Breathing Through Conflict

It happens to all of us. Some situation in which we find ourselves seems to spiral out of control, with tensions and emotional energy increasing in intensity. Perhaps you're in a meeting, and conflict arises. Maybe you're working on a project and suddenly there's a problem going on. Or maybe you've found a mistake on your grocery receipt and the customer service staff do not want to help you.

If you've been learning and applying NLP for any length of time, you've probably learned about rapport. One of the techniques for gaining and maintaining rapport is to notice and match the breathing rate of the person with whom you wish to be in rapport. But what happens when the situation is changing so rapidly that anything short of instant rapport will not suffice? What if there are multiple players with whom it's difficult to gain rapport? What if you're dealing with someone who seems to always take the opposite direction to which you're trying to lead?

One tactic I would suggest is simply "holding the center".  Nothing too mystical here - just watch your own breathing and maintain it. Keep it nice and slow and easy. As you breathe, you might notice that it slows down on its own slightly and some of the tension in your mind and body can be let go. Your own stress levels diminish, and you are more able to see the way out of your situation.

Check your posture - tension in the shoulders, back, and neck can aggravate a tense situation and might even encourage you to escalate the conflict rather than tone things down.

An image I like to use is standing in the center of the hurricane. The thing is, you're not an island that's stationary and about to be pummeled by the other side of the eye. No, you are a moving column that has your own spin, and by being flexible yet holding fast to the center of all that stormy activity, perhaps you can slow the winds over time and diminish the conflict. The winds are calm in the eye of the storm. Breathe and maintain that calm. Perhaps rapport can come after that.

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Learning Drill for Ericksonian Hypnotic Language Patterns

I mentioned some time back that I purchased a deck of Jamie Smart's Ericksonian Hypnosis Playing Cards. What an awesome tool for learning hypnotic language patterns! Like drinking games, you can incorporate hypnotic language patterns in virtually any card game to help internalize those patterns in your speech.

Here's a simple drill you can start using now, even if you don't particularly like card games:

1) Every morning, shuffle the deck and draw 1, 2, or 3 cards.
2) Repeat a few examples of each to yourself so you can hear yourself using them.
3) Those are your patterns for the day - make sure you weave them in your conversations throughout the day. Don't worry about having a goal in mind, or implanting suggestions in anyone's mind. This is practice, so just get natural at using those patterns!

If you pay attention to the things people say around you every day, you'll notice that certain people have their own way of phrasing things habitually.  Making Erickson's patterns part of your habitual language will result in lining your everyday speech up with one of the most persuasive communicators in recent history.

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Can Hypnosis Be Used to Steal?

There's no doubt that there are plenty of scam artists out there that can use skills like cold reading and basic persuasive techniques to get money out of their mark.  But in this news story, a shop keeper claims he was put into a hypnotic trance wherein the perpetrators then used mind control to make him give them $1000!

It would be great if that surveillance tape had audio of how this supposedly transpired.

Check out the story and see what you can make of this:

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Hypnosis Podcast: Hypnosis Downloads Podcast

The podcast produced by Mark Tyrell of so far contains short samples of particular hypnosis recordings that he has produced for download. The library of downloadable hypnosis mp3s available on is quite diverse - Mr. Tyrell must be a very busy man with all of these downloads he's done, and he continues to make more and more!

I could get in to the content of his recordings, but it's not necessary because I am linking to his podcast which contains samples, so you can hear for yourself and determine if his style of hypnosis suits you or not. In my limited experience with his stuff, I would say that it's good quality and the recordings I have tried do contain solid hypnotic technique. Audio quality is excellent and his tonality is very well suited to the task at hand.

Check out the HypnosisDownloads podcast so you can judge for yourself. The most recent post as of this writing is a write-up about speed reading and there is a preview of a hypnosis session attached.

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Hypnosis and Children - We Do It All The Time

Hypnosis and Beyond has a nice post about hypnosis and children. Sometimes in hypnotherapy training you're cautioned about using hypnosis with children, and of course caution is a good thing in all cases - make sure the parent is there, tape the session, etc.

But what are some of the ways that our hypnotic skills are useful in our daily encounters with young human beings? Children are learning machines! They are, consciously or unconsciously, modeling every behavior they see and hear, especially from adults. This brings to mind a great billboard I saw over the weekend. It has a picture of a little girl on it, with the text (paraphrasing): "Every time you yell at your spouse, she learns a lesson."   

Hopefully we, as adults, are conscious of the messages we are putting out when we're around children. They may notice things about our behaviors that we ourselves don't realize, just as though we were being modeled by an NLP expert.

One of the many ways that hypnosis happens with children on a daily basis is storytelling. I don't know if you have realized it yet, but storytelling is something hypnotists can do very well. And stories can carry unconscious messages, whether we know it or not. As you tell stories, to children or to adults, you might become more aware of the messages you're embedding in the stories, and whether your nonverbal behaviors are congruent with those messages... or not.

So, to boil this down to a nice list, here are just a few areas I propose might involve hypnotic communication with children, in nearly any context:

  • Stories
  • A mother's touch
  • Your tonality when speaking to and around children
  • Rhythm
  • Nursery rhymes
  • Television programming
  • Religious services (if you want your kids to take it seriously, you better take it seriously)
  • Metaphors and similes
  • Everything you do or say around kids

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Hypnosis and Breast Cancer

You've heard the media reports, and probably seen countless blog posts about the beneficial outcomes from using hypnosis as a pre-surgery treatment in breast cancery surgery. Here's one more - but what makes this one different is that it points to the actual researcher's article. It's been said about the media to deduct 50 IQ points when the topic is religion. I would extend that to science and especially hypnosis as well.  Here are the report's conclusions:

Conclusions: Hypnosis was superior to attention control regarding propofol and lidocaine use; pain, nausea, fatigue, discomfort, and emotional upset at discharge; and institutional cost. Overall, the present data support the use of hypnosis with breast cancer surgery patients.

Catch the article itself here, on the web site.

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The Benefits of Future Pacing

In anybody's beginning hypnosis training course, one of the topics that will come up is the use of hypnotic triggers. Related to NLP anchoring, hypnotic triggers allow you to access your hypnotic effects and outcomes by using a simple action such as touching your elbow or squeezing your thumb. This action is "anchored" to your trance state, or if you're using classical hypnosis language, it "triggers" your posthypnotic suggestions into effect.

But the problem is, what if you forget to use your triggers when you need them?  Do you need a trigger for remembering your triggers?

This is where the concept of future pacing comes in. Future pacing is essentially the process of rehearsing the use of your new behaviors at some future time, while you're still in trance. By doing this rehearsal, you can become comfortable with the new behaviors and at the same time, you're effectively anchoring the situation itself as the trigger for the desired behavior.  This eliminates the need to consciously fire off triggers on yourself or on others and allows you to move through life with your enhanced behaviors effortlessly.

Don't forget to remember to build a good 4-tuple, using all of the senses, when you future pace. See what you'll see, hear what you'll hear, feel what you'll feel, and smell/taste what you will when you're performing so well that you surprise and amaze yourself!

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Ericksonian Hypnosis Playing Cards

It seems like a long time ago that Jamie Smart began selling his Ericksonian Hypnosis Cards. At first, he launched them with a deep discount, which typifies his excellent customer service. And yet, I resisted the urge. Neither the small price nor the time commitmennt to play with them were in my budget at the time.

And many moons have passed, with Jamie Smart developing more decks like Irresistable Influence and I believe an NLP deck. And still I had not bought.

But last week, my wife mentioned offhand that I hadn't bought myself any small treats lately. I brushed it off at the time, but she was right. Such a treat was in the budget last week so I went on Amazon to make my purchase.  The Ericksonian Hypnosis Cards arrived within days....

...Let me say first that I shy away from playing card games because I tend not to do too well with them. I probably just don't get enough practice. Now that I have flipped through the language patterns on this deck of cards, I can't wait to engage my wife and my friends in hypnotic card games!

The cards themselves seem to be of high quality and come in a durable plastic carrying case, not a cheap cardboard box that will fall apart within weeks. Each card is a typical playing card, but in the place of artwork you'll find printed one of Milton Erickson's famous hypnotic language patterns and a slew of examples. Game play seems to be similar to drinking games - modify any card game as though it were a drinking game, but instead of drinking, read a hypnotic language pattern. It's so simple, learning through play, that I can't wait to try it.

Perhaps a game of hypnotic solitaire is in order this afternoon.

I'll be doing some play testing with Jamie's "Hypnotic Slapjack" and other modified card games, and I intend to develop some of my own learning drills with the cards. I'll be posting them here when I do.

Once again,  Good work, Salad!

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Cuba Teaches Medical Hypnosis to Panamanians

By way of the International Herald Tribune, the government media agency AIN reports that 80 Panamanians have completed training in medical hypnosis, offered by the Higher Institute of Medical Sciences in Cuba.

Due to a shortage of conventional medicine in Cuba, attention has turned toward various alternative therapies. While I personally would not recommend replacing conventional medicines with hypnosis, they appear to be using it to treat various ailments like bronchial asthma, stress, sexual dysfunction and "some types of skin diseases", all of which might actually be aggravated by stress which could be helped by hypnotherapy.

A very short news item, light on details, but it's interesting to see hypnosis being taught across international borders like this.

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Hypnosis and Catholic Christianity

Jimmy Akin, a well-known Catholic apologist who holds the 2005 award for Best Apologetics Blog, today wrote a pretty good overview of the morality and safety of undergoing hypnosis from a Catholic point of view. Well, it's on a Catholic apologetics blog (an excellent one, at that), but really this can apply to any form of Christianity.

While he has reservations over whether altered states of consciousness even exist (he's actually pretty accurate in mentioning that hypnosis isn't too different from any other relaxed, focused state), he addresses the common fear of demonic exposure when he lays it out about as straightforward as I've ever heard it said:

On it's face, there's nothing supernatural about any of this, and that would make me wary of claims that one is opening oneself to the demonic.

I tend to take whether someone is open or closed to the demonic at face value: You're not inviting demons to influence you unless you're inviting demons to influence you. Since there is nothing overtly demonic about hypnosis (e.g., each hypnotic session does not begin with a prayer to a demon) there is no overt invitation to demons to influence you through it.

I'll add my two cents by addressing the new age hypnotists. Anyone who's been reading this blog knows that I'm advocating a highly ethical hypnosis practice that takes great care to keep clear of any religious or new age philosophy. No sane person would willfully invoke evil when doing hypnosis, but well-meaning new age folk will oftentimes slip in content that will convey their worldview to the client. They may not even realize they are doing it, but recall how powerful presuppositions can be!

Or on the flip side, a hypnotist from one of the more well-known religions might presuppose something that's so contrary to the worldview of the client, that the client won't even go into trance.

If you're confused by what I'm saying, go and review Richard Bandler and especially John Grinder when they write about the ins and outs of content-free hypnosis. Off the top of my head, I believe John Grinder's Whispering in the Wind goes into some depth on this matter of getting out of the clients way as much as possible.

Back to the Jimmy Akin topic- yes, classical hypnosis can be quite safe when practiced ethically, but do choose your hypnotist carefully. Certifications and medical degrees are not necessarily an assurance at this point; the best approach is to get a feel for the kind of person they are by checking references and discussing any concerns you have up front. And of course, you can affirm to your self, perhaps by using a self-hypnosis technique on your own, that your unconscious knows best what suggestions are ecological for you and which to discard as irrelevant.

Update: Jimmy has a follow-up post about the moral implications of hypnosis for Catholics here.

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