Peak experiences are relatively brief, usually intense, often unbidden, and frequently life-changing. They are actually “peak experiences” into the transpersonal, supra-mental levels of one’s own higher potentials.
— Ken Wilber
Chasing the peak experience
Peak experiences provide especially joyous and exciting moments in life, involving sudden feelings of intense happiness and well-being, wonder and awe. They may include deep insight or perception, deep connection to beauty.
Sometimes people perceive the world from an altered, and often vastly profound and awe-inspiring perspective. Peak experiences usually come on suddenly and are often inspired by meditation, intense feelings of love, exposure to great art or music, or the overwhelming beauty of nature.
When peak experiences are especially powerful, the sense of self dissolves into an awareness of a greater unity. Perhaps the peak experience could be called an extreme right-brain burst of illumination!
Dr. Herbert Benson, writer of The Breakout Principle, says, “We can sever prior mental patterns and – even in times of great stress or emotional trauma – open an inner door to a host of personal benefits, including greater mental acuity, enhanced creativity, increased job productivity, maximal athletic performance, and spiritual development.”
Benson describes four distinct stages to create what he calls a breakout and the peak experience that goes with it.
Stage one begins with hard mental or physical effort. (left-brain)
Stage two involves a choice (left-brain) to let go of this hard work stage. He calls this “pulling the breakout trigger.”
Stage three is moving into a state of relaxed awareness by engaging in a right brain activity like needlepoint or sitting in nature or doing some other sort of right brain activity. This usually creates an intuitive vision that involves a way to solve a problem or create a new project.
Stage four involves returning to a new-normal state that includes improved left-brain performance and mind-body patterns.
Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, a book about accessing creativity, suggests going on artist dates that will put you into the right-brain. She says these should be planned outings just for yourself. The intent is to nourish your inner, creative side. You could visit an art gallery, pottery shop or garden to free your creativity.
Some right-brain activities to consider: gardening, reading, writing, making art, watching TV, making love, driving a familiar route or a deserted stretch of highway, playing or listening to music, watching a movie (especially in 3D), meditation and hypnosis(link). The list is endless.
Our capacity for improvement
We are born with 100 billion brain cells and we never have any more throughout our lifetime. We start off with a basic set of neuro-connections needed for survival. As we grow and learn and acquire new experiences, the brain makes more and more interconnections.
It is a myth that as we grow older our brains have to work less well. If we continue to use our brains to learn, to think, to create, to enjoy, and to love as we age, our brain capacity will continue to improve by creating more intricate neuro-connections.
Instead of our brain capacity diminishing as we age, instead of becoming stagnant we can be vital and vibrant and wise as we grow older. By finding that unique balance between our left and right brain and using it consciously we can live and grow older wisely.
Living right in a left-brain world is really about living wisely and fully realizing ourselves. We can access the wisdom that allows us to see the bigger picture without losing sight of the current one and vice versa.
It allows us the wisdom to move beyond logic and reason without abandoning or losing touch with it.
With wisdom we can look at what we can learn from a given experience, rather than just stay with what we can affirm or reaffirm. We can look at where something will lead us rather that what it can get us. We can focus first upon where we are going (future), then where we are coming from (present) and last where we have been (past.)
And with wisdom we can give our lives meaning. We can find meaning and value within the symbols and metaphors therein.
Living right in a left-brain world is about entering the balance between left and right, masculine and feminine, passive and active, doing and feeling, logic and intuition, will and imagination, action and feelings, understanding and perception, meaning and conception, body and mind, physical and spiritual.
And here lies the dance of a living life wisely and deeply.
It’s not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well.
— Rene Descartes
One way to use your brain well is to learn to tap into your right-brain’s wisdom, creativity, insight and spiritual connection. Once you bring those images to consciousness, you can use them to assist you in your daily life.
Your conscious mind is your left-brain and your subconscious mind is your right-brain.
Being in a right-brain state changes your brain chemistry from stress (fight or flight) to relaxation response. It is accompanied by a feeling of relaxation and connection.
Our brains are divided from front to back into two halves, looking something like an overgrown walnut.
Left-brain involves our conscious, cognitive, logical, rational and linear way of thinking. Left-brain represents masculinity, doing, choice/action, will, understanding, meaning, mathematics, and linguistic talents. It is also analytical, technical, problem solving, financial, and organizational.
Right-brain specializes in our emotional and creative ways. It represents femininity, feelings, the subconscious, memory and association, and non-linear thinking. It is intuitive, imaginative, perceptive, conceptive, spatial, integrative, and innovative.
Right side of the body is controlled by left-brain. Left side of the body is controlled by right-brain.
Each side of the brain has a regulated program that instructs the opposite half of the body to move and to record sensations of movement. When the fingers of your right hand make piano movements, brain cells in your left hemisphere send out the signals first. If you stub your left big toe, your right brain registers the pain.
But if you have a stroke or somehow lose function in one part of the brain, another part can take over that function. In that way the brain is holographic. I have been asked if left-handed people are less logical or right-handed people are less intuitive. The answer is that neither statements are true.
In our left-brain dominant society, we are taught to follow the linear road of reality: to begin at point A and follow as straight a line as possible to our destination. We put one foot in front of the other. One step follows another in sequence. We move from past to present to future. We accept only that which we can see, touch, taste, smell and hear. All must make logical sense. Physical reality is solid and impenetrable.
But not everything responds to that linear road. If we follow it exclusively, we miss anything that does not fit within its logic. We miss the wisdom that exists beyond the narrow boundaries of the linear world.
Logic vs. intuition
Our modern society leans towards the logical, the scientific way of thinking. Think of all the knowledge that has been amassed over the centuries, all the comforts developed from science. Logic is about deriving the basic truths from a set of observations or conditions. The conclusions reached must show the reasons or logic behind them. A scientific breakthrough that comes from a dream or intuition must be presented as if it were the result of logic. Otherwise it usually will not be accepted.
On the other hand, intuition is a state of direct knowing. It is often spontaneous and comes without the use of the rational thinking process. You know that you know and that’s that!
All of us use both left and right brain although each of us leans more in one direction or another. But in truth, our left and right brains are always interacting.
We each have a unique combination and balance of using both sides of the brain. Here are some examples of right/left cooperation in action:
Albert, a hair stylist, gets a flash of vision (right-brain) of the perfect style or cut of a client’s hair. He can see in an instant what outcome he wants. Then his practical (left-brain) mind executes it step by step. The flash of vision is fast and complete. He then enjoys the practical, linear steps of getting to the vision. The right-brain flash of intuition is an important balance for him that he recognizes.
Caroline is a writer who much prefers the creative right-brain process and hates the editing left-brain part of writing. Yet both are important functions of the art. She often gets out her coloured pencils and colouring book and colours for a while to stimulate her right brain before she writes.
David reads fiction for a short time before he starts a painting session.
John, the amazing CEO of a big company, knits when he needs a creative idea or has to solve a problem.
Lauren stands in the bathroom in one particular spot and grooms to get breakthroughs.
We need to understand how to help our left and right brains work together to create a whole-brain consciousness. Studies have shown that when healers are healing they have both left and right brain frequencies in sync. The ideal is to use the whole brain working together, in sync with itself, thus creating a synergy of the two halves that enhances all brain functions. This allows us to harness greater creativity, optimal learning, problem solving, health and personal quality of life.
The subconscious mind – we all have one. But do we really know what it is, what it does or how to use it effectively?
In the over 30 years I have worked as a clinical hypnotherapist, coach and counselor, I’ve come to understand and appreciate the role of the subconscious in our lives. It’s an amazing, but often hidden part of our mental make-up. I have created this blog series to help you learn more about your own mind and how to work with it effectively and elegantly.
The subconscious mind is a natural and powerful inner resource.
The more we know about our subconscious mind and the more we can consciously access it, the better our lives will be.
In this blog series, you are going to learn about the role of the subconscious as a record keeper and data organizer, the computer like aspects of the subconscious and it’s programming in terms of our beliefs, patterns, thoughts and feelings.
I will also cover the role of the subconscious in keeping the body healthy, in sleep and in the mind/body connection. I will show you how to work with the subconscious to change limiting and stressful patterns and habits, attitudes and beliefs. You will learn how to effectively communicate with the subconscious.
You can understand the basic working principles and functions of the subconscious mind and understand the relationship between the conscious and subconscious minds and how they interact. Then you can consciously access your subconscious, its information and its functions and utilize it to enhance your daily life.
The key is to make friends with your subconscious and then to form an alliance with it.
The subconscious as record keeper
Your subconscious is processing and organizing all the data of your life 24/7/365. Every thought, every word, every deed, waking and sleeping, is stored in the data banks of your subconscious mind. Your subconscious is, in a sense, recording your life as you are living it.
The subconscious organizes all this data according to its programs, patterns, messages and templates. These come from your past – the experiences and people who have influenced you.
Carved within the templates of your subconscious mind are deep reserves of memory, association, feelings and perceptions.
The subconconscious never sleeps
Your subconscious has survival programs running to keep your heart beating and all your physical systems functioning harmoniously. It is responsible for creativity, imagination, intuition, sleeping and dreaming. Every night when you go to sleep, your subconscious goes through its checklist of all your major systems. It oversees all the physical repairs.
While you sleep, the subconscious provides you with the dreams you need for emotional health and balance. Each night when you sleep, you are healing and renewing your body and mind, courtesy of your subconscious.
By tapping into the power of the subconscious, you can accelerate healing and boost longevity. Your subconscious can help you to be healthy and strong. You can work with it to change habits and patterns that are unhealthy, destructive or have outlived their usefulness. You can replace them with habits and patterns that are supportive, happy and healthy.
The subconscious in computer mode
Your conscious mind is linear. Your subconscious is non-linear. It knows everything, all the time, all at once.
Imagine trying to hold all the data of your life in your conscious awareness at all times. You could not do it; trying would make you crazy. However, your subconscious is beautifully designed to do exactly that and more.
Though your subconscious is very computer-like in its function, it is more conscious than you are and it cares about you. It is aware and understands everything that you tell it and everything that you ask of it. It knows how to do things for you that you consciously do not know how to do.
You have no secrets from your subconscious. But your subconscious may have secrets from you.
It is where suppressed urges, desires, fears, doubts and limitations are located. It is where old, worn choices and beliefs are still active. Your subconscious holds all the information about you – your self- image, your world view, your beliefs and attitudes.
It is important to understand the old messages, scripts and stories that you tell yourself that still have impact, so you can reprogramme the ones that no longer serve you, and re-write the scripts and stories that hold you back from what you want.
Interactive levels of the mind
Although your subconscious is very aware and conscious, like a computer, it is not designed to make decisions. It must do what it has been programmed by you to do. It must give you the messages it has been programmed to give you even if those messages are negative.
Your conscious mind is the reasoning part of your mind – it is the decision maker. It uses logic and reason to think things out and solve problems. Once a decision is made, your conscious mind feeds information to your subconscious – which assesses the information and fits it into the correct files, templates, scripts, tapes and patterns and uses it to strengthen what is already there. Though your subconscious wants to help you carry out your decision, it may have conflicting data which is more powerful. Your conscious and subconscious work together to make these choices work for you.
Though your subconscious wants to help you carry out your decision, it may have conflicting data which is more powerful. Therefore some decisions can get rejected by the subconscious.
Everyone has experienced making a decision to change a habit they don’t like and later sabotaging it , even though they don’t want to.
In this respect, your subconscious mind can either be your greatest obstacle by stopping from succeeding or it can be your most powerful ally in helping you create the changes you desire.
When you want to create or manifest something in your life, the subconscious filters what you seek through its templates. It is at the subconscious level that manifestation can get skewed.
Your subconscious can be programmed.
There are proven ways to process and change the old programs, messages, templates and patterns. I have found hypnosis to be a powerful way to create changes in the subconscious. It can be given more expansive, realistic, positive, adult messages and it will be as faithful to the new messages as the old ones.
By tapping into the power of the subconscious, you can accelerate healing and boost longevity. You can work with it to change patterns that are unhealthy, destructive or have outlived their usefulness. Your subconscious can help you to be healthy, happy and strong.
Now that you are beginning to understand scope of how the subconscious works and its role as a record keeper and data organizer, In part 2, I will show you how to change the negative programs in the subconscious to create greater success and harmony, so that your your conscious and subconscious mind are working together to create what you desire.
I wanted to share this note I received, with permission from the writer. (Thank you Dear Writer.) It reflects exactly how I hoped my Transformational Weight Loss workshop would work.
“Had a fight with my boyfriend last night and went straight for the chips(11:00 p.m.) as soon as he left.
I only had a handful. I knew what I was doing as I was doing it.
This morning I went back to my workbook from your weight loss workshop and looked up my core weight story again. An old story. Feeling alone in the relationship.
I don’t want to live that old story anymore. Feeling unwanted. Sad. Hurt. And helpless to change it. (I remembered what you said – it was the young girl was helpless and despairing: I am not.)
I will not beat myself up for chips at 11:00 pm. Instead, I understand why, and forgive myself. Did the chips help? I don’t know. They were part of the old story too.
When my boyfriend and I talk today I can speak from a place of understanding my trigger. I can tell him why I got so upset by his words and actions and I know he will hear it.
I see what you mean, Janis, when you said that we can transform our old stories. That they are living and fluid, being written and rewritten in each moment and that we always have the opportunity to change it, even after the fact! And that life is so forgiving – if we are.
Thanks once again for your workshop that is still filling and feeding me.”
But today, so overpowering, A tidal wave of energy.
Right away, the incessant dialogue of everything that must be done, all the shoulds, and all the need tos. The worries, doubts, fears, anxieties that pile in so quickly as the day begins.
A moment please.
Letting them wash away. Let them wash away now. With each breath, a little more calm, a little more still.
Be gentle for a moment, Sha, Listen, Breathe – a soft breath.
Let my mind stretch out into the day listening… to what is calling, what is inviting….listening for the whispers, of truth, of the real. Feeling the future like a seeds of possibility…where I am going, who I am becoming.
Feeling peaceful now.
Nice to intervine with myself and come into this day now, present, more calm, more at peace.
Randal came in to gain confidence in public speaking for an upcoming speech. He was a 50-year-old man who struggled with shyness all his life and felt that his relationship to life was too timid. At his third session, Randal told me that besides his increased confidence, he had taken ten strokes off his golf game as well.
His motivation to come in for hypnosis therapy came from his fear of public speaking. He was being given the task to give a presentation at work to his bosses and peers. From the moment he would be aware of having to speak in public in any way, Randal experienced a high level of anxiety that affected his sleep and made his otherwise ordered life miserable.
Together we came up with a plan of three sessions with a specific focus for each session. Our first goal was to stop the anticipatory anxiety and regain his sleep. Along with the reprogramming, I included a post-hypnotic signal.
Signal hypnosis gives the client a tool to use in the moment to shift out of negative reactions as they are occurring. A signal can be a word or phrase, an image to hold in your mind or a body signal such as tapping the knee or pulling an earlobe. It is decided on ahead of time by the client and then programmed in during the session.
This signal can be used whenever needed. In Randal’s case, it was to help stop anxious anticipatory thinking and calm him. Its function was to move him out of the flight or fight response to a relaxation response. A signal is a direct link to the subconscious. As soon as it is used, the subconscious responds according to the programming attached to it.
Our sessions were planned ten days apart. When Randal came in for his second session, he was happy to report that for the most part the anxiety was gone and he was sleeping well. He found his signal (pulling on his right earlobe three times) to be effective in shifting him out of anxiety if it came up.
Our next goal was to work on building confidence in all his interactions with other people, especially with groups. We focused on speaking to people on general, being relaxed, being comfortable and calm. One of the key messages we worked with was to turn around being self-conscious to being curious and interested in other people. When you feel fearful about a situation, you are focusing on how dangerous the situation could become. It’s called projecting your inner anxiety onto the unknown future.
It is important to be present-moment oriented and in touch with your ability to respond to a situation rather than reacting according to an automatic anxiety response. Anxiety is compounded by the fact that your brain chemistry is producing stress chemicals called fight or flight response; the brain is not responding to reason or logic.
In Randal’s case that was very disconcerting for an engineer who understands logic and reason and order. Finally getting a handle on his anxiety was very important and inspiring for him. He now felt confident that he could accomplish his other goals.
During his second hypnosis session, I laid out a blueprint in his subconscious, setting a context of “confident with people and life in general.” I suggested that he had the ability to cope with life, that he could be who he wanted to be, and live the way he wanted to live. I focused only on the broader concept, not the upcoming speech.
At his third and final session, I saw a different man walk into my office. Randal’s body language was confident. He was relaxed and joking with me. During our check-in he said, “I don’t know if this is relevant but in the past ten days I have taken ten strokes off my golf game.” Needless to say he was very pleased. We discussed how this was a positive response to our new blueprint. He also reported a better comfort level in interacting on a casual basis with a group of colleagues who went for coffee together. He said he had no problem now interacting with the casual banter. But he did feel that his comfort zone was limited to short phrases or sentences. He was yet to feel comfortable telling a story.
In our third session, I reinforced the previous session’s messages. The primary focus for this last session was to be on the upcoming speech and how he wanted it to go. He asked me to include the suggestion that the sight of groups of people would be calming for him. The fact that he had thought about this and decided on this particular message was encouraging. This meant that Randal was fully participating in this transformation and actively thinking about how he wanted to change.
Randal phoned me after his speech and reported that he was quite calm and composed and it went off very well. He was also calmer around groups of people and improving more each time he interacted with people in general, which was one of the suggestions I gave him.
Weight loss is a transformational process. You are literally transforming your body from one form to another. What takes place physically also takes place mentally and emotionally.
If you are a person who struggles with your weight, the process of losing weight and maintaining the weight loss can be your greatest challenge and the path of your greatest growth.
You know that trying to lose weight eventually leads you to face many issues. It is hard to change eating patterns and create an active lifestyle with regular exercise. It is hard to maintalin that weight loss unless you face those issues that caused your weight.
Your process of losing weight is also your path to your greatest growth.
Losing weight can be a doorway to growth. Growth is about becoming more – more of who you truly are. I call it growing big on the inside.
In order to lose weight you will encounter what stops you. You will have to grow beyond your old ways of coping, your old patterns of using food and create a different relationship to food. You will have to change your life to support the body you want to have. You will have to truly change. That is transformation.
You will transform what stops you into what makes you successful.
Thanks for taking the time to read my blog! I intend to bring you interesting and helpful information. I have written a variety of Series including Stories of Hope and Healing, The Art of Dreaming and The Subconscious Mind: An Owners Manual, that gives you a peek into your powerful subconscious with great information and tips. As well I have written about different topics that I work with in my counseling and hypnotherapy practice and in my coaching and workshops.
“Though the function and structure of the subconscious is the same for everyone, the content and history is unique to each individual and therefore each person responds differently to suggestions.”
IN MY 30 YEARS as a practicing hypnotherapist, I have often felt successful in helping my clients reach their goals whether it is to quit smoking, change eating patterns or overcome phobias.When clients come for hypnosis therapy, I take time to get to know them, their history and the issue or goal they want to accomplish.
I have a limited amount of time to spend with an individual and I must figure out what messages his or her subconscious will respond to. Often I am speaking to the subconscious and giving it a new set of instructions that will help the client reach the goal. But I don’t always know how a client will respond to suggestions.
In a follow-up session, I check in with my client and see what has been working and what is still in need of reinforcement. Because the subconscious loves repetition, it is often helpful to reinforce the messages to help clients move forward and integrate the changes they are working on. But every so often surprises occur from the hypnotic reprogramming.
Sometimes, unplanned by me, the hypnosis is doubly effective.An example of this type of unexpected change is the woman who came in to quit smoking and also stopped a lifelong habit of biting her nails.
With “Alice,” the only programming I entered into her subconscious was for smoking cessation – not one mention of the nails. Her subconscious took the opportunity to use the message to end this habit as well. All it takes is one line in the program that resonates with the subconscious. In this case, it was that she no longer needed this smoking addiction in her life to help her cope; in fact she no longer needed any addiction in her life.
Needless to say, my client was happy to have stopped both habits successfully and fairly effortlessly.