Along with the majority of the nation, yesterday marked my first day back at work post-Christmas.
And, like the majority of the nation, after about three hours, it was all too much – and I found myself frenetically Googling “cheap exotic holidays”. (Sorry, bosses).
So when I was offered a luxury, two-week Caribbean trip, for free, I was there before you could say pina colada. But alas, as with most things in life, there was a catch.
My getaway would actually take place in the Bluewater Shopping Centre, in Kent. In 20 minutes. Alongside Paul McKenna.
The world-famous hypnotist offered to knock me out and make me feel like I’d just spent a fortnight marooned on a tropical island.
Naturally, I was cynical. As someone who poo-poos all forms of therapy, can’t switch off during yoga and thinks people who believe in homeopathic treatment should be locked up, I wasn’t convinced about my ability to be sent under.
Mikael BuckBut having emerged from the yuletide period knackered, bloated like a hippo and with bigger under-eye bags than Nigel Farage, I gave it a go.
Introduced to Paul, we are ushered into a pop-up pod where I’m told to plonk myself down in a red velvet armchair opposite him.
Centimetres separate us. I can pretty much smell what he had for supper last night (something involving a little bit of red wine, and garlic?).
Immediately, my stress levels rise further and, aware of the camera on me, I’m hunched up like Quasimodo.
Sensing my tension, Paul ushers out the cameraman, and we begin, once he’s asked me about my most relaxing holiday (Mauritius). Now,” says Paul. “I’m going to use a couple of different mediation and hypnotist techniques on you.
“You will feel deeply relaxed but you’ll also be aware of our surroundings – the Bluewater shopping centre – and of my voice. If the fire alarm suddenly went, for example, you’d be able to snap yourself awake and get out of the building.
“Because the nervous system can’t tell the difference between real and imaginary though, when you remember a really good time, or imagine one, it produces a change in both the body and brain’s chemistry.
“You’ll emerge thinking you’ve just had the most wonderful holiday.”
He starts by asking how stressed I am on a scale of one to 10. “Nine,” I bark.
Mikael BuckRecoiling slightly, Paul asks me to close my eyes, imagine I’m on a Mauritian beach, and with every step count backwards from 20 to one. As I do so, he gently strokes my arms from shoulder to forearm.
It is instantly calming – a bit like having a really gentle massage.
His familiar, dulcet tones are telling me to picture every detail of the beach and when I get down to ‘one’, I’m told to open my eyes and move them from right to left. I feel like I’m in a 1940s movie, watching an old, swinging pendulum watch.
“How stressed are you now,” he asks? I tell him eight, and off we go again. This time, I’m told to count down – aloud – as I walk in a beautiful sunny garden.
After each round, he asks me about my stress levels and, each time, sighs, and goes again until I’m finally down to sub-five.
It takes me 10 minutes longer than most people. Now, the real hypnosis begins.
For the next 20 minutes, he continues to stroke my arms, knees and hands while getting me to run through happy holiday scenarios.
Mortifyingly, he wants me to think of my single, favourite memory of Mauritius. Immediately I think: “breakfast buffet.”
Picturing my gluttonous daily feasts, I feel myself on the edge of an uncontrollable fit of giggles. My mouth starts to twitch, and I am beginning to shake with the effort of not laughing in Paul’s face.
Desperately, I try and steer my sub-conscious away from pancakes and, eventually, images of tranquil seas and golden sands come flooding in.
I’m back in the game.
Obscure, minor details of my holiday come back to me, and for chunks of time I really do feel totally relaxed.
If I was lying down, instead of sitting bolt upright in a chair, I feel like I’d be fast asleep/deeply relaxed. I want to take Paul home with me, and install him beside my bed. But that’s probably not legal.
Clearly I’m not the only person desperate for a break.
According to a poll by Virgin Holidays, January 5 is the day more Brits hunt online for a getaway than on any other day of the year. And 12.43pm is peak ‘break browsing’ time.
But, like any other holiday, my ‘fortnight’ on a beach was over too soon. “Right,” Paul says. “I’m going to start counting you back, and back to reality, in 10 seconds.
As each seconds passes, I want you to feel yourself becoming more aware of your surroundings, where you are, and feeling more responsive.”
When he gets to ‘three’, I feel my shoulders hunch up and my heart beat faster again – it feels really strange.
Eyes open, he asks me how I feel.
Remarkably, I do feel a lot perkier and the pain of a fairly recent break-up seems a long way away, (admittedly, as does Mauritius right now).
So what just happened? Paul explains: “The technique is Amygdala Depotentiation Therapy, or havening.
“By the gentle touch of your shoulders, and using lateral eye movements, delta waves in your brain help de-link thought from feeling. So you remember something stressful happened, you just can’t get the same the same level of stress.
“When it was first done on me, I’d also just gone through a massive break-up – the girl had run off with the husband of one of my friends, and I was absolutely furious.
“A friend recommended psychotherapy and to this day I have a sort of neutrality about it; I can remember it was bad but it doesn’t bother me whereas it really did at the time.
“It takes minutes to do but has massive effect.”
How did I do?
“You went pretty deeply under,” he says. “You were really very stressed at the beginning. But by the end, your breathing slowed right down too.
“Your muscles relaxed. I could see the muscles around the side of your mouth and eyes visibly droop”. (Oh, good). “You look much more relaxed.”
Chatting afterwards, I ask the 51-year-old hypnotist-to-the-stars, whose clients have included David Walliams (when he swam the Channel) and Ellen DeGeneres, if he’d also slipped in a hypnotic gastric band.
I want him to tell me I don’t need one.
Instead, he suggests I download his £4.99 gastric band app on to my smart phone. I nod back politely.
Paul has amassed a multi-million fortune and is the author of several best-selling, self-help books.
His latest, The Three Things That Will Change Your Destiny Today, is out this week.
It was inspired by a difficult couple of years during which his father and a close friend died.
He credits the techniques deployed for his recent engagement to personal assistant Kate Davey, and for landing a major TV show Stateside.
So does the man with the Midas touch sleep like a baby?
“No, not at all,” he smiles. “I have problems just like everyone.
“I do sometimes have disturbed sleep and jetlag is something I struggle with… one of the few things I haven’t cracked.”
So, room for another book…
Limited appointments with Paul are still available. Email email@example.com for details
Article source: http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/health/paul-mckennas-hypnosis-put-test-4925318