Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map

The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorteYou know when you keep hearing a name, or a book keeps getting mentioned? That’s been happening a lot to me in the last several months with Danielle LaPorte. Motivational speaker and “guru” of sorts, but she’s got sass. Her message is on point with a lot of healers and spiritual folk, but her voice is distinct, and I find that appealing.

So anyway, I’m reading (and working through) her book The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul“, upon recommendation (also available in a Kindle version). The premise is refreshing and simple: how do you want to feel? Discarding rigid goal lists and intentions can be liberating if you focus instead on the feeling you’re seeking. In other words, you might be setting yourself up for failure if you’re setting restrictive KPIs to the Universe. And, of course, you know what they say: be careful what you wish for.

So lots of nodding and post-it noting as I go through it. The interesting thing for me is how affirmative a read it is. I feel like much of what she says isn’t at all new to me but, rather, confirming many of the lessons I’ve been accumulating over the years (particularly the last three or four).

Other things I like:

  • Conversational tone and easy to read – not to diminish the writing at all, because LaPorte writes beautifully – she brings to her writing heart, experience, self-deprecation and brutal, painful honesty
  • Some zinger quotes – “Desire hurts so good”.
  • Messaging is strong, purposeful and useful. She talks about life-affirming discipline. Divine purpose. Inner versus outer attunement.

While I’m yet to reach the actual workbook part of The Desire Map (yes, there’s homework), I feel confident recommending this book to people who are feeling like they shouldn’t be feeling a certain way. This book is about freedom and connection to yourself, in a very practical yet spiritual way.

Available through the above links in Kindle or print versions

Q&A with life coach Stin Hansen

Stin Hansen thought coachA few years ago, I began in earnest what I like to think of as my self-development journey. I knew that I needed to address the internal monologues and change the language of my brain. Well, maybe not completely change – we are all imperfect creatures – but switch to a more positive way of seeing myself, the world around me and my own potential.

I don’t remember how I came across Stin Hansen, but her soothing voice reciting affirmations had me at first download. Her podcasts are free to download, and years later, I still tune into certain recordings when I need refuelling.

It was my absolute pleasure to have a phone chat with Stin recently. And I have to say, hearing her “in real life” was kind of a thrill.

AA: I’m a big fan of your meditations and affirmations, and I started using them at a really important time of my personal growth. Is it important for you to know who you’re reaching? Do you receive feedback from around the world?

SH: I do, and I have to say it’s a weird thing that I do, because there aren’t faces or stories really when I start writing content. But when I hear back from people and there are stories, it makes such a huge difference to help me keep going.

And there are times when I’m writing, I always try to meditate and get centred spiritually before I write. Sometimes I’ll just have certain impressions of things to write, and I also have a notebook where I keep ideas.

And I don’t know how it all works, but I know there’s some sort of pull towards things that people need. Some times more than others definitely, but there are some where I will just have this strong impression and sometimes I hear back, sometimes I don’t. But it feels right, it flows so easily and it’s just, I don’t know, little angels everywhere (laughs).

AA: So it’s a very intuitive process for you then? There are rules for affirmations, but where’s the spiritual element for you?

SH: The best part of it is it does require me – if things aren’t right inside, nothing comes. It’s almost as if everything’s just blocked up. It’s a pretty miraculous process. And I know it does help that I have had to use all of these things on myself during difficult times, and they’ve worked, so I have a lot of faith in the process.

But there is something else, there’s something special. Not everyone will resonate with my voice or what I have to say, but the ones that do, I feel a connection with them somehow. There’s just something there.

AA: You have a very soothing voice, and I can understand why it’s such a comfort to people. Even the cadence…

SH: Yes, and as much as I hate listening to my stuff, occasionally I do. At the beginning I spoke too fast, and I don’t like to meditate to my voice, but when I do, it’s always helped me improve. Because I speak too fast, or I don’t pause long enough. You learn.

AA: If you don’t like listening to your own material, is there someone you go to for meditations?

SH: I do my own meditating, or sometimes I’ll be working on my own affirmations that I write, things that I want or intend for myself, that I probably need to change or improve on in my life.

There are times though, when things are more difficult than others – my dad passed away, I had a really hard time getting back in the groove. I knew that I needed help from someone else, so I just kind of put it out there. I wrote down in my journal what it was I felt like I needed, and invited the universe to bring it to me.

I don’t think everybody does it that way, and I’m sure there are plenty of people who think it’s crazy, but it’s been so consistently good for me to do my life that way, it makes things so much easier. Because I trust that it’ll show up, and when it does, I know that it’s the right thing at the right time.

AA: So something came in response to your request to help you?

SH: Yes. Two friends from completely different circles had mentioned somebody they had been working with, and I knew that that was where I needed to go. And it really helped me. It was, I think, reiki, but it helped me so much.

So there are people and there are books and there are words that are written that I’ll come across years later. And a lot of times it’s my own journal. I am a big journaller. So when I get lots of ideas or impressions and I write a lot, sometimes it’s not until years later that I go back and realise that that’s my answer.

AA: You’re well known for your podcasts and website. What else do you do? Is there speaking or a book on the way?

SH: There are some things happening. I’ve got five kids and taking care of them is a big part of my life. It’s interesting, because they all have such unique individual needs. In fact it was my son’s anxiety that really got me moving forward in really researching anxiety management, and the anxiety meditations that I’ve done have been so – I mean, just millions of downloads, because it’s such a huge need. And it’s interesting that that’s how it came about.

And now he’s in high school, and I was in the airport with him, looking at colleges, and we were walking through the airport and for the first time in about five years he started to have an anxiety attack. And he was talking about this visit, and he was concerned about all these big decisions he had, and it was starting to hit him. And I watched him just work it through, and say all the things that my little meditations … ‘This is just a thought, this isn’t who I am’, ‘where in my body am I feeling this? OK, yeah, there it is’.

And it was just this huge football player, high school kid going through this really remarkable process to calm himself down. And that was really awesome for me, because I didn’t have to say a word. I just watched him be his own coach.

AA: That’s fantastic, and you want to empower people to be their own coaches. I know some of yours by heart now. How did you find yourself in this area in the first place?

SH: It’s actually all of my failures that eventually led me to realise what it is I was really supposed to do. You try out different things, and sometimes they worked but they didn’t fit as well.

But I had done a lot of physical personal training for athletes and a friend of mine had gone through breast cancer and was kind of in the throes of it, and had asked if I would work with her, because she knew I used to be involved in it.

And at this point I was in a completely different field – I had started some random film company, and just doing all kinds of whacky stuff. But I started to help her in the gym, and as we were going through that process, every time we would finish, I would always take her through some sort of visualisation. She was really struggling with accepting the diagnosis, and visualising a future and trying to figure it all out.

So I would always give her a guided visualisation at the end, and sometimes I would have her do different workouts. And when I couldn’t be there for the workouts, I started just recording my voice so that she would always have that, because this is kind of a lifeline for her, the relationship that we developed.

And it kind of spring boarded from there. I really felt like that was what I was supposed to be doing, and started taking on more clients. And then I started a company called Fit DJ, which was just back 10, 15 years ago, CDs; I did guided workouts, and the guided workout always finished with some sort of visualisation or meditation. And then from there, when podcasts began, in 2006 I put up a few of my recordings on a couple of different podcasts, and I did my workouts. And I thought, definitely the workouts are going to be huge.

But then I put some of the meditations up, and it was actually the meditations that went viral. It was incredible. Within a couple of weeks, I was number two in all of iTunes, which is pretty awesome. And that was when I realised I had hit some sort of pulse there.

And they were really bad. I mean, I was doing my recordings in my closet. It was really bad, you know, just putting socks over the microphone. But there were so many people around the world who found it, and of course technology made it possible that people I would never meet or know would somehow hear my voice, and it really created a way for this business to happen.

Throw it out there, and whoever needs to find it will find it. That’s my belief … that’s my prayer, every day. That whoever needs it, help them to find it, whoever needs something that I’ve said, ever, help them to find it. And then the internet does the rest.

AA: Have you moved out of the closet for your recording sessions?

SH: (laughs) I do have a studio, it’s not in my closet anymore.

AA: You said anxiety is a popular download. What is your most popular and what is the most common thread amongst people who want to listen to you?

SH: Anxiety’s an interesting one, because people who are anxious are highly motivated to feel better. And so they’re the ones who are searching, they’re the ones who, if my website is down, I have a stream of emails in my inbox, and I can tell, it’s the people who have got anxiety, that need to find an anchor. And so they’re really the meat and potatoes of what I think has helped me. People who struggle with anxiety and have resonated with my voice, there’s something calming about it for them. Because people who are depressed are not really motivated to do anything.

So my anxiety ones are probably most popular ones. But I think meditation’s had its day. A lot of research has come out about the benefits of meditation. People don’t know how to really start. I think for 80 per cent of the world [meditation] is so far beyond what they would be able to do – sit still for 10 or 15 minutes, with nothing but their thoughts. It would be overwhelming. So to have somebody coach them all the way through to having a relaxed body, and a centred place where they can go, is very helpful.

AA: There are people who are motivated to change and people who aren’t. Do you get a lot of skepticism about what you do?

SH: The good news is they never look for my content. People that are skeptical don’t ever download me. It’s perfect. And the day will come. Everybody eventually gets to their moment, their more-than-they-can-handle, and that’s usually the thing that motivates them to find me.

AA: When it comes to people finding you, what are the tips you have for people who are having trouble getting started and making change in their lives?

SH: It’s tough. I do think that life is kind of perfectly designed to take people to a point where they can’t remain complacent for too long. But it’s either going to get so difficult that they really need help or they really are motivated to make changes. It gets them off the fence.

I don’t think that life … is getting intense for everybody. It’s kind of amazing. Everyone really has as much as they can handle, and there are moments of valleys and vistas, but for the most part, life is pretty hard, and it’s intensifying, and there’s a fear in the world – the unknowns are hard for people to try to navigate through.

So I figure if they’re not there yet, that’s OK. Some day, life will bring them invitations to improve, whatever that is, and whatever path is right for them. And everyone’s story is different. People are highly motivated to become as self-actualised and productive as they can, and that’s part of what we’ve brought here with us, that nature. But some aren’t, some are just doing it, and that’s their personality, but eventually life will invite them.

There are so many things that people can numb out with to and just stay in a place where they never have to feel really deeply. But in the inside of everyone is that yearning or that aching for more. And whether it’s me or not, I know there are so many great thought leaders out there and so many people offering their gifts to the world, that wherever they find it, it’s available. That’s the good news, it’s available. There’s so much great stuff out there.

AA: You talked about guided visualisation, but what are the rules of affirmative thinking? You can’t focus on what you don’t want, you’re supposed to focus on what you do want. Any tips?

SH: That’s a really good question. For some people, there are times that it’s too much of a stretch to say an affirmation of something that you want. [Saying] ‘I have an abundant financial future’ when you’re bankrupt is a hard stretch for people to really believe, and so that’s an interesting place.

And there are a couple of places where people can kind of make that jump. And one is to do that EFT. EFT is a really good precursor for affirmations.

EFT is really a matter of, where is the file in my brain – because your brain is always filing things away – and especially anxieties and worries and skepticism. Those things are stored in the brain in little files that come out when other things trigger them. So there’ll be something, say, that you love chocolate, and so when you see chocolate, that file is wide open and all of the good thoughts about eating chocolate are just wide open. What EFT does is it sort of bypasses that pathway in your brain that is just going to always go to a certain response to something.

And it works really well with people who are having panic attacks, to kind of tap through those things and say all of the thoughts that are coming up, that are not what you want. The place you’re allowed to say the things that you don’t want is in EFT. When you tap through those places, you will say, ‘I am afraid of this happening’, ‘I’m worried about this happening’, and when the file is wide open and you’re actually feeling the feeling of being afraid of that thing, or being worried about it, is when you would do that tapping. It kind of just juggles things up a little bit in the brain, so that then you can put an affirmation in there and start to go back into a more proactive creation of what it is you really want.

AA: But there are certain places on your body you tap, like the pulse points?

SH: Yes, but you don’t know exactly which point is going to be right for you. So there are points that you go through and it may be three, but it’s hard to say which one it’s going to be, where it is you’re storing it. So you just tap your head, and there are those points – you say, ‘I am afraid of…’ or ‘I release the feeling that I’m never ever going to get my financial life in order’. You tap in between your eyebrows and go up. You’re just giving words to a feeling in your body, and all of those things that are in that file of anxiety or worry, that are keeping you from believing your affirmations, these are the things that you’re letting go of and releasing.

You’re putting your intention out there and if put your intention of letting it go as you tap through those EFT points, it’s remarkable how then, after that, if you do your affirmations, they stick, and it’s like your brain can accept them and believe them and see a different future for you. If you’ve been really stuck, it can help to imagine something far beyond where you were before the tapping.

It’s kind of an exciting field, but that’s a trick, if anyone is stuck with affirmations, I have them tap through all of their resistance. What is keeping you from believing that this could be a possibility for you?

For Stin Hansen’s podcast streams:

Meditation for Children and Teens

Meditation for Children and Teens

For iPhone apps, see here:

Meditate Now SLEEP – Stin Hansen

Meditate Now Kids – Stin Hansen

My New Body – Stin Hansen

Meditate Now II – Stin Hansen

Meditate Now II – Stin Hansen

Meditate Now ANXIETY – Stin Hansen

Meditate Now HEAL – Stin Hansen

Learning to ‘Sync Within’

Years ago, when I was in search of meditative ways to make change in my life, I came into contact with Kerstin Fehn. I was amazed by her approach to growth – through guided visualisation, she opened up my mind to different ways in which you can reach goals.

It was more than that though. There was something harmonic and peaceful – yet powerful – about the way her meditations worked. It perhaps helps that she is an intuitive soul, and you feel like she’s tuning into your energy. It’s no surprise she’s in demand for intuitive readings, where she focuses on helping a client create the change they desire.

I spoke to her about how she helps people in her Sync Within practice, where she practises hypnotherapy as well as a unique form of guided visualisation.

Sync Within

What is your business about in a nutshell?

Guidance, meditation and hypnosis.

You do hypnotherapy – can you explain what this is?

Hypnotherapy is moving past your conscious mind and your self-criticism and allowing changes to take place at a subconscious or deeper level. Basically it’s a solution-based therapy, as opposed to a conscious talk therapy.

Can you help people understand the issues they’re dealing with?

As a hypnotherapist, it depends on what level of change that person wants as to whether I would do that, or whether I’d refer them to having a psychotherapist or psychologist treatment first. There are a lot of psychologists and psychotherapists who do hypnosis as a combined package. I’m specialising in the change itself.

So you can uncover what and where they need change?

What I can do is uncover what they need, and that Sync Within process, in an analytical way going through the phases, uncovers where the problem’s lodged.

Now if it’s in their past in their mind, in their memories in a significantly painful way or with a mental condition, then I would refer them on to someone who specialises in that, like a psychologist or a psychotherapist. However, if it’s habit, change with a normal state of mind, I can definitely treat that.

Someone with a psych background would probably use a lot of regressive therapy; there’s also progressive hypnotherapy. Most practitioners are good at doing both.

I offer a solution-based therapy that’s progressive. Because of my background of having been an intuitive consultant for almost 20 years, it means I’ve also seen a lot of people stuck in their patterns that can easily be exchanged for productive patterns. They have to want the change. Most of the time it’s not necessary to go backwards, to regress. Often it’s just a change that’s progressive.

What of a client has come to you needing to understand the past?

That’s okay if it’s progressive at the same time. So a hypnotherapist will unlock that and bring it forwards. Sync Within can look backwards to the degree of what is there, but not be immersed it. So it doesn’t bring up your fears and your pain from the past, it just acknowledges them. Sometimes that’s enough. Also replacing it, so not just looking at it.

The common problems are behaviours. Most people have difficulty moving on from a relationship where they’ve invested more than the other person. So they get stuck in a pattern of feeling unworthy, low self-esteem and just plain confusion because there’s no communication. So most of the problems are communication based.

The other side of the coin is, not that that just affects their relationships, but it also affects what they dare to do in their life. So often people will pigeonhole themselves, or society’s values will pigeonhole people at a certain level. So it’s about self-belief, that’s what keeps coming up.

And in relationships and career, and anything in the world really, we can’t change what’s going on around us, but we can change how much worth we give ourselves and therefore open up consciousness and receive more. Basically take the blinkers off. That’s why I believe in progression. People need a bit of help believing in themselves often.

The common problems are behaviours. Most people have difficulty moving on from a relationship where they’ve invested more than the other person. So they get stuck in a pattern of feeling unworthy, low self-esteem and just plain confusion because there’s no communication. So most of the problems are communication based.

Is it about having courage as well?

It is very universal, we are very hard on ourselves. In the 80-90s there was a big move forward, with the idea that you can have anything if you try hard enough. That’s the most recent belief or value that’s societal-based, and that is where people feel low self-esteem if they haven’t achieved certain things by certain ages, for example. It’s also in your family and your culture, but across Western society, there’s a big drive to setting in and achieving goals.

Hypnotherapy in those days went towards that. So you’d have people like Anthony Robbins, who’s still inspirational, but it’s not all about that.

These days what we’re learning is that it’s actually really important to open up compassion for ourselves.

There are other people. One example is Oliver Lockert, French hynoptherapist. He does humanistic hypnotherapy and I’m influenced a lot by that. So it’s taking power for yourself internally, but it’s based on acceptance of yourself and not just pushing forwards.

Do they develop techniques as a result, which equip them to deal with the world?

It can do, that depends on the person and their awareness. That’s why hypnotherapy is based on being specific for, not just the problem, but a good hypnotherapist will make it specific to the person, their level of awareness and where the problem is lodged in their awareness.

The kind of person who enjoys having a wide awareness, for example, will enjoy having tools they will be able to apply to different areas of their life.

Is Sync Within tweaking mainstream hypnotherapy?

Mine would be a visual instead of neuro lingusitic programming, it’s actually neuro visual programming, using various visual archetypes that have been distilled from a vast amount of well-tested theories and knowledge out there.

But it’s actually multi-sensory, and I’m finding that my method is just one of many emerging methods. I think it’s the way people are going.

The idea is that they add layers to a new goal or a new set of values, but make it easier to integrate into the subconscious mind and have the subconscious mind accept them, because archetypes, vision, sensory input is the language of the subconscious part of the mind. So they provide a template, Sync Within provides a template to enable it to work easily.

What of the skeptics?

Hypnotherapy has been tested. The effectiveness of hypnosis has been tested and there are results available. Even though it’s value and belief changing, it doesn’t rely on believing in this method because the effects have been proven.

The idea is that they add layers to a new goal or a new set of values, but make it easier to integrate into the subconscious mind and have the subconscious mind accept them, because archetypes, vision, sensory input is the language of the subconscious part of the mind. So they provide a template, Sync Within provides a template to enable it to work easily.

How important is intuition in this process?

Hypnotherapy is the deeper level, and then there’s other levels. Creative visualisation is a lighter layer. Sync Within’s not just hypnotherapy, it’s actually also using creative visualisation, which is a conscious mind-based affirmation system, and some people respond better to that.

So that depends on the person. And so my intuition, when something comes to me, we work with my intuition and the client’s intuition to find out the scope of the problem. So intuition’s important with it to understand how to use it, but the actual method itself is results-based from past results. It’s not all intuitive, it’s actually based in solid background.

How many sessions do people generally require?

It depends on the person and their problem, and how deep-seated it is. With something like quitting smoking, that can be done in one session. Because it’s often more effective to replace negative habits with positive habits in one go, because the sub-conscious mind, and the conscious mind together, will feel that it’s been done. Whereas something that is progressive, for example confidence and self-esteem, sports and job performance, these sort of issues are best off being worked on over a series of therapy.

So can you actually change someone?

You can’t change someone. Deep-seated values won’t change. And you’re always in control because hypnosis … now the humanistic, more progressive, modern hypnotherapy is in between these two for effect, because sometimes it helps to do something consciously and sometimes subconsciously. But the person is put in control.

Whenever you’re in hypnosis, you are in control. A hypnotic trance is very similar to when you’re just about to fall asleep in front of the television for example. You can let yourself drift off or, if you needed to get up and get a glass of water, you could easily get out of that yourself and walk off.

And that’s what you can do with hypnosis as well. So people think they’re asleep but they’re not. It’s pre-sleep.

And creative visualisation is lighter than that even, it’s just different variations of relaxation, but always working with the person.

In Sync Within, why I use colours and textures is because people will remember more easily than a string of events. Music works like that too, it can help you remember things. If you remember a song that was around when you were a child, you remember events from that time. Smells do that, too.

I’m bringing in aromatherapy to it as well, and music. But there are certain beats in music that produce a level of receptivity in your brain. Some people fear that though on its own.

The new style of hypnotherapy is not about mind control only, it’s actually bringing mind, body and heart all in together, and spirit. So that you’re acknowledging. It’s profound, and it’s profound changes, but a lot of it starts with self-acceptance, and then what goals come out of that.

Do you feel responsibility towards the client?

Yes, very much, and a lot of the hypnotherapy, the initial session we do is free because it gives people a chance to know what hypnosis is. It builds up trust together and rapport, but also sometimes that may be why people take a little longer and others don’t, because they have to be able to trust themselves as well to accept it.

You can contact Kerstin through her website or follow her on here or here.



Review: Imagine by Lydia Ievleva

Imagine book coverThe full title is ‘Imagine – Using mental imagery to reach your full potential’, and it had me at the colourful cover. The author is Lydia Ievleva and her credentials are set out with the ‘PhD’ after her name.

Ievleva covers everything from mindfulness to using mental imagery to chart a new course for your life. This, she argues, helps to break bad habits and patterns. Interestingly, she includes a section on creating a “soundtrack to your life”. Music has an impact on our health and wellbeing. I’m in total agreement with that.

It’s actually an easy read, but it’s long and dense. Importantly though, it’s designed to be a practical guide that can be read out of order if, like just about every cyberwebs user, you have a slowly receding attention span.

I’d recommend this for those who dig guided visualisation meditation, or find themselves manifesting using colour and the like.

Find out more about the book here, and Ievleva has a blog here.

Review: The Happiness Trap Pocketbook

The Happiness Trap PocketbookLast year, Dr Russ Harris and Bev Aisbett released ‘The Happiness Trap Pocketbook – An illustrated guide on how to stop struggling and start living’. It’s a simplified version of Harris’ international bestseller The Happiness Trap.

I love the title. It’s one of those book titles that has the extraordinary outcome of telling you what the book is about, while making you want to read it. That is hard to get right.

The pocketbook is a bit simplistic for me – it literally has cartoons in it – but I think it’s perfect for the time poor who need a bit of a kick in motivation on occasion.

See here for more information on the books.

The allure of a new you

web-affirmationcreator-insideAnyone who knows me knows that I love affirmative thinking. There are some days when all you can think is “all of the cheesecake”.

But mainly, you should create positive thoughts. And on that note, here I am talking about being positive all year round at Aquila Style:

“Recently I came across a set of books that deal with creating your own “happiness”. One of them is Affirmation Creator by Frances Verbeek. I am sometimes weary of products that capitalise on wellbeing, but this one was a practical and inexpensive way to create affirmations. It’s essentially there to be used and not read; an action pad that will help you “create a head full of empowered, loving, peaceful beliefs”.”

You can read the whole piece here.