Psychic...Me? Anyone?

Am I psychic? 

To answer this question you would first have to define what you think a psychic is. 
Most people when they hear the word psychic they think of a tarot card reader or an old gipsy woman conjuring up images in her crystal ball. 
Being psychic traditionally would mean that you would have some supernatural ability that others do not have. This may be the ability to see into the future, telepathy, telekinesis, or even mediumship. 

Can anyone actually do this?

Millions of dollars have been spent on the study of Psychic phenomena. The Russian and US military placed considerable funds, time and energy into researching this to see if there was a way they could use the 'psychic skills' in combat or spy on the enemy. Sadly there was not much success in the research, in fact, the results were as good as guessing!

World famous Magician and author James Randi or 'The Amazing Randi' has a million dollar prize to anyone that can demonstrate psychic or supernatural abilities to him or anyone on his panel. This prize has been available since the 1970's and still today no one has claimed it with any success. Essentially anyone who has tried to claim the prize is either using tricks (like a magician), or they can't actually do what they claim to do when put under test conditions. 

So does this mean that there is no such thing as psychics and you are not psychic? 

Well, so far we have no proof of any actually psychic phenomena. No one has shown their psychic demonstrations consistently under test conditions. Many working psychics would argue that "it doesn't work that way" and "Having sceptics or non-believers create bad energy" or "They don't need to prove it to anyone, they know the hits they get". 

I can tell you with 100% certainty that I do not believe I have any special or supernatural abilities. Yes on stage I have moments where I take a guess at something and get it right, but does that mean I'm psychic? I don't think so. I personally believe that we all have intuition, and day by day we are constantly collecting and absorbing information. As human beings we have so many commonalities with each other, we are all interconnected in a strange way, so when I take a guess that the person on stage owns a dog and I'm right - I don't think it's because of psychic ability, I think it's more because she reminds me of my dog walker. Just that, nothing supernatural. 

I hope this has given you a little bit of insight - whilst writing this I've decided that I'm going to write another post on psychics. This is an interesting subject for me. 
Until next time
x

What is hypnosis?

Often at events, people ask me if I know how to hypnotise people? The answer to this is yes. 
80% of the time then people will say something like "Oh god don't look at me, please don't hypnotise me". Then 10% of people will say with folded arms "bet you can't hypnotise me" and the final 10% will say "oooh can you hypnotise me now?"

Many performing magicians who dabble in a bit hypnosis don't actually understand what it is they are doing, in fact after having some conversations with various performers they greatly misunderstand what hypnosis is. 

Why am I any authority to talk about hypnotism? Well, 2 years ago I decided that I would get trained as a Cognitive Behavioural Hypnotherapist (CBH). This is a form of therapy that combines hypnotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy. It was one of the hardest and most challenging things that I've done, but I did it and even set up a small practice for a while. 
Our school taught us what's called evidence-based hypnotherapy. This essentially means that everything that we learnt had to have evidence to support it, i.e. supported by medical journals, or scientific studies. Because of this, my understanding of hypnosis and hypnotherapy became very blunt, I gained an understanding that allowed me to know the real truth behind what is going on. 

I've listed below some things you may want to take into consideration next time you meet a hypnotist. 

  • Hypnotists can't at will control or take over your mind unless you let them. It's impossible to be hypnotised unless you are going to be open and willing to be hypnotised, end of story. Even once the hypnotist has started his/her process if you want it to end, all you've got to do is open your eyes! Yup, it's that simple. If the hypnotist asks you to bark like a dog and you don't want to then guess what, you're not going to. The people who do usually on a subconscious level are seeking attention or have had a little bit too much to drink and are up for a bit of fun! 
  • There is a difference between a stage hypnotist and a hypnotherapist. A stage hypnotists number one priority is to make an entertaining show, and the people are his props. I personally don't like this approach to entertainment. This type of performer is relying on the embarrassment of others as his show. Using people to do silly things to make others laugh at them is just tacky. Right on the other end of the spectrum, you have Hypnotherapists. Hypnotherapists are (mostly) trained professionals who hold qualifications to help people overcome various issues within their life, such as, smoking, anxiety, fear etc.. These people want to do good and don't want to embarrass you. Everything is private and confidential and will usually have a consultation with you in person or over the phone explaining to you what to expect before jumping into things. They defiantly won't be trying hypnosis on you in a bar or a pub... remember they are professionals! 
  • There is no such thing as a trance! This really bothers some people as there are two schools of thought on this. A lot of the NLP crowd believe in trace based hypnosis, as a lot NLP talks about being in different 'states' i.e. when you enter hypnosis you enter into a new state, 'a trance-like state'. Problem is, there is no scientific evidence to support this, as in none. What we do know is this - by taking someone through the hypnotic process we find some interesting things. The subject/client will relax on a much deeper level having the therapist as a guide, whilst in the relaxed condition, they will maintain a level of high concentration where they become more open and receptive to suggestions given by the therapist. This is not a trance but just a form of guided relaxation and suggestion. 
  • It's not a simple a saying "you are now no longer afraid of flying!" I see this time and time again. Someone who has learnt a little bit of hypnosis from youtube or from a blog and now they believe they can cure ANYTHING! I could talk for a really long time about this, but I'll try to sum it up in a few lines. Essentially any good therapist will not just give their client a command and then send them out into the world. They will give the client an MP3 to take home to listen to, this helps to reinforce any suggestions given over the sessions, there will also be exercises given to the client in case of any emergencies (things to if they feel fear or anxiety..), and often they will have the therapists number or email to contact them if they feel like they are slipping back into old habits.
    Lastly, the suggestions that they give in the sessions will not be bad suggestions like the example above. When you say to someone 'You are now no longer afraid of flying' the words 'afraid of flying' is in that sentence. There will be a good chance that if the person is afraid of flying, this is all they will hear! A better suggestion 'You now feel calm and at ease as you sit on the plane' or 'Your body and mind relax, you feel calm, at ease, as you settle into your seat for a comfortable flight.' Or simply if someone says "I'm afraid of dogs" don't suggest 'You are now not afraid of dogs'.
  • Anyone can be hypnotised. If you want to be hypnotised then it's going to happen, if you are resistant to it then it's not going to happen. The important thing is that whoever is about to hypnotise you really explains what is going to happen and that there is trust between you. If there isn't this will really affect the quality of the hypnosis. Sometimes it really doesn't matter how much you explain to people that they are in control, you're not going to embarrass them, that they are not going to go into a trance, that it's just a form of relaxation, that it's just a guided visualisation... They will still open they're eyes half way through and say 'I don't think it's working' or 'I don't think I'm the best person to do this on' or 'I don't think this will work on me'! 
    The reason being is partly down to the media and how hypnotism is presented. With some people I don't think it matters how much you explain to them what it is or isn't, they will think what they think, and because of this they have certain expectations. Often these expectations are for them to not remember anything and to wake up with all their problems solved. Sadly it doesn't work like that. 

As I've been writing this blog I'm realising that I could probably write for a very long time on this subject. But I think this is enough for now for you to digest! 
Hopefully, this has opened your understanding a litter wider when it comes to hypnosis. 
If you have any questions in regards to hypnosis or hypnotherapy feel free to email me directly at alex@themindartist.co.uk

Intuition

What can you really tell from using your intuition? 

Often people ask me if I'm psychic, or if I'm using skills in reading body language or NLP. The truth is it's a combination and there is no one answer. But what I can say is that a huge amount of what I do is from using my intuition. 

We all have an intuition, it's that thing that tells us that we should or shouldn't trust certain people, it's that thing that tells you when you're with a friend that something may be bothering or upsetting them, even when they're trying to hide it. Intuition will tell you to say "yes" to when he/she asks you to spend the rest of your life with him/her because for some reason it just 'feels' right. It can't be explained...or can it?

A lot of the time my clients will ask me if I'm psychic, the reason being is because I'm telling them information that I shouldn't be able to know. How do I do this? Well, I use intuition mixed with common sense and a little guess work. I believe that we learn through experiences, the more experiences that we have the more we learn. I believe this adds to one's intuition. 

SO - how does this all tie together? If I meet someone I do what I call a scan. I open myself up, to any ideas or impressions I get as I look and scan that person head to toe. Now this person may be wearing a similar style of clothing to what my wife wears . What does this tell me? 
Well, I know that my wife leads an active lifestyle, so there is a high chance that this person does too. My wife is very creative and is a photographer, so I would 'Intuit' that the person may perhaps be interested or work within the arts or in a creative field. Next, I would look at mannerisms. For example, if they reminded me of my friend Callum, I may ask if they are interested in yoga as Callum is a yoga instructor, and I would suggest that they have calm and sensitive personality, often putting others before themselves. 


As you can see this isn't psychic or anything too mystical. It's about being open, and seeing what qualities the person in front of you has and if they remind you of anyone or anything. More often than not what you say will be quite accurate to that person. Try it out :) 

Disclaimer: I'm not saying this is 'the science of intuition', or this is the way to read minds or to become a psychic. This is just one of the many techniques that I use while I perform. I purely just want to point out that I'm a human being, like you. I'm nothing mystical or psychic. If I can do it so can you. It's not always that easy to explain the amazing things that I guess, but I honestly believe, we are just drawing from memories of friends, family and past experiences that we can all relate to. 

I hope you found this interesting. Let me know :) 

What you can tell from body language

Is it really possible to tell what someone is thinking?? 

Well, it's kind of what I do for a living so I'm not going to give away too many trade secrets. But what I will show you is a few techniques that you can use in everyday life to become more intuitive to other people's thoughts. Sound cool? 

  1. Ultra open body language. It's generally good when someone displays open body language. But when does it become too much? Usually when someone is trying to spread themselves as large as possible to assert themselves in a social setting. When we make our body wide and spread it out, it naturally increases the amount of testosterone and lowers the amount of cortisol (Stress hormone) in our system. This can be quite a useful to do before a presentation or an important meeting as it will put you in a good frame of mind. If you on the other hand spot someone doing it while in your company, it's quite possible that they are trying to assert themselves or show signs of dominance. 
  2. Bouncing foot (when sitting). Often people mistake this as a sign of nervousness, if you see someone doing this you can be sure that something else is on their mind. Something that's preventing them being fully present with the current conversation, and something that maybe causing them some anxiety or tension. Often smokers will be bouncing a foot/knee when they feel like they want to go for another cigarette. This is because nicotine levels have decreased, and they are feeling stressed. When they smoke they get a boost of a dopamine, this is something that the body produces which makes them feel good and relaxed...until the nicotine levels run low again. I suggest reading "the nicotine trick" for more information on this.  
  3. The person who looks over your shoulder while talking to you. They are looking to escape or feel insecure and uncomfortable. It can come across as rude when people do this, especially if they seem confident so try to be forgiving and patient. The confidence is usually cover anxiety and insecurities. The best thing to do is to try and engage in conversation and to also reveal something makes you nervous or uncomfortable in that situation. It often puts others at ease knowing they are not they only one. 
  4. Biting nails, clicking fingers, stroking face, all of these are called self - Pacifying behaviours. It's the stuff we do to make ourselves feel calmer when we feel nervous, anxious or stressed. If you see someone repeatedly doing one of these actions perhaps the conversation is making them nervous or stressed? 
  5. Hands - if someone is using open hand gestures while talking it means they are opening up to you and that they feel comfortable around you and like you. Tip - use this to your advantage. Use open hand gestures and show your open palms (try not to look like a weirdo) to make others feel warm and comfortable around you. Studies have shown that people trust other people more when their hands are on show! 
  6. Heavy eye contact - a person who can maintain eye contact is often perceived as someone who is more charismatic, present and confident. Use this to your advantage. BUT be warned.. too much eye contact without breaking it will make you look like a psychopath and people will not want to be your friend. Don't say I didn't warn you!
  7. Looking down. Unless there is something on the floor or they're checking to see if all their buttons are done up this person is checking in with their feelings. You have just said something that is making them question how they feel emotionally towards the current subject matter.  

So there you have it. Some nifty little tricks to get you well on your way to over analysing any social situation you now find yourself in. 
You're welcome :) 

How to 'Read a Mind' - cough cough

 

 

You are about to learn how to be PSYCHIC!!! Well almost. If you remember some of these items every now and then you'll be able to fool your friends and family members into thinking you're a real deal psychic person. Enjoy :)

  1. If you're meeting someone new, go check out there Facebook, instagram, or linked in. Look at what photos they have. Lets say you saw one of them walking a dog with a boyfriend/girlfriend. It would be obvious to say "you have a dog and a lover" a better approach is to say something like this "I get an impression that you are a caring person, often putting others needs before yours. You also have a strong sense of family connection for those that you let in. I'm seeing you with one of these people, you enjoy doing various activities with them, you go to the movies, cook.. I also see both of you and a small black dog, it has very soft short curly fur. Does this make some sense to you?" This will freak them out! 
  2. Belt - You can tell if some one is let or right handed by the direction of their belt! If you see one that goes around their right hand side, then you have a lefty. I would approach it this way. Randomly say "Did you know that I read in the paper today that left handed people, are 3 times more likely to..." I'll leave this up to your imagination. Remember don't tell him/her how you knew. 
  3. iPhone passcode or pin numbers  - con men around the world have been using a technique called shoulder surfing ever since ATM's were invented. If you're unfamiliar with this technique don't worry there is no actual surfing involved. Simply glance at someones pin number or pass code as they type it in. Now open up your notes in your phone and make a note of it. Wait around a month. When you next see this friend or speak to them on the phone say you've got a new wonderful technique to guess pass codes. 
  4. Guess where a coin is - ask someone to hide a coin in one of there hands. Then ask them while your back is turned to hold that hand to their head and imagine focusing a positive memory into the coin. Then hold out both hands in front of them. You find the coin, as you are drawn to the positive memory and the other hand is cold and empty. Also the hand that they held to their head will be slightly lighter in colour as the blood would have started to drain down the arm as it was being held up.
  5. Think of a number between 1 and 10, do it quick. Got one? Ok you're thinking of Seven. The majority of people will choose seven. I eliminated 1 and 10 by asking you to choose between them. Because of this people tend to stay away from 2 and 9 they are a little close to 1 and 10. 5 would feel too obvious as it's right in the middle. That leaves us with 3,4,6,7 and 8. Psychologically odd numbers are more appealing for us to us. So I good guess to go for is 7. Try secretly writing this on a napkin or bit of paper then try it out on a friend. If they say another number explain how most go for 7 and that by choosing 'x' that means they are incredibly intelligent :) now try to move on, and hope that flattery covered the fact that you got the trick wrong! 
  6. Think of a celebrity - if you ask a group of people to think of a celebrity usually at least one of them will name Brad Pitt. I'll let you think of some fun ideas to use with this! 
  7. Dice - get someone to roll a dice add together the number that they rolled to and the number that is directly underneath it (the one face down on the table). It will always add up to 7. Hold on this number is becoming familiar.
  8. Ask someone to pick a card. When you cut it in to the deck make a mental note of the bottom card. This will keep track of where the selected card is. You can cut the deck as many times as you like, the two cards will always stay together. When it's time to find the selection, say that you will do it by looking at the way the eyes react to certain cards. Show him/her the cards quickly one by one. When you see your Key/indicator card you know the next one is the selection. 
  9. Energy in an object- ask someone your with as your back is turned to hold there hand over any object on the table and to mentally send there energy into it. When they are done you can turn around. You place your hand over every object one by one. You then soon work out what they chose. It's pretty easy, you'll need a mate that's in on it. Ask him to take a sip of his drink or lean back in his chair (it can be anything that only you two would know) once your hand goes over the right object. This is a really fooling trick and will have everyone thinking you're the real deal. Suggestions for roping your friends to being in on it, tell them you'll use your evil powers to get you and him/her free drinks!

If you learn these I warn you. You now have the power to take over the world or at least your local pub. With great power comes great responsibility, please remember that. 

Have fun and keep coming back here for more mind melting and useless information. 

Thanks 

Alex 

For more in formation on me The Mind Artist check out my Facebook Page 

Technology in Magic

I was having a discussion with a in Central London with a Magician friend of mine the other day about the use of technology in magic. He was wondering what my thoughts were on it and if I believed it's something that we as entertainers should embrace or should stay the hell away from. 

First of all I need to make my self clear. When I say technology I'm speaking from the perspective of a magician or mentalist entertainer. So the technology will aid, help you or even do the trick for you. 

I genuinely find this an interesting topic as the world seems to be moving so fast in it's development in technology and what we can now achieve with it. So naturally we magicians are starting to take advantage of some of these technological advancements to fool our spectators in to thinking we are actual wizards! 

When my friend asked me what I thought about the use of technology in magic needless to say I had one or two opinions on it. 
There is no doubt that there are some amazing things you can do and achieve with technology, things you can now do with iPhone apps and hidden gizmos. 
But at the risk of sounding negative I have some problems with them...

  1. Technology can run out of batteries - I don't want to ever rely on something during a performance that can run out of batteries. What if it does...Then what? 
  2. It's creating laziness - I Love some of the apps and gadgets that are out there for magicians. But because a lot of these items basically do the trick for you, I see a lot of performers getting lazy with the performance and just relying on the trick to do the work for them. 
  3. There is usually low tech method - A lot of performers think that using technology is the only way to do some of these effects. Educated magicians will know that there are alternative methods to technology based tricks. 
  4. It's how your audience thinks - I believe if you asked your audience how they think a trick or effect is done often they will think it's achieved by some sort of James Bond style gadget that you must have up your sleeve. So to me thats more of a reason not to be using these methods.
  5. They are really expensive - some of these gadgets go over £1k in price....WHAT!! For 1 trick!! Here is the crazy thing, you can achieve the same trick with items bought from WH Smiths and the audience wouldn't know the difference. 

But I do have some positive things to say too. 

  1. If you have a television spot or stage performance and you want a very reliable and clean method. Just check the batteries first! 
  2. Because it's so expensive you know not so many magicians in London will be performing it - it's always a good idea to separate yourself from other performers. This is something which I have always valued hugely with my act. Having a act with original material is something that has really contributed to getting repeat bookings and getting hired by high end clients. 
  3. They are quite fun to play with. Let's be honest it's fun to have a new toy for a few hours! 
  4. It takes the art out of the dark ages. Magic can sometimes be quite old fashioned, so it's always cool when you do a trick with a iPad or a borrowed phone. It's very modern. 

So to conclude. Technology has it's place in our magical world but I think it's something that we should become so reliant on. There are plenty of wonderful methods out there that don't need wires, batteries or bluetooth to amaze your audience. Use technology if you need it, or if it enhances something to a greater level or if it's relevant to the performance. 
Personally I won't be using so much technology for the reasons mentioned earlier. I do have a friend who is an app maker and uses a lot of technology in magic and it is wonderful to watch. 
I guess the real thing to take away from this post is, do what works for you! 

 

Best Job in the world!

People often say to me,

"you must have the best job in the world, right? I mean you go to parties for a living" 

I always politely answer this question in a positive way as it is pretty great on the whole. Yes I do go to parties for a living, and I get to do what I love. But, I think people tend to forget about the admin work, promotion, advertising, marketing, book keeping, client meetings, email and phone enquiries, and on top of that I personally take care of some day to day house work and I walk my dog :)
 
Don't get me wrong I'm not complaining, I'm really not! I love it. Some days are hard and stressful like any job, but I'm still doing what I want to do and I'm working for me. That makes me a very lucky man. 
Sometimes I believe people think all it takes to be a successful Magician in London is to know a few magic tricks and have your mate knock you up a website. When the reality is, not only do you need to be very well practiced at magic, but you also have to work incredibly hard every day at finding ways to show people your talent. 



Luckily I no longer suffer from any types of nerves when having to perform. This is just down to sheer quantity. There was a time when I would feel those butterflies. 
There was a good reason for this. 
Imagine now you've been invited to a party with over 150 people attending. Ok have you done that yet? Maybe it's like a big reception or something like that. You get there and you're alone and you don't know anyone. Someone says to you;
"You can't leave here until you have made conversation for 5 minutes with at least 90% of this room... before you ask, no, you can't phone a friend!" 

So this is what it's a little bit like being a magician. You have to go to a party where you're not really invited, interrupt someones conversation/story/joke, and then get people to watch you for about 5 minutes. It's in that 5 minutes you need to persuade the group that your magic was worth interrupting the punch line for. No pressure. 
With experience this is something you get very used to and now honestly I don't even think about it any more. 

So what was the point of this post...

A lot of people (including some family members) think that all a magician / mindreader does is roll out of bet at 11am and then start thinking about the best place to go have lunch that day before he or she has to get ready for his evening gig. And you know what, I'm not going to lie to you, the beauty about working for yourself is if I decide that I want to have a day like that, I can! 
But generally on a day to day basis, to be on the top, to provide a professional service for my customers that other Magicians in London may not provide, you have to work really hard, so getting up at 11am and spending all day out on luncheons aren't really options. 

The other thing I wanted to point out is that I know a lot of performers – Magicians, actors, singers etc. and although we all love what we do for a living, everyday is tough and every time we perform we make ourselves vulnerable and open ourselves up to judgement or criticism. Sometimes the feedback we receive from people is beyond amazing and that is probably why we keep doing it, and other times it feels disheartening, humiliating and painful. My fellow close up magicians I have the most admiration for, because we do this at events not once, not twice but often ten maybe twenty perhaps fifty times a night just so we can do what we love and enjoy for a living.

So the point of this post was for you to see that, yes. I do have the best job in the world. But not for the reasons that you think. My job is the best job in the world because I fell in love with magic when I was 6 years old. For 21 years magic has been my love, my passion, my hobby, my frustration, my hate, my comfort, and my reliability. Through magic I have traveled the world, released products, been on national television, I have met some truly inspirational people and made some of my closes friends. 

I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's not just because 'I go to parties'