Meera Malhotra, in her mid-forties, had been suffering from arthritis for many years. Practically crippled, often bed-ridden, and confined to a wheel chair, she tried different treatments, consulted doctors and therapists, and took pain killers regularly to get through the day.
Four years ago, her doctor decided it was time to operate on her knees, but Meera was reluctant. Instead, she decided to try hypnotherapy. She turned to Biraj Bose, one of New Delhi's leading hypnotherapists. "The disease was deeply rooted," says Bose, "and we needed many sessions." However, after several months, Meera's body began rejecting pain killers and her doctor repeatedly cut down the dose, until he stopped their use altogether. Six months after the first session, Meera's arthritis was in complete remission. Her arthritis considerably improved and pain is infrequent. Her life is transformed.
Hypnotherapy is a method where hypnosis [hypnos = sleep] is used to induce a deep trance in the subject, and then, through suggestions given by the trained therapist, the subconscious mind is addressed directly and asked to transform dis-ease into health.
Those who have experienced hypnotherapy report deep physical, psychological, and spiritual changes.
Hypnotherapy is one of the fastest growing forms of healing arts around the world, including India, where several hundred certified therapists are now in active practice.
Bose, who is also director of a hypnotherapy healing centre called Breathing Space, sees 10-12 hypnotherapy clients a week, and the number is rising. Hypnotherapist Pratibha Samuel, an ex-lawyer, who now runs the India Hypnosis Centre, in Mumbai, says the number of clients from new sectors, especially from the corporate world, is on the rise.
"Most people you would talk to used to be quite sceptical," says Bose, who once used to be quite cynical herself. A journalist and psychotherapist, she first started researching about hypnotherapy for a magazine article. After she experienced hypnotherapy first-hand, she was hooked. "It completely changed my life," she says. "When clients experience swift and profound changes that begin after we start work, they are eager for their family and friends to come as well. My practice has grown only by word of mouth."
When a client comes to see a hypnotherapist, the first step is aimed at discussing the problem, followed by deep relaxation. "Many clients feel hesitant at first," says Bose. On the second and, may be, third sessions, a deeper state of trance is induced by therapists and the client will access stored memories, fears, and feelings. Some of these might seem overwhelming, but the therapist is trained to guide the client through the "journey."
"The therapist is really only the guide, not 'authority,' says Samuel. "The most beautiful part of hypnosis is that the client is in consultation with his/her own mind and does his/her own healing. All thoughts, all solutions and healing remedies, are taken by the subject's own mind." Some therapists speak of an even more profound source than the "mind" - a spiritual source, the soul, the Cosmic Wisdom.
"The Mind is a vibrating ball of energy, with the potential to heal everything," says Samuel. In fact, hypnotherapy is often seen by therapists and eventually by subjects to be a spiritual phenomenon. "I have seen it with my own eyes so many times," says Bose, "that I now have no doubt in my mind that under hypnosis we are not only in touch with our spiritual source but also with all cosmic information stored in our mind, including our past, or other, lives."
"People usually think of hypnotherapy as a last resort, when all else has failed, or when they have hit rock-bottom and feel there is nothing left to lose," says British hypnotherapist Rupert Raikes [see box]. "This is a perfect place from which to change. When someone is sick and tired of being sick, they can discover the ability to heal themselves NOW. They are finally humble, surrendered, and this is what is needed to really jump in there and do the work. A client who is ready to tell the real truth about their pain and despair can often be helped in only one session."
As in other healing arts, clients are urged to realise that pain - physical, emotional, or spiritual - is a symptom, a message, of something deeper. "We welcome the pain, because it will transform into comfort and health, by using these methods: eyes closed, listening to soft music, bringing the pain to the table, and watching it," says Raikes. "When you focus on your pain and present your complaint to the wise inner advisor, it is transformed because you have listened to it at its very source."
Clients have been known to heal from ailments ranging from depression and sciatica to high blood pressure, phobias, addictions, and even terminal diseases. Bose reports that she sees many subjects suffering from depression, and she has noticed a rise in the number of people seeking hypnotherapy for marital problems.
Raikes has treated skin diseases, cancer, weight loss, and addiction successfully. "As hypnotherapy accesses the deepest recesses of the subconscious mind any condition which originates in the mind can be treated. And, if you think about it deeply", he adds, "I am sure you will reach the logical conclusion that all diseases and conditions originate in the mind."
Bose concurs, and concludes: "I like to, however, warn my clients about the one known good side-effect of hypnotherapy. This is reduced stress, increased wellbeing, and a deep state of relaxation."
Hypnotherapy: Q and A
Is hypnotherapy a recognised field of healing?
Hypnotherapists are certified by recognised bodies in India and abroad [Raikes, Bose and Samuel are all certified]. The Hypnotherapy School of India, New Delhi, offers and teaches courses that are certified by the California Hypnosis Institute, US, in all major metros/cities. It is highly recommended to seek out only therapists who are certified. When choosing a therapist, "Be sensitive to a loving and compassionate attitude on the part of your therapist; this cannot be faked," says Raikes.
What if I feel resistance? Can it work anyway?
Says Raikes: "Resistance to change keeps people in ignorance, misery and sickness unnecessarily. Many people retain 'blocks' within their unconscious minds. These are enforced areas of forgetfulness which protect them from an unpleasant memory and which stops them from going beyond that point. With persistence, patience and attentiveness, the blocks can be cleared. It may take time, but eventually they will be cleared."
Can children benefit as well?
Hypnotherapists believe children are very well suited for hypnotherapy.
Can the therapist make me do things, or say things I don't want to?
This is the most famous question of them all. Says Bose: "What we achieve in hypnosis is an altered state of mind and heightened awareness in which the conscious mind is the observer, accessing the subconscious mind. The conscious critical mind is at all times present and can and will intervene if, at any time, it feels threatened. So, you can never be made to do, or say anything you do not want to.
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