You are getting verrrrry sleeeeeeepy

Has anyone here been hypnotized? Or undergone a past-life regression? I’ve been considering doing either or both for the past few years, but can’t get past the notion that I’d be paying for some scam artist to tell me random things, some of which may or may not press emotional buttons.

I’m more convinced that hypnotism can work and can possibly dredge up interesting tidbits from one’s past. But I’m still fascinated by the idea of past lives, mostly because for some reason, I feel a real connection to a country that’s completely unconnected to my family history. Why do I feel so at home in a place that’s so foreign?

So, I’m curious: Who’s done this before? Did it work? Did you learn anything about yourself? If nothing else, it might be interesting to hear what a “reader” has to say about you, even based on whatever cues you offer in a short session.

11 responses to “You are getting verrrrry sleeeeeeepy”

  1. Josh K-sky says:

    My mom visited me at college when she was learning hypnosis for her psychotherapeutic practice. I had misplaced something — a book, maybe — and she tried to get me to remember where I left it. I got into a state of relaxation but couldn’t quite go the distance; I’m something of a control type and have similar responses to drugs, not letting go enough to fully experience them. She practiced on other friends of mine and one of them got into deep trance, although I don’t remember the details of his experience very well and today he’s crazy.

  2. Jenomnibus Caesar says:

    My uncle was really into channeling and hypnosis many years ago. He allegedly channeled “Seth” and wrote several books about it, and he also wrote a book about channeling Hitler. I once had him do a past-life regression with me, and I came up with all this stuff about having lived in Roman times – I even have a mental picture of myself with one of those bowl cuts, wearing a toga and sandals (I was male in that life). Whatever. I’m totally convinced that the imagery was a product of my creative processes and that I made it all up.

  3. Dave says:

    Is this post just to check to see whether I’m still reading the blog?

    Hypnosis sounds interesting. From what I’ve heard, it sounds like one of many methods of getting you to drop some of your ego-defenses, which is usually an interesting thing to do and often worthwhile. I’ve seen people apparently being hypnotized to a not-very-deep level, but never done it myself.

    But this past-life regression thing. Seriously? I can see doing it if you have some kind of pre-existing belief in past lives, transmigration, etc. But what’s the evidence for that? Aren’t there tons of more parsimonious explanations for feeling a connection with another culture than a whole metaphysical apparatus of transmigration of souls?

    And aren’t the other, woo-free explanations more interesting and relevant, anyway? Like what is it about you that you’re attracted to this other country? What is it about the other culture that resonates with you? What needs does it fill in your emotional life? What is it about the culture, family, and circumstances you were raised in that is lacking in what you get from this other culture? These seem like interesting questions to me, and potentially productive in terms of self-knowledge and growth.

  4. Stella says:

    I went to one of those college hypnosis shows and it was very interesting. In fact, I should probably blog about it. But here’s the story:

    I was hypnotized which is an interesting state of being in a trance-like place and yet conscious and seeing what’s going on. I’m a control freak (surprise!)…at first he made us into an orchestra and told me i’d be playing hte violin…i started playing before he was ready but then started fighting the hypnosis – a whole audience was watching and laughing and my subconscious made me fight my way out of it. He sat me on a chair at the back of the stage and ignored me till it was all over.

    The most fascinating part was my roommate – she participated in the second half of the show – he ended the trances by saying there were mice on the floor and as soon as they ran out of the auditorium they’d wake up…well, she’s not afraid of mice so just came back to her seat and acted weird and felt ill. I had to run backstage and get him so he could put her under again and then bring her out properly. He had this huge stage presence but when i saw him backstage he was exhausted and seemed a shadow of his former self.

    Past lives…saving that for a Stella Friday.

  5. My uncle, a man of honest principles, when he became seriously ill* toward the end of his life developed a nasty habit of grinding his teeth and went to a hypnotist who cured him of the habit in one session.

    Ever eager to travel more like the rest of humanity, I decided to put hypnosis on the list of things I’ve tried to overcome my fear of flying (cognitive therapy, more analytic therapy, EMDR, two ativans and a couple of single-serving bottles of awful red wine.) So I asked my uncle if his hypnotist could make a referral in New York, which he did.

    I called. The guy had an answering service, which…I thought went out around the time Sondheim wrote “Another Hundred People.” He called me back and said, “it’s usually one session. The fee is three hundred dollars.” I waited probably a year because I can’t casually toss around that kind of change, and then I went one day, telling no-one, in case I was about to blow half a week’s earnings on nothing.

    Which is what happened. I went, he did some sort of guided imagery and relaxation and then a bit of what you imagine when you think of hypnosis, and when I made it clear I was still very fully conscious, he kind of changed how he was talking about the whole thing and said “hypnosis isn’t like in the movies, you know. You don’t go into this trance where you’re in some terribly altered state. Hypnosis is about teaching yourself to relax.”

    Which, if I could do that, my life would be a lot different, and not just where air travel is concerned. I wish he had told me the bit about relaxing on the phone. I would have said “oh, people have been trying to get me to relax for thirty years. Doesn’t work. You take care, now” and I could’ve spent the three hundred dollars on dinner at Per Se (which would open a few years later, giving me time to earn interest for a tip) or 171 bottles of seltzer or something that didn’t leave me feeling dejected, and like a chump, chumpjected.

    *Yeah, I started typing about him and realized I was almost quoting Onegin so I went ahead and just quoted it for half a sentence.

  6. swells says:

    First: I had the same experience as Stella–went to one of those hypnotist shows that were very popular when I was in high school. I got picked to be one of the 20 or so people on the stage who were going to be hypnotized all at once and be made to do things like dance around or jump up on a chair to avoid the imaginary mice. I was SO excited and so ready to buy into it. After he put everyone on the stage under, he noticed that I was just sitting there and he got really mad at me–yelled at me in front of everyone and made me go back to my seat for not being hypnotized, as though I were trying to undermine his show or something.

    Second: Later in life I went to a hypnotherapist for a few sessions to try and work through some trauma/phobia from a car accident. She did manage to get me “relaxed” enough that when she had me retell the story of the accident, she could detect from my physical responses what the actual locus of the trauma was (i.e. which precise aspect of the experience that I was reacting phobically to). Subsequent attempts to work me through it, though, never really went anywhere, mostly (I’m convinced) because her office was in a drafty Victorian with rattly bay windows that overlooked a really busy street in San Francisco with lots of noisy bus traffic immediately outside. How deep can you go with that kind of distraction? Yeah, I still have the phobia.

    Third: F.P., you goddam kill me.

  7. LP says:

    1: “although I don’t remember the details of his experience very well and today he’s crazy.” I have a little bit of fear about digging deeply into hypnosis, or having a psychic do a reading, as it seems like if you hear something you don’t want to, it will be hard to forget about it – even if you think it’s completely bogus. For instance, if a psychic were to say, “Something huge will happen in six months,” I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from counting down and wondering, which seems an unnecessary burden to put on one’s brain.

    2: “he also wrote a book about channeling Hitler.” Seriously? Wow. Did you read it? Did / do you have a good relationship with this uncle? What do you think about this?

    3. “But this past-life regression thing. Seriously? I can see doing it if you have some kind of pre-existing belief in past lives, transmigration, etc. But what’s the evidence for that?” There is no evidence, obviously, other than odd episodes of people supposedly having knowledge of places they’ve never been to, speaking in languages they’ve never learned after having head injuries, etc. I’m not saying I believe in past lives, but it is something that I can’t entirely discount. If you accept the notion, as many people do, that the soul is a form of energy, and energy is never created or destroyed, then why would it be so bizarre to have it travel in such a manner? I know it sounds all woo-woo. But at every point in history, people thought they knew all there was to know about science, matter, etc. And they didn’t. I’m just curious about it.

    4. “at first he made us into an orchestra and told me i’d be playing hte violin…i started playing before he was ready” … I SO wish I could have seen this!

    “He had this huge stage presence but when i saw him backstage he was exhausted and seemed a shadow of his former self.” I suspect there are a lot of bogus hypnotists, but there must be some real ones, as too many people have had experiences where they were “put under” and did things they wouldn’t normally do. I think I’d have a hard time letting go to one unless it was in the privacy of an office, not on a stage in front of a lot of people.

    5. Do you think (a) he just wasn’t a very good hypnotist, or (b) that he and you just didn’t click, or that (c) the whole notion of curing the fear of flying by hypnosis is bogus?

    6. “She did manage to get me “relaxed” enough that when she had me retell the story of the accident, she could detect from my physical responses what the actual locus of the trauma was…” See, this is interesting to me. Maybe hypnosis is just getting someone to stop being self-conscious enough that the true nature of what they’re feeling is comes through. Dave, you’ve been doing meditation for a while – isn’t that kind of the same thing?

    “Third: F.P., you goddam kill me.” Me too.

  8. Jenomnibus Caesar says:

    LP, I haven’t read the book about Hitler, nor any of the other books. He made his living at it for about twenty years by going on the lecture circuit and selling books. I did have a pretty good relationship with this uncle,and I would ask him about it, but the whole thing always sounded really bogus to me, so I decided to maintain my respect for him by not delving too deeply into that part of his life. Sadly, he is suffering from the same type of mysterious dementia that my mom had, so it’s not something I can discuss with him now.

  9. casper says:

    check out this spooky story! makes it hard not to believe in ghosts.
    http://queserasera.org/archives/001398.html

  10. LP says:

    This may be my favorite comment and link ever.