Hypnotherapy - A Course in Hypnotherapy
by Parveen Chopra
A recent hypnotherapy workshop by Dr Sunny Satin taught that any method used to induce the hypnotic state is meant to overload the conscious mind with a flurry of messages to make it hand over control to the subconscious mind.
We were 30-odd men and women in the class with varying backgrounds, from psychology students to entrepreneurs and housewives, even a Tibetan monk. Quite a few had never been hypnotised in their lives. For some, their only exposure to hypnosis was the clichéd image of a hypnotist swinging an object close to the eyes of the subject.
Indeed, most of the contents of the workshop turned out to be new for us. As the workshop proceeded, a calm and confident Dr Sunny Satin lucidly explained the origins and theory of the mind, and how hypnosis works by overloading the mind with numerous messages and mental tasks. We were impressed.
Introducing himself at the outset, Satin said he had some power to heal as a child, which he lost when he grew up. Then, as an IIT student, one incident impressed him about the power of the mind. One magician made a student with thick reading glasses read without problem a newspaper held many feet away—without glasses. “You see with your mind, not your eyes,” is the explanation.
Though Satin went into business, he was fortunate to come across many masters and esoteric teachings. Later in his life, he did a Ph.D in transpersonal psychology. Five years ago he closed his business to set up his hypnotherapy practice in the US. For the last year and a half he has been holding hypnotherapy workshops in India. Some of his students have also started practicing.
Hypnotherapy, Satin said, is the simplest but very powerful therapy. It accesses the subconscious which, otherwise, is maybe accessible only in meditation. But the therapeutic effect you achieve with 10 years of meditation can be achieved in just two hypnotherapy sessions.
Talking about the mind, Satin said, when we are born we all have what is called the Primitive Area in the mind. The fight and flight response is based here. The area that develops with learning through identification and association is called the subconscious or Modern Memory, and comprises 88% of the mind. As we learn, all associations go into the subconscious.
About 10 per cent of the mind is conscious—the seat of logic, reason, will power and decision making. By the time we are about eight years old, we develop Critical Mind, which acts as a filter for letting or not letting information into our subconscious. It is located half in the conscious and half in the subconscious area (see chart).
If we receive too much information over a short period, the overload acts to break down the Critical Mind, letting all inputs to go to the subconscious.
Hypnosis is effected by an overload of message units, disorganizing our inhibitory process (Critical Mind), triggering our fight-flight mechanism, thus gaining access to the subconscious mind. Even watching television for long creates a mild hypnotic state. Hypnosis is different from sleep in that you are aware of what is happening around you and learning is possible.
The hypnotist induces the hypnotic state not through relaxation, but by creating anxiety. The higher the message units overload, the deeper will be the hypnotic state.
Satin said that hypnosis is a late entrant in the world of medicine and psychotherapy because before 1967 it was not considered scientific enough. Reason: it was observed that half the population of the world could not be hypnotized. Came along Dr Kappas, to explain why. He found that hypnotists till then (and still do) used one of the three basic approaches to induce hypnosis: eye fascination, authoritarian approach and progressive relaxation. All these involve direct, literal suggestions, which work with 50 per cent of the people, whom he called physical suggestible (more responsive to suggestions affecting the body, and restricting emotional responses). But there is the other category, of emotional suggestible, who are more responsive to inferred suggestions affecting emotions and restriction of physical responses.
To give an example of how the two respond differently: Q. Would you tell me your name? Physical suggestible: “Yes.” Emotional suggestible: “My name is….”
Suggestibility is learnt by the child till the age of five in his interactions with the primary caretaker, the mother. If the mother follows through with what she says to the child, the child learns direct, literal communication (becomes physical suggestible). If she does not follow through with what she says, the child begins to look for the hidden meaning in what is being said (becomes emotional suggestible). From the age of six to nine, peers and teachers have an influence, and from age nine to 14, the father influences the child’s suggestibility.
There is a standard questionnaire to determine whether a client falls into one or the other category, so that the hypnotist can use the appropriate induction method. The borderline cases are called somnambulists, who respond equally well to all suggestions, both direct and inferred.
One basic technique for hypnosis taught at the workshop was Finger Spreading. Tell the subject to keep his stretched hand 10-12 inches in front of the face, palm inwards, and to look at the tip of the middle finger. Tell him repeatedly: “Fingers pulling, separating further and further apart.” Once the fingers start separating, suggest that the subject’s hand and arm are pulling inward toward his face: “Pulling, drawing and jerking inward.” Then suggest that as the subject’s hand pulls inward, his eyelids will grow heavy and begin to close. When he feels skin contact, he will go into a deep sleep. Snap your fingers as the subject’s hand touches his face and say: “Deep Sleep.” Then say: “Your hand is now stuck to your face, stuck tight and you cannot pull it away. You may try but the more you try, the tighter it sticks….” (This is a trick. The subject is kept busy with thinking, whether it is happening or not. Moreover, either he tries to resist it or facilitate it. In any case, it all means more message units). To deepen the hypnotic state, count down from 5 to 1 suggesting that with each count, he will go deep. Finally, bring out the subject by counting up 1,2,3,4,5 and saying, “eyes open, wide awake”.
Later the Arm-Raising Induction Method was taught, which is only used the first time with a new client, followed by more advanced methods.
Though it is easy to slip into the hypnotic state (it felt akin to the meditative state to me), as well as easy to hypnotize others after learning the procedures, some participants (who were practicing on each other) kept saying right till the end of the 3-day workshop that they were not able to experience the state. Satin explained that they may fall into the category of ‘intellectual suggestibles’, who are very analytical, generally high emotional suggestibles’. They fear being controlled by the hypnotist and constantly try to analyse, reject or rationalize everything the hypnotist says.
What to do for therapy after putting the person in hypnosis, did not fall into the purview of the first level worskhop. However, Satin gave a broad idea. Take a long-time smoker. Corresponding to the 20,000 cigarettes he has had he will also have 20,000 associated pleasurable memory units in his subconscious. Quitting by deciding to do so at the conscious mind level will obviously not help. What will work is neutralizing those 20,000 pleasurable memory units. And implanting suggestions that smoking is bad, just like a strict vegetarian never feels tempted to try out meat. The suggestions are, however, worded positively, and in the present tense.
These are some of the stories of spectacular healings effected by Dr Sunny Satin using hypnotherapy and past life regression therapy. Those who got relief come from diverse walks of life. But they are all unanimous in saying that any kind of suffering is not one’s destiny. You can choose to change it right now. Never give up hope and always believe in yourself. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. Finally, apart from the therapist help, you need to have commitment to heal yourself and remain healthy.
Dr Amii Asthana
Dr Amii Asthana’s recovery from psoriasis through hypnotherapy would sound unbelievable were it not for the doctor’s own reticence about sharing his experience. It all began in 1997, when Dr Asthana was a practicing doctor and arthroscopic surgeon. As a former athlete, he trained the likes of Sanjay Dutt and Sunny Deol. But times were hard and he was enduring some financial stress in 1997 when he was plagued by an unusually persistent and severe attack of dandruff. It failed to yield to anti-dandruff shampoos and allopathic remedies, or homoeopathy. Worse, it spread to his forehead.
“I was a surgeon and suddenly this unseemly patch appeared on my forehead, dripping scales. I could no longer operate, and patients stopped coming to me.” Soon the problem spread to his back and the rest of his body. Virtually an invalid, he shifted to England with his wife to pursue further treatment. In England they put him through the mill for psoriasis treatment, administering strong anti-cancer medicines, hospitalizing and scanning him. Soon psoriasis came under control, but his body was shattered. His bone density, normal earlier, dropped to 40 per cent and he could no longer walk. “When I complained to the doctors they were unaffected. ‘But your psoriasis is gone,’ is all they said,” he says.
After four years of treatment, he was advised to return to India and benefit from the sun. Back home, his condition deteriorated. His bone density further reduced and his skin began to crumple like paper. By now desperate, he clutched at every straw, trying ayurveda now and naturopathy then.
Eventually, he saw an advertisement of Sunny Satin’s hypnotherapy in Life Positive, and contacted Mumbai-based Malti Kuppuswamy, a student of Satin. This was in June 2003. Virtually on his last leg, he dragged himself to Malti’s residence, who visibly blanched at his condition. He told her he wanted to try past-life regression. She emailed Satin in the USA and relayed his instructions to Dr Asthana.
Says Dr Asthana: “In past-life regression, you should allow yourself to be led by the images that flash into your mind and live that life temporarily. Resisting or trying to stay in control will not help. I was so desperate for a cure that I let myself go completely and found myself standing in front of Jesus Christ. It was the scene of the crucifixion and we were on a funny hill, with a few people standing about. I was one of the Roman soldiers nailing him to the Cross. When Jesus left his body, we yanked him down so brutally that the ankles and hands were left behind on the Cross. Then we wrapped him in a cloth and tipped him over into a huge pit. There were some five or six other bodies that we tipped over.
“Just as I tipped him over I noticed that Christ was looking at me. I looked at my hands that had recently held him and they were filled with psoriasis. I looked at my ankle near where I had nailed him and they had psoriasis. My forehead, the area on which the crown of thorns rested on his head, was covered with psoriasis.”
When Dr Asthana emerged from the regression session, he experienced a feeling of coming to himself: “I felt I had got hold of myself, and that I had experienced my real self. All this while I had only been aware of my identity as a medical doctor. Now I realized that I had lived earlier and that I might live again. It made me feel eternal. This is a feeling I cannot explain, it has to be experienced.”
Returning home, he took his bath and began preparing his meals, unaware of the fact that for the first time in many years he had the energy to do so. After a week, it struck him that he was picking up the threads of his life, that people were coming to him.
Today, about 60 days later, his bone density has returned. He can walk, and even do weights. The psoriasis patches remain, but they are not active. He has even started to practice medicine for the first time after seven years, though he is no longer inclined to allopathy. “The medicines began responding to me, food began responding to me, the hair on my head has started growing back. I was told I would never get my bone density back, but I have,” he says.
Dr Asthana went back to Malti several times subsequently and they went deeper into the experience. “I told Jesus how sorry I was to have nailed him and he said that it had nothing to do with me and that I was not to feel guilty on his account. Those words healed me.”
He recalls in retrospect that in 1997 he had gone to hear an Evangelist and was given a Bible. Shortly after that began his psoriasis. “I now feel that introduction to Jesus may have activated my subconscious guilt and caused me to develop my ailment.”
Today Dr Asthana considers himself to be a Christian. “But the Christ I encountered is very different from the Biblical version. He emphasized two things, that we were to stay awake and that we were to feed the lambs,” he says. And adds: “I have been given a new life.”
Anita Anand suffered from Asthma right from childhood, may be from the age of three. In school she spent, on an average, 10 days a month in the hospital. So she could not enjoy her childhood as a normal child. As a teenager she tried homoeopathy, and later, acupuncture in the US, neither was of much help. When inhalers came to the scene, she could barely manage her daily hectic routine with their help. She lived with this condition for nearly fifty years.
And then fortuitously she attended a lecture by Dr Sunny Satin. The lecture had an impact to the extent that she fixed up an appointment with him. She underwent five sessions with Dr Satin, spread over a period of time and during his visits to India. During a past life regression session, Anita saw two of her previous lives, which were causing the asthma problem.
In the first she saw herself a man—a heretic—in 15th century Europe. She was hung to death—a tragic, traumatic and violent death. In the second life, she saw she was a girl about eight years old in 18th century China. The place where she lived had the epidemic plague. When she saw the deaths and loss of the near and dear ones, she simply refused to live on. She chose not to breathe and simply gave up her life.
Dr Satin also worked on Anita’s subconscious, which resulted in release of the anger she had harbored against her parents. In addition, the message she clearly got was to choose activities close to her heart—activities that were not cerebral but were more relaxing, which specifically will create relaxed breathing. The most significant effect on her, she recalls, after the session was that she felt as if she had been healed of a very deep emotional wound and trauma. Physically, it felt as if someone had removed a huge load off her chest. It felt like an absolutely new experience, a good feeling never experienced earlier. At that point she was dependent on using the inhaler three times a day. In the subsequent three to four weeks she left the use of inhalers completely. In the next session there was a re-enforcement of positive suggestions.
However, some weeks later she felt some discomfort and heaviness in breathing. She again took mild medication. In a follow-up session it was discovered that her physical body was so used to a particular way of breathing all her life that she had a problem adjusting to the new, natural breathing pattern.
Today she is 99 per cent healed and believes that her part of the commitment to stay healthy is to remain emotionally balanced by remaining calm, meditating and do whatever is necessary. At the physical level, she feels the need to take care of her body by regular exercise, and keeping the weight down.
Anita is a media development professional and runs a clinic in Delhi where she practices hypnotherapy.
Helped by the Masters
Young entrepreneur Saurav Mighlani (name changed on request), now in his mid-twenties, was a successful inter-zone level sportsperson representing table tennis, badminton, lawn tennis and basketball teams. In his college he was also a successful model and a choreographer. His problems started at the age of 20. The first physical symptoms appeared when he got jaundice. It recurred at least two times. He then started getting sore throat, along with hyperacidity. He would also get the sensation that his whole body was on fire. He grew extremely weak and he could not eat anything because the moment he had something he got the sensation that all his energy was drawn to his stomach. Neither could he retain any food. Finally, his digestive system completely crashed. The diagnosis by doctors here and in the US, where he went, was: irritable bowel syndrome. What causes it and what cures it is not known.
In search of relief, Mighlani’s family left no stone unturned. After trying various alternative methods of healing with very limited relief, his turning point came when he met Dr Satin for hypnotherapy. He went through almost 14 sessions, of which the first few were spent on investigating the root cause of the problem.
During past life regression, Mighlani clearly remembers there were lot of problems getting to the exact place and moment when his troubles started. Finally, when he did zero in on it, it was startling: He saw himself a Japanese aristocrat who kills his own emperor by driving a sword into his stomach and then turning it around. The emperor put a curse on him. There was another life, wherein he was cursed to suffer. This time he was in Stockholm.
Finally, in the course of the session, Dr Satin asked his subconscious to ask for the Masters to come and cure him. During these sessions, Mighlani recalls sensing a huge gush of energy flowing through his body. In actual physical body there were waves of spasms and uncontrollable severe vibrations. During several such sessions, the masters who appeared in his hypnotic trance did the healing.
Immediately after the healings, the feeling of energy being sucked in his stomach and the inability to retain food was gone. Then the fiery sensation in his body went away. Finally, the sore throat improved.
Manish Sen, a corporate trainer and now a hypnotherapist, had a problem giving up smoking. In the 24 years of his smoking life, he tried to quit at least three times. The longest he could stay off-tobacco was 18 months, at the end of which he returned to his addiction. When he went to Dr Satin for help in quitting smoking, he was still toting up an average 15 to 20 cigarettes a day. Determined to kick the habit for good, he fixed up an appointment with Dr Satin.