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Lessons from Burning Man

By on September 26, 2014
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Many of our friends are “burners’, those people who live for the week they will spend at the Burning Man festival in the Black Rock Desert. They spend the other 51 weeks of the year planning their trip, attending events to raise money for their trip, and generally acting as Burners do.

To non-Burners spending 51 weeks planning for the one week of the festival seems a little intense, even obsessed, but there are important psychological principles at work. You see the Burning Man Festival creates a community unlike anything you will experience elsewhere. One good argument for how the uniqueness arises is that money is not accepted at the festival. Everything is given freely. Gifts are exchanged.

This principle of sharing is what takes place in families. It also takes place in primitive tribes who have not yet discovered the benefits of cold hard cash. Burning Man therefore represents a tribe or family of 50,000 people sharing freely, a massive experiment is social engineering if you will.

And it works. Burners are a singularly giving and generous group of people (especially to other Burners, or potential Burners, which is pretty much everyone).

Application to Hypnosis

If you are like us, you are a hypnotist to make the world a marginally better place, not for the money. Many hypnotists find themselves conflicted at the thought of taking money for hypnosis, a trait we have to carefully train ourselves to ignore if we want to pay the rent and stay in business!

Nevertheless many hypnotists use sliding scales that allow them to offer their services to the financially disadvantaged, or even give pro-bono sessions.

So here’s a different idea. If you want to give your services to someone who needs them but can’t afford them, then suggest they ‘pay it forward’. Your work may produce ripples that may spread to… Well as our friend and teacher John Overdurf says, you never know how far a change may go!

Here is an article from one of our favorite science blogs at the UK’s Guardian newspaper. Written by Molly Crockett it describes the altruistic psychology of Burners.

What happens to groups of people in harsh physical environments, away from all of the trappings of modern civilization? Tales of shipwrecks, adventurers and post-apocalyptic worlds explore this question, and usually these stories do not end well (recall the descent into anarchy and violence in Lord of the Flies).

But what happens at Burning Man might surprise even the cynics. Somehow this environment brings out the very best aspects of human nature. There, kindness flourishes and generosity is widespread. How does this happen? Research on the psychology of human altruism offers some clues. Gifts in the desert: the psychology of Burning Man | Molly Crockett | Science

The editorial team at CafeHypno Sarah Carson, Jes Marion and Shawn Carson

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