Every so often I find myself referring back to ‘When I was working as a hypnotherapist’ (because a few people did pay me for the sessions) or ‘As a hypnotist’ (because I was quite into hypnosis as a career path at one point) without ever being formally recognised, authenticated or certified. The truth is that I did indeed use hypnosis for serious and positive things like helping people give up smoking, gain confidence or lose weight, as well as non-serious things like past life regression, higher self pathworking and deep memory recall. Looking back from an ‘adults’ perspective I can say that the serious stuff was eventually what led me to abandon the practice because of the growing responsibility that comes with other peoples minds and the non-serious stuff that led me to abandon the practice because it is all nonsense.
For about eight years I practiced hypnosis and it’s uses and came to realise that primarily the human mind is quite capable of deluding itself in innumerable ways. We very often generate our experiences out of what we want, rather than uncovering some hidden and unknown truth. This does not denigrate the skill involved at all, far from it, but it is not the power trip depicted in cartoons. The fear of Mesmer has propagated far and wide.
It was not until many years later that came across Neuro Linguistic Programming that I understood the things that I had taught myself during those odd hypno years. Strangely enough NLP carries its own cache of gibberish, nonsense and myth but generally, if used properly, I found it to be a much more succinct approach to the mind.
Although I do not practice the skill directly I noted recently how many aspects of it I have incorporated into my world view and how positive those aspects are. The reason I brought all this up in the first place began with the idea of Theme Tunes and how they can be used.
It started with a suggestion that the ‘theme tune’ could be used to invoke a mood or feeling, as music is wont to do without much of a nudge. Music is such an ideal medium for storing and communicating emotional states that it is very easy to condition one’s self with certain emotional or psychological states. There must be hundreds of particular tunes that bring with them a certain memory or feeling, some more powerful than others. Why not use them actively to bring on a feeling?
I use a few Theme Tunes in various situations; to call up confidence, to relax, to remain positive. I thought that it started with Ally McBeal, in which I identified strongly with an insane male lawyer, John ‘the Biscuit’ Cage (at which point I should direct you to a previous post on negative role models and their power for good ) who had many and varied methods for coping with his anxieties as well as improving his mind. He would use various means of imagination and visualisation to remain calm and increase confidence such as ‘hearing’ bells when he walked, or the Barry White dance that ultimately created the seeds for the shows self-destruction. Yeah, it does come across as a terrible show from this distance but they had good writers for a while.
Despite that, there is something undeniable about the nature of music and its power to influence us and I thought it could be used.
The science/pseudoscience behind this technique is one of anchoring. To try and sum this up, it is a form of conditioning where an emotional state is raised or noted and an association is created which can be called upon in reverse later on; bringing up the association and thus engendering the same emotional state.
First find the music that brings about an emotional effect. Some pieces of music will bring on strong feelings of various kinds but the ones you need as a Theme Tune will be the ones where you can use it in your life. Anything that brings on confidence and inner strength or self-worth, something that creates a sense of calm, or brings about an attitude shift. Finding the right music will create a useful tool as long as you can successfully visualise it, and with music that resonates personally.
It should probably not be your *favourite* music either; favourites will tend to have multiple levels of associations and bring about certain moods in certain situations. It will be a stronger trigger when it is linked to a strong memory, which itself brings about the emotional change. After all the closer you can be to the act of feeling the positive emotion the better, not just the idea of the emotion but being there.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be you in the prime role. If you were watching something or with someone and could associate or empathise clearly then you will have been experiencing the right emotion indirectly.
The first strong musical key for me that eventually formed into a Theme Tune, must have been linked to my early family life and the seventies. It carries a strong building rhythm that allows my mind to recall it clearly; drums, bass, guitar, everything else. By the time I have brought up the first few bars I can ‘hear’ the music and recall the sensation of confidence. It has the right pace as well, the correct tempo for unhurried assurance.
Superstition – Stevie Wonder. This version from Sesame Street and he is jamming with some of the funkiest players. Note Ray Parker Jr in the background. This was a vague emotional context but I developed it over a long time. When I needed the feeling I would hear the tune and focus on the state of mind. Usually this was a means to combat nerves during time in front of a camera or performing whilst at art school.
The second is one that was chosen because I knew it would work. Queen Bitch – David Bowie. The strut walk end sequence from Life Aquatic carried all sorts of thoughts and associations that were nothing to do with the film but the feeling it brings about is an anti-establishment confidence and sense of belonging, but it is also carries optimism and positivity for me.
Finally, there is the commuting in the city song. The music I use when I need to develop the cutting edge cynicism that the city brings out. The armour song. Survivalism – Nine Inch Nails. A perfect tempo for hustling down packed out streets and maintaining focus. Uncensored version.
There is a danger, of course, that you inadvertently create a Theme Tune that exemplifies your fear, anxiety or neurosis. You have to *actively* wish to remember the positive state. Counjour the feeling that you wish to feel, rather than simply overlaying some music onto your present feelings. The music wil help you remember the positive state and will continue to help the more you use it. Use it as a feedback state, a loop of feeling and when you get to the zone, turn it up in your mind.