I recently had the pleasure of offering a Q&A to the founders - and my friends - at Kensho, a new business looking to bring innovation to how we find and receive our wellness. Check it out below, thanks for reading.
- When did you transition into holistic health? Can you describe your transition?
I inherited my father’s work in 2011. He was a hypnotherapist and a regression therapist who served as the President of the Association for Past Life Research and Therapies in the 90s. I grew up with his practice and was comfortable around the subject matter at a young age. The transition was both sudden and planned for all my life. There was a grief process in the background, and this feeling of returning to where I had started in the foreground that was tremendously comforting. Despite being more focused than I ever had been, I - of course - had years of learning still ahead of me.
- What is it like practicing a modality that your father also practiced and taught you?
In my case it’s a rare pleasure. My old man was always self-deprecating and would shrug off the idea that one of his sons would follow in his footsteps. He was able to guide me with a detachment that allowed for open exploration. I would gravitate to what called me. Now I feel equal and opposite to him. Ultimately we practice very differently, but he was the product of another time and set of experiences. And I like to think the best of his wisdom persists.
- Was there an ah-ha moment (or shift) for you, when everything became more clear? What was it?
I had the good luck to be guided to Melissa Tiers early on in my career. My training up until that point was deep with philosophy, esoteric mysticism, and guided therapy. Melissa is an award-winning author and a leader in the field of hypnosis. She was – and is – focused on the brain and positive psychology. Her approach is rigorously optimized to utilize neuroplasticity in a client-centered, compassionate framework. She is the force that rooted all the heady ideas I had up until that point. She is a mentor to me and my dear friend. The community of therapists that she created and fostered here in the city is inspiring.
- Tell us about your work.
I love working with the tool of hypnotherapy because there is this practical, non-intellectual, subconscious portion of the discipline that is devoted to balancing conversational therapy. I feel all therapies, self-improvement systems, personality assessments, life-hacks, etc., to be created equal. They are tools available to us. Hypnosis has 200 years of botched PR behind it and a sea of misconceptions in popular culture. And yet all over the world hundreds of thousands of people use it, seek it, and benefit from it every day. Medical Hypnosis has a rich history of good science. And much like the current clinical trials on therapeutic experiences with cannabis and psilocybin, it is an experience one has and cognizes. It is neither theoretical or pharmaceutical. It is a semi-narrative brain training in how you want to feel during performance. If you have a moment and you’re curious, look up Dr. Milton Erickson.
- What do you think are some of the challenges the wellness industry faces? How do you cope with it? How might you change it?
The “wellness industry” is generally not well enough defined. First, I consider myself part of it so anything I say I include myself in. On the consumer side, it generally feels like a funhouse. Hypothetically, every time a wellness practitioner has the thought to creatively market themselves or their product, people on the consumer side get a little more confused. The Venn diagram of wellness services and actual healthcare is economically and ideologically intertwined, yet necessarily separate. We hear it’s a trillion-dollar industry with terrific growth yet projected. That says there’s a lot of people willing to spend money to feel better, but do we know what we’re spending it on?
- Some folks are skeptical about hypnotism...how do you answer these questions?
There’s good reason to be skeptical. When I meet someone who is skeptical, I ask them “Why?” And usually they tell me story about a show they saw or a story they heard and I’ll agree with them, it will sound strange as hell. And then we’ll have a conversation about what might have been going on there, why, and how. Generally, it only takes a couple minutes for a person’s mind to open, if not change.
Regarding the aforementioned “bad PR”, hypnosis has a long history of dramatization, misrepresentation, misuse, often even weaponization - as in the popular and fantastic, “Get Out”. Few, if any, accurately portray hypnosis though most will reference a few kernels of truth. Like Oz, when the curtain is pulled back, what’s discovered is both disappointing and revelatory. Trance is common and naturally occurring. Examples include “highway hypnosis”, states induced in movie theaters and by screens in general, and creative flow states. While it true there are forces around us vying for our attention (advertising especially), the core principle is “all hypnosis is self-hypnosis.”
- What's the most fun thing about what you do? What's the hardest thing?
It’s a balance to productively de-mystify hypnosis without taking out the fun. Honestly, I love the weirdness of the field and again, having grown up with it - feel a genuine affection for the range of character that is drawn to practice and study. And then of course, there is the gratitude that comes with the one-on-one experience. Through ups and downs, it has always been a pleasure to work with the people of this city, who are essentially my neighbors. It sustains me literally and figuratively. My practice will change but I’ll always keep some amount of hours in my week for that.
- Is there a particular practice that has changed your life? How come?
I was recently inspired by my friend, Rachelle Robinett, to experiment with intermittent fasting and I’m loving it. My favorite part is that I don’t have to think about food, just time. Whether observing certain hours or sunrise and sunset, it’s cycles of time working in tandem with meals that’s exciting and motivating me to continue. The subject of food often makes me feel like a 5- year-old, so I appreciate the simplicity in just listening to my body while observing the clock.
My wife, Dr. Sarah Biffen, is an acupuncturist and doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Learning over her shoulder about TCM, Five Elements, the meridian systems and all other aspects of her training for years has been enlightening. Particularly the wisdom on food, age, and family health is interesting to me at the moment. It’s essential, even if I don’t always follow the suggested dietary guidelines.