I enjoy meditation recordings because my mind is too squirrelly to meditate without a lot of help. In yoga classes I’m the twitchy one flipping the corner of the blanket with my toe. So when I find a hypnosis recording that claims it can help me in my ever-futile quest to find my Life’s Purpose, I decide to try it out on behalf of all the cynical seekers out there. (You know who you are, twitchy.)
Based on an emailing from Bradley Thompson, who seems like a reasonable and helpful guy who offers a phalanx of self-help products, I go to the web site Instant-hypnosis.com and peruse what they sell.
Choosing from a list of hypnosis sessions that includes “Release Your Fear of Clowns” (with the excellent sales closer, “Don’t let clowns have the last laugh!”) and “Grow Taller Today” I find the one I want: “Find Your Life’s Purpose.” Each session runs around $13, with themed packages of multiple recordings running upwards from $30. There’s a money back guarantee but no guarantee that you won’t bark like a chicken when you hear the word “cauliflower.” I’m just sayin’.
Day One: Just an ipod, Surrealism, and me
I buy and transfer the Instant Hypnosis recording “Your Life’s Purpose” narrated by Bradley Thompson, to my iPod. I lie down and get comfortable for about an hour’s worth of hypnosis, hoping that in a session or two, I’ll discover a pithy summary of what I’m supposed to be doing with my life. I’d prefer the “elevator pitch” version of it, as long as I’m burdening the cosmos with requests.
It opens with some Windham Hill-style piano music and the narrator’s voice announcing disclaimers and legal stuff in soothing tones. Then, after a pause, he says “REEELAAAAX” in a slightly over-amplified voice which cracks me up every time. As I listen to the session (and recover from the giggles), I do go into a hypnotic state as I have before with other hypnosis and meditation tapes. Instead of my Life’s Purpose coming into view, I see a mélange of rather disturbing images that can’t possibly add up to ultimate purpose. If so, I just have to reconcile myself to being the sum total of aimless walks on the beach with a guy I dislike, an odd trip with the neighbor kid to a Myrtle Beach carnival and freak show, buying cheap plastic shoes in Baltimore, musing why capilene stinks so badly while rowing a heavy wherry alone across Puget Sound, nailing baseboard to a cheesy new house in a mediocre development I designed the houses for and wondering why people settled for such stuff, and some other dark, shapeless disturbances I’m not sure were ever real.
And would repeating this hypnosis get me closer to the Answer to Everything or just more mental detritus?
DAY Two: Fresh Horrors, Metaphors, and Recovering my Inner Jerk
I tried the hypnosis recording again. There are fewer disturbing images but more violent: a man pulling out his own eyeball, people carrying a drowned young woman out of the surf (so much for “visualize yourself on a beeyootiful beeeeach…”), a movie werewolf, all fangs and saliva, trying to eat my face.
At the end of it all, I’m left with some vague notion that my Purpose in Life is tying everything in the world together, and building gravity-defying towers out of Tinkertoys and puffs of breezes. I can’t sort out the Stick and Hub metaphor but at least it’s something.
Also I don’t think the recording’s suggestion of ridding myself of all preconceptions and inhibitions is such a good idea. Yesterday (after the first time I did this hypnosis recording) I idly told a friend her ironwork tables seemed artistically unambitious, which caused her to storm out of the coffee house. I think I, of all people, need a few EXTRA inhibitions to keep from being an asshole.
Although it might be unfair to blame Bradley Thompson for my being a jerk.
DAY 3: But… What If I’m destined to be a dullard?
No disturbing thoughts this time. This hypnosis session is about an hour. I am doing fine until the part where I’m supposed to have my Life’s Purpose float up to me. I fall asleep before all is revealed. I wake up with a jolt after the good part but before it’s over, feeling cheated that I did the prep work of conjuring up a beeyootiful beach and then missed the whole point. By the way, conjuring up a warm beach is not easy for someone from Seattle. My experience with beaches is generally cold and rocky. Maybe I had to work too hard to visualize warm sand.
Maybe it worked on my subconscious while I was asleep, so I ponder if there are any new insights rattling around in my head. Nope.
Conclusion: Make up a Life’s Purpose instead.
I switch my iPod to “Aja” by Steely Dan and now I don’t care about anything but whether I could make it as a Steely Dan backup singer. If I’m not meant to align with my true purpose I’ve still got Fagen and Becker and the fantasy of putting on a black mini-skirt and red lipstick, dyeing my hair raven black, coming up with some quirky trademark earrings and singing in smoky Manhattan lounges. Maybe that IS the answer. I don’t know ANYONE who can tell me what their life’s purpose is but lots of people want to sing backup for Steely Dan. Maybe it’s better to just get on with the minor details of my daily survival and forget it.