Javi: Welcome, everybody! Joseph Kao is here with us today to talk about Profound Renewal. I’m really happy to be doing this interview, because I was also lucky enough to interview Joseph when he released his previous product, Profound Releasing. First I’m going to read a little from Profound Renewal’s product page:
Profound Renewal: Deeply Rest and Recharge. Feel refreshed, renewed, and ready to go. Profound Renewal is an energy-building program designed to evoke calm, healthy, and sustainable energy… it contains guided meditations, music, and advanced sound technology.
Welcome, Joe. Please tell us how we came to be talking together today.
Joseph: Javi, it’s good to be here.
I’ve been a hypnotherapist, seeing people one-on-one, for over ten years. Funnily enough, this was something that caught my interest at a young age. I used to do close-up magic as a teenager, and there were books on hypnosis—very much traditional 1950s hypnosis—in a magic shop I used to go to. It turned out that my grandfather from Estonia also had an interest in hypnosis and had books on the subject, although he never learned to speak English very fluently. Maybe he transmitted something to me in our broken English conversations.
I studied philosophy at university and stumbled across authors like Robert Anton Wilson and Ken Wilber—people who blew my mind and awakened me to the possibilities of spiritual development, self-transformation, and taking principles from psychology and putting them to practical use. I was never very interested in abstract knowledge on its own, but always interested in what could help create a different experience, a different reality, and real changes in my own life and, as I trained to become a therapist, for other people as well.
Over the last ten years, I’ve written a huge number of professional hypnotherapy recordings—I’m essentially the head scriptwriter for a company that produces hypnosis recordings. A lot of research, time, and effort go into each recording; we pool together multiple ideas and research. I’ve been doing this six to eight times a month for years and years; it’s been hard work, it really has. Writing on trains, on planes, all over the world—me and my laptop, writing in a corner—has really helped me sharpen my feel for the power of language and how it can be used to help people. When you externalize words onto a page, you think about how you can reorder them, how you can embed ideas, and how you can use implication and rhythm in how you structure imagery and symbols. It’s been a rigorous training for me in using language precisely, and I notice it flowing into the work I do with clients, as well.
Also from quite early on, I’ve been very interested in brainwave entrainment—that’s what led me to iAwake Technologies. I’ve used light and sound machines and binaural beats consistently as part of a daily meditation practice for years and years. It has made such a difference in my life, and that is why I was so pleased to find iAwake Technologies, because the recordings that I encountered at iAwake really took things to another level for me. I’m so pleased and so privileged to be part of the team now, creating and releasing recordings of my own through iAwake. And that’s my path as to how we came to be speaking here today, Javi.
Javi: Thank you. I can really resonate to the last part, because I have been on a similar journey. When I discovered iAwake Technologies—as opposed to all the things that I had done before and even to similar companies who in theory were doing similar things—I felt this was something more. And it seems that we both decided to stick to it.
Javi: So, Joe, after having done Profound Releasing, what made you go for Profound Renewal?
Joseph: The fundamental intention behind Profound Renewal is to help people increase their energy levels and their vitality. The way it goes about this is not just through ramping up the tempo of the track, ramping up the binaural beats, and going for energy, energy, energy. I wanted this release to respect the yin and yang of what it is to be human, the yin and yang of what it is to have vitality and energy. In other words, real energy, lasting energy, and deep vitality only come about when you’ve learned to deeply rest. By going into a state of deep relaxation, it’s much easier to naturally build what in Chinese medicine begins with your Jing—your core battery stores, your core primal life energy, which you experience in a tangible way as vitality, as the ability to get things done.
So many people that I work with are burned out by worries, anxiety, and depression. There’s an exhaustion to many people I treat. It’s not that everyone I pass on the street is like that; I treat people who are coming to me because they have anxiety or constant ruminations and intrusive thoughts that they need help with.
But the consequence is I see people who are exhausted by what they are dealing with, and I’ve noticed time and again that through doing deep relaxation with people—irrespective of what other processes we do and what other suggestions and metaphorical journeys they might go on in the work that we do together—simply the act of learning to deeply relax and let go in mind and body rejuvenates people. They come back looking fresher, even looking younger. And I’m not the only hypnotherapist or therapist to notice this. When people go into a deep state of relaxation and even begin to drift back into more pleasant childhood memories, there’s a youthfulness and a glow on their face—it’s subtle, but it’s there. It’s as if their life force has become stronger again. They come back looking better and feeling better.
So one of my intentions behind Profound Renewal was to help people experience that. I also have a personal reason in creating it: at times in my life I’ve dealt with ongoing fatigue issues, when I felt burnt out, and when I wasn’t really looking after myself and respecting my body. I needed to learn to relax deeply, not just now and then but on a regular basis, to relax into the activities of the day in order to look after myself better, to sleep better at night, and to come back into balance. Things are vastly improved for me now as compared to ten or fifteen years ago, when I was wandering around with bags under my eyes and necking instant coffee. I’m in a much, much better place than I was then.
But new challenges come along, and now I have a three-year-old son. I’m a stay-at-home dad a couple of days a week looking after him, playing with him. So I see the vitality and the exuberance of a three year old—he tugs at my hand saying, “Come and play with me!” “Come do this!” “Come do that!” “Come run around these tunnels and around this forest!” It’s important for me to be able to keep up with him and not to be the tired dad who’s always saying, “Uh, I’m just going to sit down for a bit.” I want to make sure that I maintain my own energy levels in being able to play with him.
Also, baby #2 is due in a month’s time, so more of these kinds of challenges are on the horizon. There was a time with child #1, when I would stay up watching Netflix till 3 in the morning, just rocking him, because he would not settle. It’s a strenuous time, as anyone who’s had a child knows.
So, my personal interest was in how guided meditation and hypnotherapy could be used deliberately to cultivate energy and in a short space of time. Rather than an hour’s deep meditation, I was interested in what could help people who have busy lives go deep quickly, cultivate energy, and come back refreshed and renewed. That was my core intent behind creating these tracks.
Javi: It’s very curious that you mention this, because just this morning I was reading Hexagram 25 in the I Ching, Wu Wang, which is translated as Innocence. It sounds to me as if you’re describing how to tap into a reservoir of that kind of energy that we all have. As you beautifully explained on the product page, as we grow up, most of us start carrying baggage around that doesn’t let us tap into the beautiful energy that most kids display naturally, with no effort.
Joseph: The anthropologist Gregory Bateson was known for saying that human beings (or a lot of adult human beings) seem to have lost the natural grace that we see in the animal kingdom—the kind you see in how a cat moves or sleeps or hunts. The grace, the silky movements, just the way a cat looks after itself, rests when it needs to rest, sprints when it needs to sprint. Bateson articulated this in numerous different ways from numerous different perspectives—what many of us have lost compared to when we were children is something that’s not always easy to put your finger on. It seems there’s a grace that has somehow become lost. Perhaps it is our huge neocortex (or forebrain) that gives us our brilliance as toolmakers, that makes us prone to living life too deliberately, too forcefully, too brutishly even—just making the machine of the body work, necking down instant coffee, grunting through a life of “Now I’m going to do this, now this, now this…”
I mention in the manual of Profound Renewal how the Taoist sages of ancient China used energy-building practices and meditation to come back to their natural state of grace. The antithesis of that philosophy is Confucianism, or living in accord with rules or dictums and enforcing the rules and regulations on how every aspect of life must be lived. It seems to me this kind of attitude comes from the forebrain, the neocortex. This is how I am going to do this… these are my patterns… these are my routines… this is how I put my tie on… this is how I drive to work… I must do this… and then, I must do that.
What the Taoists were pointing towards was that there are ways to come back to grace and back to our childlike innocence with its countless benefits—physical, mental, spiritual, and, for our purposes here, in terms of energy and vitality. When you come back to a state of grace, when you come back to a state of innocence, it feels like the channels of the body open, like there’s a freedom of movement. There’s almost a sense of wanting to move more fluidly—you see children rolling and bending, twisting and tumbling, in a way that’s totally different from someone who is middle-aged who has been working in an office for 25 years. There’s a physical vitality, a physical freedom of movement, which a lot of the Chinese energy-building practices like Qi Gong and Tai Chi are about, recultivating spiraling movements and the like. All of these are ways of bringing us back into grace. This is something I intended to come through in the background of Profound Renewal and as the guiding principle within the words, within the sounds, so that people can experience more of this natural vitality, grace, ease, and spontaneity in their lives.
Javi: The I Ching is central to all of the martial and energy arts, Chinese medicine, and Taoism, and funnily enough, the Innocence Hexagram I was checking this morning talks about the very same things you have been talking about. It talks about not judging, which is also a key part of this, and how kids aren’t as attached to outcomes as we all are. It says, “Be like the child who has not yet learned to smile, but simply remains observant to unfolding events.”
So talking about the product now, how do you transfer all this into an audio product that we can use? What did you do? How did you work your magic?
Joseph: Both verbally guided tracks in Profound Renewal began with words that came to me in a poetic stream of consciousness. I remember writing down a long list of phrases, playing with language, and reversing certain phrases.
To give you an overview of the whole product, it consists of three tracks. The first is the title track called Profound Renewal, and it’s 16 minutes long. It combines water sounds, and there’s even a lot of subtlety and movement within the water sounds. Each of the layers of water sounds is subtly rotating and spiraling in a way that might not be immediately apparent, but which is designed to create a much more immersive environment than a straightforward recording of a babbling brook. There are multiple layers to pretty much every aspect of these tracks.
In creating these recordings, I wanted to explore using multiple voices. These voices are rarely direct instructions, rather, they’re designed to be an evocation of vitality. So what you’ll experience in Track 1 is sometimes hearing a couple of words coming from the right, then the same words, but slightly different or reversed, coming from the left. Sometimes there is rhyme and rhythm, and it’s all intended to be an immersive mind massage—without you having to make a conscious step-by-step effort to follow a particular process. So, instead of a Confucianist approach to meditation (now I’ve got to do step 1, and now I’ve got to do step 2…), the intent behind Profound Renewal is to evoke vitality and childlike innocence, and then generalize this glowing light, this inner life force, as a way of being, as a way of moving through the world and into the future.
Profound Renewal is designed to have cumulative benefits. People who have listened to it have felt revitalized and reinvigorated immediately after listening, but there are also subtle cumulative changes that continue to emerge after using it for two weeks, a month, six weeks. People have talked about having more vivid dreams and being able to keep going much, much longer throughout the day.
Track 2 is called the “Ten Minute Recharge.” My intent behind this track was to create something that uses music, brainwave entrainment, the sound of ocean waves, and multiple voices, just like in Track 1. But I wanted this track to be a very focused, 10-minute, supercharged power nap for people who don’t have much time. Track 2 is totally different from Track 1 in the actual words and music—it’s not an edited version of the first track. Track 2 is about being able to very quickly recharge and renew yourself. People who have listened to it have said it induces a state of timelessness—of time expanding and of having all the time in the world to relax and let go completely, so you feel like you’ve come back from a thoroughly rejuvenating holiday.
Track 3 is 30 minutes of pure brainwave entrainment and nature sounds without any verbal guidance. You can use it as a meditation, in the background when you’re unwinding at the end of your day, or while you’re working. I don’t particularly recommend using it right before sleep, because in terms of the brainwave entrainment, I wanted to combine relaxation with calm energy. So, it’s intended to have an uplifting effect… but not anything that would make people feel on edge. Not a buzzing energy, but a calm, focused energy. Sometimes I use it in the background when I’m working, to assist me in working from a place of ease and flow, where I’m calmly centered, calmly focused, and energized as well. That’s an overview of the program in a nutshell.
Javi: The thing I really love is how the guided meditation voices put you in a very dreamy kind of state. I don’t think you would get this experience in any other way—not even listening to another product or guided meditation. My feeling is that after an initial slight shock, because you’re trying to understand all the words, even when they’re coming from both the left and the right simultaneously, you’re basically forced to let go. Then you’re suddenly immersed in a dreamlike scenery of sentences coming and going, from one ear to the other. You pay attention to everything, even though it’s overlapping, and then you’re forced, in a nice way—not in a pushy way, to relax. It’s fascinating.
Joseph: The principle that using multiple voices comes from is called a double induction, and the apocryphal tale is that it arose in hypnosis workshops, when people were being guided into a state of relaxation. They were tuning in to what other participants were saying, to their right, or to their left. And it became very apparent that when different people are doing different guided relaxation exercises in the same room, they can learn to jive with a voice coming from the right and a totally different voice coming from the left.
There are multiple levels at which the mind is working, multiple levels at which the mind is listening, and because my aim in creating these tracks was to evoke a particular state, all I am doing with the words is evoking the same idea differently at the same time, so the left hemisphere might process it one way, and the right hemisphere in another way. Integrating the two different perspectives allows for a more whole-brain response—the antithesis of looking at a bullet point list of instructions in a PowerPoint presentation.
My fascination with magic many years ago has led me here: wanting to be able to evoke—through words, sounds, and very precise brainwave frequency entrainment methods—states that people might not know how to experience at will by themselves. We know that the mind can directly influence things at the autonomic level, that hypnosis can help to calm down and even eliminate allergies, and can have all kinds of effects on the body, so, why not?
Professor Carol Ginandes ran several studies that showed how hypnosis can have effects on the body one would never believe if it wasn’t a proper, formal Harvard research study demonstrating this. At Harvard Medical School, when people who had a broken wrist or knee injury, for example, used hypnosis to envision their injury healing faster, it did, and measurably. Time and again, they compared and contrasted patients who weren’t using hypnotic protocols with patients who were.
So, why not use this amazing technology and the resources we have for working with the mind, use guided meditation, go into states of consciousness in a very focused and purposeful way, where we find out what it is like to have enhanced vitality—not just for an hour after listening or three hours after listening, but for the weeks, months, and years to come? How much more could you accomplish in your life? How much of a better partner, lover, parent, colleague, friend… how much of a better person could you be, if you were more energized, more present, more filled with vitality?
It’s been my experience that this is really possible and becomes more noticeable and tangible the more you work with these kinds of practices. You simply feel better and better in yourself over time. That’s why it excites me so much to put these practices to use, to help people experience this through evoking the state, using every principle I know from hypnotherapy, brainwave entrainment, energy work, and meditation.
Javi: I find it fascinating that you offer these experiences in a recorded way, so people like me, who would have never thought of going for a hypnotherapy session, can still enjoy similar benefits.
Joseph: I really hope that Profound Renewal is something that can help people not only refresh and recharge, or have a quick, supercharging power nap, but also rediscover the childlike innocence and grace we talked about—not as some highfalutin intellectual idea, but in a tangible, felt sense of something that’s been forgotten but is now remembered—a sense of coming back to yourself, back to your own grace, your vitality, to really bloom again in life.
Javi, it’s been a real pleasure.
Javi: Thank you, Joe. It’s been a real pleasure for me as well to talk about the beautiful things you do, and I’m already looking forward to product #3. Best of luck with the growth of your family—in a month’s time, you’re likely going to be sleep-deprived again, and who knows what you’ll come up with? It will be a beautiful journey, I’m sure.
If you are curious about Joseph’s first iAwake release, which, like Profound Renewal, features his wonderful voice leading you on a multi-layered guided meditation with advanced brainwave entrainment technology, please click here.
Artwork by Dave Holladay of Boulder, Utah: David is a primitive skills expert, wilderness guide, artist, writer, storyteller, mystic, musician, and a lover of people and nature.
Joseph Kao is a hypnotherapist and a solution-focused therapist with a private practice in London and Cambridge, UK.
He has been the head scriptwriter for over eight hundred professional hypnotherapy recordings, and he works as a teacher and a course-developer on psychotherapy training courses.
Joseph has been fascinated by philosophy, meditation, and brainwave entrainment technology since he was a teenager, and he’s had a daily meditation practice since 1998.
Javi Otero is iAwake’s Chief Technology Officer and is introducing new and experimental entrainment protocols developed through his ongoing research on further harnessing the power of sound energy. He also offers experiential support with iAwake products, sound technology expertise, and sometimes lends his lyrical hand at writing for iAwake.