A comparison of the Oatesian Metawalk with traditional hypnosis ...to clean up […] means to deal with all the unconscious and repressed and disowned shadow material that is an inevitable part of growing up itself. But starting even at birth, human beings begin denying and disowning aspects of their own being that are too uncomfortable or shameful or distrustful or disallowed. We deny these aspects, we repress them, we push them into the unconscious, and from there they are enormously tortuous creating all sorts of neurotic and psychotic symptoms. The only way to cure these is to re-own and reintegrate our disowned shadow unconscious material […] And although many spiritual systems have ways to deal with negative emotions, very few if any actually have ways of dealing with truly repressed emotions. Those repressed shadow elements follow rules all their own and those have only been discovered in the past few hundred years, long after most spiritual systems have already been created. And meditation itself will not cure repression, will not re-integrate the shadow […] There are many different shadow work systems […], and it helps to have them as a part of any spiritual path.
- From Ken Wilber’s master class, The Next Level of Spiritual Awakening (2015)
The Metalk, an introduction. According to Reverse Speech founder David Oates, the combination of the classic literary concept of the metaphor as a rhetorical figure of speech containing an implied comparison, association or resemblance (https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Metaphor), and the Walkabout, a journey considered as a rite of passage by Australian aborigines during their adolescence (https://en.wikipedia.org/?title=Walkabout), creates what Oates has coined the Metawalk, “a spiritual journey through the metaphors of the unconscious [mind]”(Oates, 2015, p. 7). This spiritual journey uses the process of visualization to manifest the most relevant and pertinent images and metaphors as revealed during Reverse Speech analysis, essentially allowing access to and resolution of the subject’s most troubling shadow material in their deepest level of the unconscious. Consequently, Oates indicates, “The true purpose of the Metawalk is to show people the state of their soul” (Oates, 2015, p. 7) and then essentially, restructure and transform its deep metaphorical structures. In this way, through performing the Metawalk, a subject’s repressed shadow unconscious material has a vehicle to be resolved and re-integrated into his or her spiritual path. In this essay, we will define the common notion of hypnosis and explore how the Oatesian Metawalk differs from conventional hypnotic practice and why.
Hypnosis, an introduction. Working with the subject’s will, the idea is that hypnosis is used to strengthen this will using therapeutic suggestions or auto suggestion that essentially reprograms the subconscious mind, tapping into great energy reserves and achieving the desired results in the retraining process (Oates, 2015, p. 62-63).
Terence Watts, a modern father of hypnotherapy, describes hypnosis as having the conscious wishes and thoughts of the present responsible for making us human, align and work interdependently with the forgotten experiences and deep-rooted instincts of our subconscious process, producing powerful results. Traditionally, hypnosis is considered to be a focusing technique of the mind inducing an altered state of consciousness characterized by hyper-suggestibility, relaxation and creativity. Healing and positive thoughts can quickly and strongly be integrated by way of verbal, visual, or aural techniques that “entrain” the mind. The World Health Organization reminds us that 90% of the general population have the ability to be hypnotized, even whether it is simply having one’s mind on autopilot or blocking out external stimuli during intense concentration. The real value of hypnosis lies in the changes made at the subconscious or unconscious levels of the mind, which controls 98% of our behavior including our thoughts, habits and memories (Oates, 2015, p. 9).
In its earliest references (Oates, 2015, pp. 59-61), hypnosis dates back to ancient Egypt and Greece as ‘hypnos’ in Greek means sleep and religious centres induced dream states to deduce the source of people’s ailments. Chinese medicine (2600 BC) and Hindu Vedas (1500 BC) are cited as earlier writings, but the most modern belong to Austrian physician Franz Mesmer (1734-1815), who also developed the theory of animal magnetism (diseases result from blockages in the body’s flow of magnetic forces). It was the British eye doctor, James Braid (1795-1860) who discovered that fixating on an object induced the mesmeric state and coined it hypnotism. In India, surgeon James Esdaile (1808-59) documented the health benefits of hypnotism, which could essentially replace the need for anaesthetics during surgery. And so, hypnosis became an ‘alternative’ form of medicine that soon branched into auto-suggestion (Emile Coué, 1857-1926) which precluded the placebo effect. More recently, psychotherapist Milton H. Erickson (1901-1980) mastered the technique of ‘indirect hypnosis’ and his approach and its derivatives are the practitioner’s most effective techniques today.
Commonalities. A closer look at Oates writing (2015, p. 62), reveals that there are many commonalities between traditional hypnosis and the Metawalk. Both create a natural state of mind during which there is complete physical and mental relaxation. Hypnotic induction is achieved using rhythmic words, stories or visualizations to create a natural, hypnotic state of relaxation where one’s attention and concentration is focused and in a heightened state of awareness, allowing direct access into the unconscious mind. The practitioner enters a relaxed state and lowers the voice to speak softly and slowly with a modulated tone, while the subject is in a relaxed position of maximum comfort surrounded by low lighting and silence.
In both the hypnotic and the Metwalk process, changes may be invoked such as: Fixation, or the feeling of fascination; Sensory Change, altering sensory awareness to emotions or audio or visual stimuli; Time Distortion, perceptions of time duration may be shortened; Effortlessness, a heightened ease with which new images and ideas come and go; Leaps of Logic, unusual or illogical situations are more easily accepted and explored; Differentials in Time and Space, time and space collapse into the now allowing full simultaneity and omnipresence; and Amnesia, or only partial recall. Additionally, common external sensory signals might also be shared, which may include: Muscular Changes, by muscles loosening or twitching; Eye Alterations, as some subjects display REM or glazing, pupil dilation, and altered blinking frequencies; Skin Colour changes as blood redistributes; Altered Breathing, as patterns quicken and become more shallow or slow down and become deeper; Peristalsis, or re-invoked digestion; as well as Literalism, or more direct speaking. For someone unfamiliar with the breadth, depth and scope of the Metawalk, this comparison to traditional hypnotherapy may appear to have many similitudes.
Differences. However unlike traditional hypnosis, a key distinction of the Metawalk is that its metaphoric images and scripts are neither chosen by the practitioner nor produced or borrowed from any external source. The Metawalk differs in that the vivid metaphoric images and structures accessed by the subject are actually the product of the subject’s own unconscious mind. The needs of the subject’s unconscious mind is revealed in the reversals produced during the Reverse Speech analysis. These in turn inform the design of the Metawalk. Put another way, the entire design of the Metawalk is an extension of the metaphors and commands produced by Reverse Speech analysis, which taps into the all-knowing voice of the unconscious mind. Congruent with this, no metaphor or command is introduced into the Metawalk unless its context has been communicated in forward speech by the subject and its content identified and distinguished in reverse speech by the practitioner. As such, each of the metaphoric shifts and alterations that the subject experiences during the Metawalk has literally been prescribed by his or her own unconscious mind through clearly distinguished reversals identified in the Reverse Speech analysis process. If we were to consider that the unconscious mind knows what it needs and is incapable of lying, then it is inside the Metawalk that the content of these reversals function to restructure and transform the metaphors necessary for creating new thoughts and behavioral patterns.
A primary technique at the beginning of the Metawalk involves the practitioner striving to create an energetic rapport and surround the subject with his or her whirlwind. The Metawalks are recorded and listened to once a day over a period of seven days. Oates outlines the possible reactions to the Metawalk, which may include certain bodily sensations during the session, mental slowness or disassociation immediately after the session, physical and emotional sensations for days after the session, a 2-3 week delay in a noting causal shifts, or the propensity for tiredness or other reversal reaction symptoms that soon dissipate over time. Oates confirms that real changes start to be noted 3-4 weeks after the completion of the Reverse Speech Therapy and continue to manifest for many months after the Metawalks have been completed (2015, p. 43).
Conclusion. Though the Metawalk borrows techniques from traditional hypnosis, the nature, duration and results of the Metawalk put it into a league of its own. The fact that the metaphors, imagery and commands of the Metawalk are a direct product of the subject’s deepest part of the mind, makes the changes effectuated at this level long lasting and permanent. Manifesting, exploring, and then restructuring the specific metaphors as directed by the subject’s deeper consciousness allows the Metawalk to go one level deeper than the subconscious, and realize permanent transformational shifts in the realm of the deep unconscious mind over time. To date, no other recognized shadow work process has been able to produce the unprecedented results of the Metawalk, making Reverse Speech Therapy a pioneer in the legacy of mind healing techniques and a vehicle to realizing what Ken Wilber asks of us, “to re-own and re-integrate our disowned shadow unconscious material” and in this way take one important step forward in having our souls reach their full potential during this, our collective spiritual journey in being human.
Bibliography. Oates, David John (2015). Reverse Speech Practitioner Training Manual. Copyrighted 2007 by David John Oates (108 pages).
Wilber, Ken (2015). The Next Level of Spiritual Awakening. Online master class held March 10, 2015. http://mindvalleyacademy.com/store/beyond-seeking/online-training/replay
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