A Slice of Time and a Tortoise Kebab, Please

Sometimes it’s all you can do just to hang on. Choices vanish and you deal with whatever crops up next, whatever the consequence. The future is too far away to contemplate and the past sits there glaring at you. If you can just make it through the next ten minutes, maybe it’ll be better. You’re slicing time into thinner and thinner pieces because anything larger is too difficult to contemplate. Sometimes even ten minutes is too long.

Side-step into Zeno’s paradox, beloved of Terry Pratchett who masterfully combined two of the most famous ones, ‘the arrow in flight’ and ‘Achilles and the tortoise‘ leading to a puzzled philosopher whose particular bias was destruct testing axioms, to insist that it was impossible to hit a tortoise with an arrow despite his test-site being littered with broken arrows and testudo kebabs.

Here’s the theory. If you shoot an arrow at a Tortoise it will run away. By the time the arrow reaches where the tortoise was, the tortoise will have run even further away albeit not very far. But then the arrow has to cover that new distance in order to skewer the slowly fleeing reptilian and by the time it does, the tortoise will again have run a further distance which the arrow must then cover and so on. Reducto ad absurdum, as they like to say.

Common sense tells us that this is utter nonsense but then when did common sense have anything to do with philosophy?

Or indeed how we perceive our lives.

At the same time that you’re hanging on for dear life through a day that seems to have no end, friends, loved ones and total strangers are flying through time complaining about there not being enough of it because there’s so much they want or need to do.

Despite scientific evidence to the contrary, our brains appear to have invented the ability to control time eons ago, although it seems like just last week to me.

Welcome to Time Distortion. We all do it all of the, if you’ll pardon the over-use of the word, time. It’s a well-known fact that Time flies when you’re having fun, being sixteen seems like yesterday on your eightieth birthday and double geography takes forever. It would be superb if it were possible to share out time between those of us who don’t have enough and those of us who wish like hell that there were less of it to drag our sorry asses through.

Time Distortion is a key trance phenomena. We use it to get through our day along with the other standard eight. It’s a also key component of some of our difficulties such as stress, where whatever problems we face have way too little available time to be able come up with any sort of solution that gives us the feeling that we could possibly regain any control of our lives. An inability to perceive personal control of a situation is a key aspect of negative stress. And perceived lack of time to find a solution can be a key component of the lack of control. The ability to notice how much time there really is can rebuild the possibility of finding a solution. Regaining control. Overcoming the stress.

Time distortion is quite a flexible building block and finds its way into other key difficulties we face, particularly in that other focus area I work in, pain management. The more our environment shouts at us, the more it grabs our attention. The more attention we pay it, the more we focus on it and that vicious circle spins and dances around us demanding that ever greater attention be paid to those ever smaller slices of time. In terms of a something that grabs your attention by the throat, pain is up there with the best of them.

Pain is a core self-protection mechanism and as such has an extremely high priority in your unconscious mind’s list of things it wants to give it energies to. If you’re in pain, it reasons, (well not reasons so much as red alert all hands on deck), your life may well be in danger so bloody well sort it out now. All your senses and energies focus on fight or flight and survival. You’re dumped into protection mode and that erstwhile common sense approach to life with its inherent feeling of being in control goes on holiday for a bit or in the case of chronic pain, for quite some time and given that time is the issue here, that can feel like forever.

In terms of how our unconscious minds deal with negative stress and pain, an ability to change to perception of time can be a key ally in the fight to regain some balance. Our safety mechanisms are designed to give us the ability to survive and it’s an odd fact that when we are in fight or flight survival mode, we reduce blood flow to cognitive areas of the brain. High emotion makes us stupid, to quote a certain Trevor of Cognitive Hypnotherapy fame. From an evolutionary perspective it makes no sense to think your way out of a life threatening situation, it’s much better to have a heightened ability to react without thinking to your surroundings so you can deal with or run away from whatever is attempting to make you lunch in a non-delicatessen kind of way. And guess what goes along with heightened awareness? Time slows right down and whilst that is great in evading the sharp toothed beastie of old, you have to wade through it like sticky treacle in the concrete jungles of today.

Imagine this. Thinly sliced segments of time are heightening your pain. Dragging it out. There really is no other way to deal with it than to grit your teeth and work your way through this slice and into the next, waiting for the moment when this particular flare dissipates enough for some semblance of normality to return. Now, it’s a strange thing about our individual perception of time that each slice, no matter how thick or thin we happen to have sliced it in the moment, seems to have the same duration as any other slice. So what would happen if I could show you a way to re-slice time? To make it appear to take less, for the want of a better word, time?

Although the pain would exist in scientific time for just as long, your unconscious would perceive it as passing more quickly. And if it appears to pass more quickly, then maybe, just maybe, your unconscious might downgrade its importance in its hierarchy of vital stuff to pay attention to. And that can de-trigger a whole host of other pain perception mechanisms.

Not only can it help with pain perception, stressful situations which suddenly have the time they need to enable you to create solutions that bring back a sense of control may just seem more manageable and a manageable situation, let’s face it, isn’t stressful.

Now obviously life may be a little more complex than this but given that we only use nine trance phenomena to get through our lives, (check them all out here), and that I’m well versed in all of them, it just might be that a relatively simple combination of two or three of them, tweaked in the right manner, could thrust control firmly back in your direction.

To the point where not only could you start to see the wood from the trees, you just might find that you needn’t be in the forest at all.

Why not get in touch? I promise it won’t take long.

The wood from the trees© Tony Burkinshaw 2013

The wood from the trees
© Tony Burkinshaw 2013


Oh my God! It’s 1984…

There seem to be two trends in Yuletide blogging for 2012. The first is a recap of the respective blogger’s adventurous achievements during the year and the second is a variety of musings on the topic of the end of the world and the accuracy of Mayan prediction.

I’m more than happy to leave the second one to work itself out and propose to jump skilfully past it by writing this post early and scheduling it to publish at 9.30 a.m. on Saturday 22nd December 2012. If it did publish and you’re sitting here on Saturday morning reading it, then either the Mayans were wrong, you’re an alien or more likely, interpretations of the implications of the end of the Mayan Calendar sequence were quite simply way over the top and worthy of the exaggerative tendencies of modern media.

If you’re not reading this, then maybe the world did end as per. Even more likely though, you quite simply don’t know that this post is here and are happily getting on with your pre-Christmas weekend, [please be aware that other good religious/non-religious Festivals are available], blissfully unaware that there is a sentence in this post specifically written for people who will never read it. Unless the Mayans were right and all of this post was inadvertently written for multiple unseeing eyes.

In terms of achievements there have been quite a few, at least in my eyes, which are still all-seeing for the moment, although those who’ve achieved these same achievements before me probably just see them as steps on the road. For me, the journey has not long begun and there’s still a heck of a way to go.

So, where to start? I’m told that lists work well in blogs and as I’ve not used one yet, now seems as good a time as any.

In no particular order;

My Pre/Post End-of-the-World Top Ten list

  1. I got published yesterday! Only in a small way, but I’m still chuffed to bits. The Quest Institute has published the very first issue of its quarterly e-zine  ‘Perception‘. As far as I know, this is the only therapy magazine focussing on the public as its readership. Check it out. It’s really good, not least because I have an article in it!
  2. I passed my Hypnotherapy Practitioner Diploma, which has been a recurring theme of this blog, so the World had better watch out if it survives.
  3. I created a Facebook page for the blog which now has 49 likes. Not a huge number but I’m still proud of the fact that it’s growing steadily. Feel free to join in. There’s a button to click over to your right…
  4. I have readers in 40 countries! I have no idea how you all found out about me but you’re very welcome!
  5. Nearly 2,000 views since the blog began in August. By the time you read this, I hope to have surpassed the 2,000 mark. It is actually 1984 at the time of writing, lending itself neatly to the title spot in this post and allowing a literary and musical reference to appear in one go, albeit that neither author of the aforementioned title actually used their real names. Maybe I should go all pseudonyminal as well. Apparently my daughter’s friends are calling me Tony Snake-Eyes – what do you think?
  6. Over 1,000 view from the UK alone. Now this makes sense as I live in the UK but as WordPress is international, how does anyone else know where I live?
  7. Over 130 readers are now following the blog on WordPress. This is one that I am especially proud of. The face that so many of you like what I’m writing enough to want to find out when I publish something new is pretty damn inspiring. Thank you.
  8. Not directly connected to the blog but I have finally joined in with Social Media. I now have 71 Twitting followers and 260 Facebooking friends. I’m thinking of becoming a cult. (Is that something I need therapy for?)
  9. My best ever viewing day was last Thursday, when for no apparent reason, the blog got 90 views. Somehow loads of my previous posts were picked up and read by someone(s). If I could replicate that, this blog would really take off.
  10. Probably the most inspiring of all is that I have found volunteers to help me practice the skills I’ve spent the last 3 months telling you about. I’ve helped people overcome hayfever, chronic back pain, migraines, neck pain, shoulder pain and more. Somehow, when people talk to me and I talk to them… they get better. If you’d like to join in, I’m turning professional next year!

Anyway, assuming that the Mayans let us get there in one piece, 2013 is looking good. Why not keep in touch and let’s see how we all get on?

I'm listening...© Tony Burkinshaw 2012

Keep talking…
© Tony Burkinshaw 2012