Sherlock and His Mind Palace


Sherlock and His Mind Palace

My favorite character in all fiction would have to be the great Sherlock Holmes.  I see him as the original superhero, because he is on the side of justice without directly working for the establishment.  He’s also one of the first Western characters to have studied martial arts.  However, his greatest superpower was his ability to access his mind and use it to its fullest capacity.  He’s my favorite character because part of me would like to believe that I could reach my fullest mental potential.

            I highly recommend the BBC series Sherlock.  If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, most of the episodes are already on Netflix.  It is a modern adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic stories.  In this series, Sherlock credits his “mind palace” as the place where he stores all of his seemingly limitless knowledge.

            In Doyle’s book, A Study in Scarlet, Holmes explains to Watson that his belief is that the mind works like an attic where you have space to store select memories.  In season 2 episode 2 of Sherlock, we are formally introduced to Holmes’s mind palace.  Holmes realizes that there is something that he is missing, so he goes deep into his memory database to access information that will lead him to break the case.

            Watson accurately explains how a mind palace works.  He says that theoretically we never forget anything; the real trick is being able to access that information when you need it.  That’s exactly what the mind palace is for.  The mind palace, also know as method of loci, is a mnemonic device for storing and retrieving information from your mind.  Anyone can master it, but the extent to which it’s applied is up to your imagination and effort.

            The method is simple.  Come up with a place that you can clearly visualize in your mind, and store information that you can access later.  People are very specially oriented.  Often times, the way that we think and feel can be relevant to the place in which we find ourselves, and we are also inclined to come up with mental images to accommodate most of our thoughts (some people are more visual than others).  So a mind palace could quite simply be a space that you visualize in which you can store all of the images that represent what you want to remember.

            Whatever space you choose for your mind palace, make sure it’s something that you can know intimately.  Some people choose their childhood homes.  Some people use a whole map of a town.  It depends on what connects to you and how detailed you’re comfortable being.  If you really want to put some effort into it, create a made-up palace or village in your mind.  Just remember that it’s good to have some detail and order to it.

            The most simple case of something that you may be required to remember might come in the form of a list, so let’s use a grocery list for our example.  If you were to make your mind palace your childhood home, you could imagine yourself placing your groceries throughout your house.  This is when you could stack another mnemonic device on top of the mind palace, like alliteration.  For example:  “The bananas are bouncing on the bed.”  Maybe when you think of a chicken, you think of someone calling you “chicken,” meaning afraid.  So you decide “the chicken is hiding in the chest.”  For every item on you list, you create a visual throughout that house.  That way, when the time comes to access that list, all you have to do is imagine yourself walking through your childhood home.

            As in most cases, the only limitation is your imagination, but I recommend utilizing your mind palace in self-hypnosis.  I have a mind palace with rooms that I do particular exercises in rather than just store information.  In one room, I may have a dojo in which I imagine myself running through Aikido movements.  In another room, I might imagine myself giving a presentation that I may have later so that I can be properly prepared.  In another room, I may just step into emptiness, and completely free myself from thought or attachment.

Not everyone should be expected to create the level of mind palace that Sherlock has.  He is, after all, a fictional genius.  However, in the most recent episode of Sherlock, The Abominable Bride, there is a seen of him sitting in lotus position, deep in trance.  It seems as if the makers of the series were quite happy to imply that the great detective would surely utilize meditation.  Of course, I’m inclined to agree that trance would be an essential tool for climbing to his level of self-mastery. 


What to Know Before Using Hypnosis to Quit Smoking


What to Know Before Using Hypnosis to Quit Smoking

I’ve been practicing hypnotherapy for a few years now, and by far, the most common issue that brings clients to my office is smoking.  Hypnosis is a common treatment for people who are interested in smoking cessation, because such a profound habit change may merit a profound shift in perspective.  Hypnosis is a wonderful way to enable that shift in perspective.  Often times, clients leave my office feeling so relieve and euphoric about their new lease on life that they don’t even suffer withdrawals.

            Over the years, I’ve come up with a few pointers for being successful at quitting.  Sure, you may have a successful experience with hypnosis even without these variables in place.  However, I want you to have as many weapons in your arsenal as possible before battling this addiction. 


You must be ready and invested.

            I’m starting with the most important variable.  The first thing I do before working with a smoker is establish whether or not they are ready.  Conquering an addiction is usually a smoother process when that conquest is a want instead of a should.  I don’t know that there is a smoker in America who doesn’t know they shouldn’t smoke, but that obviously isn’t enough to stop everyone.  People smoke because they want to smoke or because they have fooled themselves into believing that it helps in some way.  People will only quit once it is an earnest desire. 

For that reason, if I get the feeling that my client is there because someone is making them be there or because they just feel obligated, I find I’m better off giving them their money back and suggesting they return when they’re ready rather than sending someone out into the world who believes that hypnosis is a sham.  Best case scenario, I get a client who is so determined to quit that they have already smoked their last cigarette regardless of whether or not the session “works.”  If your mind is already made up, all I have to do is show you the way.

            Investment is important because there needs to be stakes.  That’s part of the reason why I charge $250 for a smoking cessation seminar, and rarely sell smoking sessions as gifts.  You need to have a little bit of skin in the game, and people will rarely spend $250 on something just to give it a shot.  Most smokers spend $250 on nicotine products in about a month and a half.  I’d love to help people for less than that (and have, on occasion), but if $250 is too much for you to spend on quitting, than you are more invested in your own destruction than your health.


Come ready to replace a bad habit with a good one.

            As I said before, if you smoke, you either want to or you have fooled yourself into thinking that it serves a purpose.  Maybe your smoking habit has become a coping strategy or a means to pass time.  It stands to reason that your life may require a new coping strategy to replace the old one.

            It’s best to have that new practice in mind before you go through hypnosis.  Maybe you would like to go for a short walk or to do a few pushups instead of smoking a cigarette.  However, that new activity doesn’t even have to be health focused.  You might like to go outside and enjoy fresh air with an adult coloring book instead of a cigarette.


Create milestones and rewards for yourself.

            Milestones are important for tracking your progress.  It’s good to stop and congratulate yourself along the way.  After your first month cigarette free, you could make a Facebook post celebrating so that you can be encouraged by the praise your friends give you.  I also recommend getting a mason jar, putting it in a safe place where you’ll have to look at it all the time, and every day that goes by, put the cash that you would have been spending on smokes in that jar.  When you get to your 6-month or 1-year milestone, take that money out, and do something special with it like a weekend getaway.

            After I quit smoking, my first milestone was Bonnaroo.  It seems like everyone at Bonnaroo smokes, and I knew that if I could make it through the music festival without smoking, I’d be in the clear.  Sure enough, once that Saturday rolled around, and everyone was cranky because they had run out of smokes and were having to pay a random hippie $20 for a pack, I never wanted a cigarette less.  It was a liberating feeling.



            Saturday and Sunday, January 30 and 31, from 2-4 pm, I am hosting a 2-DAY SMOKING CESSATION SEMINAR.  This seminar will be limited to a smaller group, but there are still a few seats available.  The first day will be focused on teaching your mind that you don’t ever want to smoke again.  The second day will focus on learning to over-come stressors and cravings by being in the present.  This intensive experience will include hypnotic a mp3 that will function well as a cigarette replacement.  Finally, anyone who attends a seminar will receive $50 off the first one-on-one hypnotherapy session that they attend.

            If you aren’t ready to quit, I have no desire to shame you into a different decision, because I don’t think you’re likely to make a lasting decision from shame.  However, if you are ready to make a lasting commitment, I want to be a resource for you.  There is a bit of a screening process, because I want to be sure that everyone who signs up is ready and invested.  So if you would like to attend this seminar, respond in the comment section or email  Again, spots are limited and filling up quickly, so contact me soon so that I can help add years to your life.


6 Ways to Accomplish Your New Years Resolutions


6 Ways to Accomplish Your New Years Resolutions

Happy New Year!!!  Between Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, you’ve probably had plenty of time to indulge in holiday treats.  However, a New Year is on the horizon, bringing with it all of the potential for change and a fresh start.  New Year’s also brings a since of nostalgia for the year that is currently coming to a close. 


So we are out with the old in with the new, and honestly, that’s what makes New Year’s Resolutions so great.  We get to look towards the future and be excited about what’s to come.  As we plan for our new New Year’s Resolutions, it’s common to ruminate on the previous year’s failed Resolutions.  So to be sure we don’t allow history to repeat itself, I offer 6 Ways to Accomplish Your New Year’s Resolutions.  I’m adding to last year’s list.

1.  Start before January 1st.

As the old proverb goes, “The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago; the second best time to plant a tree is right now.”  If you are serious about a goal, prove it to yourself by getting a jump-start on it.  I know it’s nice to have a definitive point from where to start, but you can think about milestones later.  Don’t wait another day to start becoming a better version of you.

2.  Make sure it’s something you want, and not just something you need.

As a hypnotist, if I get the feeling that my client is there because his spouse told him to come, I find it best to give him his money back and ask him to come back when he’s ready to change on his own accord.  I rarely have success helping someone change against his or her will.  It’s just like how rehab rarely works unless people want to be sober more than they enjoy doing drugs.  So as you plan your resolutions, stay away from should’s and need’s.  However, if you’re looking for motivation to pursue something you need, I could refer you to a great hypnotist.

3.  Don’t do it alone.

This is so easy to forget.  Some people’s goals are so personal to them that they don’t remember that there are others with similar struggles who could be instrumental in pursuing change.  People provide motivation, healthy competition, and learning, which is great because let’s face it, there is something to learn from everyone you encounter.  Of course, there are more than one ways of finding community and even accountability.  You may like to join a gym, take a class, join a support group, or even tell a bunch of friends about your progress and goals so they can encourage you.  Just be sure reframe from excessive selfies and social media posts (it gets tacky after a while).  Humans are communal animals by nature.  You are setting yourself up for success if you have plenty of external support.

4.  Break your goal up into specific increments.

It is important to have long-term and short-term goals and milestones.  Your long-term goal may be to lose some weight this year.  Start out by making it specific.  Maybe you would like to release 60 pounds this year (I say release because no one really loses anything on purpose).  Then you have a shorter-term goal of releasing 5 pounds each month.  Your goal for the week may be to exercise for an hour for 4 days out of that week.  Your goal for the day may be to go to the gym and set up a membership.  What every your goal may be, you have to be able to find a way to compartmentalize it with the rest of your life.  That’s why we break it up and find milestones.

5.  Celebrate every step of the way.

Let the celebration start now.  As soon as you begin perusing a goal, allow yourself to feel like a winner.  That will help you enjoy the work you put into your resolution, and as you shift how you see yourself, you unconsciously fulfill your own prophecies.  If you are convinced that you are going to fail at your resolution, you will.  Quickly.  So tell someone about how proud you are of yourself (while exercising a reasonable amount of humility).  Allow the small victories to make you feel good just like the big ones will.  The ability to be grateful to yourself for the work that you have done for yourself can be powerful enough to get you to next December.

6.  Practice the use of affirmations.

Affirmations are wonderful tools for shifting your focus.  Take some time each day to boldly proclaim your goal to yourself.  Make your affirmations as positive, personal, and direct as possible.  If your goal is to take control of your weight, then maybe your affirmation could be “I, Jane Doe, am be coming a healthier version of myself.”  You could write it out 15 times, say it in the mirror over and over, or even put your affirmation into a song.  Get creative, and allow your affirmation to shape your focus.

Bonus Secret: 

If you are interested in releasing weight, you may have times when you feel as if you are too far behind your schedule to accomplish your goal by the year’s end.  For some reason, that enables us to decide to quit all together.  Remember that you’re goal should never really be to lose weight, because even if you do lose it you can pick it up again.  The ultimate goal is to adapt a lifestyle that is sustainable and healthful.  This can be applied to any goal.  At the end of the year, you want to know that you have adapted a new set of thoughts or behaviors that will continue to bless your life for years to come.  For get your mind off to a good start, hypnosis might be the tool for you.


The Most Magical Song I Know


The Most Magical Song I Know

Bob Marley once sang, “One good thing about music, when it hits you feel no pain.”  For as long as we have been making music, we have been finding unconscious ways to connect to one another.  Sometimes, music enables to feel an entire spectrum of human emotion with out speaking a single word.  If you would indulge me, I would like to spend a little bit of time discussing one of my favorite instrumental pieces.

            It may not surprise you to know that much of what brought my interest to hypnosis was my own struggle with learning to control thoughts.  One of the main ways that that difficulty manifested was, as I would attempt to fall asleep, I would struggle to turn my thoughts off.  I had no idea how to allow my mind to turn down for the evening until I discovered this one particular performance.

            I had heard recordings of John Butler’s “Ocean” before.  However, it wasn’t until I heard him play it live that I noticed its power.  It’s one of those songs that I’m sure he plays a little bit differently every time he performs it, but I feel it perfectly embodies the term “masterpiece.”  It is the wonderful demonstration of his mastery of his instrument.  I invite you to listen to it before I go any further.

John Butler often plays in obscure open tunings.  It enables him to sustain a persistent drone behind his chord progressions.  It also enables him to play his guitar in a more percussive manor, and that’s just how he begins this piece. 

            Now what’s lovely about the nature of music is that it’s subjective.  You may not even particularly enjoy this song.  I’m simply sharing what I like about it in hopes that it might inspire you to find a musical piece or even a video that puts you in the right meditative state. 

            He starts strumming his open chorded 12-string (technically, 11; he takes out one of the G’s), and then begins beating on the strings and body of his guitar while doing hammer-on’s with his left hand (a technique typically known as “air tapping”).  This part is important to me because the beat mimics a heart beat in a manor that induces a perfect trance.

            After he slows the beat and softens the tone, he begins to softly and nimbly fingerpick his guitar in a manor that takes you to a spring day.  He’s agile with his guitar, but he progressively gets softer until he comes to a pause.  After this pause, he jumps into a jig. 

            I confess that being a Southerner with strong Irish roots, hearing a blend of folk and Celtic music always makes my heart a little softer.  Just when I’m feeling vulnerable, Butler begins to attack.  That’s when the true rise and fall of the song starts.  Every time he crescendos he hits harder than the crescendo before, and your emotions just climb and climb.

            5:50-6:45 is the moment in the song that it completely overwhelms you.  For me, it insights this somewhat victorious bliss that spreads through my whole body and mind.  I know it might sound corny, but it makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something every time I hold out for the end.  That’s what a good song does: it connects to you.  It’s only natural that that connection puts you in a bit of a trance.

            It’s nice that this piece is long enough to make good background music for a little trance.  I hope that this has inspired you to find your own magic song.  Just don’t get stuck on YouTube for too long today.


Hypnotic Breakdown of Rousey vs. Holm


Hypnotic Breakdown of Rousey vs. Holm

Most people who know me know about my obsession with martial arts.  So it makes sense that professional fighting also intrigues me.  However, lately I have been more intrigued by the psychological variables to professional fighting than the martial styles they employ.  Muhammad Ali was the master of talking trash.  That practice of using words and attitudes to get inside your opponents head endures to this day.  I thought it might be fun to share my analysis of the mental game between the Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm fight last weekend.

            Ronda Rousey is one of the most exciting athletes to follow these days.  Some say women’s UFC would not have endured had it not been for her.  She has studied Judo her entire life and she took the bronze medal in the Olympics.  In her first 12 fights, she was most known for the speed with which she gets either a knockout or a submission.  In fact, she holds the record for the second fastest win in a professional combat sport.  Besides being the highest paid athlete in the UFC, she has been killing it in big Hollywood action movies.  Ultimately though, she says that in a mixed martial arts setting, there isn’t a person on this planet she can’t beat.

            However, Holly Holm insisted that Rousey could be beaten.  Before Holm even came to the UFC, she was already a world champion boxer.  Some would make a good case for her being one of the most accomplished female boxers in history.  Then she transfers to a kickboxing career, and then moves into the UFC and starts getting KO’s with kicks to the head.  She also has a reputation for being as kind, cool, and levelheaded as she is powerful.

            Since Rousey has been such a dominant force in the UFC, she has earned a lot of hype.  However, with that hype comes a lot of pressure.  No one had been able to get past the first round with Rousey, so there has always been an overwhelming curiosity about what will happen when the day comes that she doesn’t take control from start to finish.  It seems like the accuracy with which Rousey was able to predict her defeat is evidence of that pressure.  Check out what she said on the Jimmy Fallon show.

If you have already seen the fight, you understand that that’s exactly how it goes.  The most powerful hypnotic suggestions are the ones we give ourselves.  Just as we say “don’t think about that,” that is immediately thrown to the forefront of our minds.  I can’t help but find it interesting that in that minute, her unconscious slipped the most likely worst-case scenario.  However, that wasn’t the only variable that may have taken the best of Rousey.

            Ronda Rousey also had a reputation of allowing herself to be an emotional fighter.  Quite frankly, it had worked for her up until now.  For example, in just her last fight, her opponent, Beth Correia, had made snide comments about Rousey committing suicide.  It’s assumed that Correia knew that Rousey’s father committed suicide, so Rousey openly didn’t like Correia.  Rousey was also quite happy to fight with passion and emotion, and it won her a 34 second knockout.  While people usually expect her to want to go to the ground, she came out swinging hard and went for the KO.  You can see for yourself (at 3:22).


So in her previous fight, bringing her emotion into the octagon served her.  However, Rousey didn’t have a reason to have any ill will towards Holm until weigh-ins.  Weigh-ins is always one of the best opportunities to psych your opponent out.  Usually the fighters square off for a picture after they both have weighed-in.  It provides an opportunity to show your opponent that you mean business and even get inside her head.  Holly Holm managed to do just that.

Everything about Rousey’s manor said that she wanted to project dominance.  As she inched her way as close as possible to Holm’s face, Holm took it the next step further by touching Rousey’s cheek with her fist (an it looks like she did so with a slight push).  This, of course, instigates a little fight that’s quickly broken up, but Rousey uses it as an excuse to revert to the same level of anger that she felt before the Correia fight.  She consciously or unconsciously assumed the anger worked for her last time, so it would again.  However, Holm brilliantly doesn’t even acknowledged the fight or Rousey’s anger.

            Now you can watch fight highlights on YouTube, but the actual fight hasn’t been posted by the UFC yet.  I’ll do my best to recall what happens.  For starters, Rousey refused to even respectfully touch gloves before the fight.  Then she runs out like a bat out of hell determined to show Holm that she can win with strikes too.  Holm gets overwhelmed in the beginning, but she’s able to create distance that helps her find a more comfortable pace.  From then on out, Holm controls the standing game with her reach, her kicks, and her dancing around the ring.  Had Rousey been able to keep the fight on the ground, it may have been a different story.  Had Rousey been able to get Holm to chase her, it may have been a different story.  In reality, no one really knows because a good fighter can have a bad night and a bad fighter can have a good night on any given night. 

            The most important thing I wanted to point out was while Rousey fought with rage, Holm fought in somewhat of a trance.  She seemed determined to stay calm, pick the pace of the fight by dancing around the octagon, and quite simply wait for Rousey to wear down enough to make a mistake.  Holm’s strategy is more calculated.  In the second round, she’s able to get Rousey off-balance twice in a row.  The second time, Holm throws a kick to Rousey’s jaw to get the knockout. 

            Obviously, both of these ladies are tremendous athletes.  Rousey knew going into this fight that Holm was going to give her more of a struggle than ones before.  However, Holm seemed to really have an edge.

            I’ve heard hypnotists say before that you can always tell who is going to win a fight by who is able to go into the deeper trance.  For the most part, Holm was able to keep a calm and relaxed demeanor in contrast to Rousey’s untamed ferociousness.  The look on Holm’s face said it all.

            There is a Japanese martial concept called “mushin.”  Mushin is a Zen expression that means “mind without mind.”  It alludes to a warrior’s ability to be connected to the present well enough to know your opponent’s movements as they happen.  In my humble opinion, Holms won because she was better at embodying that concept that night.

            That state of mind can be employed in all contexts.  The more we can be present with our surroundings, the more we can connect to them, if not be in harmony with them.  That applies to all challenges we may face, not just combat.