Whether it was from early traumatic imprinting or subconscious learning from parental cues, I grew up with some very unproductive phobias and limiting beliefs. After my yearning to be an astronaut faded, I was drawn to psychiatry so I could help people with their strange problems, espionage so I could discover useful secrets, and upon being exposed to PET and Apple computers in 3rd grade, computer programmer as the logical language thrilled my mathematic mind.
How did that all turn out? I’m an acupuncturist who helps people with strange problems, programs computers a bit, and researches techniques to empower myself and those I work with to live longer, happier, more intelligent lives. I suppose my dream goal is world peace, which can only happen by increasing intelligence, freedom, and health through sustainable sciences.
On one level I don’t care too much if I die without leaving a legacy of useful appreciation in the wider human society, but on the other hand, if I can inspire just one person to put together their own puzzle pieces to reach earlier liberation from whatever mental or physical misery traps they’ve managed to get caught in, it is worth it to spend the time reaching out with my stories and ideas.
Yesterday at a Mayday party out at Sharon and Robert Chinook’s Aerie (40 acres on the edge of the Bald Eagle nesting grounds of Bear Valley) where a large organic garden plot was being dedicated as a co-project with the Dragonfly Transitions youth program, I was happy to spend some time with John Bailey, local hypnotherapist, Aikido instructor and gemcutter, which spurred me to think of writing about these trails of my history.
It was December 1998 and I had just returned to Portland, Oregon after living in Taiwan for about a year and a half. I had graduated from the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine in 1997 and decided that it was my best chance to live abroad before starting my clinical practice, now I was back and ready to start my clinical practice. I fired up the old phone modem and netsleuthed around the areas of Oregon I was interested in. Ashland, Medford, Grants Pass, and Klamath Falls all held some appeal for size and location, but my preference to avoid I-5 made Klamath Falls stand out. Please realize the popular internet was still a baby then. It still seemed weird to see a web address on the side of a bus or box. I was searching for martial arts schools in Klamath Falls to gauge the state of the community for the Eastern Arts and that’s where I met John Bailey of Drifting Sands Aikido Studio. We e-mailed, talked on the phone, and he was generous enough to hook me up with a place to stay with one of his students, Andy Lakey, when I visited town.
In addition to our shared appreciation of sensible self-defense arts like Jeet Kune Do and keeping your doors locked, John and I had plenty to discuss in the about hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming, which is a controversial offshoot of several therapy styles from the 1970′s. Please don’t take my personal experiences with NLP as a glowing review of the whole field or community (on the contrary, I no longer have respect or interest in NLP). However, if you’re close to Southern Oregon and would like help reprogramming some of your beliefs and aligning your priorities to your highest goals, I can recommend spending some time with John. If you are suicidal, bipolar, or on prescription brain meds, I’d steer you towards Dr. Sharon Melnick, M.D., an excellent psychiatrist who also does some acupuncture. If you know how to focus your own mind through meditation or self-hypnosis and would like a safe, calm place to do that for an hour with some assistance through acupuncture, set up an appointment with me or another unrushed acupuncturist.
My first main exposure to NLP was through Tad James’ book on Timeline Therapy, _The Secret To Creating Your Future_. I found it useful and was thankful my sister lent me a little money to order his cassette course on NLP, which was around 48 hours of material. While I was living in Victoria, BC studying at the International College of Traditional Chinese Medicine with Henry Lu, Wally Mui and crew, my friend and classmate Stephan Fournier and I went to work with a Canadian NLP practitioner, Nadine Hanchar. Both of us found her work useful. I was working with her mostly on clearly setting my goals and aligning my priorities and beliefs to support those goals. A few years later I took a week-long hypnosis certification course with Rich Anrich in Portland. While I don’t consider myself a clinical hypnotherapist, I do choose my words carefully when working with patients, and I like to help them become aware of limiting beliefs they reveal through language structure. Because many skeptics claim acupuncture is like hypnosis, I chose to study both to find out for myself. My summary is that acupuncture can help induce a relaxed ‘Alpha’ state which is more conducive to doing self-hypnotic work, but the effects of acupuncture are definitely not all due to suggestion. Hypnosis can induce an endorphin-enhancing relaxation, but can’t address some of the musculo-skeletal pain syndromes acupuncture excels at treating. Research suggests neither acupuncture or hypnosis are that stupendous for smoking cessation (I know many who would disagree, but I go by the best peer-reviewed research these days) so if you want to quit smoking, just stop lighting and inhalling them, as that is the only sure way to quit. Let the period at the end of this sentence be your talisman of quitting.
I have also studied and made us of Jose Silva’s system of self-hypnosis called the Silva method which has been around a few decades, and is the school that popularized the notion of the Alpha state. In a nutshell, basic hypnosis consists of progressive relaxation (relaxing body part by part, or mentally visualizing walking down stairs to your internal meeting room or whatever) followed by the induction, which is feeding your brain new goals, beliefs, and priorities, and then the return to normal consciousness. The Silva method has some neat visualization techniques in the internal meeting room where you call out other parts of your mind to a meeting table and find out where there is conflict so you can have them work it out with the other parts of your mind, which all have the same highest goal of your personal freedom and health.
Some of the techniques of self-hypnosis are akin to the earlier esoteric teachings of the Rosicrucians, et Al, regarding the Body of Light and Astral Travel. Please note that some traditions teach that these are very dangerous techniques and that you could get trapped in a different dimension or have your body taken over by evil spirits if you don’t protect it right while travelling the astral planes. Personally, I prefer a belief system that lacks these fear-based teachings. I think it is much more dangerous to watch television. There is plenty of evidence that TV is designed to hypnotically replace your personal goals with the goals of the advertisers, which are that you spend more time sitting in front of the tube eating their junk food. This is truly dangerous in that it leads to obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and a waste of life. So before you get freaked out that hypnosis or meditation could be dangerous, carefully consider the social and personal consequences of TV and junk food from a hypnosis/brainwashing perspective.
Ultimately, the tools of brain programming are to discover and attain your True Will or Highest Purpose in life. Even if there is no preordained True Will, it is probably useful to choose to believe that you have one, as a sense of purpose is the root of motivation. If the notion of one big “true will” type of life purpose is too intense for you, don’t sweat it and work on some smaller goals.
I have coined the term Goalcasting to link the modern techniques of goalsetting with the historic concepts of spells and spellcasting. Being a believer in individual liberty, I think one should only cast spells on oneself. The notions of old-school spellcasting, such as doing something that will cause others to have bad luck, are largely unethical in intent and thankfully mostly superstition anyway. By the way, if you are interested in all of this stuff, it is totally worthwhile to immerse yourself in the writings of James Randi and the skeptics for a while. There is no benefit I see to being paralyzed with fear of the supernatural, even if you think it gives you unusual powers as well as unusual phobias. Even in my chosen field of research, the bridge from Taoist Alchemy to modern nutrition and energy meditation, I chalk up most of Ge Hong’s third century talismans of protection against demons to be products of mercury neurotoxicity. That is not to say that talismans are not useful today–many people have written them on post-it notes and put them on their bathroom mirrors. Here’s a hint, though: it’s more important to target your subconcious mind through an indirect design reminiscent of your goal, not plain English. For example, it’s better to draw a smiling skinny stick figure while thinking to yourself that it represents your success at being happy eating healthier and exercising more. Put that on your mirror, rather than writing “I will eat less and exercise more” on the post-it-talisman. Even better, meditate by breathing deep and slow for 5 minutes with eyes closed before drawing the glyph, then stare at it for another 5 minutes of deep breathing to “charge your talisman” as the occult writers say. The idea is to get your unconscious mind to align with the goals your conscious mind chooses. I haven’t yet found double-blind studies to support these techniques.
I see modern Feng Shui as this form of talismanic magic: I don’t think there is any external, cosmic force that cares what corner you put a magic coin sword or fountain in, but if it represents to your subconscious mind that you have the goal of making more money or having more love in your relationships, that is where it can be useful. Original Feng Shui had to do with where to build something so you didn’t get cold or flooded, a sensible practice. A meaningful painting, object with a special memory attached, or special furniture arrangment are all suitable–coin swords and Ba Gua mirrors are not necessary.
Lao Zi was casting a neuro-linguistic spell of philosophical reframing designed to relieve stress, promote deep joy, and expand the mind of those who would read the Dao De Jing with an open mind. Likewise, many Proverbs in the Bible and Sufi poems can have the same effect. The use of words to help others overcome mind traps of misery is a deeply compassionate act, which is the heart of mystical philosophy. Most exoteric traditions don’t have this effect, being more focused on social control and promoting a human hierarchy.
We make contracts with other humans to help us achieve specific goals. This is the root of medicine: the patient hires the doctor to help with the goal of getting out of pain. Hopefully the patient has chosen the right doctor, and hopefully the doctor can discern the causes of the pain and call in appropriate resources to actually solve the problem. Fortunately, surgeons cannot yet cut a phobia from the brain, though they tried similar with lobotomies not long ago. The beauty of the brain as a computer is that it runs on software which we can learn to program. If you have not learned to examine and change your own brain’s programming, then you are running on programming you received from others long ago. If you find you make goals but don’t make real progress towards them, then you probably don’t realize what other goals have higher priorities in your subconscious mind.
I have successfully reshaped my brain, mind, behavior, and body through martial arts, yoga, meditation, hypnosis, goal-setting, and various types of extreme nutrition. I haven’t had perfect or instant success, but I have steadily experienced significant success and continue to learn how to create desired change in all areas of my life. I hope I bring some of this to others I touch through my work, and thank my teachers and friends who have helped me along my Way. I’ve also spent quite a bit of time and money pursuing things I’ve found to be misleading pseudosciences, and hopefully help others avoid making similar malinvestments.
I just photographed this whole pamphlet which was printed in China in 1975, with some nice historical tidbits about Chinese Medicine, the Su Wen, pictures of ancient acupuncture needles, and more. The link below will open in a new window and you should be able to read the whole pamphlet. I think this is the easiest way for me to do it–export a web page from iPhoto, and add it in a folder named with the title to the /books/ section of my site, then link to it here. I plan to only post copyright free items or excerpts from books which I use as references or photos of rare books I may be willing to sell. This is just a neat rare pamphlet in my private collection.
Each photo can be clicked on to get a larger one if you have trouble reading it. If you read this at all, please comment and let me know if it was readable, interesting, etc. I see I have one blurry page, but it’s not important for the text.
We have this timeline of history book on in the foyer, we flip from page to page every few days and leave it open. How timely that this entry mentions that the first European money was from Greece, and was this cute owl on a blob of silver. I’d trade for that, too. Perhaps the next European money should be similar, and will arise out of the Euro disaster which is on the brink of happening with the Greek debt crisis.