I was out playing with my son at the local park last week and I got chatting with a fellow parent about guided visualizations. Now just as I was about to leave and take my son home for his dinner, the friendly parent asked me how I actually created my visualizations. "What was the inspiration behind them… how do you choose a particular subject… how did the music come into being?" I sat there for a few moments thinking: "Hmmm, how can I answer this question as simply and concisely as possible in the very short time I have available?" I looked at my curious inquisitor, smiled, and said "with love".
Choosing a visualization
The process of producing a self-help audio MP3 (from inspiration to creation) is a very interesting one that has a number of distinctly different stages. The first is choosing a subject, and for me this is simply based upon selecting an area that moves me personally combined with a demand for it from the general public. For example, the inspiration for my "Relaxing The Economic Blues" MP3 first arose during the 2008 financial melt-down. Not only was I meeting and reading about a great of people suffering due to events beyond their control, I myself was feeling a little stressed out by the gloomy economic outlook. I wanted to guard myself against the whims of the banks and the governments and in-turn learn to save or spend money a little more wisely.
I've always believed that if I can create something that interests me, then chances are they'll be quite a few other people who would be interested too. My dad, whose been buying and selling furniture for almost 50 years, told me many years ago: "If I see a chair and like it, then you can pretty much guarantee they'll be another 200 people out there who will like it to". This little insight has stuck with me for probably over 25 years, except as I get older and the world gets bigger (yet smaller through social media!) I realise that that 200 is actually a few thousand, or even hundreds of thousands and probably millions.
Writing a good guided-visualization script
So upon having the inspiration for the MP3, the next stage is to actually write the script. A good guided visualization capable of creating significant change will incorporate a number of similar styles and techniques whatever the actual subject is. All of my titles use language which resonates at the subconscious level. Also, all of my MP3s utilize at least one of the most powerful tried and tested audio relaxation exercises researched. This might for example be a diaphragmatic breathing exercise or a progressive body relaxation. I use elements of NLP (neuro-linguistic-programming), mindfulness, guided visualization, direct & indirect suggestion and solution-focused hypnosis / coaching. The key is to get a fine balance. The more I practice and write, the easier and more seamless it becomes.
All of these approaches are then combined with my studies, personal insights and ongoing research into the actual issue I'm working on. Perhaps the most valuable information in the creation of my MP3s is that which I've obtained directly from actual clients who I have seen in my own private practice. Here I have first hand experience at what actually works. For ongoing research I keep up to date with both developments or findings regarding the brain and the mind-body-sprit connection, and the actual subject I'm addressing. I'm constantly looking at government findings, recommended articles and research from reputable private institutions. A great deal of people have a fear around flying purely because they cannot conceive how this mass of metal gets in the air in the first place. Many 'fear of flying' courses therefore teach people the mechanics of flying. My "Stop Smoking Now" MP3 is a good example of how I combined a lot of different avenues of information. You can't simply say to someone: "You're feeling very relaxed, now stop smoking". To change behaviors, people need to be educated. I include such information in my scripts.
Traditional hypnosis scripts versus modern guided-visualizations
The next step is combining all of this information and then arranging it into the induction. There are no hard and fast rules here since use of the correct language will always sink into the subconscious. More traditional hypnosis scripts will begin with some kind of relaxation exercise, before 'a deepener' then relaxes the listener still further. (An example of 'a deepener' may be a slow count from 10 down to 1, which creates the illusion for the subconscious mind of descending into a deeper state of relaxation). Finally, positive imagery, suggestions, metaphors or affirmations will tackle the issue. A guided visualization or a classic meditation might develop more quickly as far as the actual subject matter is concerned. The key is that the listener is relaxed. I do spend the first section of my scripts relaxing the listener, but I also like to start addressing the issue early on as well. Your subconscious mind is always open to receiving positive information. To that end there are some effective visualizations out there that are only 5-10 minutes in length. Mine generally run at about 25 minutes. There are also some pretty good ones which are a great deal longer.
The next stage is to record the music that sits behind the voice. This for me is a very separate process and I'll show you how I do that in part 2 of this blog...