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Personal Mind Control Experiments

I've always liked to play around with my own mind, experimenting with different ways to think to see what the practical effects are. One of the earliest mind control experiments I did was at about the age of nine or ten. I don't remember the exact circumstances, but I do recall that I was feeling very bad about something that had happened. At some point, it occurred to me that other bad things had happened to me before, but that they didn't bother me nearly so much, since they were in the past. In fact, some of these other incidents seemed more funny than painful after some time had gone by.

That thought led to the realization that I could imagine seeing my present situation as though a year had gone by. I tried this, thinking about what had just happened as though I was recalling it from this future time. The pain I was feeling immediately diminished now that this incident was merely a "memory" of something that had happened long ago (a year is a long time to a child), rather than something that was happening now or had just happened. I had invented a simple technique that I then used more than once during my childhood.

Some of you will recognize this as what later came to be called neuro-linguistic programming, or NLP. In the more advanced techniques of NLP, you change the color of these past images to black and white in your mind, or mentally put the scene in a frame and hang it on a wall. These are ways to re-code the memory, to take the emotional content away.

How to Turn Off the Mind

As a teenager I sometimes had insomnia. It was clear that it was my mind keeping me awake. A thousand thoughts were running through it. So what could I do to fall asleep?

One evening I was watching television, and I fell asleep. When I woke up, I realized that often the TV kept me awake. Why did it also put me to sleep at times like this? The answer was obvious: I had been watching a boring program.

The next idea was logical. If television could put me to sleep or keep me awake depending on the content, why wouldn't it be the same with thoughts? I could try it easily enough, but, unfortunately, I discovered that it's not easy to think boring thoughts. Every time I tried to do so my thoughts morphed into something that was more interesting. And, of course, we are easily fascinated by our own thoughts, especially when young. In any case, the first part of this experiment failed.

I watched the mental process going on as I rolled around sleeplessly and realized that the stream of consciousness which kept me awake, even though it contained many different thoughts and images, really was something like a "stream," with an identifiable "current" of sorts. In other words, it flowed from one thought to another with some logical associations as the "stream bed" that it followed. The question came to me, what if there was no consistent "flow?"

That's when I tried my "random thought sleep experiment." I allowed no image or idea to take on a life of its own, or a logical course in my mind. If I started to think about tomorrow's plans, I would immediately think of something unrelated. If an image of a tree was in my mind, pens or cups would have to start growing from it, rather than leaves. The idea was to avoid any logical thoughts or images in the mental action. Purely random and meaningless images and thoughts were the aim.

This technique was difficult at first, but when I used it, I fell asleep in ten minutes instead of the usual hour or two. I was effectively "turning off" my mind by giving it nothing to work with. Interestingly, I soon was able to fall asleep more easily even without going through this routine. Maybe I had trained my unconscious mind to accept that when I went to bed it was time for sleep.

Other Mind Control Experiments

I have always been a believer in self-experimentation. It is a good way to research those things which cannot be addressed as directly by science, or things that just haven't yet been studied very much. For example, you can certainly tell if something you do makes you feel more confident or happier, but to do the same science tries to work from outside personal experience and must trust people to report accurately what they feel. Since this approach may not provide the most objective measures, such research is often not done. But what kind of experiments can you try on yourself? Here are two to consider.

* Talk about yourself in the third person (use your name rather than "I") to see if what you say is a more objective assessment of who you are. For your control data first write a description of yourself and answer ten questions about yourself (you can make these about almost any aspect of your character or personality). When you are speaking or writing about yourself in the third person, do you have new insights? Do you answer the ten questions differently?

* Watch your pupils in a mirror, and you'll see that they get larger as you think about something exciting and pleasurable. How do we use this to learn something new? Make a list of scenarios, and rate how desirable each one is. Then imagine them while watching your pupil size as a proxy for your immediate subconscious feelings, to see if it coincides with your conscious ratings. In other words, are you really as excited by what you think you are, or are there some surprises here?

Some other personal experiments that are fascinating to me have to do with the altering of our conscious identity through the use of metaphors. I sometimes write about this subject on my website about metaphors and metaphorology.


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