Practical Magic for Business Innovators

by E. Ann Hollier, Ph.D.

How would your life change if you had instant access to a business mentor who brought out the best in you? A teacher who provoked you by asking the right questions at the right time? A coach who encouraged you to do and be more? A trusted advisor who supercharged your creative problem-solving ability, guiding you to innovative solutions for intractable business problems?

  • Would you advance professionally?
  • Would your business grow?
  • Would you make more money?
  • Would you be recognized and sought after as an innovative problem solver?
  • Would you feel more confident, excited, and satisfied in your work life?
  • What do you think?

After MIT senior lecturer Peter Senge published the business classic The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organization, he became increasingly interested in how we cultivate our inner compass for organizational learning, change, and innovation. His later book Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future proposes a new model for organizational change. In it Senge recognizes that transformational change integrates a process of moving into the unknown for answers, something I have come to call Strategic Intuition.

Such insights and advice often feel unfamiliar, like they’re coming from someone else, someone wiser, a mentor or guide more experienced and insightful than we are. They happen when we relax the boundary separating our linear, rational conscious mind – which works like a serial processor and can be compared to drinking through a soda straw – from our associative, metaphorical subconscious mind which works more like a massively parallel processor and can be compared to drinking through a fire hose.

In an earlier blog I talked about how to harness the subconscious to achieve the changes you desire. Of the half dozen practices I’ve tested, the most effective ones shift your brainwaves closer to the dream state – a natural operating mode of the subconscious. But what if you don’t know what you want? What if you’re looking for answers? How can you create a space for the part of you with advice and solutions to speak?

Today I’m going to talk about just one immensely powerful approach. Laboratory research shows this practice causes the voltage of the brain to rise 10-20 times its normal level, and brain activity shows not only beta waves but a dramatic increase in theta. It increases endorphin levels for hours afterwards.

Translation: It activates the brain, thrusts you into a waking dream, and leaves you with a long lasting natural high.

It’s a body-based technology that can be traced back over 30,000 years, and it could be the holy grail for entering a deeply creative state of mind quickly and reliably, on demand. What am I talking about? And wouldn’t you want to try it out if you could?

Wouldn’t you?

Ecstatic trance postures were rediscovered by anthropologist Dr. Felicitas D. Goodman. She realized that ancient examples of human statues and pottery, temple art, and cave paintings were not always just decorative, but actually prehistoric roadmaps for achieving specific altered-state experiences. She conducted extensive experiments with present-day volunteers to validate her insight.

When combined with the right preparation including drumming or rattling, described here, different postures provide portals to specific trance experiences: Some are good for healing, others for experiences of initiation, metamorphosis, “spirit journeys,” or even celebration.

I went to Dr. Goodman’s Cuyamungue Institute for a recent workshop and came away especially intrigued by the divination postures, used to seek advice and answers. I arrived with questions about my business practice. In a divination posture I was reintroduced to a mentor I first met in a dream regarding a business problem. She confirmed and elaborated on a specific long-term business goal, and gave instructions for using the postures for further business insight.

Altered states have always been harnessed by artists and writers, but what if we can use them to investigate very practical business problems and get answers? I’ve been using dream incubationfor practical problem solving in my personal and professional life for years. I’m struck by the similarity of the ecstatic trance posture state, and how it yields almost immediate results.

Like many esoteric practices this experience is often much more powerful practiced in a group, especially for beginners, and like a muscle it gets stronger with regular use.

So I ask you again: Wouldn’t you want to try this out if you could?

You can. I am so convinced of the power of this tool that I am considering a weekend workshop using the postures specifically for business problem solving.

  • It will be held near Santa Fe, NM in the Fall of 2012.
  • Costs will be minimal — a small stipend for food and housing.
  • The teaching itself will be free in exchange for your feedback and testimonials on your experiences as a pilot participant.

Interested? Go here. Under the dropdown menu for what you would like to discuss, choose the third option, “Learn more about upcoming events.” I’ll update you as we firm up the details.

E. Ann Hollier, Ph.D., President of The Cogent Executive LLC

Ann Hollier provides performance coaching and consulting to high achieving senior executives and management teams. She specializes in change management, strategic planning and implementation, leadership development, and building world-class collaborative teams. Learn more at