How to Avoid an Imperfect Pitch

Many (if not most) writers when pitching articles adopt a simplistic approach that is both unprofessional and overlooks key points in the process

Realise that you are presenting yourself and your work, or at least an example of what you can do. If both fail at being professional, you and your story will not be considered. The point, naturally, is to make a good impression. If you do, not only could you be assured of getting the job, but future assignments also.

Present your credentials
Give a brief overview of who you are, where you studied, and for whom you’ve written (name the publications). If you’ve achieved recognition for any work done, make sure you mention this. Offer to send examples of work should they be interested.

Provide full contact details, links to your social media platforms and your website, if you have one.

The publication
You’ll be one of many freelance writers who have pitched to your chosen publication, and your pitch must suit their target market. Read and study their publication carefully to ensure that your article or angle warrants inclusion in their publication and will be of interest to their readers. Think also in which format your work would be most suited: feature, blog, opinion piece, news story, website article, and ascertain which editor deals with your selected niche. Write directly to the commissioning editor for that niche. Don’t make the mistake of sending your email to the chief editor unless it’s a very small publication and the editor deals with all models.

Ways to pitch
Basically, there are two ways to pitch a story. You can provide an outline of the story giving an interesting angle that attracts the editor’s interest or you can submit the full article. Either way, it’s vital that the story’s title is eye-catching and, preferably, compelling. If you struggle with this, seek advice from colleagues as it’s an important first impression.

If you submit the full article, you run the risk of the publication reworking it using their in-house staff. This has happened, so be wary. However, if you’re confident this won’t happen then submit the full article. This will give the editor an opportunity to appraise the quality of your work and to make an on-the-spot decision to accept or reject it.

An outline, well-written with a compelling title and a selection of quotations and pull quotes from your article, can be enough to whet an editor’s appetite. Above all, put yourself in your readers’ shoes. If they were reading the outline, what would make them want to read the article. If the article is groundbreaking or particularly informative, the outline should be the preferred route of pitching to avoid unscrupulous hands getting hold of it.

Another vital first impression
I’ve seen pitches come in that are reasonably well-written but which had glaring grammar and spelling errors. Don’t make this serious and unforgivable mistake. You’re a professional, so you must deliver accordingly. There is little that annoys an editor more than sloppy writing. And because it gives them a taste of what’s to come, they’re unlikely to give you a further thought.

Deadline for a reply
Some may shudder at requesting an editor to reply to a pitch within a fixed period. This should not be the case. For one thing, the pitch is a means of earning an income for the freelance writer. And if it is a particularly interesting and informative piece, the writer may wish to have it published as soon as possible to ensure continued public interest.

Taking all factors into account, decide on an appropriate deadline for a reply. If the deadline isn’t met, you’re at liberty to pitch elsewhere. You might want to mention in your pitching submission that the reason you give a deadline is to have the opportunity to pitch elsewhere should your proposed article be rejected. This can cause the editor reflecting on your submission to think twice and accept your pitch.

As a parting thought, remember that the pitch is not simply a little note telling the editor you have a story to tell and then hoping for the best. It is a document that should be as professional as the article itself.

Bruce Cooper

@2018 Bruce Cooper All Rights Reserved


Social Media are a Trap: Bauman

Polish-born sociologist, Zygmunt Bauman, says that ‘… most people use social media … to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice …’.

Q. You are skeptical of the way people protest through social media, of so-called “armchair activism,” and say that the internet is dumbing us down with cheap entertainment. So would you say that the social networks are the new opium of the people?

Sociologist Zigmunt Bauman

Sociologist Zigmunt Bauman

A. The question of identity has changed from being something you are born with to a task: you have to create your own community. But communities aren’t created, and you either have one or you don’t. What the social networks can create is a substitute. The difference between a community and a network is that you belong to a community, but a network belongs to you. You feel in control. You can add friends if you wish, you can delete them if you wish. You are in control of the important people to whom you relate. People feel a little better as a result, because loneliness, abandonment, is the great fear in our individualist age. But it’s so easy to add or remove friends on the internet that people fail to learn the real social skills, which you need when you go to the street, when you go to your workplace, where you find lots of people who you need to enter into sensible interaction with. Real dialogue isn’t about talking to people who believe the same things as you. Social media don’t teach us to dialogue because it is so easy to avoid controversy… But most people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice, where the only things they see are the reflections of their own face. Social media are very useful, they provide pleasure, but they are a trap.

First published in on 19 January 2016




My garage is not a thing of beauty. Over the years it has acquired enormous clutter and superfluous rubbish that has accumulated alarmingly to the point of becoming an unkempt mess. For example, apart from being a writer and editor, I am also a woodworker, in possession of sophisticated woodworking machinery. Perhaps it’s just as well that I don’t have time anymore to pursue this hobby, because in the garage there are a number of unusable woodworking tables piled high with clutter. What makes it worse is that I’ve never really noticed the clutter. Perhaps it’s a subconscious reaction to avoid thinking about it.

But the ‘mess’ was vividly brought home to me recently when my granddaughter asked me to build two miniature horse stables for her, which I happily agreed to do.

There was no clutter on the table saw worktop, so the cutting of the boards was relatively easy and satisfying. But then I had to screw them together. That needed a workbench. I had several from which to choose but none of them had any open space on top. Clutter all over the place.

Eventually, after some words of frustration and a few expletives, I piled some clutter from one part of the workbench onto adjacent clutter and managed to gain some space to complete the next phase of my project. But I hadn’t bargained on what came next.

I have a particular set of clamps that I always use for gluing and screwing. They were not in sight. But I knew where to look. Under the piles of clutter on three workbenches. I wasn’t in a particular good mood when I began looking and that can only invite trouble. If you know anything about the mind, you’ll know that when it’s in a state of frustration or stress, accidents will happen on the outside. I finally found what I was looking for but not before I had bumped and bruised my hands and suffered several abrasions.

During the project I was disgusted with what I saw around me. There was a time when my workshop had been pristine. Every nail and screw in place and everything clearly seen and accessible. Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words struck home with meaning and force, ‘As a man thinketh, so shall he be.’ I also recalled words from a philosophical text I had read somewhere, ‘As within, so without.’ I feared my mind had become corrupt in some ways and the result was lying around me. I resolved to set things right and clean up the mess.

After a few days, I returned to the garage to do just that. My heart sank when I surveyed the scene. This was going to take days, not hours. My negative thoughts took hold as I brooded over the distressing prospect. Looking back now, it’s remarkable how little we know of the mind’s subtle influence. You will become, and things around you will become, literally what you put into your mind. Emerson and that philosophical text were right. That’s the way it works: think a positive thought and there’ll be a positive outcome. Think a negative thought and the corresponding outcome will occur.

I was being assailed by thoughts of drudgery that led me almost to despair. Fortunately, I gathered myself and began to think about it. Till that point, I had been feeling it with some strong negative emotion.

Thinking about it, calmed me. And when I look back, I realise thinking about it was a positive approach that reaped positive results. It displaced my earlier wallowing attitude.

But I still couldn’t decide where to start. Perhaps table one, which had the most clutter? No, table two might be preferable because I felt it had more usable things that could be packed away. I was undecided. Thoughts of negativity began to intrude again and invade my positive space. The beast of clutter still held me in its grip.

I was standing in front of table number three looking at the mess and wondering how long this was going to take when I had one of those rare, precious ‘light-bulb’ moments that displace darkness. A veritable positivity had risen up in my mind to show me the way.

Just before this happened, I had looked at a nail lying in the dust on the table. It was the nearest thing to me. Next to it was a small block of wood, and next to the wood was a broken plastic container. I suddenly realised I had to start somewhere, so why not the thing nearest to me. I picked up the nail, decided it wasn’t usable and threw it in the bin. I then picked up the block of wood, which was usable, and placed it in a particular corner of the garage where I store scrap wood, for later use. I then proceeded to the next item, a hammer peeping out at me, which I thought I’d lost.

You only have to see the next step – not the top of the mountain.

As the items, one by one, were appropriately dispensed or placed, I saw that I no longer thought about that huge mountain of clutter. I simply and quietly just reached for the next item.

I began to enjoy it. As more space appeared on the workbench, a deep satisfaction arose within me. I cleared the tables in two hours, after having thought about them for over a year.

I reflected on what had been an interesting experience. Two clearly distinguishable mindsets were involved. One that wasn’t in favour of the clutter being moved and the other that saw the need and wanted it done. For ease of reference, I’ll call the one not in favour the negative mindset, and the one in favour the positive mindset.

There was a game of war being played out in my mind. Regarding the garage clutter, I had used the negative mindset for over a year and it triumphantly held dominion. I would always provide reasons (to myself) for not moving the clutter (mostly the chronic excuse – that I didn’t have time). Not only did the clutter stay put as a result, it grew. Clutter begets clutter. Emerson and the philosophical text were right – ‘as within, so without’. While the negative mindset held dominion within, it’s corresponding physical manifestation, the clutter, lay and grew without. The only way to get rid of the clutter would be through action on the part of the positive mindset. But, in this particular case, I persisted in using the negative mindset. As a result, the negative mindset had no enemy and reigned supreme within my mind in the matter of the clutter.

The negative mindset came under threat only when I began my granddaughter’s project. I was now in the same room as the clutter and didn’t like what I saw. But it wouldn’t give up without a fight. I was still under its control when, to create space for the project on the workbench, I simply picked up clutter and dumped it on the heap alongside. The search for the clamps and the resulting mishaps, bruising and injuries opened a small window of light and allowed my positive mindset to influence the situation. I was angry with the mess.

But even when I came to clear it several days later, I dilly-dallied, thinking of the mountain of work involved. It was only when I consciously used my willpower to pick up the first item, that I took control with my positive mindset and got the job one.

The experience helped me realise that I control my thoughts and make the choice whether to be negative or positive. Naturally, I always try to be positive because it enhances my quality of life and attracts ‘good luck’. Negativity does just the opposite, although we’ll seldom admit it. But it’s difficult to always try to be positive. Envy, anger, resentment, self-pity, jealousy, hate, frustration, irritability and other negative states of mind are deeply lodged in our brains and surface frequently. And most of the time we don’t realise what’s happened until it’s too late and we’re having relationships collapse, accidents and ‘bad luck’.

First, know this. You have the power to consciously think what you like. Sew negative seeds and you’ll reap a bad harvest, sew positive seeds and your harvest will be good. This isn’t fanciful ‘stuff’. It’s real, and can be proved.

The vital thing I learnt from my experience is that when negativity strikes, the positive mindset must come into action immediately. This isn’t easy, but if we want to live successful, happy lives, we must make the effort. No one else can do it for us.

There are two steps to get positive results.

Watch yourself thinking. The mind is like a chattering monkey that never stops. Thoughts rush in and out of the mind at a rate of thousands a minute. It’s almost impossible to control this thought process, but that is not as important as just watching them. Some will flit by in a split second. Others will be more pronounced because of emotion they’ve triggered in you. This emotion will be mild or intense and depends on how much the thought affects you. Regardless of the degree of their intensity, these thoughts are important because they affect your well-being and health, either in a positive or negative way. When they emerge, just watch them as quietly as you can, even if you’re affected emotionally. It will be as if another part of you is watching that part of you which is thinking and feeling.

Don’t judge, analyse or think about the thoughts. Just watch. That is all that’s required.

Initially, you’ll quickly forget to watch your thoughts. You’ll have to remember to do it and return to the procedure again and again. In time it will become a natural process and you’ll frequently remember to do it.

Make this procedure a part of your life. It will help you to better understand yourself and others and it should enhance the overall quality and success of your life. But I repeat, don’t judge, analyse or think about the thoughts while watching them. Just watch.

This procedure will greatly assist in bringing the positive mindset into play. If you spot a negative thought emerging, you can do one of a number of things:

  • Just watch it, be aware of it and take no action.
  • Stop watching and indulge in it.
  • Change it into its opposite using the positive mindset.

By just watching it, being aware of it and taking no action, you quietly disengage emotionally from the thought and maintain your composure and serenity. Composure and serenity are positive qualities from which only positive things will flow. The more composure and serenity you have in life, the greater your happiness and success.

If you stop watching it and indulge in it, you are at the mercy of your emotions. Emotion is a powerful force that usurps the mind. Reason is pushed aside and instinct takes over. The negative thought in which you indulge will breed other negative thoughts. For example, envy could breed hate; hate could breed obsession; pride could breed overweening vanity; Excessive lust could breed sexual perversion, and so on.

George Gurdjieff, a Russian philosopher, used the analogy of a horse-drawn carriage to describe the interrelated effects of our physical, emotional and mental make-up. The carriage is our physical body, the horse our emotions, the driver our mind.

When the horse is obedient to the driver’s will, and under control, the carriage proceeds harmoniously, without incident or accident. The three elements work together in excellent harmony. All destinations are reached and all goals achieved. However, if the horse reacts to an incident (as we do when indulging in a negative thought), and the driver has insufficient will to control it (as we do when we stop watching our thoughts), the horse runs amok. The consequence is: destinations not reached, goals not achieved, accident, injury and, perhaps, even death. This is not unlike what happened to me in my garage. I wallowed in a negative thought about my clutter for a year and a half, followed by accident and injury when I did my granddaughter’s project. My horse had bolted and my carriage took a beating.

We do not realise what terrible risks we run when negative thoughts gain a stranglehold.

The third thing we can do if we spot a negative thought emerging is change it into its opposite.

If you are pessimistic about something, you can become optimistic about it in an instant – simply by thinking it. This is the power of the human mind. It has the capacity to think what it wants to think, to take control, and turn its life around. Usually this doesn’t happen because we allow the rampant horse above to control us. Our negative emotions govern us. Instinct, instead of reason. We leave the driver, who has the power to steer the carriage in the right direction, helpless.

You can prove that this technique works by simply doing it.

Born in the mental realm, thoughts eventually manifest in the physical realm of life. We are, and will become, what we think. All that we are at this moment is the result of how we thought. With our thoughts, we create our world.

It’s not a quick-fix. It will take time. But keep in mind – you only have to see the next step, not the top of the mountain.

Bruce Cooper

© 2015 Bruce Cooper All Rights Reserved



Committee to Protect Journalists to Release Killed Journalists Report

CPJ to release annual report on killed journalists 

New York, December 16, 2015-The Committee to Protect Journalists will release its annual report on journalists killed in relation to their work.

CPJ’s report includes a comprehensive catalog of journalists worldwide who were killed in connection to their work. A breakdown of the cases by country, medium, gender, freelancers, and the number of local versus international correspondents killed, among other criteria, is available in the report.

WHAT:    Yearly report on killed journalists

WHEN:    December 23, 2015. 12.01 a.m. EST/0500 GMT


CPJ is an independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide.
Note to Editors:

Embargoed copies of the report are available upon request.

Samantha Libby
Advocacy Officer
Tel. +1 212-300-9007

Ashley Parent
Communications Associate
Tel. +1 212 300 9032

Defining and Taking Love to New Heights

Author and philosopher, Dario Salas Sommer (pseudonym John Baines), has written a captivating and erudite novel called The Science of Love, which sets out to examine and define love’s true meaning and how it can be corrupted or elevated by a man and a woman in an intimate relationship.

Sommer brings a profound insight and wisdom to his work that takes it beyond just a psychological commentary and into practical ways in which a man and a woman can achieve one of the human being’s deepest desires, the awakening of True Love.

Here are two excerpts from the book:

‘There are many ways man allows himself to be guided by his instincts. Man is not taught the need to care for his emotions and imagination in the same way bodily cleanliness is taught, nor has he been told that he needs to take lessons in love. Normally, passionate and amorous feelings are allowed to flow and fuse between a loving couple, who give themselves to the delight of the experience of their sensations. The results of these experiences however, are often far from satisfactory, as today’s high rate of divorce and separation shows. Official statistics do not take into account couples who are unhappy, ill-suited, or who are kept together through convenience, habit, religious obligation, or to spare their children a separation.

‘Fruitfulness in love is not measured by the production of children, but by the level of communication, tenderness, friendship and happiness of body and soul. The true and rarely achieved aim of the human couple, is a union of souls which leads both spouses to the highest desires of both. The union of body and emotion only, is a possessive approach to the marital contract, and its mutual obligations are only an artificial attempt to bind two people. The less love there is between two beings, the more rules, obligations, vows and conventions are needed to keep them together … [An approach] that advocates union through true love, not through social or personal convention, nor through the fleeting mirage of ardent passion [is needed]. When the human being understands and practices union through genuine love, humanity will have found the right path to human perfection.’

Taken from The Science of Love by John Baines (Dario Salas Sommer)

The Big Issue


The Big Issue has just launched its gift card – in time for the giving season but available at any time of the year. Instead of spending hours trawling the malls or the internet for the perfect birthday/wedding/Xmas/housewarming/congratulations present for your boss/friend/secretary/client/mother-in-law/second cousin, simply…

  • deposit the amount you would have spent into The Big Issue’s bank account (Std Bank, current account number 072027282, reference GIFTCARD/yourname), and
  • email POP (proof of payment) together with your name and the name of the person in whose name you made the donation to

We’ll send you a personalised gift card (similar to the image you see below) to print or email to the person you’ve honoured by supporting the ongoing work of The Big Issue.

It’s that easy! What are you waiting for?

Oh, and please spread the word…

writer – copy editor – plain language rewriter
deputy chair, The Big Issue
board member, Cape Council, SAJBD



I gained the heady heights
And saw
The vast expanse of cosmic blue

I had not seen
All this before,
Had not been here
Did not come or go,
Never was above the Law

The past had gone,
Dissolved …
And now I stood
Outside of time
Beyond the polar grip of right or wrong
Untrammeled by the meaning of belong.

The karmic wheel
Turned round me
As I stood within the circle centre,
Safe within
The heartbeat of the Absolute.

Don’t expect a thunderclap
Or deluge
Of torrential rain.
You’ll only hear your own voice
Saying quietly

I came …

Bruce Cooper, September 1991

Woman on Top

“Good morning,” the Bokmakierie bird would have said, if I had eyes to see and ears to hear. He was sitting on a thorn tree branch outside the kitchen window, watching me chop carrots.

He saw me first, because I didn’t look up the first or second time that he ‘trilled’, or when he chirruped again, more loudly. Eventually, he played the party trick that make these cheeky, yellow mischiefs a popular garden accessory: he rang like a mobile phone.

And then I looked up from my carrots. “What have you been doing with your life today?” he appeared to have said, since coincidentally, I had been wondering the same thing.

“Not much, but a lot,” I answered. In fact, I couldn’t remember what I’d eaten that morning, since at least a thousand other things had crowded, squashed, into one day between getting up and chopping carrots.

My mother says that there are no such things as coincidences – only meant-to-bes. There also are no problems; only challenges. Because Bokmakierie flew away seconds after our conversation, I forgot about him until the following morning, when my friend Daniela posted an eye-openingly wise comment on her Facebook profile.

While reading it, I felt reasonably certain that Bokmakierie and Dan’s post were one of my mother’s meant-to-bes.

Dan offered us 12 ‘Zen Things’ to remember during a busy day. We see these pop-up philosophies all over social media these days and most miss the memory bank because there are so many that we’ve reached sentimental saturation point.

But what the art of Zen and birds have in common is a simple methodology, really – one that we are fast forgetting.

I put Zen to the test, thanks to Dan and Bokmakierie, just for an hour or two and would you know it? Bird Zen works.

Remember to do one thing at a time – and do it slowly, deliberately, completely. That’s the first step. Chopping carrots, for example, should be about chopping carrots, and not about rushing the job in your head. The rush speeds up your heart rate and makes you anxious; not only will your carrots be a chore, rather than a serving of nutrition, but you may snap at someone later, because your ‘blood is up’, as gran used to say.

Bird Zen also advises that we do less. Can we? Is it at all possible? I tried it and yes. There was a quarter hour scheduled for clearing the right-hand side of the garage last week, but I was tired and it had been a hot and tiring day. So I didn’t do it, as I’d done so much else. And both the garage and my sanity are still there.

“Put space between things”, is the next tip. Meaning time, actual things, visits with people – anything that exchanges energy or takes up space. Putting space in your life gives you room to breathe.

My kids respond best to number six on the list, which is “develop rituals” and “designate time for certain things”. I didn’t know, until I started having eyes to see and ears to hear, that my young son loves, beyond measure, family hugs. Thinking back, I remember now that he’s mentioned family hugs a few times, but we don’t do it often enough. It’s a ritual and so, it must be done – and often.

Our grandparents and older generations understood the last bits of bird zen so innately: devote time to sitting; smile and serve others; make cleaning and cooking become meditation – and live simply.

Do you remember your granny, aunties and elderly neighbours sitting on the stoep of an afternoon, drinking tea and talking, or sometimes not talking, but being silent; punctuating the peace with an occasional “ag, ja” or, “shoo, the wind is up”?

Wise old birds, those.

Beth Cooper Howell
First published in The Herald newspaper





Stories of past and possible future lives abound and mostly are dismissed by the scientific community as implausible, hallucinatory and without basis in fact. But for clinical hypnotherapist, Chandra Taylor, the evidence is too strong for science to ignore and her ongoing successful treatments support this.

One of the more popular accounts of reincarnation was a book published in 1956 called The Search for Bridey Murphy written by amateur hypnotist Morey Bernstein. Bernstein hypnotised a Colorado housewife, Virginia Tyghe, who recalled a former life as an Irishwoman from Cork.

Bernstein used a technique called hypnotic regression, which takes the patient back to early childhood and beyond. To his amazement, he discovered someone called Bridey Murphy, who had lived in Ireland in the 19th century. Tyghe revealed compelling details of Bridey’s life and the state of being of life after death. The book became a bestseller and provoked investigation by reporters to establish its authenticity. Many facts tallied but an investigation into Tyghe’s own childhood revealed that she grew up in Chicago, Illinois and lived across the road from an Irish immigrant named Bridie Murphy Corkell. Psychologist Andrew Neher wrote that Tyghe had suffered from cryptomnesia, which occurs when forgotten memories resurface and are not recognised by the patient.

Although the tale of Bridey Murphy did not prove the fact of reincarnation, and revealed how easily the mind can mislead, there is other convincing evidence that does make one sit up and think and which suggests the subject should receive wider and more serious attention from scientists.

Chandra Taylor is a psychotherapist practicing in Cape Town, South Africa. She is also a hypnotherapist, having trained at the Institute of Hypnotherapy in London and the European College of Hypnotherapy in Surrey, UK.

‘While living in London I had the privilege to meet and train with some of the most noted practitioners in my field, including Dr Richard Bandler, a former associate professor at UCSC and a consultant to many Fortune 500 Companies, the US Military and US Intelligent Agencies. Dr Bandler is best known as the co-creator (with John Grinder) of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, a methodology that enables one to understand and change human behaviour patterns.’

Although Taylor says she has always been interested in past-life regression as a form of therapy, her interest in past-life therapy was significantly triggered after reading Many Lives, Many Masters by psychiatrist Dr Brian Weiss. Weiss’s book tells the story of one of his patients, Catherine, whom he unsuccessfully treated for 18 months using traditional psychotherapy. Finally he turned to hypnosis as a last resort. As head of psychiatry at the prestigious Mount Sinai clinic in Miami, past-life regression therapy was not part of his repertoire at all.

‘When Catherine started experiencing past-life memories, he was dumbfounded and did not know what to do or how to react. To his astonishment, she immediately showed improvement after the first session. This continued after each session until she was freed of all the negative issues that she had been suffering from. Any therapist knows that patients do not heal from dreaming up a fantasy. Her recovery was dramatic and complete after having relived the events that had caused the issues,’ explains Taylor.

Weiss received peer acclaim for his work, not least from Dr Joel Rubinstein, former instructor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School who wrote:

‘Dr Weiss integrates concepts of traditional psychotherapy and the exploration of his patient’s spiritual unconscious. My view of myself and others will never be quite the same.’

Another comment came from Dr Andrew E Slaby, Medical Director at Fair Oaks Hospital:

‘An interesting, well-written and thought-provoking exploration of the influence of past-life therapy on present behaviour. You cannot put it down without feeling empathetic with Dr Weiss’s conclusions.’

Chandra Taylor is bemused that the wealth of evidence available, pointing to what appears to be an obvious truth, hasn’t resulted in more research:

‘There are numerous cases on record testifying that reincarnation does exist and plays an active part in our lives. I’m bewildered that some scientists continue to insist that it can’t be scientifically proven. Pioneers in the field, such as Dr Michael Newton PhD, refute this. His work and case studies are extensive and irrefutable.

‘The late Dr Ian Stevenson, who worked at the University of Virginia School of Medicine for fifty years and was Carlson Professor of Psychiatry from 1967 to 2001 and Research Professor of Psychiatry from 2002 until his death, investigated nearly 3 000 children’s cases without using hypnosis. A journalist once remarked about Stevenson’s work that “The definition of insanity is when you give a person irrefutable proof and they still choose to disbelieve it. Dr Stevenson’s work is irrefutable proof.”’

An aspect of Stevenson’s work is that he often found children could recall who their families were in a previous incarnation and also how they died. Some of the children interviewed lived in remote villages without access to media or television, which might otherwise have influenced or distorted their accounts. An interesting facet of Stevenson’s work was pointed out by Kevin Williams in his article Dr Ian Stevenson’s Reincarnation Research:

‘During his original research into various cases involving children’s memories of past lives, Dr Stevenson did note with interest the fact that these children frequently bore lasting birthmarks which supposedly related to their murder or the death they suffered in a previous life. Stevenson’s research into birthmarks and congenital defects has such particular importance for the demonstration of reincarnation, since it furnishes objective and graphic proof of reincarnation superior to the – often fragmentary – memories and reports of the children and adults questioned, which even if verified afterwards cannot be assigned the same value in scientific terms.’

Stevenson was the author of sixteen books on psychology and research into reincarnation.

Taylor herself is amassing case studies and continuing her research into the subject. Given below are three of her case studies. The studies contain great detail but have been summarised for the purpose of this article.

Case study 1
I once had a client who reported that a pattern of anxiety kept repeating throughout her life: being falsely accused and always feeling helpless and like a victim. After putting her under hypnosis and regressing her beyond the fetal stage, she very quickly began to recall and view a past life in which she had been falsely accused, thrown into a dungeon and then led to a guillotine to be put to death. No one cared or listened to her pleas of innocence, not even her mother. After telling me this, and while still under hypnosis, I asked if she could sense anything she was being called to do as a result of this incident. She replied without hesitation, ‘To forgive.’ Realising the importance of this incident and how it was still impacting on her life, she promptly forgave everyone involved. When she returned to see me a fortnight later, she was visibly and mentally changed and spent an hour telling me of the great things that had taken place in her life since our last session. Now improved, her life could flow because the blockages had been removed.

Case study 2
A male client once told me that because he couldn’t ‘open up’ to anyone, he was unable to have a fulfilling relationship. He also revealed that he didn’t speak until he was five years old. And that he always felt lost and that nothing made sense. During our regression therapy he picked up several previous lives. One of them was as a Knights Templar where he was bound to a code of silence. This was the cause of him not able to ‘open up’ now. During regression he witnessed himself being killed by a sword that pierced him below the ribcage. He has a birthmark in that area, the width of a sword cut.

In another life he became separated from his group while on expedition. He died, lost and alone in a forest.

The third life turned out the most dramatic. He went straight to the death scene where he witnessed an atomic explosion followed by complete chaos. At this point in the regression he became quite nauseous and dizzy and I had to talk him through it so he could watch the scene objectively (this is a perfect example of the fact that patients do not experience intense physical and emotional responses if they are fantasying). His body was blown to pieces and the psyche had held that memory of confusion and chaos, explaining why he was constantly plagued by the meaninglessness of life and why nothing made sense. After the session he regained a new sense of purpose and direction.

Case study 3
I once had a student who had done some courses in healing but had no faith and seemed unable to receive intuitive guidance, a skill required to practise as a healer. During regression she discovered a life where she had been a nun with clairvoyant vision, which perturbed the Church. She was locked up and persecuted, which explained her fear of opening her psychic senses.

In another life she belonged to a native tribe who were experiencing a drought and believed human sacrifice was necessary to appease the gods and avert disaster. She was chosen for the purpose. After witnessing her death scene she remarked that it still did not rain and the tribe perished. Hence she had no faith in God and still carried the psychic memory that she had to sacrifice herself and that God couldn’t be trusted. When I last spoke to her she said her intuition had opened immensely and she could now trust her inner guidance and begin to ‘flow’ with life, rather than always fighting the current.

In 2009 Taylor had the chance to learn a technique that facilitates direct access to the subconscious and can produce instant healing. It is called Quantum Healing Hypnosis Therapy and was pioneered by world renowned author and hypnotherapist Dolores Cannon. Last year she devised a method of her own, which she calls Subconscious Reprogramming, a process that removes old subconscious belief programs that continue to sabotage a person’s progress and success in life:

‘My method has proved successful. It is a combination of various techniques that enable the patient to let go of several issues in one session, resulting in a deep transformation that can take many years to accomplish with more traditional methods. More clients are recalling various past lives that still affect them, which can be time-consuming, rather than dealing with only one life at a time.’

Do the debunkers concern her?

‘Countless books and articles on the Internet written by reputable academics testify to the validity of reincarnation and this vital therapy. I no longer search for proof. The face of a client and the shift in their behaviour after anxiety has been dispelled, is proof enough. As I mentioned earlier, people do not heal from dreaming up fantasies. In the new method I’ve uncovered, the subconscious can be programmed to release the old outdated issues and put a positive belief in its place.’

Taylor also teaches workshops on how to unlock the subconscious, which she claims is a powerful tool to open the intuition and remove negative belief programmes that still operate and adversely affect individual lives.

Whatever may be your viewpoint, the positive interest taken, and successful treatments done, by esteemed academics and hypnotherapists in this controversial subject suggests that perhaps science should take careful note of what Shakespeare’s Hamlet said to his closest friend:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Hamlet (1.5.167-8)

Bruce Cooper
July 2015

Those interested in learning more about the therapy can contact Chandra Taylor at

Woman on Top

This morning, I walked away from a sticky situation and left it in the hands of someone more capable because I simply didn’t have the patience to deal with drama – not before a cup of tea, certainly.

Impatience has been a permanent stain on my character for as long as I could spell it. Strangely, on the face of it, impatient people may seem like the most chilled out, smiley people you know; but put us in a compromising situ – with places to go, zips to zip and appointments to keep – and we morph into stroppy toddlers with a thirst for trouble.
I’ve often wondered why some people do patience better and, as a result, lead far more peaceful lives. Are they destined to not lead the pack, choosing the path of friendly followers, while the handful of us with a short fuse actually get the job done – on time and well?

My aggressive adherence to schedules and obsession with beating the clock have proved career winners for two decades – no editor ever has had to chase me down for copy and, when I was a teacher, both heads of department and pupils knew that what needed to be done would be done – not by Friday, but a week in advance. I wore impatience like a crown and lived the lie that my life was infinitely better because of it.

But today, when I simply didn’t have it in me to help my grumpy toddler deal with his disappointment about the rain at school – meaning no usual swing-swing routine – I could have chosen the path of the uber-mom, who would have found a way to both teach emotional balance and eventually coax a smile. Instead, after a few failed attempts at empathy, reasoning and distraction, I simply gave up. What’s the point of flogging a lost cause?

Our competitive world worships at the feet of achievement and so, for naturally impatient people, it may seem that we’re built to win – after all, if Richard Branson had just stood around and gone with the flow, he’d never have built a pretty plane.

But since I feel unhappy when I’m feeling impatient, there must be a flaw in that modern argument. And science, as always, proves this to be true. If you’re a true-blue ‘impatient’, then what you’re really getting knotty knickers about is the irritating emotion you’re feeling when things aren’t going your way.

Like this morning, when my toddler was in a towering rage over an apparently simple thing like rain, I felt powerless (I’m no meteorologist and don’t know a workable rain dance), annoyed (everybody else under three is happy – why aren’t you?) and stupid (why did I make the outside swing part of your goodbye routine anyway?).

Beth Cooper Howell
First published in The Herald