A Piece of Kemila's Mind

Meeting Erickson

Life isn’t something you can give an answer to today.
You should enjoy the process of waiting, the process of becoming what you are.
There is nothing more delightful than planting flower seeds and not knowing what kind of flowers are going to come up.
– Dr. Milton Erickson

Milton Erickson

Last night, I had a self-hypnosis session, where I went slowly, calmly, and easily down a flight of stairs, entered my inner sanctuary, and met Milton Erickson in spirit there.

I invited him over to my comfortable room, and told him how I appreciated him, and how I resonated with his approach.

He smiled his usual smile. And affirmed that what he did everyone can do. It felt strange, he explained, to be put on a pedestal and be called a genius. He was not aware that he was more genius than anyone else. There is that inner ability and inner wisdom that we all can tap into. It’s not that some people were born to have it and some were not. It’s that some people were born to trust it, some were trained to trust it, and some were forced to trust it, as for example, he giggled, by polio.

I expressed my amazement at how bits of Erickson have become Ericksonian over the years, and further developed into ever fancier and fancier NLP techniques. “Your name is a big selling point for hypnosis schools, even though you probably hadn’t benefited as much from your own name,” I said to him.

“But the essence,” Dr. Erickson got serious, “is not complicated. Like life, it may be complex, but it’s simple.” In my simple self-hypnosis session with this humble man, I realized the huge value in “utilizing what you have, at the moment when you have it”.

I thanked him. Looking deep into his eyes, I saw deep wisdom, and the reflection of my own wisdom, in it. Somewhere deeeeeep in that trance of my self-made hypnosis, we met. And no more words were necessary. I clearly saw tenderness, and trust.

If Rogers’ is a Client-Centered Therapy, Erickson’s has to be defined as a Client-Tailored Therapy. Each situation is addressed in a unique way, taking account of personal trends, values, and circumstances – All in an intuitive way without conscious rationalizing and figuring out. Erickson must have trusted his unconscious mind so much.

And, there’s no real “system” to it, not a true way to reproduce what Erickson did in practice. And that’s because he was unique in a way that is really hard to grasp: he was a different therapist for each patient, just the right therapist to meet their needs and do the work. The harsh-talking tyrant could also be sweet and tender, or full of jokes and fun. He was the disrupting element of the patient-problem system; he always got to be part of the system.

So, how can these incredible abilities be developed? How can someone understand so clearly what needs to be done? And the answer is “do it unconsciously” of course. Erickson viewed the unconscious mind as creative and generative. He used to say:

I go into trances so that I will be more sensitive to the intonations and inflections of my patients’ speech. And to enable me to hear better, see better.

Many times, I was asked what I practice in my work – Kappasonian hypnosis? Ericksonian? Hypnoanalysis? Timeline Therapy? Suggestion Hypnotherapy? Solution-Focused Hypnotherapy?… My answers would depend on who’s asking and under what circumstances I’m asked.

But my true answer is that I practice “Kemilian”. That sounds quite funny. But then, the unconscious mind processes information 11 million bits per second. As a hypnotherapist trusting her own unconscious mind, I think that’s a very appropriate answer to the question of my practice, including the sound of it.

Growing up with minimum means – “poverty” in the Western term I guess, but I didn’t have that connotation while I was growing up in China – one of the most beautiful gifts my mother has given me was to “make do”, to “use what we have”. I remember she was so proud that she had the ability to “break one penny into two halves and spend it twice”.

No pension plan, no saving for retirement, no outlined future, life is survival for the day. And in the course of survival, we live, and create, and find joy in living and creating.

The 160 square feet space was very creatively used for living, dining, and sleeping for five people. Yes, the family had to be very close, literally.

I do not remember I’ve ever cried for things I didn’t have. As long as we don’t have a fixed idea of how things should be, we do not lack anything. Now I’m known in my circle of friends as someone who can show up at people’s homes, open up cupboards and fridges, and bring out a full course of a meal, even when they say, “There is nothing in my kitchen.” This is always received as a great surprise. You’d be amazed how they spread words of your capability like that by cooking one meal – that is, of course, that you’d appreciate a little bit Asian touch of cooking food.

I guess you can call me the “chef who goes to your home”, instead of a chef working in a restaurant. Unstructured? Yes. Unexpected? Even to myself. A lot of fun? Absolutely. A fixed recipe? No.

Every client brings issues to a session. They also bring solutions, which exist inside the issues. Our ability to turn seeming obstacles into opportunities makes us great hypnotherapists. In their own words, I found that they always give me clues for metaphors. Of course, I also introduce fresh ingredients. But hypnosis for me is more like a catering business than a restaurant business.

Utilize what we have. I don’t know how my upbringing has anything to do with my profession today. I only know why Erickson, not Ericksonian, has been so inspiring and resonating with me.

I have grown to say YES to opportunities first, and find out how to do it later, when my unconscious mind is encouraged and engaged. I have done my best hypnotherapy works when I had no idea what the issue was prior to meeting the client.

I’m glad I always have a place that we call trance to go, and meet the inspiration there. The distance between me and the genius is the distance of my eyelids.


Note: In-person Self-Hypnosis for a Better Life is on August 5 – 26 in West End Community Centre, Vancouver.

Another level of Self-Hypnosis called Power of Pendulum is on July 15 – 22. Very limited space as WECC makes sure we each do have our s-p-a-c—e. 

Registration is now open. 

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