Self-help guru, hypnotist and entertainer Paul McKenna has a habit of practising what he preaches – and that means putting himself into a hypnotic trance, like he does to so many of his clients and fans.
The multimillionaire, 58, whose books to help make people happy/thin/rich/sleep have enjoyed phenomenal success, is embarking on a Positivity tour on March 12 – a sort of mass coaching session to tie in with his latest book, Positivity: Confidence, Resilience, Motivation.
But he makes sure he factors in some me time, after friends warned he would burn out with his workaholic lifestyle trying to fix other people.
“Early on, I would get too empathetic with the problems of other people,” McKenna says. “There’s a difference between compassion and empathy. Compassion is doing everything I can to help you, but I’m not going to end up with your problems in my head.
“That’s what happened 10 years ago with extreme trauma and bereavement cases, when I would carry horrendous stories around in my head and wonder why I felt depressed and tearful. When you are a healthcare professional, you need to stay the other side of the line, otherwise you both end up suffering.”
These days, he lives in London with wife Kate Davey, and is more aware of his own mental health…
Do you put yourself into a hypnotic trance regularly?
“Absolutely. At the beginning of lockdown in 2020, I put nearly all of my trances up on my YouTube channel so everyone could use them for free, to help them sleep and reduce their anxiety.
“I recorded a trance years ago called ‘Radiant Health’. One of the things we know from a new area of science called PNI – psychoneuroimmunology – is visualising your immune system working well dramatically increases it. I’ve had 150,000 listeners already.”
How long does it take you to put yourself into a trance?
“I can do it myself in six or seven minutes, but I like to listen to the ones I’ve recorded, which have a lot of production in them. It makes some messages come from the left side, some from the right side, so you are communicating with the whole brain.”
Why do you do it?
“If I’m feeling rundown or tired, it’s nice to have a 20-minute deeply relaxing session of hypnosis. Firstly, it’s just for replenishment, because your body goes through a natural cycle of resting alertness. Also, it depends on what I feel I need.
At the moment, I’ve been using immune system boosting trials. But it might be that I want better sleep, or I’ve been recording a trance on increasing intelligence. It depends on what I think I need.”
Does it feel weird listening to yourself?
“No, quite the contrary. When I hear my voice speaking with absolute certainty and gentle authority, it feels really good.”
Do you meditate?
“Yes, I do. Meditation has become incredibly popular over the last couple of years. I do my own version of Genpo Roshi’s Big Mind meditation.”
What’s your routine for positive wellbeing?
“On a day-to-day basis, I do a gratitude list, think of things to look forward to, I do physical exercise. If I’m really good, I get in the gym we’ve created.
If I’m not feeling quite so enthusiastic about it, I walk my dog, take in the beauty of nature, shapes, textures, the trees, the plants, the flowers.
“I used to treat life like a marathon, where I’d run at it and at some point burn out. Now I build-in recovery time.
So when I have an intense period of work, I make sure I’ve got a day off, or I’ve time to recover before I start the next session of doing things. I listen much more to my body now than I ever did.
“As for toxins, I do still like alcohol, I like a glass of wine, but I’ve pretty much cut out most sugar. I’m not a health fanatic.”
How else do you look after your mental wellbeing?
“Me and my wife laugh a lot – basically at my expense. Laughter is incredibly good for mental and physical health. I wake up pretty optimistic every day.”
Positivity: Confidence, Resilience, Motivation by Paul McKenna is published by Welbeck, priced £14.99. For tour details, see paulmckenna.com/blog/power-of-hypnosis