"Better not to start. But if you start, better to finish." Some Zen guy.
I hate spirituality. And I don't even really know what it is. And it now seems to occupy a majority of my free time.
Things were simpler when it was possible to pass the New-agey religion section of a book shop with a slight shake of the head, and reflect that there's one born every minute.
Being pushed through the modern sausage factory tends to leave one certain about such fluff, albeit mot likely with a hefty dollop of misery and pointlessness.
Science, facts, proof and solid, first-hand experience are the only acceptable currencies for a respectable Dawkins-fearing modern man. And if the abyss of mysticism, occultism and general white-robed fuckery starts to loom too real, best to turn around, stick fingers in ears and start humming loudly, just like Dawkins or Freud.
Problem is, if you get a glimpse of the cosmic sausage-making progress, simple answers no longer suffice. Most likely no answer will suffice.
You may find yourself innocently attending a 10-day vipassana retreat, expecting nothing more than good country air and some rest from email. You may then experience otherworldly ecstasy and an experience of reality so different from the preceding decades that you wonder if you are not dreaming, and continue to wonder for day after day. And even as such a high inevitably fades, there's a good chance that your days in the office as an unhappy cog in the sausage machine are over.
From that point, the game is on. A game with a million rules, and none. It all depends on who you ask. They are out there, en masse, every conceivable flavour of motivation, institution, technique and game plan. They all know what's going on, where you are on the map, and how to explain this to you while sliding your little chess piece into position, in exchange for something.
Some even tell you there is no map, no table on which a map could be placed and that you, despite how things seem, don't actually exist. You don't exist because nothing exists or ever has, there is no world or universe, and nothing has ever happened.
As a hitherto respectable member of society, you could dismiss such things as the fever dreams of a madman. But you placed one foot firmly into that realm, intrigued by the breadcrumbs of meditation, yoga, Amazonian hallucinogens, velvet-voiced YouTube gurus. One leading to another, sometimes insightful, sometimes soothing or disturbing or laughable.
The earthier parts are somewhat familiar from a Catholic childhood. Petty rules, pious words, creepy men with silly clothes and pompous titles. But keep pushing through past the chanting, past the Westerners with grandiose new spiritual names, past the psychotherapists with delusions of shamanhood, and an apparent destination can be reached that looks surprisingly ordinary.
Apparently all is one.
Is your imagination serving you well?
The imagination is an enormously powerful faculty, but in in itself is neither good nor bad. It's a tool, like fire, that can be harnessed to cook a nice meal, or burn your house down.
Hypnotherapy seeks to change patterns in the sub-conscious, and imagination is a critical part of that process.
Phobias and anxieties are a misuse of this faculty, as the internal screen throws up endless images and stories about how dangerous or uncomfortable a particular situation is.
You can tell yourself logically that flying, or heights, or spiders are nothing to worry about, but the sub-conscious will not be listening. It speaks the language of images, metaphors, fantasies and feelings. Think of the bizarre kaleidoscope of ingredients that make up your dreams and you have some idea of what the vocabulary of your mental depths is.
To influence this part of the mind it is necessary to use the tools that it most readily responds to - visualisation and guided imagery.
The mind cannot tell the difference between a real event and one that has been vividly imagined. By visualising the state that is desired the positive message gets delivered far more effectively than would be possible with long hours of intellectual discussion.
Hypnotherapy is the best, most efficient way of delivering these images of change and courage to the deepest part of the mind.
Utilise the power of hypnotherapy yourself by booking a session in Athens, Greece.
George Orwell said that everyone gets the face they deserve by the age of 50, proving he understood how the non-physical acts upon the physical.
But as a great worrier and fretter who died at 46, Orwell would have done well to consider the law of mind in body, that how you think also affects your health.
Short bursts of anger, sadness, fear etc are not a problem, but complications arise when they become the norm. Chronic negative emotional states raise levels of stress hormones, and these in turn can cause devastating physical damage.
Fortunately, the opposite is also true, and a positive outlook creates a hormonal cocktail that can fuel a longer happier life.
Awareness of this tends to lead to a greater level of control and an enhanced ability to let go of what is not serving you while feeling more gratitude for all that is good - naturally hypnotherapy is a useful tool in settling into these optimum states of mind.
A session or two of hypnotherapy can be enough to change direction in a life-altering way. After that it is up to you to keep an eye on the dials, and make adjustments as necessary.
With life, media and fellow humans competing to raise the pressure on a daily basis, anyone who is serious about avoiding an Orwellian future should also establish a simple meditation and/or yoga practice. What you think, you become ...
•Best Self Therapy offers Hypnotherapy, counselling and kundalini yoga meditation in Athens, Greece.
In hypnotherapy we are dealing with the deep mind, and a pretty strange and lawless place it can seem.
However, observation suggests there are some often surprising laws which seem to hold fast in this domain.
Some of these may seem controversial or counter intuitive, but they certainly make good food for thought and debate.
Let’s start by looking at a couple of the laws which underpin successful hypnotherapy.
The law of cause and effect – everything happens for a reason. Despite appearances, the world is not random, and everything happens for a reason, meaning that your actions have consequences.
Whatever your situation now, it is the result of past choice and events, and future states will be dependent on actions taken now.
This both burdens us with the weight of responsibility and liberates us from the sense of being mere pawns in someone else’s chess game. Call it karma if you will, but you have more power than you might think.
Then we have the law of physicality – every thought creates a measurable effect in the body.
This is obvious if we use extremes as examples – if you think about something which you find terrifying, deeply sad, or very arousing, there will be an immediate physical response.
But the same thing applies to all of the thoughts which lie somewhere between ecstatic pleasure and heart-pounding fear.
Thoughts leave marks, and as humans we are thinking all day long, usually with very little awareness. Cheerful, positive thinking will have a beneficial effect on the body compared to the tension created when we indulge in envious comparing or intricate revenge fantasies.
As with the previous law, this both empowers us and makes us face up to responsibility.
You are in the driver’s seat – are you going for a pleasure cruise or are you going to make the tyres squeal?
Hypnotherapy, yoga, meditation and other natural approaches can be powerful allies, and are on offer in Athens, Greece.
Can anyone be brought into a trance in hypnotherapy?
Well, if you really don't want to, you won't. A hypnotherapist can't make people do anything against their will.
But anyone who has fallen into a reverie while sitting in a traffic jam, been soothed by the sound of lapping waves, or lost themselves deep in some all-consuming task has, to some extent, experienced trance.
It appears to be a natural human ability, and one that a good hypnotherapist can utilise to bring about changes to thinking and behaviour.
For the definitive word on the matter, let us turn to the Elvis of hypnotherapists, the unconventional guru Milton Erickson: "Anyone who is human is going to get into trance ... experientially I have determined that all patients can go into a trance state - that anyone can.
"Now is it necessary to know that you are in a trance? No it isn't.
"How deep a trance is necessary? Any trance that is of sufficient level to let your unconscious mind take a look, a mental look at what's going on is sufficient.
"In those mental looks and understanding you learn a great deal more than you do by conscious effort.
"And you should use your mind at the unconscious level, even while you are using it at the conscious level."
Discover the benefits of trance with me in Athens, Greece.
Hypnotherapy deals with the sub-conscious, and those can be some murky waters to wade into.
There is lot of misinformation and exaggeration out there about the hypnotherapist’s art, with people often doubtful, fearful or fascinated.
Some are adamant that they could never be hypnotised at all (this is rare), while others simply don’t understand the mechanics by which healing work can be achieved.
Perhaps most central to the myths and rampant clichés is the image of the hypnotic induction.
The Hollywood version involves the swinging gold watch on a chain, used to lure the recipient into a zombie-like state, in which he can be duped into doing anything from biting into an onion to killing his dog.
Here at Best Self Therapy there is very limited use for raw onions or dead dogs, but states of heightened suggestibility are certainly useful, so is there anything to the watch swinging?
The answer is yes, but rarely. The whole point of induction is to help calm the chattering rational mind and let the right brain come to the fore.
Focusing the attention on one thing is a way to do this, be it eye fixation, an external sound or an internally repeated phrase.
Not everyone will achieve a deep level of receptivity with this technique however, and any hypnotherapist worthy of the name should be able to choose from at least four or five methods of induction. It would be a very small minority of hypnotherapists these days who rely on the old golden watch.
Another option would be a simple progressive relaxation, where each part of the body is addressed and given permission to “melt”.
Then there is the confusion method, whereby the therapist tries to overwhelm the conscious mind, burdening it with complex tasks or bemusing sentences until the gatekeeper is fully occupied and the door to the subconscious can be accessed.
Inductions can even be physical, as with the many street hypnotists to be seen on YouTube, combining an element of surprise and authorative hands-on direction of the client.
The key to all of this is “whatever works” One man’s meat is another man’s poison, and all that.
The induction is simply setting up the right conditions under which the actual therapy can be delivered, be it for smoking, weight loss, depression or whatever else happens to be presented.
What goes on deep down in the sub-conscious will always be something of a mystery, but a good induction should help deliver you deep into those murky waters, far below the froth and noise of the conscious mind.
•I'm here in Athens Greece to assist in just such explorations. Do say hi.
“Giving up smoking is easy – I know because I’ve done it dozens of times.”
Yes Mark Twain, many a true word is indeed said in jest.
Can there be a more useless, bemusing addiction than smoking? Food issues are something that naturally arise for almost everyone in some form at some time. Technology is ever-present and often essential. Sex and shopping are time honoured techniques for taking the worried mind off matters at hand. Many drugs will simply annihilate the status quo and leave the partaker in a state of dopey bliss or hyper alertness.
But these cigarettes…
The first time you tried the body was aghast. Tobacco smelled disgusting, it was presented in a box covered in images of black lungs, and nowadays it is less likely to evoke James Dean than pensioners standing outside a bingo hall. But puff you did, much to the shock of your body, which would have been immediately aware of constricted blood vessels, raised blood pressure, and a suddenly soaring likelihood of cancer, heart disease, and people trying to subtly avoid smelling your breath as you speak to them.
Naturally the body thought that this must be an aberration, an ill-conceived experiment to be abandoned in favour of fresh air and the ability to taste your food. But no…
For better or worse, we are not creatures of logic and rationality – otherwise the world would be a much more orderly and predictable place.
Kicking cigarettes (or indeed cigars, pipes or chewing tobacco, if that is still a thing) is no easy matter, which is why hypnotherapy can be such a blessing.
There is no one approach that can be blanketed over every smoker and every situation. Rather, a good hypnotherapist will want to know about the triggers, the places, people and situations that tend to have you reaching for the lighter.
Then, after guiding you into a state of deep relaxation where the chattering logical mind is settled down, there is the chance to uproot some of the old sub-conscious programming – the behavioural grooves that have been etched in to the mind by months or years of repetition.
What has been done can be undone, and a hypnotherapy session may take you back to the past, to reduce anxiety around an event or to remind the body of how good it can feel without the use of tobacco.
The negative aspects of inhaling such a toxic substance can be greatly emphasised and magnified, making the prospect of lighting up vastly less attractive.
The client’s own fear of the consequences can be brought to the surface, rather than suppressed, and when this fear is acknowledged it can be a powerful fuel for change.
Positive intentions can also be utilised, and these will be generated by each client, depending on their lifestyle and priorities – the job of the hypnotherapist is simply to uncover these and put them to good use.
There is much that can be used in the hypnotherapy toolbox, and as a trained kundalini yoga and meditation teacher I can also bring in some postures and meditations that will aid the process, if that is something the client wants to explore.
So don’t remain a slave to this nasty addiction any longer – get in touch with me and stub it out for good. After all, quitting smoking is easy – just ask a certain writer.
•Best Self Therapy offers Hypnotherapy, counselling and kundalini yoga meditation in Athens, Greece.