Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Happy Holiday Hypnosis (Hurrah!)

One of the things I love about Christmastime is getting together with extended family at my sister's house. It's the one time of year that my siblings are all together, along with my nieces and nephew. Throw into the mix cousins, their spouses, a handful of dear friends, and of course...a couple truly awesome 2nd cousins who are also brilliant hypnosis subjects. Presto. All the ingredients for a perfect holiday get-together.

Last year at Christmas I was still studying hypnosis under the ingenious Nathan Thomas through the International Association of Teenage Hypnotists. At that family Christmas gathering, amidst all the food and fun, I first hypnotized my cousin Patty's remarkable son Brandon and my cousin Joe's wonderful son Caleb. Both of them, being very bright and cheerful young men, proved to be excellent subjects. But this year was the first year I had arrived to the party as an official Certified Hypnotist. We's was gonna haves us some fun.

Now, we had fun with our hypnosis session last year, make no mistake, but due to the actions of our junior town criers, my nephew Bobby and Caleb's little brother Ethan, racing through the house screaming, "Uncle Brain's HYPno-tizing people! Come SEE!!!" we drew an unexpected audience that put an unintentional damper on things. Having a cluster of relatives and curious passersby crowding the room and staring, a few shouting out unwelcome suggestions, the littlest ones giggling as if they've been sucking down ten-gallon vats of nitrous oxide, and an overexcited mom snapping pictures can all quickly drain the spontaneity from the room and make even the most brilliant subject tense and unresponsive. This year I planned on it being different.

Now, before I go on to describe my holiday hypnosis sessions, there's something else you must know. Thrilled as I was to share my good news with the family that I had passed my certification exam with flying colors, after the initial glow of pride and congratulations were shared, I quickly became the butt of many good-natured jokes and prods. Busting chops is an essential part of any show of family affection, and an Irish Catholic family like mine, perhaps a bit more so. My cousin Mike, an accomplished athlete as well as a medical professional, led the charge with some "probing questions" and as often as not had us all laughing. I happily played the straight man and answered without scorn or derision. ("No, I can't hypnotize your dislocated vertebrae to go back into place.") When Mike asked me "What if the subject is just a hopeless nutcase beyond the help of hypnosis, what do you do then?" I smiled and told him I'd guide the subject to the nearest phone book and help him look up a good doctor.

When our festive banter had died down, I was eager to have some hypno-fun with my 2nd cousins. Knowing that the younger boys would be hovering around waiting to pounce the moment I drifted toward my intended subjects, I devised a plan. I first approached Caleb, pretending to talk to him about something else (the youngsters were on us in a heartbeat, What are you doing? Are you hypnotizing yet? What's going on??), but I discreetly told my cousin's son to wait for me to leave the room, count to 20, and then follow me. It worked like a charm. Since we did not depart together, the little kids were none the wiser. Caleb and I found an empty room in the large house and had no end of fun.

I introduced Caleb to instant induction, which he took to like a fish to water. He face-planted into a spongy contour pillow upon the soft bed and seemed to love it there. We had fun with name amnesia, and I graciously gave him the name Marshmellow Fluff for a while (there was an incredible dessert tray in the kitchen that was clearly still on my mind) and later I gave him his "real" name back and he was glad to once again call himself Chocolatey Goodness (did I mention the dessert tray?). As Caleb realized the silly name was not truly his but could refer to himself as nothing else, he got to see me turn invisible and make a teddy bear seem to dance about on its own. Caleb himself found he could teleport from one spot in the room to another as I erased his memory of walking the distance to and from. At one point Caleb found his face stuck fast to the soft pillow, something he didn't seem to mind at all.

An approaching winter storm cut our visit short. The 90-minute car ride home would have to begin immediately if we were to avoid the blizzard. I quickly brought Caleb back to the waking world and removed all triggers, but he was left feeling fantastic and with a bright smile on his face to prove it. I hurriedly sought out my other subject Brandon, and gave a very speedy example of ZAP hypnosis, putting him under in less than a second. One of the younger kids was on hand for that, and seeing Brandon's fluttering eyelids and gently swaying form, the little one declared, "He's faking! He's not really asleep!" I told the lad that no, Brandon was not actually asleep, and that no one was controlling him. But because Brandon was so smart, he'd respond wonderfully. Which of course he did. I left the freckle-faced and handsome Brandon energized and feeling great. We both wished we'd had more time.

As coats were thrown back on and boots jumped into, I made my rounds and said my rushed goodbyes. Various cousins, Mike included, sat on the couch before the big-screen TV and wished us a safe trip, with a few jokes about my newly-certified skills thrown in. I looked at Caleb seated on the end of the couch and said to him, "Wanna show 'em what we can do?" My prize subject just smiled and nodded. With a quick arm pull and a command of "Sleep!", Caleb was out like a light, head flopped onto a thick comforter and body limp as a rag doll. Suddenly all jokes were forgotten. As I rested a gentle hand atop my 2nd cousin's head, suggesting how relaxed he was and how good he'd feel, questions came in surprised whispers, "Is he faking that?" "Is that for real?" "Holy cow, he's really under!"

I left Caleb with an extra burst of positive energy and even an added plus that all the food he chose to eat the rest of the evening would taste even better than it already did. Shared hugs and kisses were peppered with new remarks, along the lines of "Can you use that to help with migraines?", "I so need to relax at work!", and "I have this friend who wants to quit smoking." As I left, I was smiling as broadly as before, but this time for altogether different reasons.

Like I said, I love Christmas with the family.

Blessings to all,

[Photos shown above: My charming and delightful 2nd cousin Caleb, shown BEFORE and DURING hypnosis. We need to do this more than once a year!]

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Modern Hypnotist's Worst Enemy

Motivational speaker and self-help guru Tony Robbins once made a wisecrack to the effect that he couldn't understand why so many people spent exorbitant amounts of money to go through hypnotherapy and be put into trance. To Tony Robbins, the big challenge was getting people out of trance.

To no small extent, the good Mr. Robbins is right. As anyone with even a modicum of understanding about hypnosis knows, we put ourselves into trance(s) every single day. We have trained ourselves rigorously--intentionally or otherwise--to respond to all manner of triggers which cause us to fade in and fade out on cue all day long. Be it the sound of our alarm clock, a particular voice familiar to us, or a visual indicator, we can pop into trance instantly and experience changes in our behavior, conditioned responses, and a host of other things due to our personal trance-inducing triggers.

Young people especially are susceptible to self-hypnosis triggers and are guilty of continually reinforcing, if not clinging to one, repeatedly. I am speaking of what I consider to be the bane of the modern hypnotist's existence:

Cell phones.

I don't think there is an instrument large enough to measure my loathing of cell phones. Many's a time when what would have been an otherwise successful hypnosis session was ruined by those ringing, singing, buzzing, and vibrating little bastards of technology. One very responsive subject of 22 sat for fifteen minutes on the couch across from me fielding call after call on his little pocket telephone. It was doing what we of old once called "ringing off the hook". That is, if the damnable little device had a hook. When I insisted he shut it off so we could proceed, he assured me, "I'll turn the ringer off." He then spent an additional twenty minutes responding to text messages. GAH!!

I once had a rather brilliant young man of 18 deep in trance, flopped over in a comfy chair like a rag doll, breathing deeply and receiving and accepting my commands. Then his cell phone rang. Instantly--and I do mean instantly--he sprang upright, fully awake, eyes wide and totally alert, body stiff. Out of nowhere he had his wretched cell phone in his hand, up to his ear, saying, "Hello?" I had never seen anything like it. I have helped people quit smoking, stick to their diets, improve their exercise regimen. I have turned intelligent men into yapping puppy dogs, made pals cluck like chickens, and had subjects think the rubber farm boots I stuck them in were magic enough to make them dance around the room as if they were at a barn dance. Yet I have never induced anyone to respond so promptly, so completely, so irresistibly, as when a god-cursed cell phone goes off.

After that incident, the session was pretty much over. I had the lad set his phone down on the coffee table, and although he did, it held his entire concentration. He glanced back at it 17 times in the course of one minute. Yes, I counted. I urged him to put his focus back on what we were doing, but he responded with a babbled, "Yeah, but my friend said she was gonna call me and let me know about this thing and I don't want to be under when she does, 'cause then I might miss it and we really—" He went on for a few minutes, not even remotely aware of the fact that I could've put him under with chloroform and he'd still most likely spring to his feet wide awake if his cell rang.

Another subject, 19, and brilliantly responsive, cannot even get into trance if he has his cell phone with him. He suggested we try some ZAP hypnosis while he waited on a friend, saying we had "about 25 minutes". ZAP hypnosis induces trance in less than one second. I figured we had time. I figured wrong. He kept referring to his phone, pulling it out of his pocket, putting it back, setting it down, picking it up, all to double-check to see if he'd somehow mysteriously missed his call. It was maddening! And this subject, who can usually be put under by nothing more than a snap of the fingers and the suggestion to "Sleep", could have been yanked around the room then by consecutive arm pulls and still never gone under.

Don't get me wrong, I know what it's like to be young and self-programmed with my own trance responses. In the summer of 1984, when the movie Ghostbusters hit the silver screen, it was impossible to flip on the radio without hearing its theme song being hollered out by Ray Parker Jr. For whatever reason, I loved that song and no matter what I was doing when it came on, I always stopped to get up and dance. I even had my own moves and routines worked out (yeah, I was a geek). Well, imagine my surprise when one evening, after a long day of school, my paper route, time with friends, and whatnot, I collapsed on my bed and fell asleep with the radio playing...only to find myself being shaken awake not long after, and coming to my senses to find myself, alone, dancing in the middle of the room because the Ghostbusters theme had come on. Sound asleep (read: in trance state) and dead to the world, I still got up and danced when I heard my trigger.

But this cell phone business takes things to a degree well beyond throwing yourself into a favorite Top 40 hit. Telling a young subject to leave the cell phone off, or worse yet, in the car, is not unlike telling a terminal kidney patient that you need them to leave their dialysis machine in the next room for a couple of hours. Plus, the phones seem to breed tremendous impatience, particularly with the young ladies. I had one subject under for a session, and he was among those whose phone buzzed or vibrated in excess of fifty times a minute. Not knowing how to deactivate the darn thing myself, once my subject was under I buried his phone under a mound of pillows. During our hypnosis time, I heard the damned thing buzzing away, but thankfully my subject did not. After our ten-minute session was over, I returned his phone and he was in awe to find that he had missed six calls. I am not making this up. I am not exaggerating. Six calls. All from his impatient, overbearing girlfriend. She was coming to pick him up, and kept calling to both let my subject know she was en route and also to verify the correct address. By the time he dialed her back, she was in a fit of pique, swearing a blue streak, and already back on the expressway heading toward the next county at high speed. "If you're going to ignore my calls and not even bother to get back to me, you can just go to hell!"

Our hypnosis session had lasted, please recall, only ten minutes. The snotty and inconsiderate girlfriend's half dozen cell phone calls spanned a time frame of less than four. All within the last five minutes of my subject's trance.

So take the advice of a frustrated hypnotist and leave the cell phone behind if you are going to be hypnotized. It will enrich your experience immeasurably and allow you to fully enjoy the wonder and joy that comes of an uninterrupted session of hypnosis. Please free yourself of the distraction. Turn the thing off, put it away, leave it in the car, or better yet, leave it at home. Otherwise, I will be more than happy to put you under deeply, slip you into a pair of huge, heavy-soled boots, and make you dance to your heart's content to the strains of Ghostbusters. With the miserable little cursed cell phone placed beneath your heels.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Interview with professional hypnotist RICH WILSON!

HypnoBriz Blog Interview with HYPNORICH!
Professional Stage Hypnotist Rich Wilson

Rich Wilson is a professional hypnotist who works both as a performer and entertainer and also offers his expertise in hypnosis to others through therapeutic means. I am very fortunate to have him here for this, the very first HypnoBriz blogspot interview.

BRIZ: First of all, Rich, two things: Thanks a gazillion for agreeing to do this interview. I truly appreciate it! Next, I must ask- How do you know Nathan Thomas, young hypnosis genius from New Zealand and my teacher?
RICH: Briz, first, let me thank you for including me in your fabulous blog that I believe will grow and grow within the hypnosis community. Like many, I began to learn about Nathan Thomas through his first few videos on YouTube …I was amazed at his incredible diligence and his creative interest in hypnosis and more importantly, his desire to share his knowledge on the subject. We began a casual correspondence over the internet that, I believe, has become a good friendship between two people who continually desire to build hypnosis into a well respected procedure that more and more people will turn to for a very natural way to improve their lives. Nathan has a long life ahead of him in hypnosis and I am looking forward to what he has to offer.

BRIZ: Hey, thanks! I appreciate that. I also found Nathan online—reading his emphasis on ethics told me he was the teacher I wanted to learn from. Back to you, on the main page of your web site, http://www.hypnorich.com/, there is a great shot of you smiling brightly behind three zonked-out tranced young people. Beneath the legend "Hypnotized!" we find a lovely gal with her hair flopped everywhere and two adorable young men—with their shirts off! Did they come up on stage like that (as in an outdoor summer show) or did you get these poor guys to strip off their shirts? What did you get these kids to do? Tell me the story. (I also noted in one of your video clips, HypnoRich - Movie Scene, one lad has no shirt and his shoes are in his lap. Related situation?)

RICH: The young people you see in that picture did not come up undressed, it was a high school event and most young men come up dressed in t-shirts so it isn’t much of a change. Sometime during that evening I suggested that the young men were male dancers and remarkably, they tend to shed their shirts without a suggestion from me! Now, the movie scene came sometime after the “skit” I previously mentioned. The shoe or sneaker on his lap was no doubt from a routine where I suggest that they hear their shoe ringing like a telephone and in return they take off their shoe and begin talking or shouting at the person they believe is on the other end. It is comical to the audiences just because of the absurdity of the situation. Quite innocent for those volunteers really.

BRIZ: It's true that happy subjects can really throw themselves into an imagined role.
How did you get started doing hypnosis? What was your age at the time, and what fueled your interest?
RICH: Well, I have been a professional entertainer for the last 33 years. As a singer, I have worked everywhere from Las Vegas to Atlantic City and many places in between. I continue to sing as a profession but I truly prefer to do hypnosis shows these days. As far as how and when I got started doing hypnosis, I recall being in Memphis, Tennessee one evening and experiencing an actual hypnosis show for the very first time and I was blown away but thought it was a trick. I thought at that time that it would be cool to do such a show but left it there and didn’t think much about it after that. Several years later I began to have some problems with my voice and was told to back off but still required surgery. While contemplating the surgery, I wondered what else this full-time entertainer would do if I couldn’t sing again …and a bell went off! I immediately thought back to that night I saw the hypnosis show and began doing some investigation into what hypnosis was all about. I don’t think I am saying anything new for anyone who has an interest in hypnosis …I was hooked and it became a passion. I just couldn’t get enough information about hypnosis and hypnosis showmanship …I still dig into everything I can find. I finally became a stage hypnotist at the age of 39.

BRIZ: Excellent back-story, Rich! One thing I find quite noteworthy and of particular interest to me as a man of faith, is that you declare yourself quite openly as a "Christian Hypnotist". I practice strictly by a Code Of Ethics, as taught by Nathan Thomas, but how does being a Christian Hypnotist differ from that?

RICH: A few years back I was on stage doing a show and after the show I was approached by a woman who began to reprimand me about being a hypnotist and how I was doing the work of the Devil and that if I studied the Bible I would realize that I was practicing “black magic”! Wow …I was really taken back by this and although I was a Christian, I had to come-back, no answer for the woman except …I’m just an entertainer and what I did was entertain people. I have had a few of these people hit me with similar protests but have since learned a few ways of handling them. I know Nathan’s “Code Of Ethics” and agree with most of it but more importantly, I believe that I am hired to step out on that stage and give the audience a good, fun, and clean show without seriously offending people. Let’s face it, no matter how good you try to be…someone out there will take offense to “something” you do on stage. I follow through my night knowing that people want to laugh at how the volunteers react to my suggestions and the volunteers themselves want to have fun, show off and experience something special. Treating others well …in ways that I would like to be treated is the Christian way of living and very much falls in line to an “ethical” procedure. I have actually had fellow Christians tell me that they felt more comfortable knowing they had a fellow Christian doing hypnosis with them.

BRIZ: Some stage hypnotists will change their program depending on the venue. A family-friendly show will be given at a high school, but move on to university, a pub, or a nightclub and it can get very raunchy. Do you alter your act, or use the same humor for everyone?
RICH: I will tell you that “raunchy” is NOT part of my show. Yes, some routines I do might be better designed for an adult audience rather than a high school aged group. I do not feel that I even have to really consider changing my routines for adults but, adults will take some suggestions differently than someone who is much younger. I think once a performer goes “raunchy” he ruins his opportunity to be hired for a younger audience in the future. Honestly, as a father of four children, I would not feel comfortable knowing that some hypnotist who just did a sexually oriented show elsewhere would soon be attempting to entertain my child in school. There is really no need to go raunchy if you are creative enough. Although, I have been called upon to do explicit shows by club owners but I have always turned them down. I am proud to say the money did not sway me.

BRIZ: Good for you. That is good to hear. We can see far too many hypnotists online who seem to focus their talent on the lowest common denominator. I have never hypnotized any more than two people at once. In the Media section of your site, we can see what looks like literally two dozen subjects on stage—even more in your videos. How many people have you hypnotized at once—largest number? What do you feel are the limits to putting under larger groups, if any? Do you prefer to work with a lot of subjects or just a few, and why? (Sorry, this is becoming much like an essay exam, isn't it?)
RICH: I love exams! Indeed I have had some pretty large groups on stage and to be honest, it’s not always the greatest of situations to put yourself into. Let me explain. The average school stage is more wide than deep so, you always have to be concerned about the safety of everyone on that stage ..at all times. Whenever I do a show I know that there are many people who want the opportunity to experience hypnosis and I am not one for letting people down. After my pre-talk, which is only a few minutes in length, I then tell my audience that anyone …anyone who is interested in experiencing hypnosis is welcome to come up on stage ….needless to say …people, many people charge the stage. One evening we had 74 students on stage and we kept 62 or 63. Yes! They all went into hypnosis! I was floored myself. This eventually turned into more of a headache because you only have so many chairs to start off with and only so much room on the stage floor for people to sit or lie down and it soon became a serious issue as to which routines I could use because of safety issues. I certainly didn’t want someone falling off of the stage and getting hurt. I know of some hypnotists who have worked arenas and have “claimed” to have hypnotized thousands at one show but these claims are hard to prove. I mean, did this guy go through every seat and aisle and count who actually went into hypnosis? The best is to work with 28-22 people for me …you can keep an eye on your volunteers and still keep some kind of order and flow to the show for those in the audience.

BRIZ: You really do love exams, don't you? Is there a key to hypnotizing large groups of people? What is your approach or method to that? You mentioned that you use a pretalk--what do you say? In short, how do you do it??
RICH: This will sound like something you’ve heard or read over and over again but a pre-talk is so important to a show. I believe it is my most important key to hypnotizing anyone. Get rid of the fears and most will fall into place. One other really important factor is expectancy. If your audience is “expecting” to see a hypnosis show, they are more likely to ready themselves and build themselves up for it. Once we were hired for three shows at a resort and no one told the guest what type of show they were going to see on that first night …they had no idea and it really didn’t go over as well as the resort expected it to. The next day they really pushed it and we hung posters around and the next two shows went really well! Expectancy ….let them know what they are coming for and let them get excited about it. My pre-talk is very general …I explain what hypnosis is and is not. I eliminate a few misconceptions about hypnosis and do one or two “suggestibility exercises”. Notice I said “exercises” and not “test” …no one wants to possibly fail a test so I tell them they are exercises. Then I welcome volunteers to the stage.

BRIZ: That is a clever use of word choice. I like it! I may use that myself. Some subjects stand out in our minds, be it through wonderful reaction, powerful imagination, or ideal responses. Have you ever had a subject really perform well and make your show even more fun than planned?
RICH: You know, as corny as it sounds, they all seem to stand out. I say that because no matter how many times I get out there and go through my induction, I am completely amazed at those who go into hypnosis and perform. It is truly amazing to see how wonderful the human mind is. Once I had a student at a college who was told he had
x-ray vision like Superman ….well, he was enjoying the view until he realized his own grandmother was right in front of him! His reaction was about as funny as any thing I had ever seen.

BRIZ: Man, I would have loved to have seen that! Have you ever had a subject not respond as you had hoped or intended—be it through very limited responses or perhaps a bad reaction? What do you do in that situation, particularly during a show with an audience watching?
RICH: I don’t know of any hypnotists out there who hasn’t been in this situation before. One of the best things about my pre-talk is that I cover this by saying that some individuals just prefer to be totally relaxed and others will grab hold of just about any suggestion and run with it. Usually, if I do have this situation arise, I just turn to the audience and say, “I guess he/she just doesn’t like that suggestion”….and I move on.

BRIZ: Good call. Could you share your personal philosophy on hypnosis and how you use it to help and entertain others? What does hypnosis mean to you?
RICH: When I first started, it (hypnosis) meant another way for me to entertain people but after I began to see what good hypnosis can do for people …what remarkable things can be accomplished with hypnosis …well, my entire outlook changed. I have actually experienced things through hypnosis that few doctors or psychiatrists could have ever imagined. To me, hypnosis is a very rare opportunity to connect with and help others in a very natural and extraordinary way.

BRIZ: That's beautiful. I appreciate you sharing that. I am beginning to add advertisements and promotions from reputable people on my blog. If you have any products or services to promote, or a banner for your programs, may I include them on my page here?
RICH: Absolutely! Although I am in the process of reworking my site…I would certainly appreciate the plugs. My very best to your continued success and if I can help in any way …just drop me a line.

Will do! And thanks again so much for a wonderful interview!

Once I master all this ad-posting stuff, blog visitors can look forward to finding all they could want from the good Rich Wilson with only a mouse click. In the meantime, please do visit the following sites for all your Rich Wilson, HypnoRich needs!



In the meantime, enjoy the video clips included below of Rich's fine work!