Did you know that it’s possible to experience years in the space of a few hours with time distortion hypnosis?
Normally, we perceive time as passing much more slowly when we’re bored, and much more quickly when we’re having fun or fully engaged in whatever we’re doing. Wouldn’t it be better if it was the other way around? It turns out that once we know how it works, we can change this. All we have to do is notice the internal steps that our brains take to make this happen, and then do them deliberately. If you’d like to know how so that you can experience more time when you’re having fun and less time when you’re bored, read on!
So, time distortion.
Have you ever heard the expression a watched pot never boils? How about time flies when you’re having fun? Of course you have! And the thing that’s really interesting about those expressions and others like them is that we all instinctively know that they are true. The truth is that our perception of time has little to do with how much time has actually passed.
We’ll get to that shortly. But first, a trip in time!
A Trip in Time
Years ago, when I was still growing up, I started to notice some odd things. I was intent on becoming a scientist, so I’d started running little experiments and making measurements, as good budding scientists do. And some of these measurements involved time.
As an example, it felt like it would take forever to walk from my bedroom to the lounge in my parents’ house, so one day I decided to measure it. It turned out to be less than 5 seconds. And after I measured it, something interesting happened. You see, once the measurement was made, and I knew that the total time involved was less than 5 seconds, never again did it seem to take a long time to walk from my bedroom to the lounge.
This simple measurement and the resulting change in my perception is one simple example of a much broader phenomenon in hypnosis, known as time distortion.
Time distortion happens inside the mind, not in spacetime
It’s important to note that time distortion is a completely separate phenomenon from time dilation. As I just mentioned, in time distortion, we perceive more time or less time as passing in the same amount of clock time. In time dilation, which is a part of basic physics, it is the amount of clock time that changes.
And because time distortion is something that happens inside the mind, we can use hypnosis to shape it.
The simple way to cause time distortion
So how do we go about doing that? What kinds of things do we need to do in order to cause time distortion to happen on demand? And how do we control how much of it happens?
As it turns out, it’s a lot simpler than most people might imagine. Way back in the middle of the last century, Milton Erickson (widely regarded as one of the greatest hypnotists of all time, and credited with the creation of hypnotherapy) along with fellow researcher Linn Cooper, decided to run some experiments. Then they wrote a book detailing the results of their experiments.
At the simplest level, their process was essentially to set up something that their subjects could observe, such as a ticking clock, hypnotize the subject, and then suggest that the time between each tick would become longer.
They ran all manner of experiments to test how much time was actually being perceived, including having the subjects practice skills and learn things in distorted time. Since they were scientists, everything that could be measured was measured.
And they found something interesting. When a subject would perceive, for example, 2 hours of time in the space of a few minutes, and would practice some skill in that time distorted reality, they would gain more or less the same amount of ability in that skill as if they had physically practiced for 2 hours of clock time. This is compelling evidence that we are dealing with a real phenomenon and not something imagined or misreported.
That’s a simple process, right? Hypnotize the subject, tell them to perceive more time, then measure the results.
I’ve tried this on multiple subjects and all I can say is that most of the time it works. Eventually.
But what about the other ways?
Natural time distortion
I’ve already alluded to the sayings about watched pots never boiling and time flying when we’re having fun.
Why Time Drags When We’re Bored
These phenomena happen automatically. The easiest way to see what’s going on here is to think about it from a survival perspective. Think all the way back to when our ancestors lived in caves. Back then, they had none of our modern conveniences, and so the amount of work they would have to do just to survive was correspondingly much higher. In that environment, being bored was not an option. There was simply too much to do.
Those who were able to perceive more time when they became bored had more time to solve the problem of being bored before they died from not doing the stuff that had to be done. Not only that, but when you find boredom to be unpleasant, that’s quite a bit of motivation to do something else. Especially something else that has to be done. Those who didn’t probably died out.
Why Time Flies When We’re Having Fun
Now, it might be easy to imagine that time slowing down when bored is a one-way phenomenon. Unfortunately, as with all other systems in the universe, balance is important. When we perceive more time when we are bored, our brains automatically extrapolate this to all other states, and we end up also perceiving less time when we’re having fun or in a state of flow.
At the same time, it’s also driven the other way around. If we perceive less time as passing when we’re doing something beneficial, we’re much more likely to not be distracted and to complete it. So once again, we end up with those who are able to perceive less time when doing stuff that they’re good at simply being better at surviving than those who don’t.
In terms of survival, this is exactly as everything should be. It’s not so much fun when survival isn’t really an issue any more for most people. And naturally, that’s especially true for those who have the time to read articles about hypnosis like this one.
So what can we do about it?
Discover the Time Distortion That’s Already In Our Lives
We can definitely use Erickson and Cooper’s approach, but it is very methodical. In practical terms, it’s going to be a lot more useful if we can find a way to leverage the time distortion that’s already automatically happening within our lives.
The way we do this is by first investigating other things that result in changing our perception of time. And as luck would have it, we only need one!
The easiest way I know of to find just one thing is to look through our lives at the things we notice happening. Yes, we can easily notice that pots seem to take far longer to boil than our stopwatch might suggest. And we can just as easily notice that when we’re doing something fun, time seems to fly by.
But at the same time, we have anomalous experiences. Sometimes we’ll be totally caught up in a show to the extent we believe it’s real, and then we look at the clock and only 5 minutes has passed even though it feels like we’ve been watching for far longer. Or we’ll get in our car and drive to the next city. It feels like we’re driving at the normal rate when we leave home, and on the freeway, but then we come to a town and it feels like we’re crawling along even though we’re driving at the exact same speed as when we left home.
Once you start to pay attention, you’ll notice this sort of thing happening everywhere.
How to Exploit Our Perceptions
The first clues as to how to make it happen lie in the shows and movies that we enjoy and seem to cause us to experience far more time than we normally would. Unfortunately, until we find such a show, we’re not in a position to take it apart and figure out what’s going on.
But for most of us, it’s easy to hop in a car and experience the kind of time distortion that happens when we slow down in a town after being on the freeway. Even if we can’t do it right now, we’ve had the experience enough that we know exactly what it’s like.
And it turns out that why this happens is remarkably simple. Once again, it comes down to survival. If something is happening that threatens us, our brains slow down time so that we have the best possible opportunity to deal with it. This is why there are countless stories of people being in serious accidents and recounting afterwards that time seemed to slow almost to a stop.
Now, I’m not going to suggest going out and having a serious accident just to experience this. But with a little thought, we can model what’s going on inside our minds and make it happen on demand.
Model What’s Already Happening
To see what’s going on, let’s model a typical road trip.
We get into our car and start driving. Before this we’ve been moving at walking speed or slower, so the speed at which we drive feels fast to us because it is fast in comparison to what we’ve just been doing. We quickly become accustomed to this and most drivers are unaware of it. But if you pay attention, you’ll likely notice that the effect is definitely there. Regardless, after a few moments, our brains adapt and driving-around-town-speed becomes the new normal. Our survival instincts cause us to perceive enough time that we can track as much as we need to in order to keep relatively safe.
Our brains automatically modify the amount of time we perceive to give us the best chance they can of handling what’s happening around us.
So we drive through town for a short while at close to whatever is the local speed limit. After a while, we transition onto the freeway. Suddenly we’re moving a whole lot faster. In New Zealand where I live, we’re typically traveling at twice the speed we were around town. And once again, our brains quickly adapt. They allow us to perceive as much time as we need to in order to keep us relatively safe. And when we’re moving fast, that means that we need more time.
The Amount of Time We Perceive is Dependent on How Much New Stuff We’re Experiencing
If you are an experienced driver and you pay close attention, you’ll notice that it kinda feels almost the same driving around town as it does on the freeway. And the reason that this happens is that our brains adjust how much time we perceive. When we’re driving faster, we have to perceive more time in order to track the same amount of stuff as when we’re driving more slowly, and that’s required to keep us safe.
Now, towns are typically spaced out so that we have to drive for at least a few minutes to get to the next one. If they weren’t, they’d probably be suburbs. So we have a few minutes driving and perceiving more time. Since our brains adapt quite quickly, we get used to it.
Then we drive into another town. We have to slow right down to half as fast as we were driving before. As you can imagine, our brains notice this happening. But they’re also geared towards our survival. Which means that even though we perceive more time very quickly when we need to as we speed up, it takes much longer to slow down again and perceive less time.
So we find ourselves driving in that town and the speed that only a short while ago felt normal now feels like we’re crawling. If the town is small enough, this can easily last for the entire town.
Rote Learning and Hypnosis
Now, if you think back to school, I’m sure you’ll have fond memories of rote learning. In case you don’t, this is where we force stuff into our brains by simply telling them the same thing over and over and over again. And unlike some other far-more-effective methods that we can use to learn, this one can be implemented instantly by anyone.
In hypnosis, we refer to rote learning in the context of going in and out of hypnotic states as fractionation.
And in this case, when we’re driving through towns, we are essentially fractionating our ability to distort time. The more we do it, the better we get at it.
As hypnotists, this sounds exactly like something we can steal and exploit!
How to supercharge time distortion
In order to do this, let’s go just a little deeper into what’s really going on as we drive faster and slower. When we look at it in terms of stuff happening to the neural network inside our brain, the key feature that’s important here is that when we drive faster, more stuff is happening in the same amount of time, so our brains cause us to perceive more time. Which means that the amount of time we perceive is directly related to how much change we’re experiencing in our immediate environment.
Incidentally, this is also why so many people claim that each year of their life seems to be shorter than the one before it, and why if you re-watch a TV show or movie, it seems to be over so much more quickly than on the first viewing. When something is familiar to us, less work is required to process it, so we perceive less time.
When we are largely familiar with the things going on around us, our brains don’t need to do as much work, so we perceive less time. The passage of time speeds up.
So it follows that if we want to have someone experience more time, what we need to do is have them experience more stuff. As hypnotists, the easiest way to do this is to simply move their attention around, allowing them to notice more things in their immediate environment than they might normally. Or if you’ve put them into a hypnotic reality, have them notice all the details of that.
Help Your Subject to Experience More Time
To give you an example, I might locate them on a forest track and have them notice all the details of the track, the kinds of stones there are, their colors, their textures, and so on.
Then I’ll move their attention up and have them take in the broader picture of the forest, the way the path leads off into the distance surrounded by trees, and so on. Switching their focus like this is a form of fractionation, and the transitions from fine detail to big picture and vice versa significantly magnify the effects.
And then I’ll focus them in on some other detail. Maybe it will be the bark on a tree, or the sound of a river, or anything else I think of.
After cycling through this a few times, I’ve had people claim to experience hours or days in the space of a few minutes.
And the beautiful thing about it is that it doesn’t have to be a forest. It can be anything at all that they can perceive. All you have to do is shift their focus from big picture to details and back again a few times.
To help someone to perceive more time, guide them through switching their focus from fine detail to big picture and back again a few times.
How to Test Time Distortion
Now, when we hypnotize people, you will find that a certain portion of them will simply be making stuff up. As you get more experienced, these ones become easy to spot, and once you do it is a simple matter to do a bit more to guarantee results in those cases. For now, what I recommend doing is finding a few subjects that you can trust completely and asking them about it.
If you really want to, you can go to the extent of Erickson and Cooper and measure your subject’s increase in skill. Unless you’re planning to publish a paper on it, this is probably unnecessary. Instead, a good way to judge the reliability of their reporting is to notice whether they tell you when stuff doesn’t work as well as when it does. If they do, you can usually be reasonably sure that they are telling you their true perceived experiences. And naturally, their perception is the only thing that matters in this case.
To give you an idea of how far you can take this, when I’ve taken the time to set up a full hypnotic reality (that’s an entire world that they experience as real) with reliable subjects, and I guide them into fully experiencing that reality, I’ve had reports of perceived time as high as 50 years in the space of a few hours.
So that’s really all there is to it. Move the scale of their focus around, and their perception of time will change.
Give Yourself More Time
Naturally you can also experiment on yourself with this. I do this all the time, and for me, each year is now significantly longer than any previous one. And they keep getting longer.
I don’t know about you, but from my point of view, getting all those extra perceived years for the total cost of putting myself through some fun experiences is a bargain!
I’d love to know how you get on with this, so please comment below. And as always, please feel free to reach out to me if you’re stuck or need a little extra help.