I recently acquired some audio of Paul McKenna - Britains foremost hypnotherapist. As regular readers may know, I'm sceptical of many, many things, but I do actually believe that there is something in hypnosis, although only in the truest 1 on 1 sense. I was interested to research whether such 'magic' effects could simply be induced through the power of earphones alone, so I got hold of Deep Relaxation. I figured one may not be enough, so I also got Instant Confidence (because you can never have too much confidence right?).
I loaded both onto my portable media player, lay down on my bed and squeezed my earphones in to my non-standard sized ears.
The first track on Deep Relaxation was called 'Welcome' and Paul tells us about the amazing benefits we will reap if we adhere strictly to his instructions. At one point he said "To move on to the relaxation, skip to the next track and..." I had already done so. I didn't want a lecture, I wanted deep relaxation dammit! Give it to me Paul!
The next track is called simply Eyes Closed and Paul tells you that you should not realy be driving or operating heavy machinery whilst listening to this. I laughed quite a lot as I thought of forklift drivers listening to Deep Relaxation and calmly ploughing into their co-workers. Not a good start, but I'm open minded, so I did my best to follow his instructions:
In the right hand earphone: If you are listening to this through a stereo, my voice should now be coming from the right...
In the left hand earphone: ...and now from the left
Paul talked me through relaxing different parts of my body, from my feet upwards, dropping the shoulders etc etc. One thing I've learned: here is a man excited by stereo technology. Paul's voice gradually sunk in pitch and moved from right to left and back, whilst some bastardised Pan Pipe Moods gently played in the background. I tried to ignore the music as best I could - I think it may have worked better without the distraction. After a while I was remarkably relaxed, but I'm pretty sure I was conscious, because my brain was thinking "This feels a bit like I'm being introduced to a cult". I should also point out that my experiment was somewhat flawed in that I did cane a bit of a bifta prior to this, so Paul's magic might have been artificially enhanced or damaged - I wasn't sure which.
After the 15 minute mark, Paul's deep 'seductive' voice was actually starting to grate on me somewhat, and I starting pointing out his grammatical errors and flowery language out loud. Also, I was reminded of the relaxation tape used by Steve Coogan in I'm Alan Partidge - this again amused me and I couldn't really take it seriously.
I opened my eyes and thought "How much of this is there going to be?". I looked at the screen on my media player and I still had a fair while, so I shut my eyes and lay down again.
The McKenna patois was becoming almost like a voiceover artist for Milk Tray - I pulled out my earphones with an "Ahh fuck this". I was vaguely relaxed, although I put this down to tried and tested 'guided relaxation' that I imagine most people could be trained to do.
The next morning before work, I thought I would give Instant Confidence a go, expecting to bounce to work shaking everyone's hand after listening to it. McKenna told me again that "Whilst you may not remember everything in this, you will remain receptive to my commahnds" or some such sentiment. This instantly stimulated a part of my brain that said "Resisssssst!" and I'm pretty sure I just listened to the whole thing thinking "This is really dumb" and "I wish someone would strangle that fucking pan piper". If anything, the audio gave me the confidence to express the normal human emotion of hating pan pipe music.
Whilst I gave some credit to Deep Relaxation, Instant Confidence was utter toss, and for confidence, I would recommend the tried and tested method of getting drunk or high, rather than listening to a little man telling you that you're brilliant over Latino synths.
Deep Relaxation 2/10
Instant Confidence 0/10