Golf Hypnosis Intro
Before you first experience golf hypnosis and start using it to make wonderful, beneficial changes in your golf and your life, I would like to say a few words to answer some of your possible questions and to dispel a few popular myths and misconceptions you may have about hypnosis.
One very common idea people have is that being in hypnosis is the same as being unconscious, but that wouldn’t work, as I need to communicate with your subconscious or unconscious mind to help you achieve anything from hypnosis. That wouldn’t be possible if you were out cold!
My own first experience of hypnosis was one of being extremely relaxed and calm, but fully aware of what was going on round me. It was a large training course run by Paul McKenna with over 400 people in the room and we split into pairs or groups of three to practise hypnosis. The room was very crowded with assistants rushing about helping people. Then one of them nearly knocked me right off my chair. I did not react in any way and just thought to myself, “that was odd” and continued to focus on what the hypnotist was saying to me.
Conscious and Unconscious – Different Levels of Mind
The human mind operates on two levels, the conscious and the unconscious or subconscious. The conscious mind is where we spend most of our waking life. It’s where we make everyday decisions and analyse things. The unconscious mind operates just below our level of consciousness and generally manages the things we do automatically, like breathing and digesting our food.
We may consciously decide to put on our shoes, but our unconscious ties the shoelaces – assuming it knows how to. Do you remember how difficult that was for a while when you were very young? That was when you were doing it consciously and thinking a lot about how to do it. You may remember the same problem learning to ride a bike, drive a car or swing a golf club.
You know what it feels like playing after you’ve recently had a golf lesson and you’re consciously trying to remember all the things the Pro told you to remember. It probably went something like – , “head down, now take it back in one piece, not too fast, don’t pronate your wrist too much, keep your weight on the right or left side…” It was amazing that you could still hit the ball. Now I know that not all Pros are like that.
The Conscious Mind – the four basics
Your conscious mind basically does four things.
Firstly, your conscious mind analyses. What is that? Well that is the part of us that looks at problems, analyses them and tries to create solutions. It is that part of us that makes decisions all day every day: “shall I open the door”, “Shall I have something to eat”, “what shall I worry about”, “what club should I take here? Even though they seem to be automatic behaviours, we make a conscious decision about whether or not to do these things.
Rationalizing – Why did that happen?
The second thing our conscious mind does is to rationalize. This is the part of us that, especially in western cultures, always has to understand why – why things happen and why did I just do that. This can cause us so much trouble, as we give any problems more and more credence and power. More conventional and traditional methods of golf psychology coaching are often very much concerned with looking at the causes of our problems.
I feel that all this does is to teach us “why” the problems happen as opposed to giving us the skills we need to change unwanted habits and behaviours. The more we think about “why” we do things, the more we seem to embed the unwanted behaviour into our lives. Think of some of the things we hear people say, and maybe say quietly to ourselves, on the golf course. They ask, “Why did I slice the ball into the trees?” and then hook the next one – after trying to change their swing there and then.
Willpower and Determination
The third part of our conscious mind is willpower, that teeth gritted determination that so many of us are proud to demonstrate. How many times have we used our willpower alone to make changes and found that our resolve weakens and that change is temporary or nonexistent? We have willpower to overcome immediate problems, not long term ones. Have you noticed how difficult it is to remember to maintain your concentrate for a full round of golf – no matter how hard you try.
Short Term Memory
The final part of our conscious mind is our short-term memory. By that I am referring to the things that you need to remember to function on a day-to-day basis, so that when your phone rings you know to answer it rather than stare at it, wondering what it is, or ensuring that you cross the road without someone running you over.
Put it all together and our conscious mind is logical, rational, analytical and focussed on the short-term, a bit like Mr Spock from Star Trek. Unfortunately, our conscious mind often over analyses things and sometimes ends up with the wrong answer. I remember in my childhood that my first answer to an exam question was usually right. Then of course, I changed it after further thought and got the answer wrong! It’s probably true about some of your decisions on the golf course. How many times do you quickly decide on the shot to play before changing your mind and mishitting the shot?
Your conscious mind is wherever you happen to be focussed on at the current time, but your unconscious mind is noting and recording everything it can hear, see, smell, taste or feel – all the time.
As an example, each of our eyes has something like 6 million direct connections to the brain with about 40 of them – the ones for the fovea – connected to the conscious mind, covering what we are currently focussing on. The remaining 5,990,960 are connected to the unconscious mind, covering your full peripheral vision.
The same goes for our other senses. I am sure you have been in a busy, noisy environment, such as a restaurant, bar or on the golf course, and have been engaged in a conversation with someone, and all the sounds going on around you just seem to blend into the background. Then suddenly someone else away in the distance can punctuate their sentence with your name and you pick it out as if it was being spoken to you.
If you take that conscious awareness and point it inside of yourself instead of outside into the world, you begin to become aware of your inner self, your unconscious mind, which is the part of you that we work with in hypnosis.
The Inner You: Your Unconscious Mind
Your unconscious mind is tremendously powerful and automates as much behaviour as it possibly can, so that we do not have to consciously think about it.
We are amazing learning machines and we learn behaviours and habits consciously and then our unconscious mind automates them and does them on autopilot so that we do not have to think about doing them.
Long Term Memory – Just about every blade of grass on every course
Your unconscious mind has within it all your long-term memory. Just about every blade of grass on every hole of every course that you have seen in playing your entire golfing life is stored away in your long-term memory ready for instant access given the right cue.
As an example, if you have ever seen a live stand up comedy show. You watch the comedian and hopefully laugh heartily as you listen to lots and lots of jokes. Then when you leave the venue, you can remember none of them, or one or two at best! Then, a week later, a friend that you were with can just start to tell one of the jokes and you instantly remember the whole joke. The joke was stored away in your unconscious mind, just needing the trigger to find it.
You may experience the same thing listening to one of your old music albums that you haven’t played for a long time. I often can’t remember t0he words until the track starts, but then I can sing along happily, even if you turned the music off. I also start singing the next track before the previous one has finished!
If that sounds confusing, just think, you are currently breathing, your heart is beating, you are digesting your last meal, and your mind/body is regulating your body temperature and many other things. Your unconscious mind is managing a whole range of wonderful things without you having to consciously think about it. You are not sitting around thinking “I really must remember to breathe”.
Your Gut Feelings, Instincts and Intuition
Your unconscious mind is where you get your gut feelings, your instincts and intuition that communicate with you sporadically from time to time. Like when someone is saying all the right words to you, but you get a different feeling about them.
Your unconscious mind is a bit like a computer. Throughout your entire lifetime it has programmed itself with every skill you have ever gained, all your experiences, relationships, interpretations of the world, influences and beliefs. All this has culminated in your computer functioning with that programming. Hypnosis is simply a way of accessing that computer and understanding and updating that programming so that it becomes instinctive and intuitive for you to make the changes that please you.
Your unconscious mind is the seat of your emotions and where your behaviours exist.It is the part of you that we work with in hypnosis. Hypnosis is our way of stepping over your conscious mind and accessing your unconscious mind to make powerful and profound changes.
You’ve Experienced Natural Trance States Before
You may be surprised to hear that hypnosis is not new to you. I am sure that you have experienced natural trance states many times before, in fact I know you have. For example, when you have been driving in a car and thought to yourself “how did I get here?” or when you have been reading a thrilling book or watching an exciting film and found yourself completely absorbed and with your heart pounding. Have you ever seen someone watching a physical sport, like football or boxing, begin to move with the action? They are in a hypnotic trance.
If you’re really lucky, you’ve experienced a trance state while playing golf – some people describe it as being “in the Zone”. For most golfers who experience it once in a while, it manifests itself as a wonderful sense of calm, relaxed confidence. They seem to float along without any real thoughts in their heads. Unfortunately, it just seems to fade away as soon as they realise how well they’re playing.
The only difference between these naturally occurring states and those that we use in golf hypnosis that with hypnosis, you intend to enter the state, you are in control of it and it is just like an amplified, deeper version. It’s simply like sitting in a chair relaxing with your eyes closed, not the magical, mystical or unreal experience that some people may lead you to believe it is. And you are always in control.
Does the Hypnotist have any Power over me?
It is important – very important – here to know that you cannot be made to do anything in hypnosis that you don’t want to do or wouldn’t normally do. If I ask you to stand up, you will probably do it. If I suggest you rob a bank, you wouldn’t. Unless it’s something you’re used to doing and are comfortable to do again – on my say so!
But what about Stage Hypnosis?
What about stage hypnosis you may ask, where the hypnotist asks people to do things that they would not normally do? Or would they? I have observed that many people who get up on stage “to be hypnotised” are extroverts who want to be the life and soul of the party.
Typically a good stage hypnotist will select those people who want to be on the stage and then go through some sort of selection test to pick the ones that really want to perform. He’ll also create an uninhibited atmosphere where everybody expects them to act in a silly manner.
I do not believe that the hypnotist makes the people on stage do anything they don’t want to. In fact, I have seen someone come out of hypnosis during a stage hypnosis performance and explain afterwards that he wasn’t ethically comfortable with a particular task the hypnotist asked him to perform. Up to that point he was participating fully in the show.
And what if I don’t come out of Hypnosis?
People are often concerned about what happens if I get stuck in a trance? The simple answer is that you can come out of trance any time you like, regardless of the hypnotist. It may be that you are so comfortable in trance that you may not want to come out immediately when the hypnotist asks you to. It’s your choice when you come out.
What if I can’t be Hypnotised?
Anyone can be hypnotised as long as they want to be, even insomniacs, drug addicts, schizophrenics, people experiencing chemotherapy and people who are convinced that they cannot relax or be hypnotised. They all can and they all do, if they want to.
All that is required is to have an open mind, expect it to work and have progressive, motivated thoughts about the processes. Then listen to the hypnotist and allow him to help you to make the changes you want and deserve.
So what exactly happens when I’m in Hypnosis?
Finally, during an individual hypnosis session and in my hypnotic audio recordings, I may ask you to do a number of different, seemingly contradictory, things with your mind. You could be forgiven for thinking “What exactly am I supposed to be listening to and doing?” The simple answer is that you listen to and follow as much or as little as you want to. Remember, it’s your conscious mind thinking those thoughts and that’s not the part of your mind that we’re working with and making the changes with.
I am sure that there will also be times when you’ll be thinking “am I in hypnosis, what am I supposed to be thinking or feeling?” Again that is your conscious mind thinking that thought and it does not matter what it is thinking right now, just trust that your unconscious mind is absorbing all that you want it to.
There will be times in the sessions and recordings when I ask you to imagine things. Imagining things does not have to mean visualising. If I ask you to think of a favourite place, you can imagine what it would look, sound, feel, smell and taste like, you don’t have to be seeing a picture perfect cinema version of it in your mind. You can imagine, sense, think or just know it without seeing it or picturing it in every detail.
If I asked you to imagine the sound your feet make when you walk across gravel, you know the sound I am talking about and you can imagine it, but you are not necessarily hearing it in your ears, you can imagine it. That is all I ask.
So, hypnosis is not like being unconscious, it is almost like having heightened awareness, it requires you to want the change, have an open, positive mind, as best as you can, and allow whatever happens to happen, without trying to grasp at what you think should happen. Just let it happen and look forward to seemingly inexplicable golf improvement and enjoyment.