Poetry and personal blog – Spilling my guts to strangers

(In this guest post, writer John Magnet Bell** gives some amazing advice. I tried it; it works! Read, enjoy, and show him some comment love!)

I have this trick.

When something’s troubling you, and I mean really troubling you, but you need to concentrate on a task, you can do this:

You picture the problem as a bristling, vibrating ball of mercury floating over a green field, against a blue sky.

Like this wallpaper you’ll probably recognize.

Now, that ball of mercury is angry. Angry as all hell. That’s understandable, as it contains every facet of the problem you need to put out of your mind.

What happens next?

A large box floats in from above and bears down on the bristling ball. It closes its flaps over the ball, so that you can’t see it anymore. Now your problem’s gone in the box.

The box floats away into the blue yonder. It dwindles in size until it’s no larger than a pinhead and finally disappears.

But that’s not enough. I want you to picture a brick wall suddenly coming between you and that green field. This is the strongest brick wall in the world, because it was built in your mind. I want you to hear that wall coming down with a massive crash, the sound of a mountain landing at your doorstep.

Are you with me so far? Great. Now another wall just like it drops in front of the first. You look to the left, then to the right, and there’s nothing but that brick wall. It fills your mind’s eye. All you can see is the strongest brick wall in the world.

Now drop a third wall in front of the second. Drop as many walls as you want.

When you’re done with brick walls, picture a curtain that is beyond white, the very concept of blankness, fogging up your mind’s eye until you can’t even see the brick wall. All you have is an absolute blank before you.

Finally, imagine the white turning black. Turning into the warm, inviting darkness just before sleep.

Now banish from your mind everything you’ve just read. In 3, 2, 1…

Wake up.

This is self-hypnosis. When I conceived of this exercise, I had no idea I was hypnotizing myself. Hypnosis uses symbolic language and visual metaphor to send messages and reprogram the subconscious.

Alan Watts, writing on Taoism, claimed that it is not things that hurt you, but your notions about them. How you react to them, that’s what causes change in you.

That means you have the magic of self-control at your disposal. You have power.

Blue and green aren’t random choices on my part. I could have gone with a purple field and a yellow sky, but those colors are a) unnatural – you know grass isn’t purple, and a yellow sky is just plain disturbing; b) yellow and purple convey very different meanings.

Blue is relaxing, yet at the same time it encourages productivity.

Green is psychologically and visually relaxing – it sits at the very center of the visual spectrum we perceive – and symbolizes nature and wealth.

A caveat before you go: belief is constructed over time, and it is best that it be followed by action.

Knowledge is the key to a better future.


Blue (color) and Green (color) at Wikipedia

**John Magnet Bell is a translator and photographer who’s way too fond of Philip K. Dick novels, Guinness and Old Gouda cheese. He runs a blog for writers, Start Your Novel. His latest crime against writing is The Hurricane in My Mouth (a writing prompt).

© Sweepy Jean and Sweepy Jean Explores the (Webby) World, 2011


Comments on: "How a Desktop Wallpaper Taught Me to Handle Stress" (17)

  1. I’m going to go all sci fi on you and say that this technique has an Inception-like genius! Not only do you box and float your problem away, you wall it off and blank it out like it never existed! I really did try it for a problem I had, though now I don’t remember what the problem was. I think maybe another caveat is in order so that people don’t obliterate something they’ll need later on! :p

    Love this post! Thanks so much for guesting, J!

    • Self-hypnosis has that side effect: it makes you forget things.

      The subconscious responds to images that carry deep symbolic content — what you plant in the subconscious then blossoms as action and attitude in your conscious mind/behavior. I hope others will try this technique and find it useful.

  2. Laurie Blair said:

    Why are the walls tumbling down? I’m just curious. As to how that figures in, that is. And is it possible to self-hypnotize myself so I will remember what I did with two 20-dollar bills last week?

    • I found there was more of an impact (both sound-wise and visually) if you visualized (and ‘audialized’, I suppose) an entire wall landing before you with a massive thud, further separating you from the nuisance you’re trying to put on hold.

      I’ve never tried self-hypnosis in order to remember things.

      You can plant a subconscious suggestion that’ll help you pay more attention to your environment.

      As for self-hypnosis and memory improvement, I’m not an expert.

  3. I totally agree with Mr. Watts…our thoughts or perceptions about events can be either positive or negative — and we can (as you have demonstrated here) very easily change our thoughts to something more positive.

    Good post!

    • Thanks, Bec.

      Alan Watts was a very bright individual. If you google “Alan Watts audio,” you’ll find links to a number of free lectures he gave over the years.
      He had a very pleasant speaking voice, and spoke very clearly.

      Thanks for reading.

  4. What an interesting post Mr. Bell. I can’t wait to try this. Although my family will tell you that I stay in a state of hypnosis most of the time. 😀

    I learn something new every day. This was my lesson for today!

    • Ahhh, but let me tell you one thing. Hypnosis is nothing but internal communication. Because we conduct internal communication every minute of our waking lives, we’re in a state of constant hypnosis.

      We focus on one thing and disregard others. It’s not deep, but it’s hypnosis.

  5. Fantastic post – what a way to de-stress – Loved it!

  6. Intriguing post. Shows it’s all really in the mind!

    • Thank you. Beware, though — this method doesn’t solve problems, it only lets you cool down so you can focus on something else.

  7. “Alan Watts, writing on Taoism, claimed that it is not things that hurt you, but your notions about them. How you react to them, that’s what causes change in you.”

    Yes, I read about this a while ago. They suggested you reprogram your perceptions and expectations (e.g. you are not date-less but date-free). I agree that this can work, but I don’t think that the majority of people on their own will be able to make the really big problems in their lives cease to bother them by trying out these procedures. I think that, at minimum, they will require some formal training in these methods by skilled practitioners, and probably lots of time for the methods to work.

  8. This was great Sweepy! Our mental being is really a child and can be manipulated very easily with some actions that are really make belief! I loved your post very much!

  9. An interesting exercise and worth trying. Have tried self-hypnosis in the past. Sometimes, it works and sometimes, it doesn’t. I suppose it depends on other factors and amount of concentration, etc.

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