Montana Kaimin > Opinion
Published: Wednesday, October 5, 2011 Updated: Friday, October 7, 2011
I swayed in a bright blue hammock wrapped around my body like a cocoon. The sky was a florescent, savory blue. The kind of blue you want to dip your finger into and taste. I imagined it rich and sweet. A breeze came by and I heard that it was time to leave. A star awakened overhead and I heeded the count: Five, four, three, two, one.
My eyes opened. Replacing the hammock were two desk chairs, the sky was now just ceiling tiles, and the succulent blue color dissolved into the white walls of the University Center. “How was that?” Roberta Swartz asked. I wanted to call her the best travel agent, but Swartz is no paradise booker. She is a clinical hypnotherapist.
Hypnosis. Mention this word in any conversation and you’re guaranteed to get a skeptical eye and have the subject changed faster than you can say “subconscious.” I moved past the cynicism to try something new this week and what I found was that I am now a believer in hypnosis.
Heading into the session, I kept repeating to myself the common college mantra, “Please don’t fall asleep.” I was running on four hours of sleep and a heavy dose of humdrum classes. I was going to snore, drool and mumble through this experience. I shook Swartz’s hand and planned my future apology.
She asked me to get comfortable. I closed my eyes and listened as the inflections of her voice softened, equalized and created a comforting soundtrack for the journey. With her instructions, I focused on my breath, my body and feeling the heaviness of my eyelids. Hmmm, I could get used to this. Suddenly nothing mattered more than falling into deep and complete relaxation.
One of the misconceptions about hypnosis is that we, as clients, are under the will of the hypnotist. Slap your wrist for believing such crazy Hollywood notions! I was more aware in this state than I was walking across the Oval to get here. While I appeared to be sleeping, I was actively switching which side of my brain I was using. Hypnosis moves us from the left side of our brain, which is logical and detail-oriented, to our right side, responsible for creativity, intuition and seeing “the big picture.” This switch can have positive short-term effects and, if evolved into hypnotherapy, incredible, long-term effects such as curing insomnia, allergies and phobias.
Logically, I would not have enjoyed the picturesque hammock scene. My body is always stiff with distrust in hammocks, waiting for the inevitable twist-and-spill. But in hypnosis the skeptical part of me was on a hiatus, allowing my imagination to sink into the daydream.
After just 15 minutes of hypnosis I felt awake and more organized. Instead of taking a nap when I got home I worked like I was on Adderall and finished a week of chores. If I am now lumped into the “new-age” category, then so be it. But don’t knock it before you trance it.
Roberta Swartz’s book on self-hypnosis is available in the UC bookstore.