I have been riding motorcycles and scooters for over 47 years, but recently I have made a small but important change to my practice that has made such a difference.
I watched a few YouTube videos by Motorman and I realised, being 60, I had developed a fear of cornering, and this was detracting from my pleasure in riding. I was trying to keep the bike upright as much as possible to avoid a slide, so my tyres had huge ‘chicken strips’ on each side – unused parts of the tyre that are not being worn down by contact with the road surface. Eventually the tyres develop a square profile and feel really unstable when you do lean – the bike suddenly feels like it might throw you off as the tyre reaches the margin of the square section. Bad habits are able to be unlearned – I have proved it recently. The question was – how do I stop fearing and lean with more confidence?
The answer was incredibly simple – look where you are heading and let the bike do the leaning automatically. Looking down and seeing these steep lean angles felt really strange at first, but then I stopped looking down and focused on my exit route; the bike just went where I pointed it, regardless of lean. Essentially I stopped worrying and started to enjoy swinging round bends , rather than fearing them. I also understood that bikes can only go round bends by leaning – the handlebars stay straight for 99% of any ride – you only need to move them at slow speeds. The wheels act as gyroscopes and keep you planted in most road conditions.
My fears went back to when I first rode my BSA Bantam 47 years ago – I had come off on some ice and really hurt my leg – and pride! This fear had become hard wired into my system. To overcome it, I had to focus my attention on where I wanted to go, to not worry about the process of getting there so much.
My riding pleasure has improved dramatically as I have slowly learned to relax and enjoy the ride more – I am even beginning to enjoy leaning and cornering.
What’s all this biker stuff got to do with therapy? Letting go of fear, choosing to focus your attention on your goals, and letting the unconscious do its job of keeping you upright is what I have learned.
A simple way to understand the mind is to imagine an iceberg – the part you see is only a visible reminder that the majority of the iceberg is hidden below the waterline. This hidden part can tear open a passing ship, even though it seems to have navigated the visible part. Remember the Titanic. Much of the mind is therefore invisible, but it has great weight and power. The ocean’s currents work on the hidden part of the iceberg – our society’s pressures and demands work on the unconscious, driving us to places we may not want or desire. Advertising and propaganda work on this unconscious level, moving the individual in directions to believe messages and buy products they not want or need. I taught students media studies for 20 years and they were always amazed at how images and slogans are designed to change behaviours and perceptions. Critical autonomy is crucial to being able to understand these messages.
Hypnosis is so powerful because it bypasses the conscious and allows the client to access their hidden mind. Many clients want to lose weight, stop smoking or worrying unnecessarily. That desire comes from their conscious mind, but these drives often reside in the deeper areas of their unconscious mind. Anxiety can present in many different forms, but often an event such as parental divorce, or emotional distance in childhood can leave an adult suffering from a vague sense of being ill at ease. Being told “Clear your plate” in childhood repeatedly can leave a client with a sense of guilt when they leave food – so their unconscious minds takes over when they have a plate with good food tipped into the recycling. Grandparents often give sweets to their grandchildren – the child associates the pleasure of refined sugar with a sense of familial closeness. The unconscious is very simple – it acts to preserve the individual. Changing the way the unconscious works requires skill and time, but the essence is repetition – listening to a hypnotic suggestion day after day gradually changes the unconscious – this can easily done through an audio file at the beginning or end of the day on headphones. I offer my clients these audio files as part of their therapy and many find it very helpful.
Try hypnosis – it ‘reaches the parts other therapies cannot reach’!
We live in a very different world since the ‘pandemic’ began in March 2020. Many people are scared. Some people have not left their houses for nearly eighteen months. Anxiety about the world has increased exponentially. Anxiety is not a normal, natural or healthy state of mind.
Hypnotherapy can allow the mind to relax and begin to heal.
A best selling book called State of Fear by Laura Dodsworth documents how fear was deliberately engineered by the UK government – it is well worth reading or listening to on Audible. At some point we are all going to have to learn to live with the fact that we sometimes become ill and all of us die eventually – this is reality. To be sane requires a commitment to understanding and accepting reality.
So much in life is a balancing act. I love to ride bikes when I am not working and the need for a fine sense of balance is absolutely crucial to surviving on a motorcycle. Tiny, almost imperceptible changes in the rider’s balance can result in major changes to direction – you have to stay in a very alert state if you want to ride confidently and safely. In 2018 I rode with my wife up to the Polar Circle through France, the Netherlands, Germany and Norway. It was a fantastic ride and it was achieved through thousands of unconsciously applied adjustments to the bike’s course and speed.
One of the appeals of riding a bike is the sense of living in the moment – there is no space or time to worry, your mind is concentrated on getting just the right angle to take a bend and keep the tyres gripping, whilst maintaining balance.
Your life is also a ride, and it too requires adjustments and changes to anticipate the road ahead. Accidents can happen, but an alert, focused mind can make a huge difference to being a confident, assured rider or an injured one. What adjustments do you have to make to respond to the road ahead? Marriage, the arrival of children, a career to build, retirement, bereavement all demand we change – this process can be achieved grudgingly or with calm, open acceptance. Go with the flow and feel the changes happen automatically. Your unconscious mind has great wisdom, it will change as and when you need it to – learn to listen to the still small voice.
Returning after 2500 miles hard riding left us both with a great feeling of achievement – I learned to trust my balance and ride with assurance; my wife learned she had to trust me as well. Pillion riding requires a lot of faith!
Very often our life takes a course that seems to be hectic, busy and at times unfulfilling – when we take time out to wonder where it is heading we are left with a question mark. With some quiet time and deep meditation, the meaning of our lives becomes more apparent. When the situation permits, a visit to a retreat is always a good practice because it takes us away from the usual routines and gives us time to see the lie of the land. As you reflect in the quiet of a retreat you begin to discern patterns and paths that are not immediately obvious – comments and observations others have made suddenly come to mind and slowly awareness dawns – you begin to see why you are here and what your mission is. When you know where you are heading, it is far easier to ignore false turnings and cul-de-sacs of the mind, to jettison those things that distract and detract form your life’s purpose. Be focused, take action and know your mission.
Charles Tebbits, the great American hypnotherapy trainer and practitioner, said famously “All hypnosis is self hypnosis” When you first think about hypnosis you probably have an impression of a therapist with a goatee beard and a thick German accent asking you to look at a swinging pocket watch while you enter a trance and then come under his spell. This is a Hollywood image and it is false. When you enter a hypnotic trance you remain very much in control and cannot be made to do or say anything against your will. A good therapist will assist you to enter a trance and then make suggestions to improve your response to a situation or condition you are seeking help for. At any time you can simply wake and become fully conscious. You cannot become ‘stuck’ in a trance and you cannot be made to do or say anything. If you have seen stage hypnosis you have probably seen a very controlled and often constructed demonstration on extremely suggestible candidates. So, if you fear hypnosis, reframe it by thinking of watching a gripping film in a cinema. The lights are slowly turned down and the first scenes grip your attention. You have entered a trance. If, at the crucial moment in the plot someone shouted “FIRE!”, you would stop caring about the character or his dilemma and quickly head for the exit. You have willingly entered a trance, and have just as willingly left it! Film makers, if they are skilled in their craft, ‘entrance’ their audience, but the audience are never ‘stuck’ in the film’s plot and characters. Fear not, hypnosis is a wonderful experience that will enhance your life, giving you new insights and understanding, just as a great film will stay with you for a long time. if you have not seen “It’s A wonderful Life!” with James Stewart, please rent or buy it; by the end of the film you will know what a trance is and you’ll know how life enhancing it can be.