I recently had the delight of attending an invitation only VIP lecture given by a (apparently) celebrated hypnotherapist or hypnotist to be precise. For obvious reasons, I will not disclose his name so there is no heartburn for my host. This guy (lets call him Dr. Spock cos he did look like Leonard Nimoy) claimed he was a certified hypnotherapist by training and a experienced psychic by choice - who combined both to aid his (rather very rich) clients get a fulfilling and rewarding life.
Let me say at the outset that I’ve often wondered whether many hypnotists doing stage shows are always honest. Although they often claim their subjects have been chosen totally at random, I’ve had my doubts and I know I’m not the only one. Several of my friends and I have in the past volunteered to be subjects for some of these shows and none of us has ever been hypnotized.
Well, as I learnt that evening, I could easily have been wrong. Hypnotizing someone doesn’t have to take long. Some people it seems that also make better candidates than others. Dr. Spock said that a person can be willing to undergo the process on one level, but not on another. (It’s obviously quite complex, but from what I understand, those who're cynical or possibly resisting the process can take a bit longer to hypnotize than those who aren't, for instance).
He pointed out that there are a lot of fallacies about hypnosis. One of the main ones is the commonly-held belief (probably propagated to some extent by the media) that one is "put under" by the hypnotist and is basically rendered a slave like robot, obeying any command the hypnotist in control issues. He said it was highly unlikely a hypnotized individual would do anything totally against what they believe, such as, for example, murdering someone.
What happens, Dr. Spock explained, is that hypnotized individuals move into an altered state of consciousness. They will often remain very alert during the process and can still be asked to perform a number of complicated tasks. But because they aren't feeling as inhibited as is usually the case, they may do things they'd normally consider embarrassing. He also said there are over 50 altered states or levels of consciousness one can move into – some lighter and others progressively deeper.
Dr. Spock also touched on the subject of subliminal advertising and subversive forms of control which can be used to manipulate people. He said most countries had banned such advertising because it is known to be an extremely effective, but dishonest method of selling products. He referred to the oft-mentioned scenario of a moviegoer suddenly feeling the need to buy a particular soft drink after viewing a subliminal advert. The person would then go out and buy this soft drink without realizing that his/her decision to purchase it had been prompted by the advert.
In a similar vein, Dr. Spock also warned us to avoid falling asleep in front of TVs. He said our brains still "tune in" to the audio when "asleep" and disturbing material can apparently adversely affect us for many years. He maintains it is often stored in the subconscious mind and may be responsible for certain phobias we might have but are not able to explain in lucid terms. For this reason, he said that if parents want to raise well-balanced children, they should make a resolute effort to ensure that a peaceful ambiance prevails around their bed time, particularly as they’re falling asleep, because they’re extremely open to influence and suggestion during this period.
One of the first demonstrations Dr. Spock performed involved showing us how we often underestimate our own strength. He hypnotized a rather tall chap who volunteered to be his "guinea pig". Dr. Spock didn't do anything dramatic or utter anything that was out of the ordinary, such as the usual sort of banter about "when I count to three you will be flying in the sky" etc etc.
I’m actually not quite sure what he did, because it was so quick. Once the young guy had been hypnotized, two of his assistants placed his head and feet on two chairs. The rest of his body hung unsupported above the ground. Dr. Spock then sat on the subject's waist and almost bounced on it, exerting a fair amount of force!! From what I can recall, he'd been told he wouldn’t bend and he didn’t. However, when he was "brought back", so to speak, he collapsed under the hypnotist's weight when the process was repeated!
The rest of the evening mainly took the form of a question and answer session. As it turned out, most of the questions that followed involved him making more use of his mystic clairvoyant faculties. Perhaps Dr. Spock is a bit unusual in a way – he believes in such things as past lives, astral travel and so on and his methods might thus seem a bit eccentric to some. However, despite a few bizarre answers he gave that evening, no one argued with what he’d said and generally seemed quite satisfied (as most Indians are usually in the presence of a foreigner, especially a white guy!)
Sometimes he appeared to pick up on traumatic childhood experiences and would mention in brief what he thought had happened and what effect these had had on the individuals concerned. Remember Past Life Regression.One woman burst into tears as what he'd said obviously struck a chord with her. He then said he could "see" the pain (presumably in her aura) and that she would begin healing. He said emotional pain was often stored in various parts of the body and might ultimately lead to disease if it wasn’t properly dealt with!!
Another claim he made which I found quite interesting related to the diagnosis of medical conditions. One example he mentioned involved determining if someone had cavities in their teeth. He said that after hypnotizing an individual, he would suggest to them that they had toothache. If all the teeth were fine, the person in question would apparently claim to experience toothache in all their teeth; if they actually did have cavities, they would only experience pain in the problematic ones. In such cases, the hypnotized person is able to show him which ones are aching. He will later suggest they see a dentist. He says in the past this information has always been found to be correct. He maintains that our bodies are extremely intelligent and that we should listen to them more often, because they frequently hold the solution to many of our problems.
Dr. Spock also touched on a subject on which many academics and sceptics might take him to task. He spoke about people's souls and said these were often many hundreds of thousands of years old. He alluded to a "soul agreement" – that we chose to be born, basically, and had certain issues we needed to deal with during particular "lives". Apparently, nothing that happens to us during our human existence is a mistake!
Towards the end of the evening, Dr. Spock performed another demonstration, this time on the whole audience. He asked that we place our hands with fingers interlocked, above our heads. We then had to imagine looking up at them through our heads while he uttered various commands. Actually some people would then be hypnotized and not be able to lower their hands when instructed to. He also told some people their eyelids would feel very heavy and that they would not be able to open them for a while, even if they tried to. Although I did everything he said, this didn’t happen to me. Besides, only a few people in the audience seemed to go into hypnosis.
But something else which he did say would happen, I definitely did experience. He said that he was altering the energy in the room and that some of us might feel tingling in our feet. I did, in fact, experience this – the sensation was exactly as he described it, almost like a feeling of pins and needles in my feet. We were also taken through what I would describe as a guided meditation. He suggested we would sleep very well when we got home that evening. As it turned out, I slept right through the night and felt great the next day.
I found the subject matter discussed that evening fascinating and I’d definitely like to book a private consultation with Dr. Spock soon, hopefully when I have some large cash to spare! I must confess, though, that I have since wondered - is my desire to see him my own or is it possible that the thought was secretly implanted in my mind?
An interesting point to brood over, isn't it?