Author Archives: Magic of the Mind

About Magic of the Mind

Mind Reader Associate of The Inner Magic Circle

‘What a Word!’ by A.P. Herbert

I’m currently reading this 1935 rant by ‘APH’ (later Sir Alan Herbert, CH) on the misuse of words. It has a similar goal to ‘Plain Words’, written by Sir Ernest Gowers in 1954, but it’s rather more humorous – much of it originally appeared in Punch. It’s very dated now; many of the neologisms that APH hated are now in common use, and few will remember that ult, inst and prox used to be common in business letters.

One of his complaints is about dictionaries. Working mainly from the Shorter Oxford, he points out that dictionaries merely record that a word has been used, and that just because a word is in the dictionary, having been used in 17something, doesn’t mean it should be used now. (An example is “coronate”, which I commented on recently when it appeared in a newspaper article.)

He wished that there was a dictionary along the lines of Fowler’s, giving guidance on good English. In fact, such a dictionary does exist now; it’s the Oxford Dictionary of English, and it’s my bible for proofreading. The most recent edition was published in 2010, and it could do with an update. (Don’t buy the Kindle edition, by the way; you can get it free on a Kindle.) I wonder what APH would have made of it.

How to Get to Sleep

When I was practising as a hypnotherapist, I developed something of a specialism in helping clients to deal with insomnia. Generally, my procedure involved teaching them self-hypnosis and EFT, along with the principles of sleep hygiene. This was usually enough, but occasionally a client had a deep-seated issue that needed an analytical technique to resolve.

I took a particular interest in insomnia because I had suffered with it myself, and I still tend to wake during the night and sometimes use self-hypnosis to get back to sleep. I’d like to mention here a couple of techniques that I’ve recently discovered which work for me; perhaps one or both will work for you too. Before I start, I should mention that I think in words and find it quite hard to visualise pictures, but I can still manage these techniques; you don’t need clear mental images.

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The Concert

The following is a sample script for an Ericksonian trance induction, using the three primary representational systems used in NLP – V (visual), A (auditory) and K (Kinaesthetic – feelings and emotions).

I wonder if you can picture yourself at the entrance to a large concert hall-perhaps a real hall that you have seen, or an illusionary one that you can visualise, it doesn’t matter – you enter an impressive, richly decorated foyer, go up a beautiful winding staircase into the brightly-lit hall. Looking around, you may notice that the hall is empty, or perhaps other members of the audience are already in their seats, but you make your way to your seat, the best in the hall, and find you have a brilliant, clear view of the concert platform straight in front of you. And now you see that the members of the orchestra are making their way onto the platform; the violins, violas, the much larger cellos and double basses, the contrasting colours of the woodwind and the shiny, polished brass, the percussionists assembling behind the kettledrums and xylophone already on the platform. Now you watch the leader of the orchestra come in, as all the other players stand for a moment, and now the conductor appears, tall, distinguished, confident looking. I wonder if you can visualise the scene as he mounts his rostrum and raises his baton, and the players take up their instruments.

You hear the music begin softly and slowly, but it fills the hall with sound. You know the music well, in fact it’s your favourite melody and you’ve listened to it many times, but perhaps you haven’t heard it played by an orchestra before. You listen as the tune begins with a whisper quietly in the strings – then the bird-like sound of the flute soars over them, now the rest of the woodwind take up the tune, and as the volume increases, so does the tempo. As the sound swirls around you, faster and louder than before, you hear the mellow sound of the horns, followed by the more powerful sound of the trombones, all playing your tune, and now the clear, bright sound of the trumpets introduces the climax of this section. The whole orchestra is playing now, at full volume, the harmonious acoustics of the hall developing the full mellowness of your tune, and now a crescendo, with a roll on the kettledrums, followed by a short pause…as the music begins again, quietly, with the high, thin sound of a solo oboe, then with quiet accompaniment from the violins, and now the woodwind section fills out the harmonies…

…and the calm, peacefulness of the music, together with the comfortable warmth of the hall, and the gentle softness of your seat beneath and behind you, bring feelings of both joyfulness and relaxation, and the tranquillity reminds you of a favourite place, perhaps in the countryside, or a park, or by the sea, and you can sense your thoughts wandering to that place, and perhaps feel now the pleasant warmth of the sun on your body, maybe a gentle breeze on your face, possibly the sensation of the ground beneath your feet as you walk at a comfortable pace through your place, where you know you can feel safe, secure and in perfect rapport with nature and yourself, and perhaps you can be sensitive to the inner glow which the empathy of this place can bring to you, and know that you have experienced a profound, deep-seated understanding of your unconscious and its power to instil these feelings of joy and peace within you, and now you can become aware again of your physical body, sitting comfortably in this room, and feel the softness of the chair beneath you, your hands resting gently in your lap, your feet settled in front of you…………

Spiritual Science by Steve Taylor

I was led to this book after reading an article by Steve Taylor, effectively a cut-down version of the book, in Paradigm Explorer, the Journal of the Scientific and Medical Network ( ). The book aims to show that ‘materialism’ doesn’t work, and that science and spirituality can co-exist in a new worldview proposed by the author – ‘panspiritism’.

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Houdini among the Spirits

Harry Houdini died on 31 October 1926, and he is still a ‘household name’ almost one hundred years after his death. In the minds of today’s public, his name is synonymous with escapes, but Walter Gibson, in Houdini on Magic (1953, p.xiv) comments that “… in the final analysis, Houdini’s great claim to permanent fame lay in his crusade against fraudulent mediums and other charlatans who preyed on the public.”

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