Sunday, March 6, 2011

"In Tune with the Infinite"

As some of you know I am working on a few projects about Hypnosis. One of them is my film. The main theme of my film is to dispel some of the serotypes of hypnosis and to show how simple the process of hypnosis is. To understand the process, we need to understand the history of hypnosis. What I find fascinating is how our perception of this old natural phenomenon has evolved over the last….. four thousand years.

The more we learn the less mysterious hypnosis has become. Many studies and scientific models like NLP or new sciences like Memetics explain how the mind works and how we can program our minds.

Today, I would like to share with you a book I came across last night, while reading a chapter from Dr. Anne Harrington’s book The Cure Within. I plan on interviewing Dr. Harrington for my film about the history of hypnosis. So, while I am mentioning two books, the one I wish to share with you now is an old book from an author, who to my own surprise doesn’t even have a wikipedia page. His name is Ralph Waldo Trine (1866-1958). Trine was a philosopher, mystic and one of the pioneers in the area of life transforming thought. His book “In Tune with the Infinite” influenced such luminaries as: Janet Gaynor( first Academy Award Winner for best Actress in 1928), Queen Victoria and finally Henry Ford, a prominent American industrialist.

Of course, today we have heard so much about the power of positive thinking and many various books on laws of attraction, visualization - which have spawned in the last century by many different thinkers. However, it is interesting to note, this philosophy is pretty old and first began by the end of the 19th century. Ralph Waldo Trine’s book “In Tune with the Infinite” is spirituality inclined, yet still far from dogmatic or in any sense promulgating.

Trine's philosophy of positive thinking and the power of "infinite" is one of the links in the evolution chain of how we understand our mind and the phenomenon of faith healing, which is also self- hypnosis.

Here you go, enjoy the book and let me know what you think: “In Tune with the Infinite.”

Friday, November 26, 2010

Your Personal Rhythm...

My battle with the gym and exercising ended today. I am celebrating the end of war, because I resolved the conflict. I want to share this with you. Not only is my discovery enlightening; but also it is physically invigorating.

I have had a gym membership for years. I would go to gym, take classes, run the treadmill. Yet, I often felt exasperated and formed quite a bit of resistance toward gym. I would get on a treadmill and couldn’t wait for it to be over, I constantly looked at the time. I really hated it. I thought and I could even say that was possessed with the idea that I needed to exercise to loose weight and be skinny. I pushed too hard and never felt happy and so I often quit and wouldn’t go to gym for months, while I kept paying for my membership.

Today, I felt quite low on energy and thought about going to gym, but then this thought came to mind: I really don’t enjoy it anyway, why go? I then, said to myself, just go and enjoy, this time you don’t need to exercise to be skinny or to lose weight. You are exercising to move around and stay healthy. Do it slowly.

I got on a treadmill and started very slowly, just feeling my every muscle moving. Feeling my breathing. I decided I would not rush. I would not push it. I would just move slowly and feel comfortable, no matter how slow or fast I wanted to go. I simply shifted my focus to a new single idea: I exercise for my body now.

As I moved, I began to find my own rhythm, which felt comfortable to me. There were a few times that I would start pushing myself, like I did in the past and going against that newly found rhythm. When that occurred I would say to myself, “stop, just listen to your body, go long with it now.” Yes, I was slow, but that didn’t matter – my body still exercised and even more - I was beginning to feel good.

I felt the heat spreading naturally from my lower back all the way up to my shoulders, neck and into my arms. It dawned on me: even in exercising you ought to find your rhythm, which feels comfortable to you. The same rhythm you must find in life. In life, you can’t ever rush things; they come to you once you are fully in unison with the rhythm of your own self (your body, mind, thoughts- call it whatever you want, your life, your purpose, your being.)

Twenty minutes went by really fast on the treadmill today. I enjoyed it for the first time. My whole attitude has changed. I will now exercise for my body and health, the rest will come with time….

Monday, June 28, 2010

I got the right hat!!!

          Saturday night a friend texted me asking if I wanted to join him at Polo game in Governor’s Island on Sunday June 28th.  I have never seen a Polo game live, so I  readily agreed. Besides, we were invited to be in a VIP section with all the A-listers!  As much as I felt exhilarated, I was also a  bit concerned. Since the guests were invited to be in the presence of "His Royal Highness Prince Harry of Wales" they were also instructed on attire. "Gentlemen" ought to wear a "summer suit," the invitations said, and the "ladies" were challenged to sport "their most daring hat." Where in the world would I get a hat like that, I thought? It was too late to go shopping. And even so, at this point in my life I don’t think I could splurge a lot of money on a hat! I got nervous.   

       I called my best friend and told him about my dilemma. He told me to go to Harlem, find a store where they sell those voluptuous hats that black women always wear to churches. Luckily, I live in Harlem, so I didn’t have to go far! I went on the street and asked a few random women where I could find such store. After getting a few suggestions I headed to the hat store destination. I walked a few blocks to find the store was unfortunately closed. I worried more. Then suddenly as I turned to my right I saw a beautiful brown hat on a small table among many other goods a street vendor was selling. It was an elegant looking hat for the humble price of 20 dollars. There was one problem, the rim of the hat had a part  where the lining kind of got overlaid, creating a small messy spot. Well, you get what you pay for, I thought. I bought it. I had no choice. When I came home I took a thin yellow scarf and wrapped it around the head of the hat, tying a nice bow tie; which gently covered the knotty spot . I was all set for my first Polo event!

          The next day I saw so many glamorous good looking people and celebrities! His Highness Prince Harry stood right next to me when he was giving a speech about the  good causes of the charity event. It was a mixture of people with most amazing outfits, dresses and certainly very fashionable glamorous hats!

          My hat wasn’t perfect I knew it. My hat wasn’t overly expensive and glamorous, I knew that too. But, I tried not to think about it and rather enjoyed the Polo game, dinner, champagne, desserts and mingling with happy people all around.

          After the first part of the game, all the VIP’s were invited to come on to the field. My friend and I joined everyone on the grass. It was fun to stroll on the field and being a part of that special VIP world. It was different, yet it was the same.

         I turn around and next to me is  standing Gayle King (editor-at-large for O, The Oprah Magazine and the best friend of Oprah Winfrey ). She is smiling and shining brightly like a beam of light. She looks at us and says hello. We talk for a little bit, take pictures. She leaves and then turns back again and says to me “You got the right hat!”  This was by far the most exhilarating day  of the  year for me.



Saturday, March 6, 2010

Hypnosis and Pain Management: Myth or Real? ( Part I)

            I remember I used to have headaches a few years back for about a year, they were quite painful and consistent, occurring at least once a month. Even two tablets of Advil wouldn’t help me rid those headaches. After while I figured that the only way to  stop such pain would be to put a cold wet towel over my forehead, close my eyes and drift into a sleep state. As a practicing Hypnotist I of course knew the tricks of making myself fall asleep despite any distractions or even insomnia. My self-hypnosis techniques always worked. I usually would use a part of a Dave Elman Induction by visualizing the numbers from 200 going down by one, after each number I would silently within myself say the words : deeper relaxed. Before I reached 170-150 I would quite naturally and unexpectedly enter a light state of trance and eventually fall asleep. Sometimes,  I would visualize golden strings graciously pulling the pain out of my head, just drawing it further away from my physical  awareness.  Next morning I would wake up feeling great, free of any pain and totally refreshed.

            James Esdaile, a Scottish surgeon was one of the pioneers in using Hypnosis for pain control. Esdaile performed about 3000 painless surgeries while working in India. There is one twist though: at that time ( beginning of 19th century) they weren’t using the word Hypnosis. The term Hypnosis was coined a little later in 1842 by another Scottish surgeon James Braid. Before that Hypnosis was known as…. Any guesses? Mesmerism, of course. This term originated with a well known Austrian physician and faithhealer Anton Mesmer. Just bear with me readers, don’t go away. Mesmerism is somewhat different from Hypnosis and yet very much the same. What was different about mesmerism, with which Esdale was able to perform so many painless surgeries? Mesmerism worked on the power of suggestion just like Hypnosis, however it worked because patients were lead to believe as if the doctor or a surgeon possessed some special power. That in turn would induce trance in patients.  Interestingly enough both Mesmer and Esdaile also believed in their special abilities to connect with some universal healing fluid. How entrancing!

Nowadays, of course we as hypnotists do not use any of these bogus stories to put our clients to trance. There are many inductions, breathing techniques, guided visualization and imagery that hypnotists use to achieve a receptive state of mind in a client. I think this is where the power of a good hypnotist lies: in the abilities to detect limiting beliefs, formulate proper suggestions and finally to induce trance to “install” these new suggestions in one’s  subconscious mind. In other words, clinical Hypnosis has nothing to do with any special mysterious or divine power of a Hypnotist. It is just a skill, which a good hypnotist acquires with practice and knowledge. By the way anyone could learn that, it just takes years of studying and practicing.

I use Hypnosis and NLP when I work with clients to help them stop stop addictions, with success motivation, weight loss and more. Most of the time, especially with smokers, you don’t need deep levels of trance,like theta or delta ( there are four known levels: beta-wake state,alpha- heightened state of focus, theta- trance state and delta- deep trance, coma).

When working with pain management I found that inducing deeper levels of trance (theta) and lingering there a bit longer  would really benefit the reduction of pain much more. While in those states I would usually guide clients into visualization of various metaphoric healing images (like strings, or cleansing water, or beams of light). Throughout this long lasting pleasant trance I would  give them very positive suggestions and sometimes very specific instructions to remove triggers and associations with pain.


So, what exactly is so powerful about these long lasting trance states?  I will chat about that in my next post. In the meantime, I welcome any questions or comments here.






Sunday, January 3, 2010

My Two days in Sufi Camp

Last year I was shooting my documentary film Zaritsas:Russian Women in New York. I traveled to New Mexico to Sufi Camp, as I followed one of the Russian girls in my film. This is a short video of just sufi camp

From Jesus to Antichrist ( William Dafoe as an allegory)

When I heard about the movie Antichrist written and directed by Lars Von Trier about few months ago, I knew I had to see it.  
I remember being quite impressed by his dogme film The Idiots (1998) a few years back( In this film a bunch of people act out their inner idiots and walk around fooling everyone they are mentally challenged.)  
The Antichrist didn’t disappoint me either, disregarding the fact that I left the theater with a rather disturbed feeling. Even so, that feeling later turned into something enlightening.  
When I came to the IFC, I asked a ticket guy if he saw the film, he said yes and confirmed it was very horrifying, he even gave me a guide which warned the movie goers when to look away just in case; the graphical images of self-inflicted clitoridectomy, blood masturbation, pornography , dead rotten animals, diabolical photo images can be quite traumatizing.  
In brief, this is a story about a grieving couple that loses their son who accidentally tumbles out the window while they passionately make love. The couple is referred as He or She, no names. 
This film develops as She ( Charlotte Gainsburg) is grieving deeply over her lost son, filled with guilt and inability to enjoy sex anymore ( in a normal way), she also grows in anger towards herself and later to her husband. He( William Dafoe) is a patient husband and therapist who is trying to help her assuage the pain. He uses various therapeutical modalities like hypnosis, role playing and etc. Nothing seems to work, instead making her agony more intense. She becomes psychotic and violent. Graphical disgusting images visually intensify the horror of the film as we watch Her grow in immense anger. She bolts a millstone to his leg, he escapes, she finds him and tries to berry him alive. 
As a viewer I found myself filling up with anger towards that woman, something visceral inside me that wanted to tear her apart. But He continued to be patient, he wouldn’t fight her. The next morning they return to the cabin. He just lays next to her and touching her gently after all the physical pain she caused him. He looks her in the eyes and asks lovingly “ Were you trying to kill me?”  She hit him again and then neurotically cut one part of her own body. Laying near the wall in blood it looks as if this sick woman is finally dead. He opens his eyes, takes out the millstone, he grabs her by the neck, pushes to the wall and brutally suffocates her to death. At this point I experienced mixed feelings. Finally the bitch (sorry) is dead. However I was disappointed in Him. He was the kindest man till the very end of the film. I felt that He lost. He did not withstand the trial of anger. Evil won in this film through his last action.  In other words, if He had a Christ –like nature no matter how much anger She directed towards him (tortured physically and emotionally), he would have forgiven her. This is a non-violent pacifist nature of Christ. “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also.”  
My father asked me, so what would you do if you were Him? I said, well, I would tie this woman with ropes and carry her to the psychiatric ward. But, that’s easy to say for anyone who doesn’t experience the physical torture as He did in Antichrist.  
What I think is very ironic though, is that William Dafoe played Jesus Christ in The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) and 21 years later he plays a character in Antichrist (2009) who succumbs to the antichrist nature within himself when slapping the cheek of the one who struck him.   
I think this irony is an allegory whether von Trier meant it or not. This is an allegory signifying the human nature, inseparably consisting of the two opposites like in the actor William Dafoe who played two opposites in two different films. 
I wonder, what it’s like to have a character without any ego whatsoever? That’s not human I guess…or it is just a total bliss.