Seeing Right Through Disguises

Growing up I loved reading comic books. I could believe storylines about other dimensions, magical villains, and mutant superpowers. What I found hard to believe was the notion of secret identities, that superheroes could walk around in everyday life undetected. Why didn’t everyone notice that Clark Kent was obviously Superman? His disguise was a pair of glasses. That’s it. How was everyone so blind? All they saw was Clark, a mild-mannered reporter. I shouldn’t be too hard on comic book writers. Most of us wear disguises. We put on various masks to fit in and make ourselves look good, but they rarely fool anyone. On the other hand, our magnificent essence is often obscured by our faults and frailties.

In the Bible is a story about a blind beggar named Bartimaeus. (Mark 10:46-52; Luke 18:35-43). Like most good stories, the irony is the point. The blind man sees what no one else does. The crowd of sighted people see their latest superhero, superstar, prophet and magician. Bartimaeus sees deeper.

The crowd tries to silence Bartimeaus when he calls out to Jesus. But Bartimaeus yells out all the louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”...Son of David. David, that woefully imperfect king who nonetheless was said to be a man after God’s own heart. Bartimaeus sensed in Jesus that heart of God, the heart of compassion, Life Essence, the Web of care connecting all.

Jesus stands still. It takes conscious intention to stop midst the inertia of the crowd (or the inertia of our own ego), get still, check in and then act from a deeper place, from the heart of compassion.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asks him. What an odd question. Isn’t it blatantly obvious? Not really. The unfortunate truth is that most of us would rather stay in the familiar dark. Did Bartimaeus really want to see? It would come with a cost: he'd have to let go of his identity as a blind man; he'd have to find a new line of work; he'd have to let go of all reasonable excuses and entrenched story lines about his life.

Do you really want to see? To see things as they are always requires that we sacrifice cherished illusions. The excuses, blame, judgments, self-centeredness, arrogance, self-pity, apathy…they fall like scales from our eyes. We see life as it is, stripped of our familiar narratives and prejudices. It’s liberating but uncomfortable.

Bartimaeus makes his choice, “I want to see again.” Jesus replies, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” Does he physically see again? Maybe. We only know a small fraction of what is possible in this surprising universe. But if all we get from the story is that a man named Jesus performed unrepeatable magic tricks 2,000 years ago and therefore must be praised and obeyed, then we've missed the mystical juice that still heals today.

Bartimaeus takes a leap of faith, which saves him. Is it possible that Bartimaeus takes that leap out of the familiar toward wholeness and finds in himself the very Life-Essence that Jesus radiates? It's interesting that Jesus doesn't say "I saved you" but rather "Your faith has saved you."

The constant choice is between a familiar, fear-based existence and greeting life as it is, with openness and kind eyes. To see life as it is requires faith because we must be willing to surrender our set story lines for an unpredictable, emerging story. If we are willing to make that leap of faith, then we will be saved in every way a person can be saved. We will see right through every disguise, including the one we see in the mirror, to the very heart of God. We'll recognize the lively sparkle in the eyes behind those glasses.

Cluck Like a Chicken

When I tell people I have just completed training to become a Certified Hypnotherapist, the most frequent question is, "Can you make me cluck like  a chicken?" My response is always, "Only if you want to." While all of us, on occasion, would be better off clucking than talking, it's only in my imagination that I have the power to compel animal banter against someone's will. When taking an honest look at myself and at my clients, I've come to the conclusion that the progress we seek is slow or elusive because we only scratch the surface. We set a new intention, say a few affirmations and take a step forward and assume all will be hunky dory.

Profound, lasting change, however, requires the cooperation of the subconscious mind, which is the reservoir of our memories, emotions, habits, dreams, and deep-seated beliefs. So, it occurred to me that the best way to help myself and others was to work more with the subconscious, which led me to hypnotherapy.

Hypnosis is a natural state of relaxation. We experience it when we get engrossed in a movie or just before we fall asleep or before we fully wake up. In hypnotherapy, the conscious, critical part of the mind relaxes so that the subconscious can receive positive suggestions to move toward a goal. The subconscious, however, has the ability to reject suggestions that are not in your best interest. Of course, clucking like a chicken might be just what you need!

The lovely thing about hypnotherapy is that it uses your own inner resources and wisdom to bring about healing and progress. There's no need for external authorities or an endless string of the latest self-help modalities to "fix you" because all the tools are already within. In that relaxed state of hypnosis, your richest gifts emerge and flourish to address whatever problems you are facing and to enhance whatever is already going well in your life.

Because it is focused on the subconscious, hypnotherapy has the potential to work much more quickly than traditional talk therapy. In fact, you can even learn to practice "self-hypnosis" as a way to promote wellbeing and energize your goals.

Here's a short primer on how to practice self-hypnosis:

  • Stare at a spot on the ceiling.
  • Breathe deeply into your abdomen and then up into your chest. With each exhale think "Relax" or "Let Go".
  • When your eyes begin to fatigue, let them close down and return to normal breathing.
  • From head to toe, imagine each part of your body relaxing. You might even think to yourself, "Eye muscles, relax. Jaw, relax..."
  • When you get to the toes, imagine sending a wave of relaxation from the tip of your toes to the top of your head and back down.
  • Envision yourself in an elevator or at the top of a staircase/escalator...or whatever is most comfortable for you. If you can't see it, imagine that you are seeing it. See the number 10 above the elevator doors or on the steps. Feel yourself slowly descending. Watch the numbers gradually descend as you descend. 10...9...8...With each descending number, you descend deeper into relaxation.
  • When you reach number one, envision that the doors in front of you open into a relaxing place of your choosing. Let it be a sensory experience in which you take a few moments to enjoy what you see, hear, touch, smell or taste.
  • In this space of your own relaxed creation, you can:
    • Affirm whatever your goal is.
    • Call on a wisdom figure (Jesus, your grandmother, the Buddha) with whom to dialog.
    • Extend this good feeling to any part of your body that needs support.
    • Meet the needs of some part of you that is stuck in the past.
    • See yourself as having achieved your goal and sensing the energy and direction needed to get you there.
    • Use this nourishing space within yourself in any creative way that seems appropriate. The possibilities are limitless!
  • When you feel complete, pause for a moment of gratitude before leaving. Envision yourself ascending back up the stairs, escalator or elevator, this time with numbers ascending 1-10.
  • Open your eyes, stretch and move on with your day.  The beauty of engaging your subconscious is that the work you've down will continue to unfold without you having to consciously cogitate on it all day. Move on with gratitude and pay attention to how your life evolves in the days ahead.

Whether or not you cluck like a chicken, you will find that scratching beneath the surface is what it takes to get all of us chickens to cross the road of growth and healing and get to the other side.

P.S. I am now offering one-on-one hypnotherapy sessions in San Rafael, California. Please read more about the hypnotherapy services I provide and contact me for a free consultation so we can discuss if it is a fit for you.

Also, join Kathleen Denison and me for a powerful day retreat in November focused on healing the most challenging relationship in your life. For more information and to register, check out the classes page.