To see the Skydiving Picture, me in black jump suit

Leap of Faith Introduction

As a skydiver, if you jump at 10,000 feet and open your parachute at 2,000 feet, you have 47 seconds of freefall. Let's say you can perform five acrobatic manoeuvres in this time. Wouldn't it be wonderful to slow time down so that in the same 8,000 feet of freefall, you have more time available? Imagine having enough extra time for another four manoeuvres, bringing your total to nine. Impossible? Not for James Middleton.

James worked with Bob Hallewell to apply some of the latest mental techniques to skydiving. These techniques are known as "Design Human Engineering" or DHE. Using DHE you can gain remarkable control of your senses, for example to slow down your perception of time and achieve more in the same number of seconds.

James, why did you want to use DHE with skydiving?

"Skydiving can be considered a peak performance activity. State control skills can make all the difference between experiencing a useful working dive or feeling overwhelmed and performing poorly. This applies whether I jump either freestyle or formation skydiving. "It is important to me to get the best out of each skydive. I have experimented over the many years I have been leaping out of aeroplanes with all kinds of different states using self hypnosis.

When I heard about DHE and the possibility of creating any state I wanted, I must confess I was excited. "Many skydives I do are from 10,000 feet. This gives me 47 seconds of freefall time. Often I experienced an emotional state where I did not seem to have enough time to get my moves completed before I needed to open my parachute. In such a state, I felt rushed and confused. I forgot my moves, felt overwhelmed and performed poorly or averagely compared to other more experienced jumpers.

What exactly is DHE?

DHE is a process which lets you build and use an imaginary control panel. Imagine yourself at a console like one in a video editing studio. It has banks of on-off buttons, rows of sliding levers, dials to turn, loudspeakers, a display screen. Would you like to slide a lever and change the level of adrenaline in your body: up for more, down for less? How would you like to flick a switch and be more determined or more "what the hell"? If "what the hell" is not your style, what would you like instead? Now, what would it be like to bring up your personalised control panel whenever you want and change your emotional state at the touch of a "button"? This is what you can have through DHE: whatever you want. James wanted to be able to slow time down and DHE now lets him.

How does DHE work?

You have probably experienced mental "triggers". Have you smelled something which took you back to a previous vivid memory? Have you heard a particular song and found yourself thinking about when you first heard it? These triggers have been set up unconsciously: they can be a touch, sight, sound (does the name "Pavlov" ring a bell?) or any other sensory stimulus. With DHE we set up triggers on purpose. Let's say you get into a really relaxed state and hear a piece of music. Later on, if you hear the music again, you will go back into the relaxed state. The DHE control panel is a collection of personal triggers. You generate your desired state and associate it mentally with the position of a control on your panel. When you "internally" flick the switch, you regain that state.

James has a lever now on his control panel which lets him experience time differently.

So, how do you make a control panel with a lever to change state?

Everything is more easily and successfully achieved by working under hypnosis with an experienced practitioner.

Let's say you want to choose to be more determined at will. First you find a memory of when you were very determined and you work out the details of how you store this memory in your mind. The image "in your mind's eye" will be in a particular spot, have a particular size, may be monochrome or in colour. The sounds associated with it may be loud or soft, come from one side only (or both). The feelings will have qualities in particular parts of your body ... and so on.

When you know all the details of "determined", you visualise a blank control panel in front of yourself with an appropriate lever in the "off" position. Put your hand out, hold the lever and slide it along the scale - at the same time calling up your experience of "determined". As you slide it, bring to mind all the details of "determined" more and more strongly. Slide it down again and tone them down. Do it a couple more times to get used to the different experiences.

Bingo! One internal trigger is now installed. Come out of trance, visualise the panel with its shiny new lever and realise that to be more determined now, all you have to do is slide your lever.

James, can you tell us about the controls on your panel?

"My controls at present consist of a heavy duty sliding lever. It has five notches up for fast time; and five going down for slow time. At the centre on either side of the lever are locking catches made of brass. "Sound comes from four speakers, two medium size and two tweeters on the right and left of the panel, on the top edge. "A projector screen sits in the middle on top of the panel about three feet wide and two feet tall. Just under this are two clocks, the one on the left for normal time and the other for distorted time."

So, how do we make a control panel with a lever to control time?

First realise that we are not controlling time so much as our perception of time. There are some times (like standing in a long queue) when you look at your watch and wait for what seems like half an hour. When you look again you are surprised that only two minutes have passed. There are other times (like being at a good party) when you notice the time, have five minutes chat and then realise a whole hour has gone past. We identified occasions when James had experienced time in these ways and then worked out how he stores the details of each one

. In trance James built his control panel with the sliding lever, notches, brass catches etc. He then reviewed his "time passing slowly" experience with the lever forward, followed by the "time passing quickly" experience with the lever backwards - changing the details as he moved the lever.

So much for the theory, what about the practice?

James, can you tell us what it was like jumping out of a plane with your panel?

"For my first time distorted skydive I chose to do some simple freestyle moves alone, for my own and others' safety. I wasn't sure how it would go.

"When the plane reached 8,000 feet, and 6 minutes to go before despatch of our load of jumpers, I closed my eyes and visualised my control panel. When I sensed it was in front of me and was clear, I reached out, grabbed the sliding lever and gently eased the lever down two and a half notches. I felt my breathing slow, my sense of time perception shift, and a calmness flow over me. I snapped back the locking catches to stop it sliding back to normal time and opened my eyes.

"I now had lots of time to recheck my gear, tighten up my helmet after slipping on my goggles. When I was comfortable and ready I checked my altimeter. It was reading 10.000 feet and we were nearly ready to go. "The engine cut and the jump master pointed at me and pointed at the space where the door had been a moment ago. I took a deep breath, leaned towards the doorway, looked out and dived out headfirst with my arms nearly straight out and my legs tucked up towards my bottom.

"As soon as I was out of the door, time seemed to really slow. I stretched out my legs and simply enjoyed tipping up and over, partly upside down. It was magnificent. The clouds and earth seemed to fill my vision, the air seemed really soft and welcoming. The sounds were muted and yet vibrant of air rushing past me and I noticed the sharp pungent smell of ozone pinching my nostrils.

"I was relaxed, calm and serene, like never before. My arms and legs settled into the regular freefall position, face to earth, and I checked my altimeter- 9,000 feet. I did my first backloop, clean and tidy and still on heading, my second a s good.

I checked my altimeter - 7,000 feet. Went into my first forward loop, clean and neat. My second forward loop as good. Check altimeter - 5,000 feet. Time for two stand up T positions, one foot vertical facing the earth, the other out behind me horizontal. It tottered a bit and began to rotate. I did another, about the same. Check altimeter - 3,000 feet and time to pull.

I had planned to open 500 feet higher than the usual 2,000 feet in case of any difficulties with the time distortion, and would be safely open at 2,500 feet. It seemed I had so much time, I just held the face to earth position for a few more moments.

"I was shocked to notice the ground seemed to be appearing a bit closer than was normal for 3,000 feet in freefall. I immediately pulled out my pilot chute and threw it into the slipstream to open the parachute. A few moments later I was hanging under my canopy, swaying gently. I checked my altimeter and was horrified to discover I was at 2,000 feet which was 500 feet lower than my planned opening height. So pulling at a planned height of 3,000 feet I would expect to have a fully open canopy at 2,500 feet which I considered a safe height for this type of experimental skydive.

"I decided there and then that my control panel needed some adjustments for safety!! I was glad I had planned a higher opening height than was usual for this particular skydive."

So what adjustments have you made?

"I decided I needed a large emergency button about three inches across, just to the right of my time distorting lever. This button if bashed quick and hard would automatically reset my time distorter lever to its central position of normal time. I built this and tried it out over a couple of skydives. I found if I remembered to hit it, it worked fine, but sometimes I forgot and continued in slow time. A further adjustment for safety was evidently needed.

"What I did was build a link between seeing the altimeter outside in the real world, and the button on my panel. As soon as I saw 3,500 feet register on my altimeter, automatically this orange button pressed itself and time slid back to normal. I've test jumped this a few times and it's worked well.

Any concluding message, James?

"I have now completed ten skydives using my time distortion on my control panel. During these I have found it a very different experience. I experience a sense of calmness, peacefulness and slowness. I can think more clearly, remember my moves, and seem to have more fun, as well as, perform more moves for the same amount of time, than I used to.

"I consistently perform better."

You can have this too Bob and James run courses for skydivers to learn to experience time differently and perform better. For details, contact Bob or James at the e-mail addresses below.

"Copyright James Middleton and Bob Hallewell 1996."

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