My friend Jim Fallon gave a lecture at hypnosis conference and provided his views on the relationships between hypnosis and shamanic journeying. He kindly sent me his notes from the lecture and has allowed me to reprint them here. As a hypnotist and an Huna practitioner, I am mindful of the links between these two approaches to change and development. Shamanic practitioners and hypnotists work at the level of making suggestions and changing beliefs.
I like the links that Jim has made. In Huna terms, there could be considered relationships between hypnosis and working in the lower world (Milu), middle world (Kahiki) and upper worlds (Lanikeha) soul loss and soul retrieval (Huakai I ka po) and time travel techniques. I am publishing Jim’s writing in its entirety as I think it makes many fascinating points.
Relationships of Hypnosis to Shamanic Journeying by Jim Fallon
The three inner worlds of the shaman, are the three aspects of consciousness shamans deal with. We deal with them as subconscious, conscious, and superconscious. Shamans call this journeying “going to nonlocal realities”, and Hypnosis calls it trance.
“Standard hypnosis” is where the hypnotist relaxes the body and has the client visualize going down, either going down a stairway, going down the side of a mountain, going down an elevator, etc, counting backward, and then suggestions are given to enhance creative imagination to address the clients’ concerns. This is very similar to Shamanic journeying to the Lower Worlds. In this journeying, the shaman either goes down into the earth, either through a cave or goes down into the earth through an opening of a tree, to arrive at the lower world.
The Lower world, which relates to brainwave states of theta and delta, is used for recovering lost power, healing, soul retrieval. It is where the personification of your belief systems occur. It is the subconscious.
It relates to areas of deep trance. Theta is one of the more elusive and extraordinary brain states you can explore. It is also known as the twilight state which you normally only experience fleetingly upon waking or drifting off to sleep. Theta is the brain state where the magic happens in the crucible of your own neurological activity. But for most, being able to enter the dreamlike theta state without falling asleep takes meditation practice.
Delta waves are the slowest of all five brainwave frequencies and range between 0-4 Hz. Slow Wave Sleep or SWS, is the deepest of sleep states and it plays a vital role in health and well being. Delta is a healing state, a detached awareness state. Theta is a meditation state, a state of intuition, and memory, some refer to as deep trance.
Journeying to the middle worlds is very similar to the type of hypnosis Dr. Milton H. Erickson used, some call conversational hypnosis, through ‘special linguistic circumstances’ ( like talk stories). These “guided creative imagination visualizations”, or hypnotic language patterns encourage us to ‘invent’ or daydream in our imagination what we were trying to address.
There are no suggestions of relaxing, although they can be used, and there are no hypnotic deepeners used, like counting down backward from 10 to 1. Milton Erickson often told stories to help his patients re-frame problems and accept suggestions.
Stories and fairy tales have a special ability to engage our minds. When you read or hear a particularly good story, you naturally visualize what the words describe. You see in your mind’s eye the people, the places, and the action described. It is the same as journeying. The middle world, is most like this outer world of the present, or being in the present, and is used for making changes in this outer world, and relates to brainwave states of Alpha, and waking hypnosis. It relates to the conscious. The Alpha state is an intensely pleasurable and relaxed state of consciousness essential to stress reduction and high levels of creativity. It is simply like creative visualization.
This journeying to the upper world in Shamanism is using ideas like climbing up a rope into the clouds, climbing up a tree, going up in an elevator, floating up and going through a hole in the sky, climbing up to the top of a mountain…many different ways. The purpose of the upper world journey is to get a different perspective on something using your “higher” mind, more creative mind.
The hypnotic equivalent to the upper world journey is called hyperempiria, and is used to enhance creativity. It is the opposite of the “standard ” type of hypnosis or counting backward. In hyperempiria, one count in ascending numerical order, say from 1 to 10. It also uses concepts of going up the side of a mountain or going upward rather than downward, counting upwards as one is ascending, and when reaching the top, it then uses very vivid imaginative role-enactment.
The use of hypnotism to enhance creativity is called hyperempiria. The technique was created by Don Gibbons. The upper world is where the “gods, angels and spirit guides” dwelled, and shamans go there for divination journeys and inspiration. It relates to the superconscious. It relates to Gamma waves are the fastest of the brainwave frequencies and signify the highest state of focus possible. They are associated with peak concentration and the brain’s optimal frequency for cognitive functioning. Nobel prize-winning scientist, Sir Francis Crick believes that the 40Hz frequency may be the key to the act of cognition.
Shamans used this state of going to the upper worlds for higher learning, inspiration, and focus. It relates to Hyperiemperia.
The art of crafting hypnotic storytelling suggestions to elicit sensory experience is called ‘hyperempiria’. The name is derived from ‘hyper’, meaning enhanced, and ’empiria’, referring to experience. Hyperempiria, uses alertness and increased responsiveness and sensitivity to bring a higher consciousness in which a person’s creative abilities are brought to a higher level, as in Shamanic journeying to the upper world. It uses intense sensory experience and is sometimes called alert hypnosis.
Other similarities of Hypnosis and Shamanic techniques:
Soul Loss & Soul Retrieval (age regression and Parts therapy)
Parts of your soul can “split off” or “fragment” and go to other realms so that your physical body can survive a trauma or loss. With a fragment of your soul gone, you can suffer a physical, psychological or spiritual loss of power.
The idea of Soul Retrieval is to make contact with a lost fragment and reintroduce it to your soul so your totality can heal and thrive. According to Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., shaman see these soul parts as beings that we can engage and speak to … and heal … and rescue.
Soul loss can occur as a result of trauma. When a child is abused or traumatized, a fragment of their soul breaks off and returns to the archetypal domain of the “Great Mother” for protection her real mother cannot provide.
Symptoms of soul loss frequently manifest as feelings of being fragmented, of not being all there; blocked memory or a sudden onset of apathy or listlessness, or a lack of joy in life; the inability to feel love for others or receive love from another, often resulting in a sense of being emotionally flat-lined. The loss of these parts of the self-manifests frequently as despair, as suicidal tendencies and/or addictions, or most often — depression.”
Lots of information on Parts therapy is based on the concept that our personality is composed of a number of various parts. Our personality parts are aspects of the subconscious, each with their respective jobs or functions of the inner mind. In other words, we tend to wear many different hats as we walk through the path of life.
A major force in Parts Theory is based on the work of Paul Fedem’s theory of Ego Parts.
The mind can be thought of as made up of sub-parts, and problems can be resolved by working with individual parts.
John Bradshaw practices his own version. He facilitates a group exercise where he encourages his clients to meditate with inner imagery and to love the inner child. He then takes his clients through all the “developmental stages” to find out whether the needs were met in each stage. Suggestions for positive change are given to each stage (or part of the inner child). Now. look at the definitions for Soul Retrieval and Parts Therapy…they are very similar.
The idea here is that everything you feel goes back to a cause—something that happened earlier in this life. The memory banks of your subconscious mind contain a memory of everything that has ever happened to you during your life. A safe and powerful age regression allows you to retrieve past memories to learn the cause of any effect—positive or negative.
Some believe that ninety-five percent of all human problems began in a past experience. Relationship conflicts, phobias, excessive weight, success blocks, and fears such as a fear of commitment or intimacy are just a few of the common problems which can often be resolved with age regression therapy. Even when a problem appears to relate to present-day abuse or conflicts, it is usually the ongoing effect of something that began in another phase of the person’s lifetime.
Age regression takes one back to the cause, to observe the event that set the effect into motion. After you understand the cause, the hypnotist can then direct you up into an overview and invoke therapeutic releasing techniques. Again, similar to Parts therapy and soul retrieval. Some science behind this? Yes.
Current data shows at least 70% of all visits to a primary care are functional disorders. The problems are functional because, despite a lack of perceptible testing data, the body’s functioning is disrupted.
A functional Disorder is a physical disorder in which the symptoms have no known or detectable organic basis but are believed to be the result of psychological factors such as emotional conflicts or stress. Also called functional disease. So if you have a problem in your mind (doctors call it hypochondria), which is located throughout the entire body, you then also have a problem in your body. This is the key to the mind-body connection, and also the work of Dr. Candace Pert (neuropeptides). Disease occurs when there is a psychic or psychological state of tension that holds the imbalance for an extended period of time with a fair degree of intensity. The problem is the fact that unless the “client” changes their thinking, the energy can quickly dissipate or cause other issues. Hypnosis allows for the required thinking change or attitude change. This gives the client something to change their healing patterns. Unless the thinking pattern is changed, the condition often returns no matter what technique is used.
That’s the connection between the mind and the body. What your mind perceives leads to chemical releases from the brain, or what Dr. Pert called neuropeptides. These chemicals directly strengthen or weaken the immune system, because there is a known and undisputed connection between your mind’s thinking, and how your body reacts to what your mind is thinking. When we release neuropeptides through, or as a result of, our perceptions, these chemicals can increase the number of white blood cells and the number of healthy T-cells., and influence the body’s functioning. With hypnosis your changing mind states which in turn then generate related neuropeptides. A good question here is that if one is regressed prior to the cause of a disease, will that trigger related neuropeptides to help in healing the current present-day condition? Experiments have been done to prove this has an effect …the mind-body connection.
If you accept that the world is what you think it is, consciously and subconsciously, then it only makes sense to work on changing your beliefs for the better in order to have a better life. After all, we are really talking about your subjective experience of the world, not some imagined objective world. Like it or not, subjective reality is all you’re going to get. A fascinating implication of this is that your subjective experience itself will tell you clearly how well you are doing in the thinking department. Life will be good to the degree that your thinking is good. You can’t hide from your beliefs.
If there are no limits, then the universe is infinite. Some scientists like to speculate about multiple universes and even multiple infinities, but they are just playing with words. “Universe” means the whole thing, and “infinite” means, well, infinite. The idea of an infinite universe implies that all of it is everywhere and every-when, which implies that every part of it is infinite. And that implies that you are, too. Which finally implies that you are always encountering yourself, in some guise or another. So it makes sense to be kind to your neighbor because your neighbor is yourself.
To say that energy flows where attention goes implies that the effect of sustained attention, conscious or subconscious, is to give power to the object of attention. Dwell on sickness and sickness will increase in your life; dwell on happiness and you will have more of it; focus on lack and the lack will be more evident; focus on abundance and abundance will abound. Of course, if your focus is mixed, you will get mixed results. It doesn’t take a lot of smarts to figure out that it pays to pay attention to your attention.
If now really is the moment of power, then every moment is an opportunity to change your life for the better, which is what everyone is trying to do anyway. In any moment unfettered by past or future considerations change can happen instantaneously. The most interesting thing about that is that when the mind or the body has such an opportunity they automatically move toward peace and happiness as if ethics were already built in.
If you define love as the behavior of being happy with someone or something, then increasing your loving is a practical thing to do, if you want to be happy. The ancient wise ones who developed these ideas noted the curious fact that happiness increases as happiness increases, meaning that you have to spread it around to keep it going. This kind of happiness does not imply a giddy, carefree, positive band-aid kind of happiness. As you practice love, you increase love and happiness for all concerned.
If all power comes from within, an idea that logically follows from the second principle, then everything has the same source of power. The difference lies in the manner and skill with which it is applied. However, there is an aspect of power that is frequently overlooked. Power is the ability to use power to empower. Hydroelectric power comes from the power of falling water to empower machines to generate electricity. Political power comes from the power of a society to empower individuals to give orders or pass legislation. Power has no single beginning or ending or source. It keeps changing focus. As more people become aware of their power to empower, they will naturally give it more careful consideration.
If effectiveness is used as the measure of truth, which is often the case in our daily lives in some areas and not in others, then the feedback from our experience will easily guide us toward more effective behavior. This idea is a concept of goodness, rightness, or appropriateness. As used in the ancient culture it meant the greatest good for the greatest number, not as defined by some arbitrary rules, but by the actual experience of success, prosperity, health, and happiness. In this sense, then, the truth of your actions will be demonstrated by the results as they are experienced by all involved.
Future progression:( Destiny retrieval )
A standard technique is that the hypnotist will guide you through a time tunnel, say four months into the future to explore the state of this time period. Questions might be, “What is happening of importance at this time? You will try to explore into the future to explore what is happening in your life— how you and doing in this time.
The hypnotist may ask you questions about what you find in the future. “What changes do you need to make in response to what is come?” “When do you need to act?”.
The general technique is to project into a future timeline where the desired end result of a goal is or has already been achieved, to travel seeing the days become weeks, the weeks becoming months, and the months becoming years. In shamanism, this is called a divination journey, in some types of shamanism, it is called shapeshifting, or dream weaving.