I did James’s Hypnosis Skills Bootcamp late last year, which I’d definitely recommend. (And if you’re curious to actually learn about hypnosis, rather than just read my misadventures in it, then check out the wealth of information and wisdom he freely shares online – I’ve learnt so much from him. Thank you, James!)
So – back to bootcamp… We were practising a simple eye-fixation in pairs and James suggested using present continuous tense to do a bit of guided relaxation.
This language detail made perfect sense to me. I have an abject hatred of the word ‘relax’* – it pisses me off whenever I hear it uttered for hypnotic purposes a) because I’ve yet to discover how to turn a ‘relaxed’ state on and off like a tap, and b) because one of my first instincts about hypnosis, which I now know to be true, is that relaxation isn’t a prerequisite and hence I find all that ‘relaxing’ a hoopla.
So, hearing it as a suggestion/command (“RELAX!”) has the opposite effect on me and just brings to mind Mugatu brainwashing Derek Zoolander. While hearing it as a presupposition (“you’re feeling relaxed”) merely draws attention to the fact I’m not experiencing something, which in turn can cause me to doubt the process/hypnotist.
But present continuous makes even this word more palatable. Presupposing something is unfolding in the moment is clever yet subtle – it sort of trips the brain up because, by the time you’ve wondered whether you are, indeed, ‘relaxing’, the moment has passed… By which time, a hypnotist can be linguistically leading you yet further up the garden path using a longer string of present continuous suggestions.
My partner during this exercise also inspired a thought on the kinds of ‘ing’ words that (irrational hatreds aside), perhaps, don’t work so well. He used the word ‘considering’. Now, the genius of James’s bootcamp is that you’re not rehearsing scripts and procedures – you just get to play – so my partner was simply saying whatever ‘ing’ words came to mind. But my mind immediately, well… considered this word. It struck me that it was just too left-brained, too inviting, too crunchy.
This is just the sort of detail I love about hypnotic language and language patterns. And so I spent that night after class listing present continuous words. (Yes, this is what I do for fun.)
Here is where I got to with my list. Woefully incomplete and – unhelpfully – arranged idiosyncratically: alphabetical, alliterate, to achieve phenomena, such as catalepsy, or play on meanings/implications, etc.
I’m sure language, hypnosis and NLP experts have already made far better lists, but I found it helpful to (ahem!) consider my own thoughts on each word – plus I fancy myself as the Eminem of hypnosis someday.
*Btw, does anyone share my hatred of the word ‘relax’? I feel like banishing it from my hypnotic lexicon, but maybe it’s just me… Would love your comments on this.