This covers days 6 & 7 of 30 for the Hypnotherapy Project, which I'm collaborating on with Los Angeles-based
hypnotist hypnotherapist Greg Beckett. You can read more about this experiment, what motivated it and what we hope to accomplish here.
I went into this hypnotherapy project with (wait for it...wait...) my eyes wide open. I knew there would be doubters out there, because to be 100% honest, there was a seed of doubt in me, as well.
Was this parlor trickery? Or just another manifestation of my deeply ingrained desire to please? As Greg always reminds me, you do these things because you choose to, not because you have to. That's why they say you can never make someone do under hypnosis what she wouldn't do anyway. (It's also why stage hypnotists won't choose people who clearly don't want to be hypnotized. Because, like, they won't.)
Since we'd covered so much ground and I needed some time to digest it all, we'd done a tape for later use (okay, a recording) on Day 5. Neither of us felt the need to do a whole lot more digging on Day 6, so I asked if he could try the experiment we'd talked about before: hypnotizing me to forget what had happened during the hypnosis itself. (I'll pause while you wrap your brain around that one.)
When he brought me back up, I had that same feeling you get when you first awaken from a dream: chunks of it are vivid, but unless you work at remembering them, they fade pretty fast. I was marveling over it, picking at my brain to get at what was underneath, what I knew was there but couldn't remember. Greg kept laughing, but told me to stop it: he'd also given me a post-hypnotic suggestion that the less I remembered, the better it would work.
For the rest of the evening until bedtime, I kept feeling the memory want to bubble up. But then I'd remember what I was supposed to, that it would work better, whatever it was, if I let it go. (Talk about your zen lessons.) I didn't know what "it" was, but I knew I wanted it.
The next day, being a stubborn cuss, I wanted to try it again. Greg laughed, but complied: this was a great way to help me convince me of the power of me. So he put me under again; when I came back, same thing, faint, blurry dreams I wanted to grab at, but Greg warned me that the more I let them go, the better they'd work.
I can tell you honestly when I tell you that until today, Day 8, when he lifted the forgetting curse during hypnosis, I could not remember what the hell I was supposed to forget.
- Day 6: sleep deeply and restfully
- Day 7: things would go smoothly though I had a nightmare day of anxiety-bringing new things and tight scheduling
To be truthful, I don't have the best memory to begin with, or not the most reliable one, anyway. I blame my drug-addled 20s, but on top of that, I've always had an amazing, self-preserving way of remembering what I needed to and pushing everything else the hell out. (Raise your hand if you're an adult child of an alcoholic.) But those weirdly dreamlike moments coming up cinched it: there is something to this hypnosis thing, and I am rapidly becoming its poster child.