CFDS Episode 001: French hypnotists…and can you do THIS while you sleep?


My adventures with a French hypnotist, and some brain food that could have come in handy…

What you will learn

  • Whether you actually can learn English while you sleep
  • Whether you can also drink coffee (while still asleep!)

At the end of this episode I’ll share one of the best foods to eat to learn faster because it can improve both your memory and your concentration. Do you know what it is? I’ll tell you in a bit.

So on with the story

I finished university with an oh-so-useful degree in theater (I don’t know WHAT I was thinking). So a friend of mine was like ‘Barbara you should totally come to Paris with me’. As in like Paris, France, not Paris, Texas. Actually I’d never been to Texas so that would have been an adventure too. My mom always said that was one state that she’d drive AROUND if she went cross-country which of course would make me want to go there all the more. I actually have some really good friends who live in Texas who I hope to visit really soon (sorry Mom!)

But back to Paris. So my friend was like ‘come with me to Paris, we’ll stay for a year, have a lot of fun and come back’ and I was like ‘actually, yeah!’ Because it was either that or start working as a waitress in some random diner while I struggled to make it as an actress. I think that kind of thing is way sexier if you do it in French, right? Plus there’s lots of other stuff you can do in French which is definitely sexier, but that’s another story.

So I arrive in Paris with my wobbly high-school French. (I can remember buying a baguette was traumatizing, I couldn’t understand what anyone was saying). And I’m thinking ‘Right, I’ll just grab a job!’ Now I know that having an official work visa or other kind of paper is probably a good idea. At the time though I was totally delusional, and fortunately for me, blissfully ignorant.

My first job with French hypnotists

And I did get a job! Now this was when – dare I say it – there was NO GOOGLE. You actually had to leave your house and hunt down notice boards, write down the phone number, and then find a PHONE BOOTH and use COINS to call the person. And all of this in French, at least in Paris.

The first job I landed was in an ‘Institut’ (fancy word for school), where they promised their clients you could ‘learn English while you sleep’. So you can imagine the motivated and dedicated students that ad attracted, right?

These lucky people paid premium prices to lay down in a room, get hypnotised (that wasn’t me, that was a guy, I’ll call him Dave ’cause I wound up marrying him – but that’s another story) and then while hypnotised they’d listen to a tape playing a key sentence in English followed by its French translation. These were absolutely essential phrases, such as, “I’m washing the dishes / Je lave la vaiselle” “I’m walking the dog / Je promene le chien”.

Teaching sleeping clients

Now my job – which was really good for my French – was to read out the French phrase and try not to fall asleep myself while waiting for them to come up with the English. Here’s how this usually played out. I’d read the French, they’d yawn and rub their eyes – I mean they were still half asleep – and then they’d look at me all bleary-eyed and be like “Oh….j’sais pas”. This means ‘I don’t know, I have no clue, I have no f*cking clue’, etc. I mean, if you’d just spent half an hour sleeping and someone woke you up, dumped you in a chair and you heard someone say ‘Je lave la vaisselle’, would you come right out with ‘I’m washing the dishes’?

So no, you can’t learn English while you sleep (you can learn other things, but that’s another story).

A really cushy gig

Once the hypnotist and I got this very well-paid gig. We went up to the north of Paris 5 mornings a week at like 7 am to hypnotise/teach this guy English at his company. And I have to be honest – once Dave had hypnotised the guy and he was sitting in his chair with his headphones on listening to 30 minutes of key phrases to blast off with his English, Dave and I would get bored. The guy didn’t need us, he was blissed out.

So one day Dave asks me a question that’s guaranteed to get me moving (not that question, that’s another story). He says, “Do you want to see something funny?” And I’m like ‘Yeah!’ So he moves towards the businessman – I’ll call him Jean – and says “Watch this”.

Now I don’t know Dave that well yet (I usually don’t hang out with French hypnotists), so I’m wondering what the heck he’s gonna do. I’m also feeling a little nervous because we’re out in the middle of nowhere so if the guy wakes up and gets angry, I mean who knows what could happen? We’d be in serious trouble and I’d definitely lose my job, which I didn’t want because it was pretty easy money.

And here comes the coffee

Dave goes up to Jean (who’s got his eyes shut) and says (in French of course) “Jean, I’m going to give you a nice hot cup of coffee and I want you to take a sip.” So Jean nods, and Dave takes Jean’s hand and pretends like he’s giving him a big mug of Americano. I watch as Jean holds the ‘cup’ and brings it towards him to drink! Then Dave says “Be careful, it’s a bit hot”, and Jean blows on it and takes a sip!

Dave says “That’s great Jim, now let me take it for you” and he takes the ‘coffee’ from Jean. Meanwhile I’m running spluttering out of the room with my hands over my mouth so Jean can’t hear me laughing hysterically.

Dave runs after me, and of course we laugh for at least 5 minutes. When Dave wakes Jean up, Jean’s got no idea that he’s had a bit of Java while he was listening to “I’m opening a door” and “I’m making my bed” and other such essential English phrases.

We had other gigs like that where we’d go to people’s houses. Although I made Dave promise me he wasn’t gonna do any more of that stuff, because it kind of freaked me out…Even though no unsuspecting English students were harmed in the course of our hypnosis lessons. They just got lots of extra naps.

So that’s how I know that while you definitely can’t learn English while you sleep, you sure as hell can enjoy a nice cup of coffee.

Your foodie tip

Right, so for Jean and other victims – uh students – of mine, how could they have improved their English learning? How could they have improved their concentration as well as their memory? Even though the hypnosis course was complete crap, how could they would have retained better what they were trying to learn?

The answer is: AVOCADO!

Did you guess that one? Don’t feel bad if you didn’t, I would never have guessed in a million years.

The benefits of avocado

Avocados not only help prevent blood clots in the brain, but they also help improve cognitive function. Thanks to their vitamin K and folate (a type of B vitamin), they can help improve memory and concentration. Plus they’re a healthy source of fat. The brain is mostly fat, so we need to be eating good fats to keep the parts of our brain ‘greased’ so it can run smoothly.

How to eat more avocado

Now how do we eat avocado? Well, that’s easy, right? Just slice it open and enjoy! Or mash it up and make guacamole. But did you know you can also add avocado to smoothies? And avocado is particularly amazing with chocolate powder. You can make the best chocolate pudding ever which is so delicious it’s ridiculous. Plus it’s feeding your brain, I mean what more could you want, right?

If you’d like a recipe for this gorgeous chocolate pudding, you can check out the recipes in my 5-Minute Chocolate Heaven recipe ebook.

And if you enjoy my stories and want to hear more, subscribe! I share one crazy yet true story a week, and if you enjoy it, pop a note in the comments, that would be awesome.

Last but not least, if you’ve got a crazy yet true story to share, I want to hear it! Email me! I change all names to protect the innocent, the not-so-innocent, and the oh-so-totally guilty.

I hope you have an amazing day, thanks for being here with me to share in my Clean Food Dirty Stories, and bye for now!

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