole formative process linking the thought, the emotion, the body sensation of pain, and the body symptom as a functional unity in present time.

Process oriented hypnosis therefore focuses a lot of attention on body sensations. This understanding is also why the Buddha, when teaching meditation, also taught his students to be "ever mindful of breathing and body sensations" as the basis for going deeper into the subconscious mind. They are the easiest cross over point into feeling the functional unity of the conscious and subconscious mind. When this functional unity appears, the principle of "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" is true. There are greater resources when the two minds function together in a fluid functional unity. Sometimes miraculous healings, changes, and outgrowings can happen. Sometimes a solution is simple and obvious to the functional unity which cannot be seen when the two minds are out of communication with each other.

Modern culture is really built upon a functional chasm between the conscious and subconscious mind. The minds are often even put at war with each other. Freud tended to see the subconscious mind as a repository of primitive and neurotic states. He saw id impulses from the animalistic lusts of our ancient biological past and superego impulses coming from how we internalized the commands of our parents during childhood. The conscious mind or ego was caught between the id impulses and the parental ethical norms. I would go further to share that there is the seed consciousness of our potential Buddha nature operating as well. There is a part of subconscious mind that is wishing us to fully heal, regenerate, and grow from within us. It is sometimes called "Amida Buddha" in Buddhism. It is personified is a Cosmic Archetypal Buddha and was embodied by the Bodhisattva Dharmakara. In other words, this historical being integrated this evolutionary energy inside himself and became an "emanation" of Amida Buddha or an expression of this evolutionary and healing energy. When meditating on Amida Buddha, it is usually contacted as "tariki" the Other Power that saves us through divine grace. But in deeper stages of this process, we "become" Amida Buddha, we identify with this evolutionary energy inside us and let it operate within our mind, heart, and body. In relationship to our usual experience of our conscious ego mind, Amida Buddha is definitely a power outside ourself that can enter in to our mind, heart, and body and transform us. You could say that Amida Buddha is within our subconscious mind and can be accessed through hypnotic trance and cooperated with. Later on, when we realize that we are not our usual conscious mind, but are a larger consciousness than this. We realize that Amida Buddha is part of us and we are part of it. We first experience a functional unity with this power within us and then we reach a growth where this power has been integrated into our experience of consciousness. The language of the Pure Land Sect, which chants to Amida Buddha, is very different from the language of hypnotic process, but the maps are similar. What matters in either case is activating the functional unity, accessing the resources within the subconscious mind, and then learning to work within the functional unity to raise our life condition.

There are three basic levels of trance. They are light, medium, and deep trance. Light trance is simple enough so that people might not even notice that they have shifted from their usual conscious state. During the interview process, the client may not even notice that much of the hypnotic work is already being done. Healing metapohors are already placed within the conversation and the subconscious mind of the client is already accepting some of them and shifting. The process hypnotist already has, to one extent or another, a more fluid unity between his or her conscious and subconscious mind. The therapist is already operating this way in his or her life. This means that the very communication that is happening before the session officially starts has a different context. There are four levels of communication going on. There is the conscious and subconscious mind of both therapist and client interacting with each other making four present time interactions. If you add the superconscious mind or Buddha nature into the equation, then there are nine interactions. Sometimes the subconscious mind of the client is already linking with the hypnotherapist on all three levels and is already working.

When I have worked with clients, I have found that I often get dreams about what to do with a client. When I get a dream, it means that the next session will be fruitful and productive, because it means the subconscious minds are synergistically linked and are already working with each other. They are enlisting the help of my conscious mind to communicate something to the conscious mind of the client to help serve the process. I think many psychotherapists have a parallel feeling where they know a session is going to be productive because they have a subconscious feeling about the coming session. They may not understand this feeling in the same context, but they may be growing into a similar internal functional unity inside themselves.

This also means that a process oriented hypnotist is undergoing an evolutionary shift inside himself or herself. He or she is becoming Homo Telepathicus, the next species of human beings to appear on this planet. It may look like a small change in the beginning, but bringing the conscious and subconscious mind into a deeper functional unity is a vaster change than it might first seem. It seems that in the beginning of the human evolutionary process, the ordinary conscious mind had to almost fight the more primitive consciousnesses in order to establish itself and set boundaries to the other consciousnesses. It was busy functioning in a more isolated way from these forces in order to get a better feeling of itself. It was the "new kid" on the evolutionary block and was afraid of getting overwhelmed by the primal forces of the older more emotionally driven consciousnesses. The conscious mind is sometimes afraid of the full mammalian emotional intensity of our primal drives. It feels taken over by them and is afraid to lose itself in them. It seems that some of our conscious growth did involve some measure of repression in order to gain a conscious mind foothold in our life. But now it may be possible to have the conscious mind enter into a functional unity where the subconscious mind is seen more as a resource than as a threat. In this functional unity, new possibilities for very rapid positive shifts become available.

The actual session is done in medium trance. It is induced by focusing on body sensations, breathing, and deepening relaxation. The key is to maintain the conscious awareness while being more relaxed. The usual conscious mind state is either awake and tense or relaxed and unconscious. We cycle between subconscious mind dreaming and conscious mind waking, but in this case there is little communication between the two. When we have lucid dreams, we are feeling the two function together. When we go into medium trance, then same thing happens. Very often there are vivid dream images appearing during a session. Some Buddhist masters have integrated these two minds enough so that they never really sleep anymore. Arjuna, the student and devotee of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, is called "the conqueror of sleep" to show his access to this functional unity. I mention these points, because process oriented hypnosis is a form of meditation. The process approach has evolved from modern science, but does have its roots in the spiritual and meditation oriented religious traditions of Asia and the Middle East. It can serve the function of a Buddhist meditation empowerment and make solo meditation easier and more productive to do. It can help focus on an individual psychological problem and work it through to completeion. It is similar to the method of free association that psychotherapy uses, but is more grounded in breathing, internal energy flows, and body sensations.

Another difference between suggestive hypnosis and process oriented hypnosis is that in the former, at least in the classical medical model, the hypnotist does not go into trance, but stay conscious and puts the client under, sometimes even into a deep trance. In process orient hypnosis, the hypnotist goes into trance with the client and has a very different rapport with the client. In the very excellent book THE LAW OF PSYCHIC PHENOMENON by Thomas Hudson, the author talks about how the early hypnotists, following Mesmer, who did go into co-trance with the client, would experience more telepathy and deeper healing links with the client. The telepathic ability is already functional within the subconscious mind and becomes available to the conscious mind when it learns to be in rapport with the subconscious mind. When the Bode method was formed in the medical community, the reports of telepathy and paranormal phenemena happened less often. The previous antagonism between the conscious and subconscious mind that was part of the "conscious mind foothold phase" was regressed to. This made the possible results of hypnosis more limited.

The fear of a hypnotist controlling the client are really part of the fear of the conscious mind being overwhelmed by subconscious forces that it does not understand. The antagonism between the conscious and subconscious mind is at the heart of this relationship. In the Bode method, where the hypnotist stays conscious and the client goes unconscious, this relationship still has traces of this basic antagonism. Every addiction maintains this division by sometimes overwhelming the conscious mind or by blotting out a subconscious emotional feeling. The image of a Svengali is really a perfect metapor for this fear. This person was a stage hypnotist who may or may have not "hypnotized" women to having sex with him. What a perfect image of a primitive drive overcoming the conscious mind! The whole question of whether or not you can be controlled through hypnosis against your will is an interesting one, but only applies to suggestive hypnosis. It does not apply to process oriented hypnosis, since the intention is to create a functional unity between the two minds. Both minds are equally who we are, not just our conscious mind. We are actually more in control when we own both minds. Even in ordinary life, our conscious mind is not as in control as it think it is. This mind is really much smaller than our subconscious mind. It is still a primary directive power, but it does not beat our heart, pump our blood, cause us to feel hunger, to feel attracted to potential mates, or send electrons through our nervous system. Most of what keeps us alive, and our species alive, moment to moment is done by the subconscious mind. I would say that given our totality of consciousness, nothing happens without some part of ourselves giving permission for it to happen.