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Hypnotic rhythm (1) - Sam Harris Daily Meditation 2022.10.05

Today´s quote illustrates how Sam Harris uses sentence construction though vocal markers, pauses and rhythm.

Sam Harris

Rest as the space in which
images and sensations simply appear

Todays quote is a phrase for which it is important to hear how Sam Harris splits it into two parts through his voice intonation and pauses.

Here is another example of Sam Harris

the practice is really to
undermine that boundary

The latter is an example of the hypnotic technique of creating an "embedded command".

Marking out important parts through voice

It would be possible to use one´s voice and pauses to split the sentence as follows, and in a normal speech this is what speakers would do :

Option 1

  1. Rest as the space

  2. In which images and sensations simply appear

Option 2

But Sam Harris does this:

  1. Rest as the space in which

  2. Images and sensations just appear.

Sam Harris uses a principle from hypnotic speaking by picking out components of a phrase that can stand on its own through rhythm and vocal stress.

In the example, the sub phrase

"images and sensations just appear"

is isolated through the voice, and thus it becomes clearer in the listener's mind. The particle "in which" is appended to the "Rest as the space".

In NLP, this is also called "analogue marking".

Following the breath

A second reason for his pronunciation may be that he splits the sentence so that both components are roughly equally long.

This makes it possible to let the words ride on the out-breath more naturally than if the two components had very unequal lengths.

Speaking on the outbreath of equal length s a technique of hypnotic speech, that will draw the listener into a trance much better than speaking on out-breaths that are of very unequal length. A natural breathing rhythm while speaking will entrance the listener quite effectively.


One will feel a certain steady rhythm to his speech, like an ongoing slow drumbeat (well I do). This is because he intentionally (I suppose) structures his speech into very short subphrases.

One notices when he switches to "normal speech" at the end of his meditations, when he explains what he did, or when he suggests to listeners to use the meditation in a specific way.

This is a passage from the famous "Handbook of hypnotic suggestions and metaphors"

Most experienced practitioners speak with a rhythm and cadence when they do hypnosis, essentially speaking in phrases. This seems to encourage hypnotic response. A common error among new students is that they will tend to speak continuously, in a lecturing or conversational manner, without pauses.

Embedded commands in hypnosis

In hypnosis, this principle is usually applied in embedded commands. The easy and natural construction of embedded commands is specific to the English language, it is not so easy in German.

Here is an example where the embedded command is highlighted:

And while you can continue to look at the wall, you can begin to become aware of that special feeling.

In the preceding phrase there were two embedded commands:

And while you can continue to look at the wall, you can begin to become aware of that special feeling.

Thus in hypnosis, it is possible to "hide" commands to the unconscious with the stream of spoken words.

Sam Harris uses this too by splitting up phrases so that one part is the embedded command

And the practice is really to
recognize that consciousness is already that way


Hammond, D. C. (1990). Handbook of Hypnotic Suggestions and Metaphors (1st edition). Norton & Company.

(two arbitrarily chosen articles on "embedded command" from Google)

Engel, E. (2020, October 6). 52 embedded commands. EISAIAH ENGEL. Retrieved 7 October 2022, from

Longos, P. (2022, January 23). How To Use Embedded Commands in Hypnosis and Conversation. Mike Mandel Hypnosis. Retrieved 7 October 2022, from


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