Reposted: The Hypnosis Panel, Part One

Suddenly, I’m all prolific here! It’s a miracle!

Just to clarify, the reason I’m being so prolific is that I was hypnotized a lot recently. A lot of this stuff that I’m posting about now happened at a convention I attended last weekend. There was, in fact, a panel there on hypnosis–specifically, one that was a group hypnosis session. I was a little nervous, as that weekend was the first time I’d been hypnotized in anything other than a one-on-one session (about which more later…) but as it turned out, I need not have worried.

The moderator of the panel told everyone to get comfortable, by sitting in the chairs or on the floor or lying across the chairs or across the floor–basically, whatever position felt best to them. If I had to count, I’d say there were about twenty people in the room, maybe twenty-five (the panel was a little bit under-promoted by the con, to put it mildly.) We all shifted position a bit–I decided to stay sitting upright, as the floor in my immediate area was starting to look a little crowded.

Then she told everyone to relax and focus on their breathing. She told people that if they wanted to, they could breathe in a square pattern–breathe in for a count of four, hold it for a count of four, breathe out for a count of four, and pause for a count of four–or they could just relax, and let their breathing find its own rhythm. By this point, I was already finding out how deeply conditioned to go into trance I really was, because I already had my eyes closed by this point and was feeling that light, floaty feeling in my head that’s one of the big indicators of hypnosis.

I’ll admit that I actually have some difficulty remembering her specific words as she deepened everyone’s trance–which is actually kind of surprising to me, as hypnotic amnesia isn’t normal for me. (Or, at least, it wasn’t originally…I’m finding that after listening to my Lady’s Voice all night every night, telling me it’s all right to forget to remember and remember to forget, I’ve become a lot more willing to let things slide into a warm, white fog in the back of my head while I’m under.) I remember she had a very sweet, soothing voice, and that she used multiple countdowns to deepen us…counting down to zero, deepening us with phrases, then counting down again. She also did something kind of neat where she told us that she was going to snap her fingers, but that each snap would deepen us instead of waking us up, and then she did more deepeners while snapping her fingers. At some point, she told us that we could shift position to get comfortable, and still stay in that warm, soft place, but I’m pretty sure I’d slumped sideways and lain across the chairs even before she said that.

I say “us”, but honestly, it didn’t really feel like “us”. I was, on some level, dimly aware that there were other people in the room, but on the emotional level, group trance felt (to me, at least) like the other people just melted away into the background, leaving me and the hypnotist. I think I understand how stage hypnosis works now…if the moderator had asked me to do something, I probably would have done it because I really did feel like I was alone with her in all the senses that mattered. But, of course, it wasn’t that kind of panel.

After a while (I’d given her my watch at the start of the panel, because she didn’t have one and I wasn’t going to have my eyes open to look at one anyway), she had us imagine a “safe place” inside our heads, somewhere we could go when we got stressed out or frustrated. She told us to imagine the doorway to the safe place, make it real inside our minds, picture its color, its style, its texture. For a second, I had no idea what it might look like…and then, like a true geek, I pictured the TARDIS doors in my head, and that just resolved itself perfectly. (I’m a life-long Doctor Who fan, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. And the TARDIS has always been a “safe place” in the series; as the Doctor once said, “The assembled hordes of Ghengis Khan couldn’t get through that door, and believe me, they’ve tried.”)

And sure enough, when she told us to step through that door into our safe place, I found myself in the console room, circa Peter Davison’s era. (In fact, for total geeks, it was the console room from “The Five Doctors”, complete with the wicker chairs that the First Doctor had tea in.) I could hear that soft, gentle hum all around me, I could see the bright, warm light…occasionally, my mind would let it flicker into other console room designs (the new series’ design, the McGann TV movie design, the secondary console room from Tom Baker’s era…) but for the most part, it stayed as Davison’s console room. It seemed very appropriate that the safe place in my heart was bigger on the inside.

(And as an aside, my Lady has also used Doctor Who imagery in brainwashing me. She’s had me picture a “programming room”, a place deep inside my mind where my core thoughts are kept, where anything She alters actually alters my mind at its fundamental level, and She modeled the imagery of that room on the Zero Room from ‘Castrovalva’. It occurred to me on my return from the con that if the Zero Room is inside the TARDIS, then that means I’ve actually let Her into that safe space to reprogram my thoughts. There’s something almost frighteningly hot about that.)

We stayed in that safe space for a while, and the moderator talked about finding habits that we might want to let go of, things we wanted to achieve with hypnosis…she said later that she didn’t want to get too therapeutic in a group session, because it’s not always that easy to get rid of bad habits with hypnosis, and she didn’t want to touch off anything she wouldn’t be there to deal with later on. (Wise woman.) Eventually, she told us it was time to come back up, and that she’d count from one to five, and that on five we would awaken…and that she’d then return us to this warm, happy place by counting back down from five to one. She counted up to five…and bam! Back up.

We never did get around to counting back down. By the time everyone had stretched their legs and gone to the bathroom (we’d been under for a solid hour, even though it only felt like maybe ten minutes) the discussion had broken up into smaller groups, and become much less formal. Which is how I wound up trying out the light and sound machine…but that’s for next time.

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