The context

The power of your unconscious mind is the most powerful idea in a whole host of fields today. Richard Thaler won the Nobel prize by talking about how to “nudge" people into making good decisions, almost in spite of themselves. Daniel Kahneman and Dan Ariely have both written well-respected and bestselling books about how irrational the mind is. Psychologists are fascinated with accessing—and moulding—the unconscious mind into serving us rather than being our master. Paraliminals are the latest in this trend and a new, if unorthodox way to manage the unconscious mind.

The Fantasy

The fantasy belongs to every schoolboy or schoolgirl. Imagine going to bed at night and waking up to a new improved You. You play an audio of your history or sociology lesson. While you sleep, your brain absorbs this information. You ace the test without having to study a bit. My father’s version of this fantasy is to play Chinese vocabulary words ad nauseam overnight so that his brain can learn a new language while he’s asleep. Meanwhile, his wife of fifty years threatens to walk out.

The Reality

Many of us go through life on autopilot. We go from day to day to pitifully unaware of the sound of our heart, soul and spirit. We have vague desires, dreams and career goals. We think we should start a bucket list; have a plan at least. But somehow we live in what life-coaches call a “reactive" rather than “proactive" way. We have lots of ambition. We make lists. “Need to be more focused," we tell ourselves. Need to be less stressed. Improve our memory. Achieve our dream. All of this comes to rest in the power of the unconscious mind. Put another way, how do you know if your dreams have come true if you cannot vocalize what your dreams are? Paraliminals are a way to connect with your inner desires and make them a reality. That is the promise anyway.

The Product

A few caveats. Paraliminals are hawked by one firm so there is no way to compare their effectiveness. Most rational folks with a scientific or economic bent of mind will either roll their eyes at these tapes or denounce them as psychobabble bordering on pseudoscience. If you are not of the ilk who would consider mind-body or alternative therapies as an option, you might as well stop reading this piece, let alone try the product.

Paraliminals use a triple whammy approach to accessing and moulding the unconscious. The tape begins with a background of binaural beats, which are of a certain frequency that tap into your subconscious mind. The Internet is full of these. Go into YouTube and you can find alpha, beta, and theta waves; binaural beats, Sofreggio frequencies, chakra balancing ringtones, and all sort of tosh claiming to open neurons that have happily remained closed. 

Learning Strategies Corporation uses binaural beats but layers voices on top of these. Imagine two different voices talking into both your ears, and no that is not your spouse and mother nagging you at the same time. The idea is that such dual voices/tones will cut through your conscious mind and go straight into the powerful recesses which control attitude, actions, habits, and goals.

The tapes use great metaphors. For example, the memory improvement paraliminals compares the brain to pool from which images rise up when you want them to. The focus and concentration paraliminals tape compares the mind to a prism through which diffused light enters and becomes a focused point. The new behaviour paraliminals teaches you to visualize what behaviour you would like to achieve and what is stopping you from achieving it. The website says that you have to listen to a tape for five days in order to make the new behavior part of yourself. 

There are a whole host of paraliminal tapes, addressing everything from weight gain, fear of public speaking, anxiety, and breaking habits to more new-agey stuff like attracting abundance and amplifying intuition. The website says that “Paraliminal recordings increase your personal power by activating your 'whole mind' with a precise blend of music and words," using neuro-linguistic programming, whole mind learning, and preconscious processing, whatever that means. Other more commonly used techniques such as affirmations are also part of the process. The good thing though is that you don’t have to do anything at all. Like with hypnosis, you just have to sit back, put your headphones on, listen to the tapes and flow towards a new you.

The Details

Paraliminals are available on the Learning Strategies website and start at $29.95 per tape.

The Bottom Line

Paraliminals fall at the far edges of new age techniques and are therefore ripe for ridicule by rationalists. If you are desperate to effect change and are at a loss about how to achieve a new habit, you have little to lose by trying out a tape. It comes with a money-back guarantee. At the very least, the pleasant voice or voices of the instructor will lull you into a deep sleep or state of relaxation.

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