Friday, February 4, 2011

UPDATED! Review: Hypnotic Dreams Audio Stories

UPDATE: One of the audio stories referenced below and linked to was incorrectly titled. I've changed the title and the links to represent the correct audio story that was reviewed and have indicated these changes in bold.

I’ll be doing reviews more often and posting them on this space. Last week I wrote about the AntiBacterial Foaming Toy Cleanser. Today I have a special treat for you, a review of Hypnotic Dreams: Erotic Hypnosis Audio Stories.

When I was approached to review the Hypnotic Dreams audio stories I knew it would require some time to listen and absorb the content long enough to write a strong and honest review. I’ve listened to four of the several audio stories they offer about three times each.

Unlike other items I review, this one was a challenge. It used my senses in a way other items have not required. I immediately saw how this provided another layer and source of pleasure for people with different abilities. Often many items are created for able-bodied people, rarely considering how people with different abilities may interact and enjoy the item. However, Hypnotic Dreams has created a product that can be utilized by people with various needs and seeking a somewhat “untraditional” experience.

I also saw this as having a value for folks who are in treatment or working with a health care provider for various topics that may come up in their sexual and reproductive health. Some of the audio stories I listened to may be useful for people who are attempting to overcome some level of trauma connected to their sexual health and/or experiencing pleasure. This feature is unique as not all “toys” or items for sexual pleasure can be utilized in such a way. Often such “toys” may be for people who are more advanced in their treatment and/or healing, whereas these recordings and exercises are for folks who are at various levels in their healing.

The creator of Hypnotic Dreams has an interesting background in engineering, storytelling, literature, and mythology. He has advanced degrees and is well known in the community of practice he currently works in as a professional. He is open about his reasons for maintaining anonymity; to have those people who reference and support his to not “discount the value of that work just because I also produce erotica.” This speaks volumes about where our society is with regards to respecting and seeing sexual science and the various forms of work within the field as valuable and important. It’s a struggle I understand very well, there is a level of risk you must take and assess in putting your name and image to sexuality and erotic centered work/media/production.

The use of hypnosis and audio stories of scenarios and narratives are not completely new. I recall obtaining a bag of demonstration items that included several cassette tapes that had scenarios of various encounters with different narrators. I’ll admit that when I found these items I got a chuckle, especially because the images that accompanied the cover of the cassette tapes were very decade-specific. However, Hypnotic Dreams are more modern and advanced. There is science and theoretical thought that supports and is utilized to create these audio stories and that may be why they are so effective.

When I was able to begin my review I was provided with access to the website in similar ways to how you would when you pay to download the tracks. If you are familiar with MP3 players or iPods of any form and have purchased music online the downloading process will be easy to navigate. If you are not, there are instructions on what to expect and look for, you will be downloading the audio stories to your hard drive and able to open them on the program of your choice (I have iTunes, so it opened there, but if you have Windows Media Player or something else it may work there too). I also do not use a PC, instead I have a Apple computer and did not have any challenges accessing the media onto my iPod.

If you are using iTunes the audio stories will download as “recently added.” From there you’ll want to make sure that you categorize your audio stories so that they either do not show up when you shuffle your music (similar to books on tape), and that they appear where you can easily find them. I didn’t do this when I first downloaded the tracks, so I speak from experience.

The four tracks I listened to and will discuss include:

Hypnotically Seduced (31:53 minutes)

The Pleasure Principle (25:00 minutes) UPDATED (this audio story was only partially referenced and listened to, the review focuses on the audio story Obedient Desires)

Obedient Desire (27:30 minutes) UPDATED

Enthralling Rhythms (23:00 minutes)

Introducing Erotic Hypnosis (25:52 minutes)

As I’ve indicated each audio story is over 20 minutes in length with Hypnotically Seduced being the longest of the four. I listened first to Introducing Erotic Hypnosis because I thought it would be a good introduction to this form of media and play. The audio story does exactly what the title says: provides an introduction to the listener of what erotic hypnosis can be and become. This was a good place for me to start so that I could gradually move through all four audio stories.

A soothing and masculine voice welcomes a new client (you) to the session and begins by sharing a few suggestions to relax. A focus on breathing is for the first several minutes. I really appreciated this guided meditation as sometimes it’s difficult for us to know what breathing and beginning to relax is all about. These are useful tools to use in various situations, not just in erotic experiences.

Hypnotically Seduced begins with helping you visualize how we are in tune with our bodies and “let our mind wander.” It begins with helping us imagine the last time we prepared for a special event, which allows us to suspend some level of consciousness, and focus that we can move through the scenario. This specific scenario is a date/engagement with a man who is a great storyteller with a fantastic voice. The recording then flows into a conversation with this gentleman.

UPDATED (this description was incorrectly applied to an audio story called The Pleasure Principle. The correct audio story is Obedient Desire. The Pleasure Principle is a different audio story that centers on a less intense power play scenario. I only listened to a portion of The Pleasure Principle, and of that portion I would provide a trigger warning for people healing from certain types of trauma.)

Obedient Desire has a power play scenario. I think this may be the only audio story I listened to where I would offer a trigger warning. If you are new to power play scenarios, this one may trigger some experiences you may have with violence and/or domination/non-consensual encounters. As a result, you may want to avoid this if you are still healing or not wanting to be exposed to such scenarios.

The scenario in Obedient Desire is to train the listener to become more obedient and gain pleasure in pleasing her partner and doing what he asks of her. We follow a young woman for an extended period of time beginning in high school. We listen as she finds pleasure in becoming the most reliable person on a team and emerges into the most disciplined person, which brings her to the attention of a man she is attracted to. Her new interest is attracted to her discipline and they create a relationship that pleases them both through her ability to do as he says.

Enthralling Rhythms is the only audio story that I listened to that is narrated by a woman for a man-identified listener. The scenario is an experience with a lap dancer who helps her client (you) become hypnotized by the dancer and her desire to help you experience pleasure. This was an interesting audio story to listen to from a different perspective. I was able to imagine myself as the lap dancer speaking to a partner of my choice. It was in this audio story that I connected more with the narrator and was able to image a larger range of possibilities. This was an unexpected surprise.

There were times that it was a bit difficult or challenging for me to get “into” some of the scenarios because I was so focused on the diction, phrasing, and flow of some of the narration. The Hypnotic Dreams website says that these “[a]udio stories are told with sophisticated NLP language patterns that induce hypnotic trance. This brings the listener into the story, enabling you to see, hear and feel everything described as if it is happening to you.” There is a glossary and FAQ on their site and under glossary they define NLP as “Neurolinguistic programming. A collection of methods for constructing words and sentences to bypass conscious filters and influence subconscious thought processes.”

When I first listened, I could tell immediately when some words were being emphasized and also how there was a flow to many of the scenarios. But it is this flow, diction and tone that make the recordings useful and effective. This is how the hypnotic and trance-like experience associated with the erotic stories works. Many people will have different responses to these recordings, which I find interesting. I’d like to hear how some of my friends and partners would react differently to the audio stories; did we have a similar experience? What did we enjoy? Respond to more eagerly?

After listening a few more times, I did have a trance-like experience. For the second time I was aware of my wanting to fall asleep and I believe I did as I could not remember when the last audio story ended and the next one began. However, I think by the third time I listened I was able to suspend some of my original focus and allow myself to relax and be open to a new experience. Trying new things do sometimes make us nervous, and I’m sure there was probably some nervousness I experienced that was unconscious and that may have been why there was a bit of resistance. As the Hypnotic Dreams website suggests, if you want a more intense hypnotic or trans-like experience keep trying! I think my experience is a good example of how this is true.


I also think it's important to share that I am currently doing "energy work" with a good friend who is studying at the Barbara Brennan School of Healing and through my energy work with her I believe I was more open more quickly to experiencing pleasure. As the BBSH website shares this work, "draws on scientific and metaphysical sources to bring together many aspects of human experience which describe and explain the healing process." In many ways, reviewing these audio stories was very timely for me.

Some areas I hope are in the “works” for Hypnotic Dreams are multi-language recordings. We all know not everyone speaks English as a first language (or at all), and offering recordings in Spanish, French and other (romance) languages seems like a natural next move to expand their market. Of course offering the recordings in languages that are outside a “romantic” categorization would be just as useful to expanding their catalog, we all know I just have a small bias towards Spanish. Sometimes things do just sound better in Spanish!

I’d also love to hear a multi-lingual recording. I believe that many of us think and live in more than one language, and including languages such as Spanglish and Patois or even some levels of slang would be another demographic to target. As of now, the audio stories are centered on English-speaking scenarios.

The recordings that I listened to were of a man speaking. I think it would be fabulous to maybe even switch this up, have a narrator who has an accent of some sort, or even women narrating scenarios centered on women (which I’m sure exist already, I just didn’t listen to them). These would be a bit more inclusive and challenge heterosexist ideas that women only want to hear a man, and that men would only want to hear women talk to them in these scenarios. And to be honest, I racialized the voice of the person on the recording as a racially White man, even though there were no images or reasons for me to do so. I interpreted and associated the voice as one connected to a White man. You may do the same thing or have a different connection. Either way, I’d have to say that it did impact my experience with the audio stories and my response to them may have been different if my imagination had racialized the voice as a person of Color.

Finally, although I did not share listening to these recordings with my partners, you may. That could add a new element of play and experience for both/all of you. Unlike other items I review (except for books), I kept this item to myself and had a different experience with myself and for that I’m very grateful.

Just in time for a Valentine’s Day, a gift for someone you love, or, more importantly yourself, I encourage you to check out the sample audio stories as each available story has a sample. Consider today taking a chance at a new form of pleasure. Audio stories may be purchased through the Hypnotic Dreams website using paypal or via Amazon.com.

Many thanks to the folks at Hypnotic Dreams for reaching out to me and offering me this new experience for myself and my partners.

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