Power of the Imagination

Recent studies may be showing that the mantra of "if you can imagine it, you can experience it" often used by folks who practice hypnosis or eXperiential forms of trance such as the ones I specialize in seems to not go far enough and may be giving way to a new principle that takes it to the next level of "if you can imagine it, then you are experiencing it."

Those of you familiar with the definition of experiential hypnosis advocated by the Society of Experiential Trance (http://www.trancesociety.org) know that one key component of the definition and a very important element in experiential trance is "intensified imaginative involvement" . . . this is something I push very hard in my classes and when I am doing work with actors, athletes, students, and others with performance enhancement hypnosis.

Science Daily has an excellent piece on the power of imagination being much more powerful than previously thought.  The piece, Power of Imagination is more than Just a Metaphor (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090414153527.htm) goes into an interesting study that demonstrates that simply imagining a posture may well be very similar to actually taking on the posture:

We've heard it before: "Imagine yourself passing the exam or scoring a goal and it will happen." We may roll our eyes and think that's easier said than done, but in a new study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, psychologists Christopher Davoli and Richard Abrams from Washington University suggest that the imagination may be more effective than we think in helping us reach our goals.  A group of students searched visual displays for specific letters (which were scattered among other letters serving as distractors) and identified them as quickly as possible by pressing a button. While performing this task, the students were asked to either imagine themselves holding the display monitor with both hands or with their hands behind their backs (it was emphasized that they were not to assume those poses, but just imagine them).  The results showed that simply imagining a posture may have effects that are similar to actually assuming the pose. The participants spent more time searching the display when they imagined themselves holding the monitor, compared to when they imagined themselves with their hands behind their backs. The researchers suggest that the slower rate of searching indicates a more thorough analysis of items closer to the hands. Previous research has shown that we spend more time looking at items close to our hands (items close to us are usually more important than those further away), but this is the first study suggesting that merely imagining something close to our hands will cause us to pay more attention to it.  The researchers suggest these findings indicate that our "peripersonal space" (the space around our body) can be extended into a space where an imagined posture would take us. They note there may be advantages to having this ability, such as determining if an action is realistic (e.g., "Can I reach the top shelf?") and helping us to avoid collisions. The authors conclude that the present study confirms "an idea that has long been espoused by motivational speakers, sports psychologists, and John Lennon alike: The imagination has the extraordinary capacity to shape reality."

Of course, while this is interesting work, it does not mean one no longer has to actually perform a task to gain skillsets or the like.  No, far from it.  However, it is another piece that shows the link between intensified imaginative involvement and competence or neuroexperience.  Certainly, previous studies have shown how such focused trance can be beneficial in accellerating skill development (my vicarious experiential machine hypnosis process is very useful for athletes and performers in that regard) and even cause physical change (the studies on breast enhancement and imagination follow that and have been adapted into the processes I use with clients for some rather amazing physical changes).  Of course, the same principles also tie into eXperiential processes for meditative and even recreational adaptation of trance processes (the folks taking my Walkabout Trance Beach Resort Getaway in August http://www.walkabouttrance.com will see that intensified imaginative involvement can make an excellent hook for an induction, of course, the extra day we are likely to be adding on adult recreational hypnosis to that event for those interested will show that as well and then some).

More and more we are seeing peer-reviewed studies confirm some of the principles some of us have been working with for decades.

If you're in Taipei, see my webpages at http://www.briandavidphillips.com for information on how to schedule an appointment . . . or see the products pages for DVDs and CDs.

Live Trance and Prosper,

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