(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.
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…
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.
**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