Ever since I saw “Jim Wand,” a college performance hypnotist who made freshmen pretend to be shaved apes and got girls to speak to each other in “Martian” (“Bee bee bee beep!” said one. “Boop!” replied the other), I’ve wanted to try this.
And yet as I waited for Dr. Catherine L. (name changed) to arrive, I felt myself growing afraid. Maybe I’m a lunatic, I thought.
Hypnosis. Reaching into the 99.999% of the mind that is submerged. “Our logic is .001% of what we are,” Dr. Catherine told me over the phone. She had a soothing voice. When I listened to her, I thought about demanding proof, but I felt lulled…
…at such peace…
Hell, she was hypnotizing me over the phone.
“How much?” I asked.
“$150,” she said.
I snapped out of my trance. “Any discounts available?” I asked.
“That is the discount,” she replied.
Well, I was going to negotiate that. “What can hypnosis do for me?”
“I don’t smoke.”
She rattled off five more things. I finally settled on: relationships. I’d like to be more honest, open, and loving. More generous. And more creative, if there was time.
That was two days ago. Now, fretting in her office, I felt fear.
What if my family found out? What if my friends knew? Would my colleagues make fun of me?
Pretty soon, we were inside her private office. With its cloth couch, leather recliner, full bookshelf, desk, and elegant paintings, it looked like where a dentist might finish her paperwork.
In her early thirties, Dr. Catherine is slender, dark-haired, and pretty. She has an open, honest face. She used to work for a church. Then she went to the Hypnotherapy Academy of America for 300 hours’ worth of coursework, and now she helps people relaaaaaaax…breeeeeeeth…go deeeeeeeep….
In theory, hypnosis should work, right? You overeat and you’d like to stop. Part of you wants to overeat and part of you wants to be fit. The idea is to strengthen the part that wants to be fit.
And it’s safe. In theory, hypnosis can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do. It can’t make you steal or kill, for example.
Well, I stretched out on the couch and pulled a blanket over myself. I closed my eyes—
And she took me into the world I already live in.
Like an anesthesiologist, she had me count backward from ten. When I reached one, she had me envision an idyllic natural scene. I pictured a green meadow with a shimmering lake on a Hawaiian island.
And told me, “Your arms are too heavy to lift.”
Horse crap, I thought. I could raise my arm. But I don’t want to.
“And your eyelids are glued shut.” Her voice rose and fell. She spoke in ululating waves. Was this a cartoon? I asked myself. Open your eyes. Sit up.
But I felt so good laying there.
You’re doing this to yourself, I thought.
But that’s how it’s supposed to work. I’d read that it’s actually easier to hypnotize a smart person, not someone who is below average. Well, that’s flattering, I thought. Who would ever read that and think: “Well, I have an I.Q. like a basement apartment number, so apparently hypnosis isn’t for me”?
And then she took me into my relationships.
Perhaps I shouldn’t tell you this. In fact, I won’t say very much.
Dr. Catherine asked how my body felt. “I have a pain in my side,” I said. “I used to get stomach aches when I was a kid.” That was decades ago.
“Can you pick it up and look at it?”
In my mind, I plucked a tarnished sharp-pointed star away from where it tormented me now—six inches below my heart.
“Does it have a name?”
“Alice,” I said. (That’s not the lady’s whose name I actually said.)
One mental image led to the next, and eventually I was casting this star with its dagger-sharp points into the Pacific Ocean. Except in my mind, the Pacific Ocean was now a golden ocean of love.
I told the star goodbye, and it became a tiny, fragile starfish. Even so, I banished it to the Atlantic Ocean.
And within half-an-hour, Dr. Catherine was guiding me up and out. I had originally climbed ten stairs to enter my imagined world. Now, I climbed another ten. “When I say ten, you will wake up,” she told me.
No, I don’t think so, I thought, feeling like a teenager wanting to sleep just ten more minutes.
“Nine,” she said.
You can’t pry me out of bed.
My eyes were open. I was awake. I looked at her elegant bookshelf, and her painting of the woods. I looked at Dr. Catherine. She was smiling radiantly.
“How was it?” she asked.
And we talked.
And now I don’t know what to think, but I did sign up for three more sessions.
Random thoughts, in no particular order:
- I hoped for help with relationships. We’ll see if I become more wide open. Because who doesn’t want to be known? And loved?
- Is it a scam? Did I talk myself into thinking I was hypnotized?
- Well, that’s alternative medicine for you, I thought. Who knows what the $%#@! is going on?!
- I loved her technique. She would ask me easy questions like, “What do you see?” I would detail something like a meadow by a gorgeous lake. There’s a dock nearby. I am reaching for the sky, and she would probe for details.
And then she would repeat back to me everything I said, in reverse order. You are reaching for the sky, she would start. Perhaps the goal was to root me in this imaginary world I’d created.
- And her voice. Her melodic, ululating voice…like waves lapping the beach…like the relaxed breath of a sleeping person…in her soothing suburban office….
And I left wondering about her. Had she left her religion to do this? Or, like many Christians, did she believe that God made science, and all of the hidden wonders of the mind?
I left feeling happy, but I was happy when I arrived.
I ate a little too much junk food that night. Perhaps I should have asked for bulletproof self-discipline.
And yet, the next morning, I added over 3,000 words to a novel I’m writing. Average is about 1,250 words per day. Am I more creative now?
Or am I just talking myself into this?
Or is it both?
And if that’s the case, then what are truly our human limits? Can I talk myself into making gifts so wonderful for others that I make a permanent impact? For example, I’d like to create an endowment fund for my school and thus give them $100,000,000. Benjamin Franklin set aside money for 200 years for his two favorite cities (Boston and Philadelphia). What could I do that would be an incredible act of love, either monetary or not?
What could you do?
Is hypnosis real? If it is, why don’t more people ask to date a rock star and have ten million dollars?
Does it matter?
I can’t wait to go back.
(But I still fear that I’m crazy.)
January 22, 2018. Next post on January 29, 2018 (maybe).