By Dr. Steve Taubman
Picture this. You're sitting in the audience at a hypnosis show. A hypnotized subject on stage has been told by the hypnotist that he hates the show, that he's not hypnotized, and that there's an invisible wall in front of him, preventing him from leaving the stage. On cue, the subject jumps up, yells at the hypnotist, and begins to storm off. But he hits the wall and recoils back, furious about this impediment. The hypnotist tells him that he's free to go, but he can't. The hypnotist asks him if he's hypnotized, and he says, "Of course not!" "Then go," says the hypnotist. Still, he can't. "What's stopping you?" asks the hypnotist. "There's a wall," cries the volunteer. "There's no wall," says the hypnotist. His words fall on deaf ears. The illusion is simply more powerful than reality. Yet, the subject insists that he's fully awake.
Another subject is given an onion and told that it's the most delicious fruit he's ever tasted. He munches it happily, commenting on its delectable sweetness.
How do these stories relate to our reality? What if we're all hypnotized, stuck behind invisible walls that exist only in our minds? Suppose our preferences were actually colored by hypnotic programming and that what we felt we deserved was similarly the result of hypnosis. How would we know it? Could it be that our conviction that we're fully awake is a misunderstanding of the facts? If so, how can we see through the illusion to embrace the limitless potential that awaits us? How can we discover and achieve what we really want, separate from the set of desires hypnotically imposed upon us, and predictably become fully engaged in life? How can we wake up?
What does it mean to be hypnotized?
The simple explanation that we hypnotists use says that the mind is divided into both a conscious and a subconscious part. The conscious mind is that part of our thinking that we're aware of, and the subconscious mind is that part of our thinking that is below our awareness. The theory suggests that it's the latter, the subconscious, which is more important in determining our behavior; that is, we end up making important decisions about what to do and how to interact with the world around us largely for reasons we never get to understand or to consider on a conscious level. The pathway through which those thoughts came to live in our subconscious mind is the result of hypnosis.
If you don't think highly of yourself, or if you're afraid of clowns, or if you're a chain smoker, someone can tell you to think more highly of yourself, or that clowns aren't scary, or that smoking is bad for you. Chances are, people have tried to tell you how to think or behave before, and it hasn't worked. Why not? Because they were communicating with your conscious mind. To make an impact, a message has to reach deeper into the subconscious mind, and this requires techniques for bypassing the conscious mind. Think of your conscious mind as a sentinel, standing guard over your subconscious mind. It only allows thoughts to enter which are consistent with what you already believe. In order to slip in a new belief, you have to lull the guard to sleep. That's what I do.
That's also what's been done to you by your parents, teachers, mentors, and society in general. When your guard was off duty, when you were too young or impressionable to fight it, messages were delivered to your subconscious mind, bypassing your critical faculty, the part of your conscious mind that deflects unwanted information. So, without your awareness or permission, you were hypnotized, and your subconscious mind is now full of stuff you didn't put there and may not want. What are the messages we've been hypnotized to believe? Everything from who we are in relation to our world, to what we want, to what we deserve, to what we're capable of accomplishing. Sometimes, these things come into conflict with one another and suffering ensues. For example, you might have come to feel that you want great wealth, but also that you don't deserve it or that you're incapable of achieving it. Such a combination would result in significant psychological pain, and as long as your hypnotic programming remained intact, you'd be powerless over that pain.
Why don't we feel hypnotized?
Does a fish see the water in which it swims? Of course not. The medium in which we live and have lived since we developed conscious perception is invisible to us. We think hypnosis should look a certain way, so we disregard all the evidence that indicates that we're hypnotized. But being hypnotized doesn't feel like anything. It's just a condition of being conditioned. That's it.
One of my favorite stories is about the child who slips into his grandfather's bedroom and paints Limburger cheese, an extremely smelly cheese, onto his grandfather's mustache while he sleeps. On awakening, the grandfather sniffs, considers a moment, and says, "This room smells like Limburger cheese!" He leaves the room and goes through the house, declaring that each room smells like Limburger cheese. Finally, he steps out onto the porch, sniffs, and cries, "Oh, my God, the whole world smells like Limburger cheese!"
I remember reading somewhere that we see the world, not as it is, but as we are. Like the grandfather in my story, what's actually coming from us appears to be coming from everything around us. Our trance is so strong and compelling that we have no hope of seeing through it to the truth. This may seem like bad news, but knowing that we're in trance can liberate us. If we're entrapped by our unconscious adherence to an illusion, it is our conscious recognition of that fact that will ultimately set us free. Gurdjieff, the esteemed philosopher, said, "The first step to escaping from prison is realizing you're in prison."
What is life like without hypnosis?
A life without hypnosis is a life of freedom. Buddhist notions of liberation and enlightenment derive from the concept that we're living in illusion, and that, freed of that illusion, we experience joy, contentment, enthusiasm, love, compassion, and a whole host of other qualities that we've mistakenly sought elsewhere. It is possible to achieve liberation from our illusion, to wake up from our trance, to become unhypnotized.
With this possibility looming in front of us, the wise person has no choice but to dedicate him or herself to the pursuit of an awakened state. I council my clients to learn such tools as meditation and mindfulness in order to take advantage of the benefits they offer. Much is available now to help us go beyond the excuses we've used for not starting that journey, such as books, tapes, and classes.
None of the reasons you've probably used for failing to take these steps is viable, and no matter how big an obstacle you think separates you from practicing these skills, it's simply not worth sacrificing your own vitality. By learning the tools of transformation, we can begin to wake up, start over, and create the life we're meant to live.
How to Wake Up, Start Over, and Create Your Life
Are you sabotaging your hopes for living the life of your dreams without even knowing it? The sad truth is that for almost every one of us the answer to that question is... YES!
What I've discovered is that almost everyone is "living in a trance." Moment after moment and day after day we continue to do things that actually prevent us from living the life that we want. So, we constantly settle for less, trapped by our own minds... until we learn to wake up.
One of my favorite lessons to share is that we are not trapped by our circumstances in life. We aren't defined by job, family, current finances, or education. Whatever we are doing can be changed, and we can start over... now!
Of course, it takes courage and vision: courage to step out past the familiar and risk failure, ridicule, and fear; vision to be able to first see ourselves in new circumstances of our own creation. Most of us have stopped using our God-given right to dream, to fantasize, to imagine. We stop before we start, and we rob ourselves of the wonder and awe of life's adventure. Imagine if we dared to dream and take action on our dreams!
The source is within each of us, but we trap it behind our limiting beliefs. Freed of those beliefs, people are filled with real happiness. In essence, I invite people to shed their hypnotic programming and to come out and play. In 'UnHypnosis: How to Wake Up, Start Over, and Create the Life You're Meant to Live,' I will awaken within you that sense of wonder and possibility and provide you with tools for making your dreams into reality.
I wrote UnHypnosis because I felt that there was a crucial element missing in most self-help literature, that being the lack of respect for the very real, very incapacitating state of hypnosis in which we all live. We've all tried setting goals, saying affirmations, changing attitudes and behaviors, and stepping into a new paradigm for our lives, but most of us have experienced disappointing results. Why? Because until we come out of the effect of our own hypnotic programming, that programming is simply more powerful than all the willpower we can muster.
When I started learning this stuff, I had a job I hated, over a hundred thousand dollars in debt, a string of bad relationships behind me, and a pervasive sense of anxiety, futility and hopelessness. Then I learned a powerful lesson... one I'll share with you. It has to do with the way we're all hypnotized by our upbringing, and how to overcome that programming. Using the principles you'll learn in UnHypnosis, I left my job, improved my relationships, and began a journey of self-discovery that's taken me all over the world and has given me the tools to reinvent my life whenever I want.
Note from Peter Shepherd:
Steve Taubman sent me his new book to check out. I've been following Steve's blog for some time - he writes well and he's a cool guy. He left a busy chiropractic practice to live his dream and never looked back. He's an adventurer, a success in everything he does, and has a very spiritual outlook.
Now he's written UnHypnosis, in which he takes you on a journey of discovery. His honesty and humility, revealing his own anxiety and fears, is refreshing in a genre where most talk as though they are without fault. He gives the reader a glimpse into the attitudes, both spiritual and practical, that have led to his success. Read it and you'll learn:
- How to find your passion
- How to leave a bad job or transform the one you have
- How to tap into your successful way of being
- How to overcome limiting thinking
- How to use anxiety to your advantage
- How to reduce stress in every situation
I highly recommend the book; it's an important addition to personal development literature and it will have great benefits for your mental and spiritual health. Learn more about Steve's book at Amazon.com.
Just take a second and check it out for yourself. You'll be glad you did. It comes with a really good practical Workbook too, that I found a great help for putting the main ideas into practice.