First Published March 2022
PREPARE TO BE AMAZED
When the opportunity came up to interview the world famous TV hypnotist, mentalist, and brain hacker, KEITH BARRY, I couldn’t say no. Especially as Keith‘s new book, BRAIN HACKS, ranks high on my list of must-reads from 2021. The chance to have Keith actually ‘read’ my mind during our chat, however, well, that was completely unexpected. But it happened. Oh man, did it happen. And what’s more… he did it…TWICE! How he did it, I still have no idea. And I mean literally… no idea.
When I tell people about it, the response is often the same: “Well, you MUST have said something that he picked up on.” But trust me, that wasn’t the case. And, even in the highly unlikely event that Keith found himself with some time on his hands before we spoke and decided to do a little bit of research on me, there’s just no way he could have come up with this info. The only place he could have found it is where he actually found it in that moment…in my brain. Which he hacked! And yes, as well as being amazing, that is also a little bit scary in some ways!
But I’ll tell you what, after seeing him do that to me – someone he had never met before, and doing it over Zoom – there’s NO WAY I’m missing Keith’s show in the Tullamore Court Hotel when he brings his RECONNECTED Tour to town on June 3rd. More on that show, and how Keith read my mind, very soon. But first…
Back when we were first scheduled to chat, and I had been working on what I wanted to ask Keith about, the world was emerging from a very strange place. Covid had been the dominant factor in everything that did or did not happen for the preceding two years. Many of us probably thought, and with good reason, that this – given its scale – would be the once-in-a-lifetime event of our lifetime. The last few weeks, however, with Putin’s Russian Army being sent into Ukraine on what is firstly an unjustifiable war, and secondly, an unwinnable one, have proved us wrong.
In terms of once-in-a-lifetime scale events, sadly, we’re already seeing scenes in Europe that we thought we’d never see again. And even worse is the fact that we might not have seen anything yet.
Because of what Keith does, and how his shows and his skills have so much to do with how people think, and how they can be made to think, I was intrigued to hear his read on some of the main players involved in the current situation, from the incredible and inspirational President Zelensky, the made-for-this-moment President Biden, the strong and steady Ursula Von Der Lyen, and of course, the reprehensible Russian dictator himself, Putin. It was a tough question to start our conversation with, but in fairness to Keith, it wasn’t one he shied away from in any way.
So, when he looks at what’s happening right now, what does he make of it all?
“That’s kind of a loaded question really, isn’t it. I mean, for me, I just have an opinion. So, it’s two different things, right. So first of all, when I look at politicians – and more home-grown politicians than anything else – when I’m watching Primetime or watching The Tonight Show or any of those, I’m actually just looking for ‘tells’ that will tell me whether someone is lying or not. And the second a politician opens their mouth, pretty much they’re lying! What I’m looking for are asymmetrical shoulder-shrugs, asymmetrical lip movements, the carotid artery in the neck moving, eye direction. I’m looking for pacifying gestures, filler-words. All of these things combined are known as ‘clusters’, and they can tell me if somebody is lying or not. And I find it fascinating that when I do look – and more home-grown than abroad, as I said – at Primetime and these shows, they’re actually not very good at hiding their tells…at all! There’s a reason for that, and it’s predominantly because most of our tells are subconscious. For example, even though I’m aware of them, I can’t stop myself doing a one-sided shoulder-shrug, or asymmetrical lip-movement when I might perhaps be deceiving somebody. So going back to your question about the political stuff. There’s so much going on right now, and there’s so much misinformation going on, I’ll be honest…I tend to shield myself from a lot of it. So I need to know what I need to know. And we all need to know what’s going on in the world. There’s a real war. There’s a real dictator. There’s some terrible, terrible things happening, obviously, to the Ukrainian people. We’ve all got to have empathy. We’ve all got to try and understand it as best we can. But I think there is no real understanding of a dictator like that [Putin]. There is no real understanding of what his real motive is. Because he knew the sanctions were gonna come. He knew the Ukrainians were going to put up a fight. So therefore, what’s the end agenda? And I don’t think anybody really knows just yet what that end agenda is. And I think that’s a problem.”
“I’ll be straight with ya”, states Keith, “I haven’t looked too much at what Biden’s been saying, not for any other reason other than I shield myself from a lot of this press because it digs deep into your subconscious mind. For example, I accidently saw the tank the other day that ran over the car. And you can’t unsee those moments in your mind. That’s what people need to understand. For anybody who saw it, that’s ingrained in your subconscious mind. From that news that I saw, apparently the person survived that tank going over them. But then, you have people immediately going on the attack saying that it was a Russian tank that purposely and maliciously ran over a civilian. But then you have other people who say well it’s clearly a Ukrainian tank that just went out of control because it hit ice, ya know. The truth remains to be seen. I don’t know the answer to that. But what I do know is that by accidentally seeing that, I can’t unsee it. So my imagination plays tricks on me thinking that perhaps somebody did die in it. Or maybe they didn’t die. I think we need to be very careful. More importantly, from where I come from, which is the standpoint of positivity, creativity, and really looking after your subconscious brain. Because most people out there, most people reading this won’t understand their subconscious brain at all. And when you see horrific things, it deeply ingrains itself into the neurology of your brain and can have a very detrimental effect on you down the line. And you won’t even know why, down the line, you have certain problems. It’s because of the information that you’re feeding into your brain. So I’m very careful of what information I’m absorbing right now. To go back to your question, I don’t really have a very strong opinion. Except my heart is absolutely with the Ukrainians, because we know that what’s going on is just inhuman. All I can do is wish them the very best. I mean, what else can we do? We can donate money, and we can do the things the governments are doing. But look, all governments have their own agendas. Biden’s got his own agenda as much as any other politician. We have to just see where it all rolls out to. But for me, it’s more to do with guarding your mind wisely at all times, and trying to absorb the information that’s necessary, that we all need to know. Because we all need to know what’s going on in the world. But then after that, I really, really try to reduce down my absorption of that kind of news, ya know.”
I thanked Keith for such a comprehensive answer to a quite difficult question right at the top of our chat, and we moved on to his new book, Brain Hacks, which is out now. Divided into nine sections, Keith states in the introduction that while people can dip in and out of it, he feels that it’s probably best read from start to finish. Now, in the same way that I’m always interested to know why a musical artist might go for a particular track-listing on their album, I was also curious as to why Keith had gone for the sequence he had too, beginning with Confidence, moving on to Risk, then Creativity, and so on. Some of it is no doubt self-explanatory in that one helps the other, but I also had a feeling that it went deeper than just that too. So I asked Keith if he’d share a little bit about the importance of the order for him when he was putting the book together.
“Well I think for me, the number one thing I’ve identified right now is that people suffer a huge amount with their confidence. I work a lot with business people as a mind-coach, and behind the scenes – nearly everybody, even these high-end business people – they suffer with lack of confidence. So I thought that was the right one to tackle right off the bat, how to instill confidence in people. They need to understand that everybody suffers from that imposter syndrome. And more importantly, even people in high positions, even athletes, they suffer with their confidence issues. And it’s ok to recognise that. But then, more importantly, it’s ok to understand that you can actually genuinely help yourself with your confidence. And confidence is something that can be gained over time. You’re not just born with confidence. You are to a certain extent, but it gets knocked over time, chipped away at. Like I explain in the book, it’s bricks and mortar, people are just constantly trying to knock that down. So what I’ve got to do is reinforce the bricks, reinforce the mortar in order to stop people chipping away consistently at your confidence. And then understand that there’s certain rules and techniques that you can use on a daily basis in order to promote your confidence. I put a section in there called, ‘Curl Your Toes To Confidence’, which I use to this very day! When I go back on stage, starting April 29th, when I walk on stage in Galway, I will have my toes curled in my shoes as I walk on the stage. These are things that I use myself every single day.”
Keith went on, “Even if you look at my Facebook page when I ask people what’s an issue that you’re dealing with right now, confidence comes up time and time again. And then also risk. I think a lot of people have become risk-averse these days. We’re so petrified of saying the wrong thing, doing the wrong thing, I don’t think people are taking enough risks anymore. So for me it’s about calculating risks. So how are you going to calculate a risk? Well you’ve got to measure a risk, you’ve got to gain all the information. Mine for the information is the way I put it in the book. You’ve got to mine like crazy to get as much information as possible. And [do that] before you make the decision. But don’t just go on a whim, or not go on a whim. Get all the information, investigate the information, and then, I say that once a risk is not detrimental to your health or detrimental to your mental health, always take the risk. That’s what I say. For me, once I have the correct information to hand, and once I realise that if I lose then it’s gotta be worth losing, right? So in other words, that risk element, you’ve got to understand that it’s called a risk for a reason. If you lose, you’ve got to be willing to lose. But for me, I always take calculated risks, day- in and day-out. That’s why, as I stand here before you, I’ve got a book written. That’s why I’m in pre-production of season-two of The Keith Barry Experience. That’s why I’m going on tour. It’s because I take these calculated risks. But it’s not about me. It’s about people understanding that with great risks comes great rewards. I think people need to stop being so frightened, cos’ everybody’s petrified right now. There’s a lot of scared people out there. Again, if you look at my Facebook page, it comes up a lot. It’s about just settling down the autonomic nervous system, dumping dopamine and serotonin into the system to counteract our cortisol levels. A healthy level of cortisol is actually a good thing for us, but we’ve got to understand that if we’re overwhelmed by cortisol we won’t take those risks. So we’ve got to learn to control that. That’s sort of the idea behind the structure of the book.”
Keith mentioned going back on tour at the end of April, and he brings that RECONNECTED Tour to Tullamore on June 3rd. He’s said that part of what he wants to do with this show is prove to people that when psychics say they can actually contact the dead, they cannot. What that made me wonder, though, is if Keith believes self-described psychics just can’t do that, ior s it something that can’t be done at all. Or perhaps, is it just something that’s beyond our capabilities as human beings right now?
“Well, I’m an open-minded sceptic, is the way I would put it, right. I’m always investigating psychics. But I’m also investigating crypto-zoology. I’ve got a lot of interests, so I look into a lot of different things. The issue I have is I’ve never seen a psychic, on tv or off tv – and I’ve personally gone to thousands of psychics around the world investigating them – I’ve never come across one that even comes remotely to what I would consider ‘the real thing.’ So I’m open-minded about it. But I know that there’s a huge amount of charlatans out there. This is the issue. And unless you’re well-versed and educated in the ways of the psychic, in other words; cold-reading, hot-reading, stop-reading, rainbow-reading, all of these different techniques combined can make it look as if somebody’s psychic.”
And right here is where things took a really interesting – and unexpected turn…
“For example, and I wasn’t even going to do this, but look. I’ve got a chalk-board here (*Keith takes it from off-screen and holds it up to the camera so that I can see it), and this is what a psychic would do, they’d use chalk and a chalk-board and they’d ask you perhaps to…think of somebody from your past. Ok, let’s do this. So Anthony, think of somebody from your past, that you haven’t thought about in years. So imagine for a second that you’re… in school. Imagine you’re in school, and in your mind – close your eyes for a second – and in your mind, I want you to just look around the classroom and see all the different pupils in the classroom. And look up at the teacher as well. And I want you to imagine that the teacher has a piece of chalk, and imagine that they’re writing the name of one of your classmates on the board. Just the first-name, of course. Imagine that they’re writing the first-name of one of your classmates that you haven’t thought about in years.”
So picture the scene here, folks…all of a sudden, I find myself sitting in front of the legendary Keith Barry over Zoom, and he’s trying to read my mind. And in my mind, as we’re doing this, and as I’m taking myself back to my school-days and thinking of a particular name, there’s a part of me that’s convinced that there’s just no way he can do this. I mean, how could he, right? How could he possibly figure out the name of someone I’m thinking of from about thirty years in my past? And, on the other hand, there’s another part of me that really wants this to work! Because that’s just amazing if it does. And I won’t need to understand it to be amazed by it, and to appreciate it. But either way, I can’t influence the outcome, because all I can do is what Keith asked me to do…think of a name of someone from my school-days who I wouldn’t have thought about in years…
“When you’ve got that done, open your eyes.”
I opened my eyes to see Keith looking right at me.
“Ok, good. So I’m going to write something down here (*I can see and hear him writing on the chalk-board). Be honest: Is there any way I could know the name of this person?”
No, I replied, absolutely not. I was convinced it was simply impossible, and wondering what the hell would I do when the name on the chalk-board wasn’t the one I’d been thinking of!
“There’s no way I could know, right?”, Keith asks again, and again, I confirm that there isn’t. Because there wasn’t. There just wasn’t…
“That’s why I’d written down the word ‘No’, ” laughed Keith, turning the chalk-board around to show me what he’s written, and adding, “See, that would have been good if I’d written down the name of the person!”
“But I’ll tell ya what, here’s what I’ll do”, began Keith again, “I’ll actually focus now. So I want you to focus on the name of the person. Focus on the name of the person, and in your mind, just…
Keith then repeats the alphabet backwards at such speed that I wasn’t even sure of the sequence at the time, and even listening back to it to transcribe this, I had to listen four or five times to be sure. And to be honest…I’m still not sure! But I THINK that’s what he did…
“Ok, I’m gonna write down a name now (again, I can see and hear him writing on the chalk-board)…ok, I think that may be it. For the first time, name out loud, what is the name – the first name – of the person you thought of?”
I answered Lynn, adding that I couldn’t be certain if she used to spell it with one n or two.
“Ok, that’s so interesting that you went Lynn, because that’s exactly what I wrote down two second ago, Lynn. And that’s two n’s, not one!”
Keith had just turned around the chalk-board to reveal the name Lynn written on it…and the best response I could manage in my very confused state was just, “Wow! That’s good!” But for the record, THIS was more than good. Way more than good! This was the kind of moment that leaves you doubting everything you know. And yet…being thrilled by it at the same time!
Listening back to our chat, I realise now that I almost shouted the next bit at Keith in my excitement!
“I had somebody else in mind first, and I changed as well, so I REALLY have no idea how you did that! I really have no idea!”
I had actually thought of someone else first, but then I remembered that I had posted something about this particular person on my socials…maybe two years ago? And for some stupid reason, I actually thought to myself for a moment, “No, better not think of her, just in case Keith saw that post!!
AS IF Keith has ever been scrolling around my Instagram! Anyway, if I thought I could out-think the brain-hacker himself, I was badly mistaken. And even more so than I thought, as I was about to find out…
“That’s why I was confused”, remarks Keith. “Look, if I wipe off Lynn right…just give me a moment (*I can see and hear Keith cleaning off the board)…I’ll wipe off Lynn. Ok, go for the name that you went with the first time, look at me… The name that you went with the first time, was that a man or a boy?”
I replied that it wasn’t, and Keith remarked that was interesting because he had thought it was a boy, and then said…
“Ok, I’m going to go with this then (*I can see and hear him writing another name on the chalkboard…)..., ok, I’ll get rid of the chalk. Ok, who was the first person that you thought of?”
I answered that the first name I thought of was a girl called Sharon.
“Sharon”, repeats Keith, “and it’s interesting that you went with two girls, because there were boys in the class as well, obviously, right?”
I confirmed with a simple, “Yeah”, that this had been the case.
“Sharon was the first name that I was going with as well”, revealed Keith, turning the chalk-board around to show that very name looking right back at me! “But then I went with Lynn first.”
I was literally stuck for words at this point, and listening back to it, all I did was laugh and say wow again. But in fairness to me, I did manage to hold myself together enough to thank Keith for taking the time to give me that experience.
“But if you think about this for a moment, though, right”, he continued, “if I wanted to pretend that I was psychic, and if I wanted to go deeper into that, I could absolutely do that. But I choose not to do that. Now obviously I don’t mind doing that on a call like this, but in the show, I do reconnect people with the other side, with the dark side. But I say at the outset, ‘This is an illusion, I’m doing this to show you how psychics do what they do.’ It’s almost like a public service announcement, think of it like that. But I’m doing it because people are really interested in this kind of stuff. I’m not doing it to dupe them into thinking that I’m actually in contact with the other side. I’m doing it for entertainment purposes. And I say to people, only get involved if you’re comfortable with doing this. Then they understand the process. Very often people will say I thought he was saying psychics aren’t real? Yeah, I’m still saying they’re not real, I’m just going to do this anyway and then we’ll explore that whole area. That’s what the ‘Reconnected’ show is about. It’s about reconnecting people intellectually, emotionally, physically, spiritually.”
“At the start of the ‘Reconnected’ show”, declares Keith, “I’m going to get half of the audience to hack into the other half of the audience’s brains. One half of the audience is actually going to be able to hack into the other half of the audience’s brains. I’m going to teach them how to do that. I’ve never done that before. That’s because I want that reconnection right at the start of the show, where the whole audience is just going to lose their mind. Everyone’s going to be freaking out. Even the people who are doing the brain-hacking, they’re going to freak out that they’re going to be successful at the brain-hacking. So it’s going to be this weird moment! And then at the end of the show, it’s the most emotional ending to a show that I’ve ever designed. Even the hardcore sceptics, they’re going to be balling crying in the audience. But, the reason they’re going to be balling crying is the feel-good factor will be so overwhelming. It won’t be like they’re crying for any other reason except it’s going to be an amazing moment of their lives. Even the sceptics! I’m really excited to get back on the road now, ya know.”
It was only as I was transcribing this that something pretty remarkable came back to me. When Keith asked if I had been thinking of a boy’s name first, I said no. BUT, that may not be 100% true, because the Sharon in question is the cousin of one of my best friends, a dude called Leroy! And we were all in the same year together! So Leroy was part of the thought process involved in me thinking of Sharon’s name in the very first instance! Amazing!