I recently bumped into a high-flying City friend who I’d not seen in more than two years. In that time, Martin had got engaged, got married, honeymooned around Italy, landed a new job and, just the week before, discovered that he and his wife were expecting their first child. During the same period, I had achieved a paunch. Not a lot else.
What’s more, Martin looked great. Slimmer, healthier, happier. This was a man whose working day stretched from 7am to 6pm and whose evenings would be spent entertaining clients until the last train home to suburbia.
That day, he was a completely different person.
“Given up alcohol,” Martin said, “started seeing a personal trainer, and,” wait for it, “a hypnotherapist.”
Whoa. Hold up a sec. Party-hard, Alpha-male Martin, a full-throttle trader, had tried alternative therapy? Err, well, yes. Or, more accurately, I discovered, a man named Aaron Surtees, director of London-based firm, City Hypnosis. Intrigued, I did a little research.
Surtees, his website says, pioneered the Surtees Method – ‘a combination of Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and combined hypnosis to combat everything from anxiety and addictions to phobias, confidence, unwanted habits, OCD, relationship problems and psychosexual issues.’
As the editor of a magazine and manager of a team of three, I’m not exactly hedging millions of pounds on the commodity markets. Yet, the monthly merry-go-round of motivating staff, securing a lead interview, chasing freelancers and making sure the project goes to print without a misprint – we manage, mostly – does result in some long days in the office and the occasional sleepless night. While Martin had been seeking inner calm, my stress levels had been coursing skyward – something reflected by Chartered Management Institute’s Quality of Working Life research, which has shown that managers work an extra 44 days a year outside traditional hours.
Read more: The CMI Quality of Working Life research
As per his website, Surtees confirmed that he could help with a range of issues. I mentioned sleepless nights and anxiety (one of the most common complaints, it turns out). He offered to perform a type of meditative therapy that would plant positive thoughts in my subconscious. “By use of positive hypnotic suggestion, the subconscious can be programmed to respond with a clarity of mind and focus, even in the most high-pressure situations,” Surtees explained.
Two weeks later, I was reclined in a chair in a serene study below an office block in Holborn. During the next 40 minutes, as water trickled over stones in the headphones on my ears, Aaron’s melodious voice took me on a voyage that went deep underground, through many doors and into many rooms. To be honest, that’s about all I can remember – a lift, some doors and lots of rooms – until we were back in the metaphorical elevator in my mind and Aaron was bringing me back into the real world with a ‘5-4-3-2-1-and-open-your-eyes’.
Wow. What sort of quasi-state of consciousness was that? Somewhere just before sleep, where you’re not fully capable of grappling the thoughts that leapfrog into your mind before disappearing into a swirling whirl of darkness. Had I been hypnotised? Apparently not. But I’d been put into a seriously deep state of relaxation, similar to that place a really good massage will send you to, only deeper.
Was I less stressed in the weeks that followed? I think so. Certainly in the first week.
When deadlines rule your world, you develop a tendency to procrastinate in the rare moments that you’re afforded down time. I asked if hypnosis could be used to improve overall productivity?
“Yes,” said Surtees. “By channelling the hypnotic suggestion towards efficient use of intellectual and physical energy throughout the day, output increases, as does the quality of work produced. A new habit develops.”
As a prompt for open-mindedness, I asked if hypnosis could also reduce unconscious bias in the hiring process. “It can,” says Surtees, “The person involved must be educated about the various unconscious biases that exist and willing to eliminate them for greater fairness. Hypnosis needs understanding, openness and a motivation to change to be most effective.”
I can’t attest to Surtees’s ability to combat destructive management styles in their entirety. But if you’re looking for a stress-busting session or a starting point for a new way of thinking, then a 50-minute session could certainly straighten you out.
For more information, visit cityhypnosis.com
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