Hypnotherapy Project

Hypn07, Day 5: You are getting sleeeeeeeepy

beach hammock This is Day 5 of 30 for the Hypnotherapy Project, which I'm collaborating on with Los Angeles-based hypnotist hypnotherapist Greg Beckett. You can read more about this experiment, what motivated it and what we hope to accomplish here.

One may accuse me of many things (and be right), but letting moss grow under my ass is not one of them.

The first stretch of hypno mirrors the way I live my life: on "10," followed by a crash and some rest. Only I'd found with the hypno, rest was becoming difficult, since I suddenly had all these new things to think about. And I'm not a muller, so much; I'm all about getting a thought and immediately moving on it.

So naturally, coming in yesterday after all that mental activity, I was a little worn out. I was game for whatever, because that's the attitude Greg and I went into this with, but I'd be lying if I said I was looking forward to meeting four more needy or neglected personalities. Plus I'm under a couple of insane deadlines this week, and while I love spending time on the hypno exploration, there are only so many hours in a day. (Plus-plus, I'm still in the grip of The Cold That May Never Leave.)

There's a way things work, though, and when they do, it's a beautiful thing. I walked in and almost immediately Greg said he was thinking of just making me a recording that day. So he did: a lovely, relaxing recording I could use to reinforce this (very) new idea that I really, truly need rest, just like normal human beings. The file is too big to upload, but imagine soft music, a hammock and some dulcet tones giving me permission to make like a rag doll and collapse and you pretty much have it.

One interesting observation: while we were making the recording, I heard, and tried mightily not to obsess on, every pop, hiss and crackle. This recording will never make me relax, thought I, IT IS TOO FULL OF POPS, HISSES AND CRACKLES.

I loaded the file onto my nano last night and listened before bed, and you know what? I had to struggle to hear the errata.

Which I quickly dispensed with. Silly, waking me...

xxx c Image by Film Colourist via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Hypn07, Day 4: You cannot use what you do not have

down the tube This covers Day 4 of 30 for the Hypnotherapy Project, which I'm collaborating on with Los Angeles-based hypnotherapist Greg Beckett. You can read more about this experiment, what motivated it and what we hope to accomplish here.

I have skills.

Nay, I have mad skillz.

I have a fierce, almost unnaturally healthy drive to do better. I have learned to work better/harder/faster, it would seem, as a matter of survival. The various "characters" who have buffed these skills out to a high gloss to save my damn bacon have come forward eagerly, willingly, wholly, in the first few days, introducing themselves and making their complaints heard. They're, like, over it.

There is one skill set, however, that is virtually non-existent: my inner She-Ra.

Most people would likely never guess at the frighteningly low levels of self-confidence I operate under most of the time. But it's true. Greg put me under and the poor, sad, half-formed, 98-lb.-weakling that is my Self-Confidence showed up to prove it. She has no "age", like the rest of the characters, because she was never allowed to develop. It just wasn't a priority. (Or maybe, disappearing act was its own act of self-preservation.) She has no shape, no strength, no presence, no say. She is Self-Confidence who isn't.

And yet to look at me, you'd probably never know it, just like if you saw me in most social situations, you'd probably never guess what a roaring introvert I am. I have gotten very, very good at doing things I'm not particularly suited for.

I'd feel terrible about my appalling lack of self-confidence except for one thing: I know it's there, ready to be developed, and I know that all of these other mad skillz will only be enhanced when they don't have to pull double-duty, standing in for something they're not.

Curiouser and curiouser, this trip down the rabbit hole...

xxx c

Image by massdistraction via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Hypn07, Day 3: Wherein the Ambassador wrassles a few notions to the ground

This is Day 3 of 30 for the Hypnotherapy Project, which you can read more about here.

Yesterday another member of Team Communicatrix came forward: the head of the spear, the friendly face of the operation, "headquarters", as we were calling her at first, stepped up, threw up her arms in frustration with the workload she's been asked to maintain along with her cheery demeanor, and, after a bit of griping/crying/discussion, got down with the idea of delegating.

It's a new morning in my universe.

I may elaborate on these various "characters" that have been coming forward at some point; Greg and I have already discussed this being a really great topic for the podcast we're planning to create once the experiment is further along and we have a better sense of the whole of it. For now, I want to make two things really, super, crystal-clear:

1. I'm an actress; that is, I'm a little bit crazy, but in a really sane way

These are parts of me I'm giving voice to, facets of my personality that were honed to their mirror finish, or not, as you'll see tomorrow, during various points in my life. (Sorry for mixing metaphors without a license, but all my language outside of the sessions, which leave me as drained as they do exhilarated, seems to be getting sloppy and floppy. Plus, hell, I'm coming off of a two-week cold, people!)

Anyway, we'll get more into process in the podcast, or I'll address it in a separate post down the road. For now, I'm just trying to get the gist of each session out there.

But know that we all have different "personalities," even if they're ever-so-slightly different. You can call it behavior, if you like: we act differently with our friends than we do with our bosses than we do with the cop who's just pulled us over for a major traffic violation when we're driving on a mover already. I probably have a higher comfort level than a lot of civilians who aren't as conversant with their various selves, but trust me, there's no spooky-ass hocus-pocus going on.

2. The process, and the results, are at least as important as the theatrics

As a writer, I understand that the idea of these parts of me showing up with different names and voices and opinions from out of nowhere is inherently dramatic.

As a human being, let me assure you that of far more importance is what's happening as a result of the sessions:

  • I can feel my anxiety ebbing. And for very real reasons in addition to any post-hypnotic suggestions of relaxation: in a matter of four days, I've been able to implement more real changes about structuring my time with less to-do than any time in recent memory.
  • My desire for diet "illegals" has, well, vanished. The same extraordinary thing happened after one, yes, one, single session addressing my need (my uber-desire) to stay on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet I use to control my Crohn's. I see the muffin, the rice, the tortilla and it's there for the taking. I know I can take it. I just don't want to. I make the choice, but without the stress of GOING ON A DIET. Remarkable, but true.
  • I am able to see solutions more clearly. This is an adjunct of the anxiety ebbing, but just as real and a little bit differently flavored. I will liken this to how one can think more clearly when healthy than sick, or rested than exhausted. Of course, I am also getting over a cold concurrent with starting hypnotherapy, but this switch to clearer thinking has none of the manic quality that my recovery usually brings. My temperament is simply more even, not my natural state of being, as any intimate will tell you!

I'm going to do my best to continue posting every day, because I want to give people a taste of the rhythm of the whole thing. I'd also like to start addressing any comments that come along. But this is an exceptionally busy week, with lots of commitments and some hairy deadlines. So no promises. Because frankly, Team Communicatrix has taken a long, cold look at the overachieving thing and you know? It doesn't work so well for us these days...

xxx c

Image by wiseacre photo via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Hypn07, Day 2: Little Miss Lax and her never-ending lists

set list This is Day 2 of 30 for the Hypnotherapy Project, which you can read more about here.

At the risk of sounding like Sybil, someone else showed up today in hypno: the 12-year-old tyrant and Chief Keeper of the Lists. While the pole is placed pretty far up the poor girl's ass, Greg felt bad giving her an uptight name, so he settled on the gently teasing "Miss Lackadaisical", or "Miss Lax", for short. There's no real secret to "her"; it's the part of me that took over when reduced circumstances forced us to give up our home and move in with my maternal grandparents into a falling-down house of Gothic horror far, far from my friends and all that was familiar to me.

My very strict Swedish grandmother, Chief Enabler in the House of Alcoholics, was suddenly calling the shots. You toed the line and trod softly in her house. The adults drank, except for my grandmother. No one was happy. My sister and I were shell shocked. I was hungry, cold and/or lonely for a year and a half: all three at once, in the winter. If it wasn't for my youngest uncle feeding me National Lampoons, Led Zeppelin albums and Monty Python, I wonder if my spirit wouldn't have been entirely flattened.

It's not like I've ever forgotten the experience, of course. Those were seminal years, as formative and important in their hideous way as was the nightmare of Mean Girls at Camp. But I'd never connected the two until Greg put me under; once he did, it was startling how quickly the memory of those days bobbed to the surface.

Hopefully, I'll become more articulate on the process of hypnosis as I move forward. Right now, the closest I can come to describing it is a kind of super-relaxed waking state. For those of you who are super-relaxed in your actual waking state, this may be meaningless. But what I find is that the state of being hypnotized is much like my own waking state, only with the governors removed. I might be able to come up with some of these same thoughts, ideas, statements, etc. fully awake, just talking to Greg, we are close friends, after all, and don't have many secrets, but I'm less self-conscious about bringing them up under hypnosis, so they float to the surface more quickly.

xxx c Image by rosefirerising via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Hypn07, Day 1: Where Monkey Brain meets the other 80%

This covers day 1 of 30 for the Hypnotherapy Project, which I'm collaborating on with Los Angeles-based hypnotherapist Greg Beckett. You can read more about this experiment, what motivated it and what we hope to accomplish here. sock monkey

I've said it a million times: Exercise is king. Nutrition is queen. Put them together and you've got a kingdom. , Jack LaLanne, ancient fitness guru who could totally kick my ass, and with one hand tied behind his 92-year-old back

* * * * *

FIRST things FIRST

  • hew to my goals
  • stay focused
  • treat my body like the kingdom (NOTE: "kingdom" underlined twice)
  • lead by example (NOTE: "lead" underlined twice)

, list created by Colleen Wainwright going into the Great Hypnotherapy Project

* * * * *

I came to my first day of the Great Hypnotherapy Project armed with notes, a quote from Jack LaLanne and a feeling of dread.

The excitement I'd felt when Greg first suggested the experiment, 30 days of one-on-one hypnotherapy with no objective other than to see what happened, had morphed into a melange of fear and worry (my favorite cocktail). How could I possibly have thought this would work? I was, after all, a mountain of insurmountable problems covered in calcified habit; what I wanted was nothing less to become...perfect. (Even though, as my shrink once pointed out via vivid illustration, nobody wants to be around anybody who has "perfection" as an agenda item, much less anyone who's actually gotten there.)

But if there is one thing I've actually bone-learned in my decidedly imperfectly lived 45+ years, it's to feel x and do it anyway, where x equals fear, dread, certitude of impossibility, etc. Yes, you're unhappy about this, and...?

So we sat and chatted for about an hour. We can do this, Greg and I, because we're close and we love to talk, but I imagine kind, wonderful Greg would do this with anyone. He understands that the getting at something is often an elliptical process; me, I'm like a dude: I want to get in there with the blowtorch and the scalpel and FIX. THE. PROBLEM.

He is, of course, right (at least, in this sort of situation), and somewhere in that hour a light went on and I scribbled in my notes:

[connect all this to joy b/c right now it looks/feels like a big chore] (NOTE: "big chore" underlined twice)

We agreed that this was perhaps a rich vein, and to proceed. Greg put me under, and after a minor flip-out on my part (my jaw! it won't open! [note: it was my eyes that wouldn't open, not that it's any better or worse]) and Greg putting me back under, we met Monkey Brain.

Monkey Brain is seven, and under the delusion, poor thing, that she is the boss of everything. I'll spare you the details of my overachieving childhood; suffice it to say that Monkey Brain has been pulling hard duty for a long time with bad tools (she's seven, for chrissakes) and she's over it. Tired. Mad. Scared. Monkey Brain is only 20% of the show, but she feels responsible for all of it.

So Greg had a long chat with Monkey Brain and the other 80%. After some assurances that Monkey Brain could get a few treats (sad, really, how little she asked for), we hammered out an agreement to move forward as a team toward the same goals. Greg brought me back, I felt great, and I'm once again really excited about the Great Hypnotherapy Project.

Oh, and Monkey Brain is very excited about the new, red shoes we got on the way home...

xxx c Coming up on Day Two: Miss Lax, Gloomy Manor and the Problems of the Very Clean Room.

Image by tedfoo via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

What's your Learning Edge? (The hypnotherapy project)

little readers This is essentially the first post about a 30-day experiment I called "the Great Hypnotherapy Project, which I collaborated on in July and August of 2007 with Los Angeles-based hypnotherapist Greg Beckett. You can read more about this experiment, what motivated it and what we hoped to accomplish here; you can read all of the entries in chronological order here.

While I don't take naturally to change, I've grown to love it so much that I've learned a lot of hacks to help facilitate it.

One of them is the very public 21-Day Saluteâ„¢, as practiced here on communicatrix-dot-com. Building on the notion originally put forth by Dr. Maxwell Maltz that it takes 21 days to change a habit, I did my first three-week stint to Cheer the Hell Up, but I now use my little wind sprints to get myself back in the habit of blogging when I've fallen off the wagon.

Another one of the things is, NO DUH!!!!, enlisting help. Pretty simple from the outside, but when you're born and raised in The Stiff Upper Lip Club, easier said than done. I've gone from flying solo to having:

  1. a shrink
  2. a business coach
  3. a designer's support group
  4. a Toastmasters club, and...
  5. a women's manifestation circle.

(Don't freak out on me: most of the appointments are monthly or even bi-monthly; the only ones that happen weekly are Toastmasters and my coaching appointment.)

So when my good friend, Greg, offered me the chance to combine the two, I leaped (leapt?) at it.

Greg Beckett is an amazing hypnotherapist. He's actually an amazing person, in general, but he has a true gift with hypnotherapy. And flan, of all things. Seriously. He has to hypnotize me to not eat the flan.

Which is what he's going to do, at least to start with. I'm the very excited guinea pig for Greg's 30-Day Experiment: 30 consecutive days of hypnotherapy with the same client, to see what happens. We figure 21 days to change a habit and a little extra for good measure (and a round number).

Initially, we're going to use the sessions to get me back on SCD 100%, at least, that's one of the things we'll work on. Having done a little experimentation with Greg's hypnotherapy before, I know that all this stuff, these blocks, these ways of avoidance, these willful fits of procrastination, is interconnected. Hell, you don't need to have done hypnotherapy to know that.

All of this dovetails beautifully with a group project Adam Kayce (aka Monk at Work) initiated recently: What's Your Learning Edge? His thought is that growth is contingent on continuous learning, and it's up to each of us to continually re-ignite that passion for learning by going deeper, by finding the "edge" that leads us in. To participate, all you need do is one of two things (from Adam):

  1. If you're not currently pushing the envelope of your intellectual horizons… or if you're feeling a staleness in your life that you wouldn't mind giving the ol' heave-ho to… then I invite you to pick something that you've always been curious about, and dive into it with all the passion of a two-year-old on a playground.
  2. Write a post about your “learning edge” and what you're into these days. Feel free to mention any books you're reading, classes you're taking, people you're learning from or collaborating with, etc. Tell us about the gems you're picking up, the fun you're having, etc., especially if they're shifting the way you look at what you do.

So that's my Learning Edge, 30 days of me and a big, swinging, gold watch, getting sleeeeeepy...sleeeeeeeeepy.... (Just kidding, it's a silver watch.)

I'll be covering what happens on the project here. Greg and I have also discussed doing some kind of podcast. (Hey, we're both former hams; might as well use what you know to share what you're learning.) We were supposed to start yesterday, but I've been derailed by some nasty summer flu/cold thing, so Monday is D-day.

Meanwhile, I will invite, not tag, but invite, Bonnie Gillespie, Jason Womack, Chris Glass, Evelyn Rodriguez and Jeremy "Be Careful What You Wish For" Cherfas to share with the group.

I mean, it's not like you're not out there learnin' it up, anyway...

xxx c

Image by XI*Erica Simone*XI via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.