Helping Hands

The Gift To Be Simple
Simplicity in Hypnosis Work

Henry Leo Bolduc and Marjorie V. Reynolds

I. Introduction

“... to be simple is to be great.”
--Emerson (1803-1882)

In any profession, in order to communicate with the general public, practitioners must simplify complicated ideas. University-learned shorthand jargon becomes translated into familiar words and phrases. When you know your topic well, you are able to discuss it in everyday language and your listeners appreciate the excellence and elegance of your simplicity. Some people find it difficult to bring simplicity to the communication of difficult concepts. It is even more difficult to have a simple approach to the whole of life while making gains on the ladder of success. Perhaps you are familiar with some attempts at developing Utopian societies in which perfection in the social and political organizations was the goal. One unique group was that of the Shakers.

II. The Birth of Shakerism in America
During the time of the American Revolution, a spiritual revolution was having a profound impact upon the emerging nation. A small group of people known as the Shakers, an outgrowth of The New Method of Thinking, about one hundred years earlier, and an offshoot of Quakerism, came to America in 1774 and ignited spirit with their channeling. America was startled with their strange manner of expressing their spiritual devotion and their simplicity of lifestyle. They had an ideal and they accomplished most of the things which many people perceive on a distant horizon at present.

The Shakers did not use the term hypnosis; however, from our perspective, their entranced dance, the gyration and trembling accompanied by channeling, would appear to be quite hypnotic. Their religious trance dancing permeated their daily lives as well as their worship services. Shaker women would whirl along the roads while using rhythmic shaking of their heads and arms. Shaker men would go into trance states while doing such work as plowing and cutting wood. Self-hypnosis includes much more than sitting still for a visualization or for giving a discourse in response to a question. Many people go into hypnotic trance when doing any form of art work or anything of a creative nature. Many inventions have their beginnings in deep trance rather than in deep reflection. At present, trance dance is popular.

The origin of the Shaker movement goes back to a group of people, called Prophets, in France but can be traced to the Essenes of Biblical Palestine. The Sufi, or Whirling Dervishes, of Persia also used music, song, and dance in altered states of consciousness to communicate with God. Through the leadership of Ann Lee, an illiterate, cotton-factory worker, who brought her eight followers to New York in 1774, people began to observe a new way of life in which relationships were based upon innocence. People lived in harmony in communities which were free from abuse. Everyone was accepted equally. They lived a simple life. The Shakers believed that, through hard work, honesty, celibacy, and spiritual attunement, God’s purpose could be realized on earth.

III. Building: The Growth of Shakerism in America
About a decade before Spiritualism became commonplace in America, in their religious devotion (and at all other times), the Shakers created altered states of consciousness through which spirit communication occurred. They were the first religious group to acknowledge channeling as a way of communicating with the spirit realm. It is reported that they talked with the spirits of several famous people. The visionists, members who felt moved by the spirit to channel messages, were identified only by their initials. (Grave markers, in some communities, used only initials to identify the deceased.) They recognized that they were channelers and not the originators of the messages. Spirit communication was regarded as a gift. Frequently, the channeler’s hands would be uplifted to receive the spiritual gifts. Diaries of the messages are on display in Shaker museums. The dance was a gift; it was described as the removal of “carnal and evil” through the rocking and shaking. The whirling was a form of devotion.

The gift of music resulted in the composition of over 24,000 songs, some of which were composed slowly and others were channeled or inspired. The channeled/inspired music had a different beat and was difficult to record into musical notation. The gift of art was channeled and, often, was called spirit drawings.

Shaker members, in general, had individual gifts; however, all Shakers had the gift of work. They believed that work, a form of devotion, was the greatest gift and they aimed for excellence. Shakers are known for their work ethic.

Many people are familiar with Shaker furniture which is known for quality and endurance. Items which sold for a few dollars when new tend to yield a thousand to several thousand dollars today. The Shakers invented the Murphy bed, the flat broom, wall pegs, the washing machine, clothes pins, transoms over doors, and many other devices. They considered their inventions to be gifts which could be used freely by everybody and, therefore, they did not patent the items. They were the first to package garden seeds. The medicinal and cooking herbs were in great demand by many people.

The Shakers had a form of government which supervised internal affairs. Trustees developed markets for their products.

From their arrival in America in 1774 with nine people, the Shakers, by 1845, seventyone years later, had a membership of 4000 in 22 communities. Interest in their philosophy was shown by such visitors as Lafayette, Melville, Hawthorne, and Emerson to their communities. In the Building or Growth part of the movement, the Shakers were building a better world, not only for themselves, but as a demonstration to humanity that it could be done. They were concerned with the principle of remaining God-conscious. Since many populations failed in that area, that segment of humanity tried to be a pattern for others in showing the unfoldment of spirit. They (1) lived in innocence in their relationship with God, (2) honored what they believed to be their basic connection with God, (3) set up internal rules as a man-made government to follow God’s government, (4) made a choice to be God-conscious, (5) had self-imposed discipline, and (6) set up an ideal community. All of those ideals had been failed by other groups. Although, from time to time, certain individuals in the community might have strayed from piety, in general, the Shakers lived lives of purity.

IV. The Decline
Eventually, membership interest began to decline. Except for a few members in Maine, the Shakers have gone from America. You may go to their museums (especially at Pleasant Hill, Ky.) to learn about their philosophy, lifestyle, and products.

What caused the decline of the Shakers? Many people smile an say that their celibacy caused the decline. It also could be said that the vows of celibacy led to their increase to 4000 members. They lived in a self-sufficient, income-producing community, worked together in unity, and put human values ahead of material possessions. It was one of many utopian communities which flourished during that period, many of which were regarded as failures; they didn’t practice celibacy. Other proposed concepts failed without being put into practice Perhaps a more significant question would be related to the reason for the waning of the proselytizing efforts.

In their later years, the spontaneous dance of the Shakers became more controlled and orderly; it was a routine of comfort with security. Their early ardor in witnessing, which kept neighborhoods awake, was subdued. For two centuries, they demonstrated that people could grow together in harmony. They were builders of a better world. Their keyword was excellence. An overview of their communities shows that their ideal of perfection and closeness to God was a mission accomplished.

V. Completion
The Shakers came, they built, they left, and they left a legacy. They demonstrated the joy of a simple life; their legacy was one of simplicity and joy in work. They respected closeness to God, community sharing, honest labor, human values, piety, and purity. Work was considered to be a form of prayer and devotion. They varied their jobs to allow people to develop different skills. One of their greatest legacies---and the least understood--- is their exploration of the spiritual dimensions.

The Shakers transcended the negative reactions and personal identity and they recognized themselves to be at one with the Whole. They are reborn in our philosophy of the need for a better world.

VI. Hypnosis Work: The Pattern
The process of the Shaker movement is shown in self-hypnosis.

Birth---The Early Stage: In the early stages of using self-hypnosis, we tend to negate the distractions---just as the Shakers negated the sexual drive and sublimated the energy into work and devotion. The negating can help us to get started and could take us to a level of maintaining a focus or attaining concentration.

Building: Soon, the negating of the distractions no longer is necessary. We are able to use the would-be distractions to take us further into the spirit of that which we are affirming. We blend the distraction with the goal of the session. The Shakers were able to blend their energy in their worship activities; work was a form of communion with God.

Decline: As soon as the building is completed, the decline begins. When we think that we have reached the top, we usually perceive no direction other than down. In hypnosis, the decline is empowering because we believe that we have accomplished a goal. We can find alternate ways of responding. We can control the flow of images and we are more calm. We have achieved. We have arrived. No more hard work seems to be needed. We begin the decline period because we do not perceive the next dimension. Just as the Shakers did, our actions retreat to a routine of comfort and security.

Completion: Ultimately, in self-hypnosis, we surrender (bypass) the conscious mind and allow the unconscious part to surface. The Shakers surrendered personal identity associated with their gifts. Whatever happens comes from the inner level of being. We must trust the unconscious part of mind (the God within, the inner self) to do what has to be done to allow a rebirth, an integration, of the insights. The outer personality dissolves; the material part of the entity is no more. The essence, reintegrated at a different level of life, becomes part of a new identity.

VII. Conclusion
Like a candle, simplicity of a concept enlightens as it fulfills the purpose for which it was created. Often, a simple statement holds the listener too focused to applaud. The Shaker movement was founded upon ideals envisioning perfection which kept them on their chosen path of God-consciousness. They had (1) devotion to God, (2) excellence in the work ethic, (3) products with quality and endurance, (4) self-sufficient, incomeproducing communities, (5) products and ideas which were free from copyrights and patents, (6) purity and innocence in lifestyle, and (7) safe procedures for communicating with the spirit realms.

The Shakers succeeded in demonstrating that such community living is possible. Modern society, instead of sharing freely, uses copyright laws and patents to protect productions. Hypnotists share ideas at conferences (we pay for the session) but most of our creative people make use of patent and copyright laws. Modern humanity considers the simple life to be elusive. Life can be simple at the crest of activity; simplicity means understanding a topic well enough to avoid frustration. Anything seems simple when you know it completely. If you apply the purity of simplicity and joy in your communication, then you might be surprised to find other Shaker gifts, such as respect, will follow. You are likely to gain clarity, elegance, and sublimity. The simplicity and joy of the Shakers cannot be copied. Such traits cannot be transplanted directly; they must come from within one’s own philosophy.

VIII Applications
1. One way to simplify communication is by the substitution of common words and phrases for the elite jargon related to the topic. That’s an easy one and, actually it is only a minor concern. People are quite capable of learning new terminology when the context explains it clearly. Use those frontal lobes to process information well enough to translate it into purity of thoughts through to simplicity.

2. A second way to simplify communication is the use of positive statements instead of negation. Positive statements are simple one-step sentences; negative formation requires a two-step process. The listener/client tends to become occupied with one part and is likely to give an undesired response. Example: “Don’t eat the cookies” requires the person to interpret “Eat the cookies” and, often, as in the case of a small child, the word “Don’t” is neglected. The process can be made simpler by telling the child which items are available for eating. Make statements in clear ~tnd positive phrasing.

3. A third application is the avoidance of fear-based words which often create fear unintentionally. Such words can be felt very acutely by vulnerable, fragile, at risk clients and the response can be much different from the desired outcome. When fear is used as an attempt to control the client, that person’s apprehension becomes strong. It is the antithesis of hypnosis work. The choice of words can either help or harm the listener. As hypnotists, our words must demonstrate respect for our clients. Fear-based words can be replaced with words ofjoy. Most people agree that joy and laughter are healing modalities.