Alma has one of those jobs where you really need to pay attention sometimes. One afternoon she messaged me, desperate for some sort of hypno trick that would shut out all distractions and help her crank through the paperwork.
Now, I am really good at sending subjects, including Alma, on little mental vacations. She loves to fly with the birds. But I'd never been asked for the opposite effect. So I had to think about this.
Alma has a lot of interests that seem to be switched on at all times, and at work often plays music, prowls the web and chats with me when she really should be working. And it's a small office, with a couple of lively colleagues who are hard to ignore. What she needed was an all-purpose fog machine.
Next time I saw her, I installed a little self-hypnotic trigger. I had her put her index finger against her temple, and then slide it slowly, slowly down her jaw to her chin. At the same time, I told her to watch my hands, which were closing together in front of her, forming a sort of tunnel. And I told her to gradually block out all the surroundings, and replace them with a fog, as her attention narrowed to what was immediately in front of her.
As her finger ran down her jaw, her focus narrowed. When she slid it up again, her focus broadened.
After a few tries on her own, she said she had it.
I agreed. On her last try, a roaring freight train had gone past us. She hadn't even noticed.
The next day, I didn't hear from her until evening. Alma was ecstatic. It had worked so well. The combination of the sliding finger against her skin, my voice telling her to focus, and the image of my hands tightening her field of view had all reinforced each other. The hours had flown past, and the paper pile was a lot smaller.
She uses it all the time now. She calls it her dimmer switch.
In fact, it works so well that one of her colleagues can't stand it. She pays no attention to his shenanigans now, to the point where he slams into her office and asks where her mind has gone. She's tempted to tell him.