It is incredibly rare to see hypnotherapy given centre stage in a theatrical work of any kind, let alone a musical. Next month (May), the Southwark Playhouse encores one of its biggest successes of 2019, Dave Malloy’s PRELUDES, which places hypnotherapy centre-stage. I saw it. Let me tell you about it.
PRELUDES is a fascinating musical journey through the mind of composer Sergei Rachmaninoff as he struggles with writers’ block at the end of the nineteenth century. The way that he chooses to face his fears is through hypnotherapy (the use of hypnotism for therapeutic purposes), a relatively new science at that time. Hypnotherapy in various forms had existed through many centuries, but when reintroduced by Franz Mesmer earlier in the late eighteenth century it began to be regarded with more respect as a scientific therapy.
During hypnosis, the client achieves greatly heightened focus and concentration, and a dramatically enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion. The application of hypnosis as a psychotherapy tool to deal with deep rooted issues in the subconscious mind can bring about enormously positive changes. What is surprising is that even today, certain misunderstandings and misconceptions about this therapy have lingered.
Three-time Tony Award-nominated writer/composer Dave Malloy has created a deep and significant show which is not at all showy or blasé; no, this is a very thoughtful and almost meditative show. The audience I saw it with were as focussed as the clients in a therapy session, and their reactions quiet and thoughtful. The show gives no “built-in” pauses for applause except at the conclusion of each act, another highly unusual move which allows an acute maintenance of focus upon the subject throughout.
What is fascinating is that, although this is a show about a musical genius, it is principally about a human issue that we have all encountered: failure. This helps to make the show enormously relatable. We can identify elements of ourselves in Rachmaninoff’s struggle; the negativity, the doubt, the hopes, and loved ones rooting for us. Malloy has given us a very human Rachmaninoff, played expertly by Keith Ramsay.
It is dangerous when someone finds themselves dominated by a chain of thought that tells them that they are not good enough, that they don’t deserve much, and that other people look down on them or tolerate them out of politeness. When they find themselves snagging, hindering or impeding their wellbeing on memories of things they did wrong, or relationships that they didn’t get right, that is the time to seek help.
To ask you directly, reader; do you feel that you have to be a success in life just like you think someone else is -and are you consequently critical of yourself? This place in psychology is called ‘the inner Tyrant’. This was Rachmaninoff’s reality for a long period.
The show portrays the numbing state of depression and anxiety Rachmaninoff was experiencing very convincingly, climaxed at the start of the second act and skilfully performed by Norton James playing the demon in Rachmaninoff’s head. This feeling of being uncomfortable was palpable within the audience as I took time to observe my fellow theatregoers’ facial expressions of unease and discomfort. All of the actors gave highly-committed performances, with Rebecca Caine playing Dahl the hypnotist giving a solid and compassionate portrayal, conducting the sessions calmly whilst effectively supporting and reframing Rachmaninoff‘s state of mind and beliefs about the earlier traumatic event in his career.
Let’s not forget the superb quality of cast here. Caine’s operatically trained voice is superb, as is the sweetness and purity of the voice of Georgia Louise. Ramsay masterfully ranges across the emotions and vocal registers as Rachmaninoff. The whole, complex, highly-detailed score comes fully to life under Jordan Li-Smith’s responsive musical direction.
Talking to several audience members after the show, as well as being delighted to have seen such a mould-breaking show, several said that they almost felt that they had undergone a sort of therapy too. And as mentioned before, the intriguing thing about the show is that it deals with failure- allowing the audience to share in some degree of their own catharsis as a valuable by-product of seeing the show.
PRELUDES is a brilliant piece of theatre which helps people understand the immense value of hypnotherapy – both historically, and today in helping millions of people live happier and more fulfilled lives, less burdened by the past and more energised by the future.
Of course, hypnotherapy – along with all branches of therapy – has evolved dramatically over the last century. In the therapy I offer, RTT (Rapid Transformational Therapy), I use a pioneering combination of four therapies – hypnosis, NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and psychotherapy – to deliver extraordinary, permanent change from physical, emotional and psychological pain by reframing my clients’ beliefs, habits and emotions that lie deep in their subconscious mind. This gives each client immense value – and it gives me enormous satisfaction to help them.
PRELUDES will play as a concert performance for a short set of live-streamed performances online on May 7 and 8, performed by the excellent original cast as seen at Southwark Playhouse in 2019. PRELUDES is an exceptional piece of theatre, and an utterly engrossing love letter to the power of hypnotherapy and music. I urge you to see it if you can. Tickets are only £15 and the livestream can be viewed anywhere in the world (please note that all times mentioned regarding the livestreams are GMT).
You can find more about the show via this link here
If this show prompts you to think about the potential value of hypnotherapy in your own life, please feel free to get in touch, and we can discuss it, free and with no obligation.
Can you recall a time when you have eaten in a state of anger? When someone has upset or annoyed you, or something hasn’t gone well? Perhaps you have suffered some kind of loss or defeat? Angry eating is a response to the feeling of anger. When you’re feeling anger that means that you are feeling hurt. It is important to address that anger, otherwise you will be storing it up. That will affect how you relate to others - and to yourself.
If you eat while experiencing feelings of anger, even the way you eat can be angry - you’ll favour crunchy foods like crisps and raw vegetables – anything that makes use of your jaws - experiencing the sound of your biting - you like the violence of the jaw action as you bite heavily into these foods. This is just a response to hurt, you use those mechanisms to soothe it. But the thing is, when you don’t heal your hurt you are more likely to hurt yourself - and others.
So what can you do to help yourself in the moment? In the short-term, you can help yourself by being aware of your feelings and emotions. Are you eating in a peaceful or relaxed mindset? Or are you eating to soothe some underlying issues? Eating in order to soothe your emotional state is likely to lead to putting on weight because you aren’t dealing with the emotion, so you’re eating to pacify it – and so you’ll need more food as the short-term soothing subsides. And the danger here is that you’ll keep repeating this cycle, because by now your mind has made it familiar- and the mind sticks to what is familiar. *
It helps to try to be in the moment, be in the present. I like the quote of Lao Tzu who said “If you’re depressed you are in the past, If you’re anxious you’re in the future and if you’re at peace you’re in the present”. So awareness is one key. When you are aware of your emotional state you can deal with the feelings more effectively. A good way of mastering awareness is to practice mindfulness. When you are eating, monitor how you’re feeling – you can do this quietly, focussing on yourself; ask yourself “how am I feeling?” - anxious, angry, sad, joyful - whatever you’re feeling, acknowledge it. If you are experiencing anger or anxiety, can you do something about it before or while you’re eating? You have maybe an hour’s lunch, and you have an issue that is in the forefront of your mind. Can you do anything about that issue at that precise moment? Most probably not. So as an alternative, can you try asking your mind to postpone dealing with whatever it is until after your lunch and not eating while that is sitting in the forefront of your mind.
Whatever action you take, bring awareness to the fore. And then you’ll come up with a strategy. “OK this is my lunch hour, I‘ve got an hour (or whatever), I’m going to devote this time to focusing on my eating and the food itself”. And a good thing to do is to eat slowly, thoughtfully, savouring the flavour in every mouthful that you take. The habit of eating can so easily fall into a mechanical routine whereby we engage our mind in other thoughts and distractions, to the point where sometimes we hardly even notice what we are putting in our mouths. How many times have you eaten lunch with a hundred and one things on your mind and by the time you realise that you’re eating, you’ve finished! Can you even remember what you had?
If your habit has become to take your meals quickly, in one bite, chewing it once or twice and swallowing it, you’re denying yourself so much of the pleasure of food. But now with mindful eating you can slow things down - you bite, you chew it ten (or more) times now, you experience the flavours for longer, and then you ingest it. It’s going to be strange at first, yes, because it’s not familiar to you yet, but the more you practice the more you are in the moment and therefore present, then the more likely you are to be increasingly at peace and relaxed. If you want to you can reinforce that mindful state of eating with affirmations like “I am putting the best and tastiest food into my body because I deserve the best”, “I am supplying my body and mind with quality, nutritious food that will enable me to function at my best”, and “This is my way of looking after myself by giving my body useful nutrients that it can use to make me feel better, work better and enjoy my life more”.
When you are focused on being more relaxed and rested and well fed, you’ll have more space for creativity. Because anger depletes the blood supply to your brain. And if the blood supply to your brain is diminished because of that feeling, you won’t have the capacity to enable the creativity to sort out the problem because your main priority is to get out of the situation - to run, to fight, to do whatever you need to do, body-wise. So from the anger you will get a rush of adrenaline and a rush of cortisol which is compelling you to move – to get up and out of your chair. But the thing is that so often we don’t – we feel angry, upset, but we are sitting with that flood of stress hormones in the body and they don’t go anywhere and they don’t get used, which is very bad for us.
These hormones and chemicals have to go somewhere - so where do they go? They go into your stomach, your gut, your lungs, your heart. They go into places you don’t want them to go because they’re not designed to go there and stay there; these are fast-creation chemicals, designed to be fast-released. That’s their purpose. So by creating unused chemicals you can get stomach cramps, they might go to your heart and constrict your heart, they can even go to your brain and cause you all types of different problems. The adrenaline is created specifically for the purpose of reacting to your anger - a certain amount of stress is good to have, yes, it propels you to do something - but you do have to do something. And when you use that energy, then it gets dissipated, but when you are sitting with it and you do nothing, your body will let you know. We can forgive others, we can forgive ourselves, but our nervous system does not forgive us – indeed, it cannot, because it has created these on-demand chemicals and it cannot un-make them.
The brain is saying “hold on, I’m flooding your body with stress hormones, yet you’re not moving. So I’m going to direct those chemicals somewhere else”. And only you know where you feel them. Only you know where in stressful situations which parts of your body will get affected. For some people it’s in their lungs, others their back, others their gut or throat.
So the best way to help yourself is through awareness, mindfulness, meditation. Walk or sit in nature if you can – even a window onto an outside space can be a valuable way to change your viewpoint. If it’s a sunny day go outside and look at nature while eating your lunch. If it’s a bad weather day, find a relaxing, calm or quiet space and pop some relaxing music on your headphones while you eat. While you’re eating avoid social media, the news, negativity of any sort. When your awareness is already telling you that you’re in a negative or stressed state of mind, the best way to help yourself is to do something opposite- or at least different and positive. Mindful breathing techniques can also be enormously helpful in encouraging a more positive mental environment.
So by applying mindfulness techniques you can substantially calm your mind before eating. This will allow you to enjoy your food more, digest it better, and hopefully help you to go into your day with a more positive attitude.
Enjoy your meal!
*Our brain wishes to move us from a place of pain to a place of pleasure - and food is one of the easiest options at our disposal. For those of you who feel you may be in this cycle, this can feel uncomfortable. However, this isn’t the only possible outcome. When RTT enables you to identify the root cause of the issue you don’t need those amounts of food to overcome the pain that you are suffering. Because the root has been eliminated. RTT can go to the root cause of your anger- what caused you to be like that, because until you solve it subconsciously, you haven’t solved it at all.
We can talk about issues consciously but you’re not dealing with them, you’re just talking about them. For anyone who would like to discuss any issues around eating, please book a Free Discovery Call where we can talk over what's troubling you, and you can discover how RTT can help you eliminate it.
Here's a video for all you amazing people out there who may be a little self-conscious about Valentine's Day!
The great news is that I'm here to remind you that the best friend and soulmate you could ever find is looking back at you in the mirror!
Please share this video with your friends who may find it useful and uplifting!
Sending you all wishes for a happy INDEPENDENT Valentine's Day!
Hugs, Juan Carlos.
You can watch the video here
Can you see what’s wrong with this statement? “I was made redundant”
Redundancy is a difficult subject to address, but right now it’s a fact of life for so many people, so it is important to know that there are things that you can do to help yourself through the turbulence of redundancy.
Recently a LinkedIn article asked if the stigma attached to redundancy was reducing as time went by, and the general consensus seemed to be that it was - 75% said yes and 25% said no.
However, that wasn’t what made me so concerned. What genuinely shocked me was the replies that came in- and there were hundreds of them. So many contained the words “I was made redundant” that I felt compelled to respond.
What was so interesting was that while the respondents were talking about redundancy, they themselves were falling into the classic trap of “owning” the redundancy itself. Which reminds us how powerful are the words we use about ourselves.
Although we all understand that a person is referring to their job and not themselves, the fact that so many people still say “I was made redundant” suggests a tangled emotional ownership which is unhelpful and needs to be resolved before they can move on positively. It’s so important to remember that redundancy happens to jobs, not people.
The use of the term “I was made redundant”, as opposed to the more accurate “My job was made redundant” also reminds us all that too often we feel defined by our jobs, when we are clearly so much more.
If someone is still attached to their old job when, frankly, it is time to put that job down and focus on the job-search ahead, then that job-search, their outlook and their energy levels will often be hampered. We have to “dis-own” redundancy in order to stop it “owning” us.
It is perfectly understandable that many (perhaps most) people need to go through a grieving process for the “loss” of an integral part of their working life. Thankfully, many good employers have helpful programs in place to help with the emotional and practical aspects of redundancy; however, each person must play their own part in mentally “releasing themselves” from their old job before they can search for their new one.
They can help themselves to do this by mentally closing a life chapter, reminding themselves of their major strengths and achievements (to be captured for their CV), and then focus their energies on looking forward to their next challenge with optimism. If there is anger at the loss, then that must also be dealt with before the person can move on.
If you find that your job is being made redundant, whether right now or recently, my heartfelt thoughts are with you (it has happened in our house twice already). You are not alone.
You can really help yourself by reframing your vocabulary and beliefs - this can bring positive benefits to your job-search and your feelings about the future. While no one is under any illusions about how hard jobsearch can be, especially in the current Covid climate, it’s often much less stressful with a positive attitude, a well-written CV and friends, ex-colleagues and family rooting for you.
May I sincerely wish everyone job-searching right now success in finding the next role in their careers.
© Juan Carlos Gouveia 2021
Hello everyone and a very Happy New Year to You all!
This is the time of year when many of us mark the arrival of a new year by planning out all the improvements we are going to make, the bad habits we are going to change and our goals for the coming months. It's certainly a good thing to do; but what concerns me is that so many people write their lists at the start of the year....only to find their lists are exactly the same as last year's. So what goes wrong? What aren't we doing to help ourselves?
Take a look at the video to find out more....
Juan Carlos is a therapist and author with over 22 years' experience as a diagnostic scientist.
All blog entries are Copyright ©2019-2021 Juan Carlos Gouveia, except quotations and where stated.