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On Reading and Asking Questions

the Emergence Explorer

Questions for the Week of March 27, 2006

these questions were based on the article
"The Conscious, Subconscious, and Unconscious, a New Look at an Old Metaphor."

Emergence Character Type Babies 9-AI-2

This Week's Questions

[posed by Gary S.]
  • How does hypnosis affect consciousness?
  • How does being startled cause the mind to go blank?
  • How do I know whether or not my questions are good or valid questions?

Do you know?

[Question 1] How do I take the information I read and turn it into questions?
[Answer] On the surface, Gary, your question is a simple one. In reality, though, it is anything but simple. In fact, in order to answer your question, I need to first discuss how children are normally taught to read. You see, most peoples' problems with asking questions on readings are more rooted in how they were taught to read than in anything else. What I mean is, most people have trouble asking questions, because most people have never been taught to read "consciously." What is reading "consciously?"

Reading "consciously" is [1] picturing the words you read as you read them and [2] stopping to get a picture for a word when you have not pictured this word. This is reading consciously.

Why are these two things necessary? Because turning what you read into questions requires that you can discern between what you have and have not pictured of what you have read. Thus, people who read consciously know exactly what to ask, because they know to ask questions primarily about what they have been unable to picture. On the other hand, people who read by rote never know what to ask, because at best they simply use logic to make up their questions. This guarantees most times they won't even care about what they ask questions about, because they have asked these questions only to comply with the teachers requests to ask these questions.

How then can you know if you have read something consciously? The answer? If you have, you will have [1] pictured the words as you read them and [2] will have stopped to get a picture for the words you could not picture. Unfortunately, most folks never learn to read this way.

How do most people learn to read then? They learn to read in what amounts to a four step process wherein they imitate conscious reading. I call this process, the "blind-eye method." What is the "blind-eye method?"

The "blind-eye method" is the teach-kids-to-read method most schools have been using for years. This includes the schools in which both you and I learned to read, many, many years ago. It is, in fact, the method still used to this day. What is this method like? In this method, children are asked to learn a sequence of four steps, the four steps being, [1] to recite, [2] to memorize, [3] to recall, and [4] to interpret. These four steps make up the four blind-eye method. So what is it like to learn to read this way?

In step one, children are asked to pronounce aloud what they read (recite). At the same time, they must also commit to memory (memorize) what they are pronouncing aloud (step two). Why? Because in a moment, they will need to remember (recall) what they just pronounced aloud (step three), when the teacher asks them to explain (interpret) what they just pronounced aloud (step four).

Teaching kids to read this way is just plain crazy. Why? For one thing, because it ignores the fact that learning to read (or learning anything else for that matter) begins with being able to picture what you are learning. Unfortunately, the way teachers normally teach kids never even mentions the need for a picture. Worse yet, this method, which I have pejoratively been referring to as the "blind-eye method," forces kids to try to learn four reading skills all at once; [1] pronunciation, [2] memorization, [3] recall, and [4] comprehension.

Now if you have ever read an elementary school report card, you know that only two of these four skills ever get graded. The first skill to get graded is called "reading," and the second is "reading comprehension." What are these two skills really? The first skill is to be able to "recite" sounds, meaning, the art of translating written symbols into spoken sounds. The second skill is to be able to "interpret" these sounds, meaning, the art of knowing how to guess at what these previously unknown sounds mean.

Notice how the middle two skills do not get graded let alone ever mentioned? This is because teachers never stop to consider what they are actually asking children to do. Why not? Because they, like most teachers, are test driven rather than learning driven. More on this in a moment.

So what's wrong with learning to read this way? Well, let me ask you, have you ever tried to learn to do four things at once? Let me skip to the point. It can't be done. We humans are capable of learning things only one thing at a time. Even on our good days. Why? Because "learning" is "the skill of picturing what you are doing," and no human being can learn to picture more than one new thing at a time.

Is this true though? It's actually easy enough to see. Just try it out. Imagine, for instance, that you are now learning to do something, for instance, imagine you are now learning how to drive. Now imagine being told you must learn to drive with your eyes closed, and that you must now learn how to parallel park and to make a "K" turn all at once. How well do you think you would do?

If you are like most people who have learned to drive, having to learn either of these two things was hard enough. Having to learn both at once would have been terrible. And having to learn both at once while your eyes were closed would have been impossible to say the least.

This is exactly the kind of thing we ask kids to do when we ask that they learn to read using the blind-eye method. Not clear to you yet? Let's try another example then.

How about if you were asked to learn to boil water and to learn to pour this boiling water into a teacup, both these things while your eyes were closed? Of course, in all likelihood, you would have at least seen these two things being done. Even so, do you think you could you learn how to do these two things with your eyes closed? More to the point, would you even want to be asked to do this?

How about an easier one. How about if you were asked to learn to walk this way, by having to memorize a four step process. Perhaps the four step process might have been something like, [1] lift your right leg, [2] move your right leg forward, [3] drop your right leg to the floor, [4] now shift weight to the other leg and repeat with the other leg? Imagine having to remember all these steps as you learned to walk! Want to know what it would have been like? Try it. You'll be amazed at how difficult it is walk this way. And how badly having your eyes closed shakes your confidence, even with something you know inside out.

Now let's consider what being asked to learn to read in four steps is like for kids.

In step one, they are asked to "recite" written words out loud. So what is this like for most kids? To be honest, if you were to ask most adults to read aloud, they would probably resist and say they are either bad at it or hate it. Does this tell you what it was like for them? For most people then, learning to read aloud was just plain terrible. Why? Because most kids get so nervous as to whether they will be laughed at or not that they are literally a reading injury waiting to happen. In other words, being asked to read aloud makes most kids so hyperaware that the slightest interruption, including anything from hearing someone clear their throat to being laughed at, can seriously and permanently injure their ability to love reading.

Did this happen to you perhaps? Would you like to know? It's simple. Ask yourself this question: Do you love reading aloud? If you do, then you have learned to consciously read aloud. If not then, when you read aloud, you are simply going through the motions, more parroting the sounds of words than actually reading consciously.

"Parroting" is not reading. Parrots, even real ones, simply imitate the sounds of words with little if any real sense at all of what these sounds mean. Feel familiar? Is this what you do when you read aloud? If it is, don't be surprised. This in fact is what you were taught to do when you learned to read aloud. You were taught to parrot words. No surprise this "parroting" happens to be the standard teaching method for all subjects from reading and English to history and mathematics. To see this, consider how they tested you each time you took a test. Weren't you graded simply on how well you could parrot information? Did they ever once consider whether you could picture what you learned? Of course not. They simply required that you parrot the information properly. If you did, you passed.

So am I saying these tests are all invalid? For the most part, yes, I am saying this. So what would a real test be like? With regard to reading aloud, it would be to ask you to read aloud and watch to see if you love reading aloud. If you can, then you pass the test. If not, then you are simply parroting, which is what most kids do when they read aloud. And get graded on besides.

So kids learn to parrot. What's the big deal? Well, have you ever watched kids when they have been asked to interpret what they just read? If you have, then you will know that most kids will try to sneak a second look at the page. Why? Because they were so nervous they would mispronounce words that they kept trying to read ahead. Unfortunately, this reading ahead ensures kids will never be able to read consciously, as no human being can do two things at once. Not consciously, anyway. No one ever mentions this problem though and so, most kinds simply learn to fake reading aloud. Translation. They get graded on how well they can imitate parrots. Literally.

So what is really wrong with this system? The fact that being asked to learn to do two or more things at once is so potentially harmful that most people have BLocks not only in and around reading aloud but also in and around reading in general. Why? Because reading in your head is reading aloud. You are simply reading aloud to yourself. Thus, even when you read to yourself, you are still vulnerable to getting injured. You literally learned the blind-eye method this well.

How can I be so certain this process is this harmful though. Simple. What you have actually learned, you feel delight in doing, and what you have simply memorized, you will feel flat while doing. If indeed, you can do it at all. So how many people love reading out loud? In fact, how many people love reading at all, let alone understand what they read?

Most people do not love anything about reading, other than if someone reads to them. Why? Because being read to means you will not have to face the pain of being unable to read consciously.

The whole point is, what you can picture, you can usually figure out on your own. Thus, any questions you have will be more rooted in elaboration than in understanding. On the other hand, what you cannot picture, you have not read consciously. Thus, here is where you should have the questions. Unfortunately, because you can't remember what you did and did not picture, you won't even know where to begin to ask questions.

Said in other words, knowing what things truly mean, including words, requires that you can picture these things. Anything less is simply a guess at best. A bit more skilled than parrots can do. But not by much.

[Question 2] How do I stay conscious so I can ask my questions?
[Answer] You do this by remembering that "consciousness" is "the skill of picturing movement." With regard to asking questions then, if you have been asked to derive these questions from a reading, then you need to explore how consciously you read.

How can you do this? By keeping a pad and pencil by you as you read, and by making a stroke mark for each time you lose your ability to picture a word. At first, of course, this will be quite hard to do, as you have never been asked to do this. If you keep at it though, soon you will be quite skilled at knowing when you have lost your picture. Eventually, then, you will have gained an even more valuable skill. You will be able to find injuries while reading. How? By discerning between losing the picture because you have yet to have a picture and losing the picture because you saw something that put you into shock. These two experiences of losing the word picture are very different. One indicates a problem with the reading process, the other, a problem with the content you just read. Now let me explain.

What I just said is, basically, you need three skills in order to stay conscious enough to ask questions. The first skill involves being able to know when you can and cannot picture what you read. The second involves being able to discern between two causes of lost pictures, the first being that you have never created a picture for what you just read, the second being that you have a painful association to what what you just tried to picture. The third skills then involves knowing how to create pictures for what you cannot picture, especially for those things for which you have painful associations.

Developing and using these three skills is only the way to learn to stay conscious enough to ask questions. Other than having these three skills then, all you are doing when you ask questions is faking it. No fun, to be sure.

More important, asking questions consciously is probably one of the most wonderful things we human beings could ever do. If you doubt me, watch babies do it. They naturally love it. You did once too. Before you got injured.

[Question 3] How do I know whether or not my questions are good or valid questions?
[Answer] Easy. All questions are good and valid questions. But then, you already knew this already. So what made you ask me? In all likelihood, you asked because you have yet to consciously experience this adage.

How can you know if you have experienced this adage consciously or not? Simple. Ask yourself a question while watching yourself for delight. No delight, then this adage has not emerged yet.

So how do you know if this lack of delight is about the process or the content? Again, you need to rule out the process, this time, the process of actually asking questions. Once ruled out, then you can focus on discovering which part of the content caused your mind to go blank. And then heal this part so you can delight in it once more.

[Question 4] How do I remember the questions I've asked?
[Answer] You remember simply by picturing your questions as you ask them. What you picture asking, you will remember. What you have not pictured asking, you will not remember.

[Question 5] How do I know if a question is mine, if someone else already asked it?
[Answer] Gary, hearing you ask this makes me sad. Would you fault your son for doing this? Of course not. In truth then, asking a question which has already been asked simply does not matter. And if a person responds to your doing this with anything other than with kindness and patience, then this person has a wound about being asked the same question more than once.

My point is, questions exist for the questioner only. You ask them in order to learn. If someone else gets something from hearing your questions, then all the better. Asking is for you though, not for them. In fact, the idea that you are even asking me this question tells me that, in all likelihood, you were injured in a scene wherein you got punished for asking a question which had already been asked.

Teaching requires patience and kindness. If a teacher is missing either, then he or she should step aside and let someone else teach who does have these two skills. Then he or she should go and have someone help heal his or her inability to have these two skills. Why? So that he or she can enjoy what to me is one of the other best things in life; being asked questions.

[Question 6] How is hypnosis a "visual therapy?"
[Answer] Start with the idea that we are talking not only about hypnosis but about "hypnotherapy." In other words, your question refers to using hypnosis to heal. Not all hypnosis is meant to heal. What is the difference?

Let's start with that the essence of all hypnosis is being in a visually hyperaware state. Thus, hypnosis, in and of itself, is merely a skill in which the hypnotist puts you into an altered state; in essence, the state of consciousness in which babies live. This then is what makes stage hypnotists' subjects so childlike.

What makes hypnosis work for healing though, is that all wounds occur to people only when they are in this same state. Can you now see why children are so vulnerable to being wounded? This is also why therapists can use hypnosis to help people to heal. They use it to return people to the very state they were in when they got wounded. This then sets the stage for healing, in that healing is "visually emerging from a wounded state."

Said in a bit more detail, we get wounded by being startled into blankness while in a hyperaware state. We heal then only by returning to this blank state and then by becoming suddenly visual while in it. Thus, if used correctly, therapists can use hypnosis to help someone to heal if they use it to help the person to [1] relive the wounding experience, and then while reliving it [2] suddenly, visually reconnect the pre and post scene events.

[Question 7] How does hypnosis affect consciousness?
[Answer] "Hypnosis" is a word which simply refers to being put into a visually heightened state of consciousness. "Hypnosis" as a skill then refers to the ability to put people into this visually heightened state. Now if you recall our theory of the mind, we refer to there being roughly three states of consciousness; consciousness, subconsciousness, and unconsciousness. Each word refers simply to the degree to which we can picture on the screen of our minds. Thus, being unconscious means we cannot picture, and being conscious means we can clearly picture.

All hypnosis does then is it increases the degree to which people can picture on the screen of their mind to the point wherein they become very highly visual. We call being in this state, being "hyperaware."

In a way then, we could say hypnosis puts people into a kind of super-consciousness, where "super consciousness" refers to a visually intense state. Moreover, contrary to what most people believe; learning to hypnotize is relatively easy to learn.

What is it like? Hypnotic techniques vary widely in form and structure. In general though, these techniques, which are all called, "inductions," all focus on one thing; hyperawareness. For instance, one induction I learned was to tap on peoples' foreheads lightly while having them count down from five to one. Here, the person becomes hyperaware of the hypnotist's tapping. Another I learned was for me to drop a person's loosely hung arm after suggesting this would put the person deeper into a trance. Here, the person's hyperawareness was focused on the suddenly dropping arm.

Know that the word "trance" also means "visual hyperawareness." I mention this as people often take the word "trance" to mean someone who is zoned out, like what a person in a zombie movie looks like. Being in a trance is not being zoned out. Rather, it is just the opposite. Moreover, this is true no matter who does the inducing or how the person goes into trance. For instance, I have watched South American shamans blow flaming alcohol across the naked bodies of ritual participants in order to free them of "bad spirits." I have also seen trained professionals, such as Brian Weiss, use hypnosis to suggest to people they are regressing to a past life in order to heal.

Are there such things as "bad spirits" and "past lives." The amazing thing here is that, with regard to healing, it does not matter. Thus, regardless of whether these things are true or not, healing techniques such as these two work anyway, even when people do not believe in them. How? Because putting people into a state of heightened visual awareness gives healers access to peoples' normally blocked visual material. Getting people to then picture this visually blocked material is what heals them.

This idea, in fact, is the heart and soul of what we do in Emergence Therapy. As well as being the essence of a whole lot of other healing techniques, for instance, the essence of guided meditations and self initiated, positive projection.

To answer your question though, hypnosis changes peoples state of consciousness by increasing their visual awareness to a high degree. This allows people to access what is normally visually inaccessible to them. This could mean spiritual experiences, or it could mean seeing what their wounds normally block.

[Question 8] How does being startled cause the mind to go blank?
[Answer] Begin with this. Blankness is the state of consciousness in which the mind is visually empty. This makes blankness more an experience than an actual, physical event. Remember, too, that it is the mind which paints the picture on the screen of the mind, not the eye. This is not to say that the eye has nothing to do with this. However, because the visual end product is created by the mind, being startled temporarily diverts the mind's energies to discerning the source of the startle and away from its job of painting the screen of the mind.

This sudden search is what empties the screen of the mind. Again, the mind can normally do only one thing at a time. Searching for the source of a startle then takes precedence over interpreting what your eye is seeing.

[Question 9] What actually goes blank? If the mind is a container, does the container go blank?
[Answer] When picturing this happening, I find it best to picture the mind as a movie screen rather than any of the other metaphors we use, such as a lagoon or a fish tank. What I mean is, we all visualize on a sort of a screen in our heads. When we cannot see anything on this screen, we feel pretty much the same as we imagine this screen to be; blank inside.

To be honest, you can picture the mind as being anything at all which displays moving pictures; a movie screen; a television screen, a computer monitor, etc. Then if you imagine this screen suddenly going blank, you will have a pretty good idea of what the mind going blank is like.

In other words, can you picture a television screen suddenly going blank? You know, it becomes a sort of gray white, dull, and empty space. Seeing and feeling this dull empty screen is a close approximation to experiencing our own minds going blank.

[Question 10] What is the screen of the mind?
[Answer] Interesting question. I'm not sure I even have a definitive answer. What I do know is this. The eye and the brain connect through the optic nerve. The optic nerve connects to the eye in the middle of the rear of the eyeball. In this attachment spot, there are no rods or cones, meaning, there are no visual sensors in this part of the eye.

What does this mean? It means that there is a literal hole in the field of vision in all of our eyes, a blind spot wherein there is no way the eye is supplying what we see.

So if we our eyes have a missing hole right in the middle of everything we see, why is it we never see this hole, meaning, why is it we see complete pictures?

The answer. The mind fills in the missing information with things it has seen before. Translation, the mind interpolates the missing information for us, similar to how CD players fill in the material lost from scratches. Thus, although our eyes in real life see incomplete images, we see whole images on the screen of our mind.

Now consider what this means. It means our brains see for us. Here, then, is what I am referring to when I mention the screen of the mind. I use this phrase to loosely refer to the fact that the images we see, we "see" with our brains more than with our eyes. And where do these mental images appear? They appear on the screen of the mind, which is a place our minds imagine into being. More than this, I do not as yet know.

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