Interview about hypnosis

This article appeared in a Nagoya local paper called Home News recently. It is based on an interview that I did with Koichi Takizawa, a lovely fellow who I enjoyed talking to very much.

The main heading and the main thrust of the interview is that our subconscious patterns are controlling much of our life. Often, these patterns have been running in our unconscious for many years, and they are not necessarily the most useful patterns for creating happiness in our current life. Hypnosis is one useful tool that can be used to address these patterns.  If you are interested in learning more about how you can utilize hypnosis, get in touch because I will be setting up some more hypnosis training workshops soon.

If you click on the photo below, you can read the article in full, assuming that you can read Japanese of course 🙂

Storytelling in Business

One of my favourite hypnotists and storytellers is the New York based Doug O’Brien. He has a beautiful voice and a great way with words. He is also a musician and that may be one of his secrets. In one of his recent newsletters, he gave a great list of quotes about stories in business. Thanks Doug!

1.  “People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact it’s the other way around …”
Terry Pratchett, novelist

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The Zeiganik Effect and Stress Management

Bluma Wulfovna Zeigarnik was a Soviet psychologist and involved in the Vygotsky Circle. I’ve always been interested in the social learning theories of Vygotsky, and his work was quite influential on language teaching for a while way back. So I was interested when Zeigarnik’s work arose in the context of a hypnosis training that I was taking under the instructorship of Dr. Richard Harte in the United States. I was reminded of the Zeigarnik effect recently when Dr. Harte sadly passed away.

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Farewell to Dr. Richard Harte, NGH Hypnosis Trainer

I just heard the sad news that Dr. Richard Harte has passed away from a heart attack. I have fond memories of Dr. Harte training us in our Train the Trainer course at the NGH (National Guild of Hypnotists) near Boston two years ago. Dr. Harte was one of the most experienced hypnotists and psychologists that I ever had the honour of meeting, and his lessons were a great mix of technique, stories of his own experiences, and fun adventures. We had a lovely evening at the NGH convention where I pulled out my little mini travel ukelele and Dr. Harte got way into singing along with all the songs. Read More

Come Home Again

jukeboxparadiseflierIn the show, Jukebox Paradise, Deloris Keller sings the song Come Home Again. In the story, this song was a big hit during World War II and far away in the thick of the action, a wounded soldier named Fred is listening to the radio and the sound of her voice. It is this song, coming from so far away, that gives Fred the will to survive and to eventually come back home and build a new life.

The obvious meaning of the lyrics of Come Home Again is as an encouragement to the boys in the war reminding them that there is a life after the war, no matter how dark everything seems at the moment. People back at home haven’t forgotten them. They are still loved and remembered and the people back at home are still with them in their thoughts and hearts.

“My, it’s been so hard for you
You’ve been so long away
I’m not even sure how long it’s been
But I miss you every day
When you think you can’t go on
Just whisper on my name
I’ll be there, no matter where
I love you all the same.”

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First Online Self-Hypnosis Course Completed!

self-hypnosis-300x225I did my first online training over the last three weeks by running a self-hypnosis course using a web-meeting system called AnyMeeting. Naturally, we had glitches along the way in the form of audio problems and other connectivity issues. Still, the power of modern technology
never fails to amaze me. It is now possible to learn pretty much anything that you want as long as you have a decent Internet connection.

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Weight Management

Weight management is an issue that seems to be affecting an ever-larger number of people. One reason is of course the availability of cheap high-calorie food wherever we go. Making matters much worse is the incessant advertising of these products by the food industry. Everywhere we go, there seems to be food. Hypnosis has been shown in many studies to be beneficial in weight management. Ironically, one of the reasons that hypnosis is so useful is because people with weight problems have already been “hypnotized” by the food advertising and by the food culture around them. Over the years, thousands of advertisements on television, the Internet, and billboards have been sending highly-designed messages into your unconscious mind. In addition, people around you may have been eating and living in ways that didn’t support health. These messages accumulate in your mind and have a large effect on your habits. While it probably isn’t possible to change the reality of the advertisements and the people around you, what is possible is to change your reaction to these stimuli. Through your hypnosis sessions at Standing in Spirit, you can start to move forward in the right direction by changing your response to food, and step-by-step beginning to introduce healthier habits of exercise and eating into your life. Weight issues tend to have pretty deep roots and may go back a long way in your personal history, so hypnosis can be a very powerful way of dealing with them. After all, it’s your unconscious mind that takes care of both your memories and your habits. If your conscious mind could manage your weight, then you would probably have solved this issue long ago. And one of the powerful things about hypnosis is that we are able to communicate directly with your unconscious mind. If you’re on this site,you’ve probably already tried a lot of other things to manage your weight and have finally reached a point where you really want to take control–that’s a good thing. For weight management, it generally takes a few sessions to get good results and to really get things moving in the right direction. As well as the sessions, I’ll also give you some additional audios that you can listen to at home, and teach you self-hypnosis techniques that will help you to relax deeply and to develop better habits of diet and exercise. Here are the prices: Session (about 90 minutes):10,000 yen 3 Session Set: 25,000 yen 5 Session Set: 40,000 yen We can carry out the sessions in person in Nagoya city or by Skype. Please let me know if you have any questions or need any more information. All the best, Dr. Brian Cullen

Stephen Gilligan Interview

Recently, I have been learning a lot from Stephen’s Gilligan’s book, Generative Trance, and listening to his audios. In addition, I was lucky to take part in two webinars with him recently and have become very interested in his approach. Gilligan’s approach to hypnosis is highly influenced by his training with Erickson and he is well respected in the mainstream Erickson community.

Like most hypnotists, he believes that the Unconscious has much to offer in changing habits, behaviours, and in generating more fun and useful ways to live life. In traditional hypnosis, the conscious mind of the client is often considered to be in the way and standard inductions can be seen as a way of bypassing the critical faculty of the conscious mind. Even Erickson tended to talk primarily to the Unconscious mind.

Gilligan’s model is a little different. He suggests that we have three ‘minds’: A somatic mind, a cognitive mind, and a field mind. Each of these minds can be in three states of consciousness: primitive, ego, or generative. Ideally, we wish to raise all three minds to the level of generative in order to access all of our own resources. I’m not entirely convinced by Gilligan’s model and terminology, especially when he throws around words like quantum consciousness.

I’d prefer to keep the word ‘quantum’ fully in the sphere of physics until (and if) we establish that consciousness somehow does involve quantum mechanics. It may do, and certainly some have suggested (see the Wikipedia article) that quantum mechanics can explain the workings of the brain better than classical mechanics. The ideas in the Wikipedia article are disputed by many, and to me it would seem more pragmatic to leave out words like ‘quantum’ and to simply talk about levels of trance or something similar.

I’ve read through Gilligan’s book several times and continue to use his style of inductions with both myself and others. They work – I don’t really know why – and I’m continuing to try to figure things out a little better. I always find that it’s useful to have a fairly good understanding of why something works because we can then know what to change when it doesn’t work in any particular case. Additionally, when we understand what is going on, we can deliberately tweak things to make them better. I continue to learn!

And as part of that learning journey, I just came across an interesting interview with Stephen Gilligan on YouTube.


There are some lovely lines in the interview including a description of a radical younger John Grinder.

I met John Grinder who was teaching a course called Political Economy of the United States … long enough for him to espouse the radical  overthrow of the United States Government by whatever means necessary.

Grinder and Bandler had just gotten together and had written The Structure of Magic. Gregory Bateson sent them out to meet Erickson saying:

If you guys really want to know about patterns of communication, he’s the man.

Grinder and Bandler took up Gregory on his challenge and did indeed learn about the patterns of communication of Milton Erickson. They wrote about them extensively in the two-volume series: The Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques of Milton H. Erickson. This is not the most readable book, but it laid the foundation for thousands of NLP practitioners to begin to use the Milton model and to get a quick start into the techniques of effective indirect hypnosis.

When Gilligan heard about when Erickson was doing, he says that it “opened up something inside him like a fire.” This led to a period of 5 years for Gilligan learning from Milton Erickson while he simultaneously studied at Stanford University. Interestingly, he did some of his research with Ernest Hilgard who was developing standards for very traditional forms of hypnosis. Then during the holidays, Gilligan would head out to Erickson’s house and learn the much more indirect forms that Erickson was using.

One formative experience for Stephen Gilligan was a Deep Trance Identification (DTI) with Erickson which was facilitated by Grinder and Bandler. Grinder had read about DTI in hypnosis journals and had learned that artists had dropped into a deep trance and been able to learn to paint like Rembrandt or other masters. Through DTI, their artistic capacity was significantly improved. They induced a deep trance in Stephen Gilligan and led him to have a DTI experience where he ‘became’ Erickson. Gilligan says that it was a “really deep profound experience”. He particularly noticed two things:

1. When I opened my eyes, everything was quiet and it was a very different experience than I had assumed that Erickson had. Because you read all these incredibly clever strategies that his mind must have been buzzing a mile a minute with all sorts of manipulation. But what I experienced was that everything was quiet.

2. When I looked around, everybody was already in a trance and that has been one of the most important experiences. It wasn’t that I had to put them into trance. They were already there. It was a great relief to realize that hypnosis is not something you do to people. It is something that you attune to in people and you just draw it out and bring their attention to it.

Gilligan sees ‘utilization’ as the most important aspect of Ericksonian hypnosis. He also learned that ‘life is to be enjoyed’ – a message that he got strongly from Erickson. 

We’ve got this little opportunity and the meter’s running. We could waste it all worrying or trying to be something we’re not and then at the end of our life we would look back and realized what was the point.

Erickson was already old when Gilligan studied with him:

I knew him when he was an old man he had  suffered tremendously – he was in absolute pain every day – he usually had to do four or five hours of deep pain control this was a guy who in a very deep real way enjoyed life.

And when Erickson was sitting cutting vegetables for the family dinner and totally engaged in the activity, Gilligan quotes Erickson as saying “I always enjoy discovering what I can do and I take great pleasure in that.”

There’s a whole lot to be learned from Milton Erickson and the extensions of his work by Stephen Gilligan and others. I have found that it helps me into deeper states of trance than other methods. I still have no real idea how it is achieving this despite reading Gilligan’s books and notes. I could quote him further and will do so in future posts, but there is something going on that is much deeper than the words. Keep learning!

Education and Therapy

I’m always interested in learning new stuff or revisiting the same material from different sources, especially when it involves some of my favourite areas like hypnosis and NLP. Over the last few months,  I have working through the readings and assignments on the wonderful free online course by Stephen Brooks in Indirect Hypnosis. I highly recommend the course as a way of learning more. Stephen has put together what is probably the finest no-charge resource on the Internet. One thing to keep in mind though – it is time-consuming! They recommend at least three hours per week and that kind of committment over a year is obviously difficult for many folks unless they are highly motivated.

Anyway, to the point… one of the recent questions posed on the online course was the comparison of education and therapy, and I have reproduced my response below.

To what extent can education also be classed as therapy, and to what extent can therapy also be classed as education?

I have been a teacher/educator for many years and I definitely see that a lot of “therapy” work is carried out by teachers. The classroom is a social environment, and many so-called educational problems can better be viewed as social problems. For example, in my EFL language classes in Japan, students are very reluctant to give an answer for fear that they may give a wrong answer. Japanese culture does not in general support people who give wrong answers 😉 As a result, students do not develop their language skills as much as they possibly could because of group pressure. This same group-pressure leads to many other problems for people including high stress, inability to express goals externally, and much more. Things that are addressed and resolved successfully in the classroom can also have a powerful therepeutic effect on other areas of a student’s life. People live in social contexts and therapy does not exist in a vacuum.

Some forms of counseling are purely information based in that they offer the client access to information that will help them make better choices. So is this therapy, or education?

If we are changing the frame – the beliefs and values that support ‘problem behaviours’ – by giving information, then we are certainly engaging in therapy as much as education.

Recently, I have studied a lot of recent neuroscience and within the neural networks of the brain, change in the form of education or change in the form of therapy produces similar enriching effects. The neural networks can extended, the increased myelination increases the speed of certain pathways.

My current thinking is that the difference between words such as learning, growth, or change (or the roughly corresponding Education, Development, Therapy) is a difference of focus and can produce identical changes at the levels of both neurology and of behaviour.

Review: Fundamentals of Ericksonian Hypnotherapy : A 13-hour Course with the Masters

This is a fine collection of five videos (a total of 13 hours) about Ericksonian hypnosis and is  recommended for anyone who wants to take their knowledge of Ericksonian hypnosis beyond the Milton Model and to explore the richness of Ericksonian work that has not been integrated into NLP.


There is so much on these videos including inductions, accessing resources, deepening trance, utilizing trance, and so much more. I particularly enjoyed Stephen Langton and Stephen Gilligan’s sections, but it is all highly useful and I will be watching it again from the beginning.

It appears to be still available here and I have reproduced the description below from that website.

This program was presented at the Tenth International Congress on Ericksonian Approaches to Hypnosis and Psychotherapy, December 2-5, 2007, Phoenix, Arizona

Fundamental Hypnosis – Level 1
Induction Techniques
Stephen Lankton, M.S.W., DAHB

Lecture, demonstration and practice workshop go step-by-step through the phases of trance induction. Differences between well-known methods are explained.

Fundamental Hypnosis – Level 2
Ideodynamic Approaches to Therapeutic Hypnosis
Ernest Rossi, Ph.D.

Group and individual demonstrations of basic ideodynamic approaches to therapeutic hypnosis utilizing Rossi’s innovative activity-dependent work with hand signaling.

Fundamental Hypnosis – Level 3
Getting a Good Trance Going
Betty Alice Erickson, M.S., LPC

Various trance inductions are demonstrated with volunteers. Each induction is discussed with indications for its uses. Differences between formal and conversational trances are demonstrated with rationales for choosing each.

Fundamental Hypnosis – Level 4
Accessing and Contextualizing Resources in Hypnosis
Michael Yapko, Ph.D.

Erickson’s approach typically featured finding hidden personal resources and extending them into situations where they would help the client. This basic but valuable strategy is shown in a video clip of Dr. Erickson. A structured practice session follows.

Fundamental Hypnosis – Level 5
Use of the Therapist’s Self in Hypnotherapy
Stephen Gilligan, Ph.D.

This workshop describes how a therapist can join a client’s reality to hypnotically generate a “therapeutic trance” that includes both the problem and resources, as well as the client’s and the therapist’s perspectives. In this way, a therapeutic trance is one that “transcends yet includes” the client’s problem in a way that allows new freedoms and possibilities.

Review: Adventures of Anybody by Richard Bandler


This is a rather strange book, and that is probably to be expected from Richard Bandler. None of his books are what you would exactly call ‘ordinary’. This book is Bandler’s more open foray into the world of fantasy and metaphor. He says that after writing five books in quick succession, he opened up to his unconscious mind and wrote this book.

And it is best to read this with an open unconscious mind and to send your conscious mind off on a well-deserved holiday somewhere. It’s a short read at 110 pages. The story is about a prince who wants to find himself and finds himself in more ways and through more perspectives than he could ever have imagined. It’s a fun read although (probably deliberately) confusing in many places. It could be used as a bedtime story book for children or a nice break for an adult who needs to get a new perspective on the world.

The book is full of embedded metaphors, Ericksonian language patterns, and other NLP techniques. Well worth a read, and very different to most NLP-related books out there.

Review: Gerald Kein’s Beginner-Advanced Hypnosis Training

This video series by Gerald Kein (Omni Hypnosis Training Center) is an impressive hypnosis training consisting of 18 videos of about two hours each which take the viewer from basics up to a very competent level of hypnosis and its applications. The first 12 videos make up the Beginner-Intermediate section of the course. It starts from the history of hypnosis and moves into induction techniques and utilization of trance for therapeutic purposes. The remaining six videos make up the Advanced section and teach rapid/instant induction techniques, regression, addiction treatment, direct suggestion, recreational regressionand much more in great detail.

Perhaps what will be most useful to many NLP practitioners are the induction techniques which are introduced including the Dave Elman techniques. Ericksonian hypnosis primarily focuses on indirect suggestion, and the more direct techniques in this series will be of great value to many practitioners who want to induce trance more quickly, or who are working with people who are less responsive to indirect techniques.

Some of the other gems in this series are a good section on pendulum use showing how it can not just be a great hypnosis tool, but also a useful marketing tool! There is also an excellent section on self-hypnosis and how to improve your skills at entering a trance quickly.

Kein’s presentation is humourous and entertaining. He engages very well with the people on the course and his methods of creating rapport are another thing that we can learn from.  The explanations and demonstrations are extremely practical and Kein is obviously highly experienced. He tells many anecdotes about his own experiences with patients over many years while he ran a large hypnosis practice. He gets to the important points quickly and comes across as genuinely interested in getting hypnosis more widely accepted as a highly effective technique in achieving positive change in people’s lives.

I would recommend this series as a very good addition to the skill set of any NLP practitioner. NLP has been so influenced by Ericksonian hypnosis that practitioners often do not get sufficient exposure to other forms of hypnosis, especially the Dave Ellman techniques which are so powerful. The length of this course may be offputting to some, but this is all highly useful learning material. It is available from Omni Hypnosis Training Center.

Review: The NLP Practitioner DVD Collection (Tad James)

NLP Practitioner DVD Collection This 16 disk DVD set is a professionally produced video presentation of parts of Tad James seven day NLP practitioner certification program. Each DVD is about 90 minutes, so there is a huge amount of material presented, especially since it is very well edited to leave out unnecessary segments and to add in commentary by the trainers on the processes. It is available at the site.

It covers all the basic NLP processes comprehensively and effectively including sensory acuity, rapport, submodalities, and anchoring. The demonstrations with participants for each process are very smoothly carried out, and Tad James shows his long experience in training by following the script closely and only demonstrating what he explicitly intends to demonstrate.

The series also includes several DVDs on Time Line Therapy, a powerful change technique for which Tad James is probably best known. In fast-paced and effective demonstrations, the trainers use Time Line Therapy to remove negative emotions and limiting beliefs from participants. Then they take the whole group on a fast floating journey to remove any anxiety in the future. They also show how to place a future goal in the Time Line in a way that is likely to maximize its possibility of success. These are all very useful processes.

Tad James is presenting the course with his wife, Adriana James, who is equally proficient in the practice of NLP, although she is less well known than Tad. The two of them work well together throughout although some of the jokes and little stories seem somewhat contrived – presumably after being regurgitated in too many seminars. On the other hand, this huge amount of practice is very useful in the superb double inductions which feature in the hypnosis training section of the course. They are a fine team and in general come across as very genuine in their desire to empower people and to spread the useful skills of NLP.

This video series is probably most useful for people who have studied NLP elsewhere and want to get a new perspective, or of course, for people who actually took the course and want to get a review. For people who have not studied NLP before, it will certainly be useful, but the necessary lack of interactivity in a video series could give the viewer the congnitive concepts of NLP without the experiential learning that is necessary to make sense of it and to realize its true value.

For me, Tad James sometimes comes across as a little arrogrant, for example when he talks about Time Line Therapy as the greatest invention in the history of mankind, and his self-positioning as ‘the expert’ for values and metaprograms. From the demonstrations, he is clearly on top of his material and an extremely skillful user of hypnosis and NLP, so this self-promotion and self-positioning probably wasn’t necessary and in my eyes at least, actually had a negative impact.

One of the last DVDs was pretty much a commercial for the Master Practitioner program. In fact, throughout the last few DVDs, there were various references and suggestions to sign up for the Master Practitioner course. Personally, I felt that it was a little too much upselling of other products, but I’m sure that some people will be happy to get the addiitional information about the higher level material that is available.
I didn’t enjoy the Huna section so much either. While the trainers emphasize that it isn’t NLP and are careful to differentiate it, I’m not sure that it sits well with the other videos and information and techniques presented in this series.

Overall, I highly recommend this video series to people who have studied NLP elsewhere. Tad James has a strong ability to condense a subject down to its essence and to present it easily in the form of small digestible chunks.

Review: Coaching Cards

These coaching cards from Salad Ltd. are a resource that I come back to again and again. They were created by Jamie Smart who always does a very fine job of teaching NLP in his videos and other products. Previously, I have reviewed his excellent Ericksonian hypnosis cards, and this set reaches the same high quality.

These cards are mainly based around the linguistic patterns of the NLP Meta Model. The Meta Model  was the first model devised by Bandler and Grinder and it still stands at the heart of NLP as the primary tool for helping people to re-access the experiences that have become encoded in the maps in their minds, to move back from the map to the territory in orcder to eventually create richer and more useful  maps. While the Ericksonian cards aim to bring people into trance, these cards aim to chunk down, these cards aim to bring people back to reality and view it in fresh ways.

It is easy enough to learn the linguistic structures of the Meta Model, but it is only through enormous practice with a large number of examples that it is possible to get these patterns in the muscle to the extent that they flow naturally in a coaching situation. I have carried these cards on trains and planes and played with them for hours, sometimes just flicking through them as I thought of an issue in my own life, or sometimes playing card games either alone or with someone else. This is much much more fun and engaging than any other way that I have come across to learn and practice these patterns.

In addition to the cards, when you order a set from Salad, you also receive a link to a downloadable audio program in which Jamie Smart talks through the cards one by one, explaining each and giving examples taken from many different areas of life. I have often played this audio program several times in a row and it has helped me to absorb these language patterns at a much deeper level.

Salad also sells various DVD series featuring workshops by Jamie Smart and other people, and throughout the vidoes it is clear that Jamie is using the patterns effectively and congruently. I have no connection at all with Salad, but for anyone seriously interested in NLP coaching or related work, I highly recommend getting a set of these cards and a set of the Ericksonian hypnosis cards and allowing yourself the chance to have lots of fun as you take your language skills smoothly to the next level.

Review: Richard Bandler DVD: Class of a Master

There is very little that I can say about this four-DVD set by Richard Bandler, except … get your hands on them, and watch the master in action. Bandler’s inductions get better and better, and faster and faster. I’ve watched the DVDs several times now and am still learning more and more from Bandler. As well as his astonishing non-verbal hypnosis abilities, these videos also provides a huge amount of material for those interested in Bandler’s rich use of language to produce rapid change.

The DVDs are very well created with professional camera work and perfect sound throughout. The cameramen zoom in to show us fluttering eyelids and other signs of trance and we can see all of Bandler’s smooth moves. And of course, we can also hear all the jokes and crazy stories that he tells. I’ve heard people debating about whether his stories are really true or not – is he truly outrageous enough to have cruxified the guy who thought he was Jesus, or to have waved an axe at the poor schizophrenic who thought he was John the Baptist. There’s surely lots of exaggeration going on, but it doesn’t matter at all. They are all metaphors which communicate on multiple levels, to both the conscious and unconscious mind of the volunteers on the stage and to the members of the audience who may not be talked to directly but are very much talked to on the unconscious level. And of course, the audience also extends to you if you decide to go ahead and get your hands on these DVDs. Bandler changes minds, beliefs, and lives very quickly – and while he is changing your mind and your life, you’ll also enjoy listening to a man who knows how to have fun.

Each DVD deals with a theme:

Volume 1: Instant Talent
Volume 2: Inner Beauty
Volume 3: Rapid Hypnotic Inductions
Volume 4: Fantastic Futures

I had previously seen Volume 3 which was included as a free DVD with a Bandler book that I bought a few years ago. It was well worth watching again (and again and again) to see how he brought six people on stage into trance in seconds, using a variety of techniques to demonstrate the possibilities that are available to people interested in hypnosis.

The other volumes were more focused on content (development of art, development of inner beauty, and creating a fantastic future), but through them all runs the amazing language of Bandler. More than any video of him that I have seen in the past, this set shows off his ideas and techniques at a very high level.

The DVDs are available here and probably elsewhere online.

Review: Better Sleep Sooner

Better Sleep Sooner
by Aaron McLoughlin
Published by Rapid Inspired Change. Available from the publisher’s website.

As the title suggests, the purpose of this book is to help people to get a better quality of sleep in their lives. The author, Aaron McLoughlin, is from New Zealand and has worked in the field of hypnosis and NLP since 1996, experience that is clearly evident in this well-crafted book. The book offers a series of strategies over 8 chapters, and although it is quite a short read at 168 pages, McLoughlin has managed to squeeze in an awful lot of good ideas in a very clear way that will certainly help to achieve his aim of helping people to get better sleep sooner.

90% of adults experience insomnia at some point in their lives, but some get it chronically and it goes beyond being a nuisance to become a major disruption to a happy productive life. McLoughlin was a long-time member of that 90% and he draws strongly on his own personal experience in overcoming sleeplessness which he describes as follows:

The nights seemed never-ending. Lying in bed for what seemed like the entire night, fretting and worrying about sleep. Anxiety was the nightly ritual. Lying awake imagining the next day and how exhausted I would be having had no sleep. Imagining all the sleep I had missed. Horrendous anxiety feeding upon itself and generating more and more sleeplessness and intermittent feelings of depression.

If you see yourself in that description, then perhaps you need to read no further and can just go ahead and order the book, but for the sake of interest of the 10% of folks who always sleep perfectly I’ll give some more details of the book below!

Much of the book is written in rich hypnotic language and as you turn the pages, you may occasionally find yourself drifting off into a mild trance or even into that sleep that may have been eluding you until now. While this hypnotic language is present throughout, it is most obvious in the stoems which appear at the end of the chapter – texts which read like poetry and act as a way of learning the concepts of the chapter through hypnosis at an even deeper level. Here is a part of one of the stoems at the end of Chapter 2.

As I am reading
these comfortable words
that’s right…
I can continue to consider…
that the problem I have been having
is just a behaviour
which means of course
that as I continue to read effortlessly now
that’s right…
I can take a deep breath…

These stoems are an excellent way of presenting hypnotic inductions in written form. The formatting of these texts as poetry means that the reader naturally parses each line separately and gives it more time to sink in than would normally be given to prose. This style of presentation also accommodates the language of spoken hypnotic inductions including embedded suggestions, long or unfinished sentences connected by simple conjunctions, implied causatives, generalizations which must be completed appropriately by the reader, occasional non-grammatical clauses, and even clauses that appear illogical to the conscious mind yet act effectively on the unconscious mind. Stoems are by far the best way that I have seen of presenting hypnotic language on the written page, and the author has done an excellent job of using this form to reteach the material of each chapter to the unconscious mind.

After an introduction to the book in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 provides a classic NLP reframe, changing ‘insomnia’ from a nominalization back into a process – something that we do. The reader is shown that sleeplessness is not something that is being done to them, but rather something that they are doing themselves. Similarly, a reframe is used to separate identity from behaviour; the person is not an ‘insomniac’, rather they are doing something that is not helping them to sleep at an optimal level.

Chapter 3 continues in the mode of reframing and McLouglin also introduces what he calls the Fascination Principle: all symptoms can be seen as messages from the unconscious mind that we can interact with – if we maintain an open attitude of curiosity and are willing to respond appropriately to the message. It reminds me of one of my own favourite metaphors: a symptom is like a telephone call from the unconscious mind – you can let it keep ringing and annoying you, or you can listen to the message on the telephone and respond appropriately.

Chapter 4  explores emotions related to sleeplessness and notes that

Changing your mental state or perception with respect to your emotions is an important first step in resolving any emotion that may be fueling the sleeping problem.

It offers several useful techniques for gaining control of emotions including the Fascination Principle, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), Self-Hypnosis, and Rewind the Day – all of which I tried out using the instructions specified in the book and found to be highly effective. In particular, if (like me) you are not yet familiar with EFT, McLouglin’s concise but complete instructions provide a  excellent primer.

Chapter 5 is the longest chapter in the book and contains eight useful reframes including my favourite one – “sleep is not the problem, rest is the key.” This chapter also makes nice subtle use of future pacing by having the reader imagine the time 15 minutes after they wake up, feeling fully rested. This refocusing from the problem to the solution is a perfect example of the NLP outcome frame. Like so many other problems that people face, when they can move beyond the problem to visualizing the possible solution, the unconscious mind starts marshalling the resources to make that future image come into reality.

Chapter 6 brings us to the core of the book and offers some more valuable strategies as well as a long well-constructed stoem. Chapter 7 brings us back from trance and chunks right down into the concrete details of the environment and behaviours that will support good sleep patterns. Chapter 8 completes the main body of the book with several long stoems that are again well-constructed. The appendices offer some very practical instructions on carrying out EFT, self-hypnosis, and power-napping. Any of these could have been easily expanded into whole chapters, but the author has wisely chosen instead to keep the book brief and to get to the points quickly – after all that leaves more time for the reader to just relax and sleep, doesn’t it?

Better Sleep Sooner is highly recommended for people who want to improve the quality of their sleep – and who doesn’t? Even for people who already sleep very well, that lucky 10%, they are likely to find this book useful in sleeping deeper and relaxing more in their waking lives. If one thing could be added to the book, I would suggest that the stoems could be recorded and included as a CD, or even as an mp3 download from the website. However, I am certainly willing to wait for that as I head off to drift into a deep deep sleep.


©2011 by Dr. Brian Cullen