Using Hypnosis To Capture “The Muse”: How To Enhance Creativity, Overcome “Writer’s Block” And Other Artistic Issues by Cheryl Shainmark

One of the oldest, most fascinating riddles for mankind is our impulse to create. Where does inspiration for the writer, the singer, or the dancer really come from? If this is the oldest question, then the second oldest question may be “What do you do when it stops?” When the muse has departed or seems to be in hiding then surprisingly enough, hypnosis may be the way to woo her back.

For those who are unfamiliar with how hypnosis works, or who have only seen stage shows, it may come as a surprise to learn that there is more to it than amusing an audience or using it to shed weight or quit smoking. Modern hypnosis is used to help clients with any positive changes that they wish to make, or in this case, to overcome any blocks or issues that are problematic. Briefly, the point of using hypnotism is to quiet the conscious mind enough to get to the subconscious mind — once you’ve done that, you can use the altered trance state to either put in the suggestions that you want, or to get out the information that will help you.

As a practicing hypnotherapist I have treated a variety of artists — writers, dancers, painters and singers — who have come to me because they have reached an impasse. This may manifest as a “block”, or the feeling that the “joy has gone out of it,” or the sense that his or her work has “plateaued” or become stale. While each artist’s individual problems and circumstances are unique there are some commonalties in what each person faces, and in the solutions that we reach with hypnosis.

First, I make sure that the artist is not in need of a good long vacation — it may be pointing out the obvious, but if he or she feels as if they are grinding away, then further grinding is not going to make it better. But once we’ve determined that this is not the case, then we get to it. The second thing to look at is mental and emotional “housecleaning” — we all know you can’t fit new clothes into your closet until you clean out and throw away some of the old stuff. Frequently, the writer or artist is clinging to the old stuff out of habit or fear of the new — but I ask them how can you have any new successes if you are still holding on to the old ones?

This does not mean throwing the baby out with the bath-water… one does not have to lose the mastery of the old form or all one’s hard-earned skills. Instead, I have the client go through a variety of exercises to determine what to save and what to let go of. This may include identifying and recreating the peak “flow” state, working in a related but different media, (writing fiction if you’re a non-fiction writer or vice-versa, dancing or singing outside your usual musical inclinations, etc.), or doing something completely unrelated to their usual field. In this case we are not concerned with the quality of the piece, but in getting the “creative juices” stimulated and flowing again.

Other exercises that hypnosis is perfect for include identifying and healing old emotional issues if they are causing a problem, whether that problem is manifesting as “writer’s block” or for performers, a constriction in the muscles, throat or breathing. This is when you use the trance-state to get out the information that the client needs. One of the other things we may work on is the behavioral component. For example, if an artist knows that he or she does their best writing or rehearsing in the early morning and yet the night before eats a heavy dinner and/or too much alcohol — then that person has consciously or unconsciously sabotaged the next day’s efforts. Artists need to identify and eliminate the bad habits that de-rail them and undermine their goals. This is where we use the hypnotic state to put in the suggestions and affirmations for building good habits.

The bad news is that there is no avoiding or going around the impasse, the client must go through it — and wooing the muse can take some effort. The good news is that capturing the muse pays-off handsomely, and the artist’s hard-won depth of experience and fresh perspective directly translate into new depths and perspectives in their work. This, in turn, may herald new successes and greater accomplishments. If you are feeling stymied or sense that you are ready for the next level of performance in your field, look into using hypnosis to reach your goals.

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by Cheryl Shainmark
Cheryl Shainmark is a transpersonal hypnotherapist with a private practice in Mount Kisco. She uses hypnosis to help adults and children with a variety of physical, mental and emotional issues. For more information, please call (914) 241-3689.