Gazing Into the Crystal Ball

The first time I see a client for a hypnosis session, it’s not uncommon for them to ask if I will be using a pendulum. They’ve seen it in so many movies and cartoons: the hypnotist dangling a pocket watch or other items from a chain, swinging it in front of a person’s face, maybe chanting some kind of incantation.

My standard answer is that I don’t, but I certainly could if they would like me to!

The pendulum, while effective, is really more of a gimmick than anything. It’s simply a device to get a patient to focus their gaze and minimize distractions. I usually don’t find it necessary to use any particular object for that purpose, but in the past, I have sometimes used marbles for eye fixation. I had a whole jar of colorful marbles to choose from, and I would let the patient keep the marble at the end of the session.

While it is certainly nice to have a souvenir for a patient to take home and practice with, I found that sometimes the marble became too important and actually became counterproductive. If a patient “lost their marble” (always an excellent source of a joke), sometimes they felt that they couldn’t continue their self-hypnosis. (I was also concerned that the marble might become a choking hazard for younger siblings.)

One of the things that I liked about using marbles, though, is that they are really very small crystal balls. Simply using that description can help focus someone’s awareness as they look into that small glass sphere, curious what they might find — even if they don’t really believe that a crystal ball can show the future.

The last time I was at Pacific Beach, in San Diego, I passed by a kiosk that was selling rocks and crystals, some of them shaped into spheres. Although I continued along, intent on my walk, after a few moments I found myself circling back to look at them more closely.

Even though I wasn’t regularly using marbles anymore, I was charmed by the idea of having a crystal ball for my office. I selected a cloudy, but translucent stone, delightfully imperfect and not entirely smooth to the touch.

The crystal ball now has pride of place in my office. Even though it is not swinging at the end of a chain, it can draw the eye. And, held in the hand, it can help a person focus attention on the sensory input of the stone — its weight, smoothness, and temperature.

Really, any object can serve the same function as my crystal ball. Concentrating the attention on a single object — and diverting it away from more stimulating alternatives — can be effective in helping a person enter a hypnotic state.

I anticipate that before long, I will add more items to keep my crystal ball company, helping kids to concentrate their attention when an external focus is of use.

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