By Parveen Chopra September 2003 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. Spectacular recoveries 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 Christ connection 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 condi
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