Other Stories

The Rope of Time

A 12 year old wishes to become a teenager because “they have more fun” and in response to his wish a Wizard gives him a rope which, when he pulls it, makes him older. One pull and he’s a teenager but sadly finds he also has spots. Wanting to avoid the comments of his peers he pulls again but a bit too hard and finds he is now in his early 20’s, married and with a child. They are struggling financially but he knows better times are ahead and pulls again. Late 20’s he has promotion but is not happy with his new job so another pull takes him to being a Manager, a good career time and the money side is easier. The problems of 2 teenage children, their friends and their loud late night music get to him and he looks forward to when he and his wife can enjoy their home together. Another pull but he is now struggling to keep his job and looks forward to his retirement. He pulls again and finds he has retired but is now facing major heart surgery. Anxious to find out what happens he pulls one more time and finds himself in the dark and surrounded by a wooden box.

Other Stories

The Treasure Chest

A guy felt unlucky. Whatever he did ended up wrong and he never had enough money. He saw this wise old woman who gave him a tiny little locked treasure chest and told him it had an exotic magic object inside which would bring him luck. She told him to take it with him everywhere he went and shake it three times whenever he entered a new room. So the guy took the treasure chest everywhere and he started noticing things. As he shook his treasure chest and paid attention, he noticed an opportunity here and a danger or pitfall there. A year went by and his luck had totally changed. He went back to the wise old woman and asked for the key to the lock. The old woman at first refused but eventually acquiesced to his pleas and opened the treasure chest. The man looked inside and there was no magical object within.

Blog Hypnosis

Weight Management

Weight management is an issue that seems to be affecting an ever-larger number of people. One reason is of course the availability of cheap high-calorie food wherever we go. Making matters much worse is the incessant advertising of these products by the food industry. Everywhere we go, there seems to be food. Hypnosis has been shown in many studies to be beneficial in weight management. Ironically, one of the reasons that hypnosis is so useful is because people with weight problems have already been “hypnotized” by the food advertising and by the food culture around them. Over the years, thousands of advertisements on television, the Internet, and billboards have been sending highly-designed messages into your unconscious mind. In addition, people around you may have been eating and living in ways that didn’t support health. These messages accumulate in your mind and have a large effect on your habits. While it probably isn’t possible to change the reality of the advertisements and the people around you, what is possible is to change your reaction to these stimuli. Through your hypnosis sessions at Standing in Spirit, you can start to move forward in the right direction by changing your response to food, and step-by-step beginning to introduce healthier habits of exercise and eating into your life. Weight issues tend to have pretty deep roots and may go back a long way in your personal history, so hypnosis can be a very powerful way of dealing with them. After all, it’s your unconscious mind that takes care of both your memories and your habits. If your conscious mind could manage your weight, then you would probably have solved this issue long ago. And one of the powerful things about hypnosis is that we are able to communicate directly with your unconscious mind. If you’re on this site,you’ve probably already tried a lot of other things to manage your weight and have finally reached a point where you really want to take control–that’s a good thing. For weight management, it generally takes a few sessions to get good results and to really get things moving in the right direction. As well as the sessions, I’ll also give you some additional audios that you can listen to at home, and teach you self-hypnosis techniques that will help you to relax deeply and to develop better habits of diet and exercise. Here are the prices: Session (about 90 minutes):10,000 yen 3 Session Set: 25,000 yen 5 Session Set: 40,000 yen We can carry out the sessions in person in Nagoya city or by Skype. Please let me know if you have any questions or need any more information. All the best, Dr. Brian Cullen

Blog Other

FAB4 – Morning Story

On the second day of the FAB4 conference, I did a 15 minute warmup session to get people started for the day. One of my own favourite state management activities is the COACH state which I learned on an NLP training run by Robert Dilts. Here’s an audio version. It’s a great way of getting into a good state (or actually set of states) for learning or coaching or teaching or whatever it is that you want to focus on during the day. And as with any state management tool, we can anchor it so that we can access it more easily in the future when it would be useful to have it. The COACH state chains together the four states of
Holding (the previous four states by anchoring them)
Usually I use this activity with myself or others in a sitting position. Recently, however I saw a great TED video by Amy Cuddy in which she talks about her research with “power postures”. For example, sprinters when they finish a race will often hold their arms up high in a natural expression of confidence and strength after they cross the finish line. Her research suggests that taking this pose deliberately can induce these feelings of confidence and strength and she encourages people to do it before interviews or other stressful encounters. These power postures are not for the benefit of others to see, but for the benefit of ourselves.
Her idea that our posture affects the way that we feel is one that NLP has preached for years in the form of the presupposition: Mind and Body are one system. It really is common sense, but finally the consensus of science is coming to terms with the notion that we actually have bodies and what we do with those bodies will affect how well we can think and feel. The whole field of embodied cognition takes account of this by suggesting that we think the way that we think because we have the bodies that we have. Makes sense to me.
Anyway, in this warm-up session, I decided to incorporate some body postures into the COACH state in order to make it a more effective warm-up. Just to make it that little bit more interesting, I also wrapped the whole thing up in a story about a bear that I wrote a few years back.
The video is a little shaky because one of the student volunteers wasn’t quite sure how to work it, but I think the idea will still come across. Enjoy!

Blog Other

FAB4 Conference Presentation – Storytelling and the Brain

On July 6, I presented at the FAB4 conference in Nagoya. Actually, I was program chair for the conference this year and I’m happy to say that the whole event was a great success. Feedback from participants has been very positive. FAB4 is the fourth conference by FAB (the rather cool if strange name means First Annual Brain Conference). The theme of the conference is neuroELT – helping language teachers to learn from the fields of psychology and neuroscience. More details are available at the FAB website.

Some of the participants (and folks on Facebook who watched the video) were interested in getting a copy of the slides, so I’ve created a pdf file.
FAB4 – StorytellingandtheBrain (Slideshow)
Update: And here is the handout
StorytellingtheBrain (Handout including some key books and references)
I’ll write up the content as a paper when I get around to it. Funny – that just reminded me of an old round dish that my mother used to love. It was called a Round Tuit. There was a little message on it saying something like “For years people have been putting things off and tuits have been quite difficult to find. Now however, you have finally got a Round Tuit and everything will move forward easily.”
Ah better still – here’s an image of one. Gotta love Google images.

Blog Hypnosis

Stephen Gilligan Interview

Recently, I have been learning a lot from Stephen’s Gilligan’s book, Generative Trance, and listening to his audios. In addition, I was lucky to take part in two webinars with him recently and have become very interested in his approach. Gilligan’s approach to hypnosis is highly influenced by his training with Erickson and he is well respected in the mainstream Erickson community.
Like most hypnotists, he believes that the Unconscious has much to offer in changing habits, behaviours, and in generating more fun and useful ways to live life. In traditional hypnosis, the conscious mind of the client is often considered to be in the way and standard inductions can be seen as a way of bypassing the critical faculty of the conscious mind. Even Erickson tended to talk primarily to the Unconscious mind.
Gilligan’s model is a little different. He suggests that we have three ‘minds’: A somatic mind, a cognitive mind, and a field mind. Each of these minds can be in three states of consciousness: primitive, ego, or generative. Ideally, we wish to raise all three minds to the level of generative in order to access all of our own resources. I’m not entirely convinced by Gilligan’s model and terminology, especially when he throws around words like quantum consciousness.
I’d prefer to keep the word ‘quantum’ fully in the sphere of physics until (and if) we establish that consciousness somehow does involve quantum mechanics. It may do, and certainly some have suggested (see the Wikipedia article) that quantum mechanics can explain the workings of the brain better than classical mechanics. The ideas in the Wikipedia article are disputed by many, and to me it would seem more pragmatic to leave out words like ‘quantum’ and to simply talk about levels of trance or something similar.
I’ve read through Gilligan’s book several times and continue to use his style of inductions with both myself and others. They work – I don’t really know why – and I’m continuing to try to figure things out a little better. I always find that it’s useful to have a fairly good understanding of why something works because we can then know what to change when it doesn’t work in any particular case. Additionally, when we understand what is going on, we can deliberately tweak things to make them better. I continue to learn!
And as part of that learning journey, I just came across an interesting interview with Stephen Gilligan on YouTube.

There are some lovely lines in the interview including a description of a radical younger John Grinder.

I met John Grinder who was teaching a course called Political Economy of the United States … long enough for him to espouse the radical  overthrow of the United States Government by whatever means necessary.

Grinder and Bandler had just gotten together and had written The Structure of Magic. Gregory Bateson sent them out to meet Erickson saying:

If you guys really want to know about patterns of communication, he’s the man.

Grinder and Bandler took up Gregory on his challenge and did indeed learn about the patterns of communication of Milton Erickson. They wrote about them extensively in the two-volume series: The Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson. This is not the most readable book, but it laid the foundation for thousands of NLP practitioners to begin to use the Milton model and to get a quick start into the techniques of effective indirect hypnosis.
When Gilligan heard about when Erickson was doing, he says that it “opened up something inside him like a fire.” This led to a period of 5 years for Gilligan learning from Milton Erickson while he simultaneously studied at Stanford University. Interestingly, he did some of his research with Ernest Hilgard who was developing standards for very traditional forms of hypnosis. Then during the holidays, Gilligan would head out to Erickson’s house and learn the much more indirect forms that Erickson was using.
One formative experience for Stephen Gilligan was a Deep Trance Identification (DTI) with Erickson which was facilitated by Grinder and Bandler. Grinder had read about DTI in hypnosis journals and had learned that artists had dropped into a deep trance and been able to learn to paint like Rembrandt or other masters. Through DTI, their artistic capacity was significantly improved. They induced a deep trance in Stephen Gilligan and led him to have a DTI experience where he ‘became’ Erickson. Gilligan says that it was a “really deep profound experience”. He particularly noticed two things:

1. When I opened my eyes, everything was quiet and it was a very different experience than I had assumed that Erickson had. Because you read all these incredibly clever strategies that his mind must have been buzzing a mile a minute with all sorts of manipulation. But what I experienced was that everything was quiet.
2. When I looked around, everybody was already in a trance and that has been one of the most important experiences. It wasn’t that I had to put them into trance. They were already there. It was a great relief to realize that hypnosis is not something you do to people. It is something that you attune to in people and you just draw it out and bring their attention to it.

Gilligan sees ‘utilization’ as the most important aspect of Ericksonian hypnosis. He also learned that ‘life is to be enjoyed’ – a message that he got strongly from Erickson. 

We’ve got this little opportunity and the meter’s running. We could waste it all worrying or trying to be something we’re not and then at the end of our life we would look back and realized what was the point.

Erickson was already old when Gilligan studied with him:

I knew him when he was an old man he had  suffered tremendously – he was in absolute pain every day – he usually had to do four or five hours of deep pain control this was a guy who in a very deep real way enjoyed life.
And when Erickson was sitting cutting vegetables for the family dinner and totally engaged in the activity, Gilligan quotes Erickson as saying “I always enjoy discovering what I can do and I take great pleasure in that.”
There’s a whole lot to be learned from Milton Erickson and the extensions of his work by Stephen Gilligan and others. I have found that it helps me into deeper states of trance than other methods. I still have no real idea how it is achieving this despite reading Gilligan’s books and notes. I could quote him further and will do so in future posts, but there is something going on that is much deeper than the words. Keep learning!

Other Stories

Swimming to Japan

Once upon a time there was a couple who had achieved many of their ambitions in life, yet there was one main goal outstanding: They wanted to swim to Japan. They reflected on this goal for a long time and one day they set off. They were not used to swimming so they found it difficult. They were aware of how heavy their limbs felt. They ached with the constant effort, especially when the strong current was against them. Gradually, however, their bodies got used to swimming and they developed a style that became effortless and rhythmical. They began to notice the water around them, for example how it changed color as the days went by. In the early morning it would be clear and blue and in certain lights it sparkled emerald green. As the sun set it developed the rich warm colors of the evening sky. And they became aware of the creatures in the water, the small silver fish that swam with them in the day, the dark shadows that skimmed by them in the deep. They became aware of how the sound of the waves changed as the water lapped their ears and they felt the subtle changes of the weather as breezes turned into winds and died down again. They learned how to find food in the water, how to nourish themselves, and how to use their bodies effortlessly. They developed a refined sense of smell so that they could detect changes in the environment by the scent carried to them on the breeze. They swam for days and weeks with no sight of land. One day they saw the dark profile of land on the horizon. They swam on and they recognized the shoreline of Japan. As they approached they became quiet and eventually they looked at each other and they knew. At that moment they turned back to the sea and swam on.

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Many many years ago, back in the 1970’s when computers were so big that they could take up a whole room, the president of a large company came to see a computer specialist called Peter.
“So how can I help you,” said Peter.
“Well I’m a bit confused. I have all this complicated computer equipment sitting in my company.”
“I see,” said Peter, “and what are you using it for?”
“Well, that’s the problem. We’re not actually using it for anything useful at all. It’s just sitting there taking up space. It doesn’t seem to do anything useful.”
“OK, so you’ve got this amazing machine. When did you get it?”
“Oh we got it years ago. You see, I was out with the president of another company and he was telling me about his computer. His computer can do all kinds of amazing things to help him increase productivity. So I got one of these computers, but it just sits there doing nothing all the time. It seems like a waste, doesn’t it?”
Peter thought to himself, “yes, I’ve heard this kind of story before. People get all kinds of amazing equipment and never really learn how to use it.” But he just asked the president a simple question: “What kind of software are you using?”
“Software? What is software?”
“Well, your computer is the hardware – and it’s amazingly powerful. You can do all kinds of things with it. And the software is what actually makes it useful. The software are the programs that you run every day that help you to get things done.”
“Hmm, programs … I see. I guess we never thought of installing useful software.”

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You don’t have to spend a lot of money on incentives; self-made certificates can be more effective than anything else.
Twenty years ago, I when I was an aide at the school I work at now, I used to manage the Writing To Read Computer Lab. I was just 18-years-old and could not afford expensive and fancy incentives for the 130 students that came to my lab, therefore I made certificates on the computer. Every Friday I would give 5 certificates to those students who showed some growth or finished a specific journal. There was a special girl who came from a poor immigrant family who lived across from the school. She was in 1st grade when she came to my lab. Of course, she was one of the certificate receiver (they all were, sooner or later).
Seventeen years later, I was invited to her wedding ceremony, held at her small house. As I walked in the door, I was in awe to see her hall of fame. Between her high school and university degrees, in the biggest frame, was the faded, old Writing To Read certificate! I could not believe my eyes, seventeen years later and she still had the certificate I had given her. (Well, I shouldn’t be shocked, I am currently 38 years old and still have my elementary school certificates.)
Her mother later told me that she treasured that certificate more than any other because that was the one that gave her the confidence and strength to continue with her studies.
At that time, I realized that candy, stickers, and other fancy incentives work well for the moment, but nothing like something written on paper to make a lifetime impact. Plus, let’s face it, on a teacher’s salary, I still can’t afford the expensive, fancy incentives. Nonetheless, nothing could be more rewarding than knowing that you made a difference in at least one student’s life. That is the best pay one could receive.
Keep empowering students!

Other Stories

Dirty Laundry

A young couple moves into a new neighborhood.
The next morning, while they are eating breakfast, the young woman sees her neighbor hanging the laundry outside and says “Her laundry is not very clean; she doesn’t know how to wash correctly, perhaps she needs better laundry soap.”
Her husband looks on, remaining silent. Every time her neighbor hangs her laundry to dry, the young woman makes the same comments.
A month later, the woman is surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and says to her husband: “Look, she’s finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?” The husband replied, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”
And so it is with life. What we see when looking at others depends on the state of the window through which we look.