RSA Hypnotherapy Course

This past weekend I attended a great hypnotherapy course at the conscious healing centre in Sandton. It was presented by Arno Stadler with much assistance from Brigette Bowles.

On previous hypnotherapy courses that I have attended there I was surprised and curious to see how much energy and attention I spent deciding whether or how much to eat of the biscuits that were usually laid out with the coffee and tea.

My higher self didn’t want to eat them because they are not that healthy and I wanted to perform at my best, uncrippled by bad eating habits.

My inner child just wanted to munch them up. I saw it as a rare opportunity to get cookies. *Sarcastically* which you know is such a rare and hard to get a hold of item.

Every time it was a struggle. I would not eat them, but with regret. I would eat them, and regret it. I would compromise and feel unsatisfied.

The Saturday was the first day of the course. At the first tea break, I didn’t eat any of the biscuits. The inner dialogue went something along the lines of: ” I can eat them anytime I want, but right now I don’t want to eat them so I won’t.” How much of that was true and how much just rationalisation I do not know. A large part of the discomfort I felt was that I became unsure of what I wanted and no longer trusted myself fully.

At lunch, I did eat some of the biscuits. If I had not eaten some the mental negotiation and compromise I had would have been completely shredded. It would have been an invitation for anarchy. Having a partially satisfied inner child still allowed you to function. If your inner child was in open rebellion, good luck mate. It was around first, can throw tantrums and hates being forced. So the first day ended almost in a draw, almost in conflict. Unease was in the air of the metaphorical saloon where my subconscious played the piano with a wary eye and a six-shooter within easy reach.

The second day dawned and all the players were darting glances and shifting around nervously.  Harmony was far from view. Figuratively.

To practically show us all how it really looks to do a resource state they would demonstrate by doing a session on one of us. Somebody was getting bonus therapy. Out of the 18 people there, 5 of us were willing or eager to be the guinea-pigs. You were not allowed to vote for yourself. When the votes were counted I had seven and the nearest had six. I was getting the front row seat.

One of us did the relaxation and then Arno took over. He set up Ideomotor signalling, which is just asking me to choose fingers for yes, no and I don’t know yet. So if I am deeply relaxed and don’t want to speak I can just twitch a finger. Then he asked if I had permission and support from my subconscious. I did not. Asking we found out that I would only have support as long as I was safe.

Then he led me on a visualisation where I spoke to my inner child and hugged him. He wasn’t feeling happy. He wanted me to play more. He wanted to have fun. He could have things just because he wanted to. There was no need for him to earn it. And not having fun was a lot worse to me than the minimal effects that I would feel from eating biscuits.

After crying and to-and-fro I could take my inner child’s hand and have him follow me to play.  After the session, I ate biscuits and enjoyed them. I also asked the girl there for a kiss that I had wanted to do for some time. She said no, but I still felt so much better for asking.


Now I will tell of what happened earlier the day.

One of the  guided meditations we did as a group was one where you forgive. You forgive other people, they forgive you and you forgive yourself. Because it’s hypnosis, the forgiveness is on an emotional level instead of the mental/verbal level that we usually forgive somebody.

The experience that each of us had varied wildly. Some were more bizarre than the average dream, some were just pleasant journeys of the imagination. All of us had emotional reactions. The instructors were well prepared with tissues. Another person and I cried hard.

A short description of what the meditation was: The normal introduction to focus on the person’s voice and allow yourself to be guided. Relaxation deepener. Then imagining a place that pleases us. Finding 3 doors. Entering each. In the one all the people that you have to forgive. Another with people who forgive you. The last with a mirror where you forgive yourself.

The room with the mirror was where most of the action happened for me. I had done other meditations before where you imagine yourself during different times of your life. Eg. five years ago, next year, five years from now. I experienced/ imagined something similar that time. In the mirror, I saw many selves. three or four were of me when I was younger. Forgiving my younger selves was emotional but not overwhelming.

I also saw older versions of myself. One a young adult somewhere in his twenties. The other old(to me), maybe forty years old. Trying to forgive them was overwhelming. I cried harder and tissues aplenty were needed. The group moved on to a visualisation of absorbing a rainbow but I was still caught up in the images of myself. Leaving each room we could imagine a book with the names of those we could not yet forgive.

The collective journey was over and I opened my eyes. Tears were still seeping out and I could feel a lot left to release. People shared their experiences and there was interesting variety but I was still focussing on myself. One other person was also not yet done crying. When I got more tissues they were used instantly. Then I left the room to continue crying.

I was crying for the pain and the mistakes. I knew that despite trying my best, despite the best intentions, I would still fail. Behind the intellectual rationalising, “There are no mistakes, only feedback.”; “Failing is part of life” There would be failure. I will still fail in life. It will still be terrible. It will still hurt deeply. All the personal strength or development will not change that. If I wanted to avoid such pain I would have to also cut myself off of some of the greatest joy and deepest satisfaction that one can feel. I would be blunted emotionally. We need the contrast. A permanent upside is no upside at all. And I no longer do that.  I know that to be an adult you have to be able to cry like a child.

Despite or because of meta-cognition, trying to keep my life in the right rhythm I will still at times dance with completely the wrong rhythm. Sometimes it will go terribly. It will be okay, but still terrible. I didn’t know if the pain would be mine, caused by me, or felt for someone. There and then I just felt the pain and allowed the emotion to flow.

I also felt pain from my past. Pain that I had buried, lied about to myself or fled to distraction. I cried on my own. I was raised as a Christian and have been an atheist for a long time but I beseeched god. Not God as an omnipotent paternal Christian but god as the song of the world, the spirit and meaning of the Universe.  I asked why I had been left alone. The answer I got from myself was that I needed to learn to how to dance on my own.

I did not believe in destiny years ago, but these days I do. Even if destiny is just our unconscious actions and beliefs.

After a while which felt like the perfect amount of time, Lance and Katya came out to comfort me.  It was soothing to be held by Katya while Lance stood by. Thank you both. Knowing that we go through life with other people and that they can hold you when it hurts is worth an absolute fortune.

After a while, it faded and I no longer cried. I had accepted, mostly released and was ready to move on.  The rest of the course went without special mention.

That night I went to an event and really enjoyed connecting with the people there. I feel that the more connected and accepting I am of myself the better I connect to others.


This course was sooo beneficial for me and I am grateful and excited that I will be able to share even a fraction of the experience with others as well. The people are so supportive and I feel a kinship of spirit with them. The presenters are excellent at what they do. The venue and setup are good. It’s awesome that I can access the feeling of being on top of the world anytime or place now.

To happiness, and beyond!





Review of Zen Habits 2015

This week I did not have a book lined up to read, and neither was buying a new one really on the table. So I decided to read a whole year’s archive of a blog I occasionally read: by Leo Babauta. Here is my review.

Rating: 3-4/5 depending on the article

One sentence: Good advice and tricks on general life skills such as not procrastinating or worrying.

The themes that run through Leo’s posts are those of self-awareness, compassion, living lightly and being grateful for all the amazing things that we already have. Every moment is already perfect and we forget this by hurrying and wishing for an ideal future or regretting the past.

A constant reminder is to start small and change gradually. This is well-known and simple advice yet most people (including myself) do not heed it, and then fail. Starting small we can use that victory to change the stories that we tell ourselves. We change the stories and then our life changes as well. Frequently, reality is all right, but the stories we tell ourselves make us miserable.

During 2015 Leo attempted some challenges, invited people to join him and gave good advice on learning, fitness and health. During his Grand Travel Experiment, he attempted to work, exercise, meditate and not overeat while travelling with his family through Europe. He used a point system combined with choosing specific times when he would work first thing in the morning. This took the choice out of the matter and he did the work even when he didn’t want to.

In a post that stood out, he related good finance habits to hygiene. You don’t have to do them every day, just regularly. A few simple habits and some mindfulness are the difference between finances that worry and depress and peace of mind that underpins a positive outlook towards the future.

We can all do with more compassion. For ourselves and others. Watching ourselves we begin to realise that all the unwanted behaviour of others is just because they are hurting too, not because they are bad people. Knowing that to fail is to be human we can act from complete acceptance and love of ourselves. Because change is inevitable, and we do not need to make ourselves feel bad in the process of doing so.

His advice to fail faster was also very interesting. I had never previously considered iterating habits in 3-day cycles and reviewing after each test. I imagine that it would be very effective and give useful feedback much faster than reviewing after a week or a month. It is a lot easier to see it as an experiment if you change it every few days than when you try to maintain a specific action for weeks or months.

I never before considered why the Model T Ford was named model T and not model A. It was very interesting to read how Ford’s business partner forced him to ship, overcoming his perfectionism. The eventual result was that 5 years later the T Ford was highly influential and a landmark of automobile history. Failing faster definitely results in more learning, something that I have been neglecting in my own life.

This dive into the archives was interesting and instructive. As usual, I am left with more information than time to implement. I like the feeling of abundance that comes from knowing that I have more strategies and techniques than I know what to do with. It is enjoyable to choose one that I find the most exciting and then practising that.

Now I want to find a new source of material. The blogs I read have become stale  and familiar to my taste. I desire fresh blood and unique perspectives.

To happiness, and beyond!



May Montly Review

Total of times I did typing practise: 5

I decided mid-month that I would no longer set it as a priority. If I am not trying to do blogging as a career, it does not make sense for me to try and force myself to learn a sub-skill for blogging. I really find it strange how creativity works: weeks of nothing, and then suddenly one weekend I have more posts that I know what to do with. I find it strange to be talking about creativity, as I did not picture myself as an artist when I was younger. I also realized that I could definitely write down everything that I had learned every day, because I learn something every day. I don’t know how useful that would be for other people and I also find it hard to install the habit of writing daily.

Total of times I did the walk-through stretch for parkour: 18. Many of the days I delayed it until late and then did not get to it.

Many of the days I delayed it until late and then did not get to it. Sometimes I was in environments where I could not do it and then forgot later on.

This month I started parkour at tuks as well as seeing a physiologist. I was informed that my hips were rotated and my core unbalanced. I started doing exercises to correct it, but when I started parkour gave that priority. The parkour was extremely exhausting. I still don’t understand why coaches seem to think that you have to almost die to progress. They also do not take into account that someone who has just started is a lot less conditioned that the people who have been doing it for 6 months. Once again, it was a case of trying to do too much too soon, and I stopped.

The intense exercise of parkour so late at night completely threw off my sleep patterns. I found myself going to sleep at 11 and waking up at 8 in the morning. During the day I was eating a massive amount of peanut butter and watching Chuck instead of moving. The cold also started now and made it uncomfortable for me to walk late at night or early in the morning.

This last week I tried to overcome my habits with force, and failed. I was went through a bout of depression and felt very lonely. I was not very content at dance classes and felt ready to move on, but it gave me social contact and got me out and moving. I stopped it to start parkour, then was not able to make the transfer completely. I realized that blogging, at least in it’s current incarnation, was simply too lonely. During the day I was alone, reading and writing, and in the afternoons and evenings I did not want to do that any more, but could not see where my attention could be used productively, and pleasureably.


I will not completely abandon bloggin, but no longer try to do it as a career straight away. I will no longer force myself to write when I have no inclination to, and no longer do deliberate practise on my typing speed. I know that I would be able to turn it into a career if I so chose. The joy is in the process, and the process of blogging does not have enough social contact for me to spend most of my time on it. From now on it’s place is on the back burner.

This month of June that is coming up, I will focus my attention on memory techniques. I will start memorizing the master memory system from Tony Buzan’s book. Each week I will memorize 30 more numbers, and practise recalling them. I wanted to do 50, 10 a day, but I now know from experience that I do not get to my things every day of the week, so three out of 5 will be my target this month. Wish me luck!

To happiness, and beyond!

Review of

Rating: 5/5

One sentence: This blog creates many very interesting connections and new perspectives on old knowledge.

For the last two weeks, I have been reading a long-form blog with the tagline “experiments in refactored perception” written by Venkatesh Rao. I have gained quite a few insights and can highly recommend it. I have not read the entire blog, only the part of the archives named the Rust age that stretches from 2008-2012. Now more depth on various clusters of posts:

The Gervais Principle

The successor the Dilbert Principle, Venkatesh uses the series The Office to create a theory of management that falsifies more than half of the category. Creating three categories of people defined by how they see themselves, he also connects this with how much people buy into the cultural myths and the curse of development.

He differentiates and explains the different languages spoken such as Powertalk, Posturetalk, Straighttalk etc. This also has implications for the status game and explains why groups form and also why they split apart. This theory fits real-life data better than any other that I have come across. It isn’t even academic or unpractical so you can use it to inform your real-life status wrangling. Tip: It’s all about making sure your status is undefined, yet above a threshold level.

A Big Little Idea Called Legibility

How the desire for legibility has led to the failure of urban planning (urban sprawl), bad farming practices and ineffective government policy decisions. He applies these ideas in many of his other posts to great effect. The simplification that omits important details is a dangerous thing, especially in the blind hands of governments and large corporations.

The Art of Refactored Perception

How to think by perceiving thinking, and thinking-by-writing. How a scientific sensibility and needs to be complemented with the act of doing. He also explains why verbal cultures are not just way to memorize knowledge and the lost art of literacy. How to think like Hercule Poirot and seeking information from one data point. Also, how the hyperlink is a completely new medium and not just extended the text. Using your own processes to more densely compress reality and gain new insight.

Towards An Appreciative View of Technology

He explores glimpses of the cryptic God of technology and how technology is like nature. The massive story of container shipping and the hidden stories of our garbage also appear. He gives the outline of a less wrong story of how bronze was displaced, talks about how technology will always create more work for humans, finds the equivalent of Moore’s Law or the 19th Century and portrays fascinating insights on a future that is stable as a result of hacking. He finished with the idea of a canvas that expands faster than we can fill it and ends of the engineering and the theoretical most complicated artifact humanity can create.

Getting Ahead, Getting Along and Getting Away

This is the fundamental human condition and how these three drives (to one-up, help and escape from) shape our very being. Along the way, he makes interesting sallies such as finding your Evil Twin, bargaining by creating a story and how we can sometimes connect with strangers in ways we cannot with those we know. It’s not just text, he also has a very short picture story that touched a chord that I cannot verbalize, yet can identify deeply with. Very interesting.

The Mysteries of Money

This series proposes that the most basic lens of societies is money and all other things that find important such as markets, institutions or countries are all about money. Seeing flows of money as rivers or frozen lakes is a very effective metaphor and he also looks at how people relate to money with different metaphors. Then he dives into business including sales, marketing, the Gollumization of consumers and how Peak Attention will be our next economic boundary.

Overall, this collection of posts is dense (some requiring up to 3 passes to understand), informative, humorous (sometimes), far-reaching and mostly of better quality than many books. It is well worth the time to read this and refactor your perception on ‘most everything.

To happiness, and beyond!