The New Moon, February 2021
How Hypnotherapy Heals
It may sound quite out there, but hypnotherapy is actually one of the most easy-to-understand and surprisingly lucid modes of alternative healing – especially when you’re learning from acclaimed clinical hypnotherapist Sonia Samtani
“The misconception is that it’s mind control – ‘I can’t look into your eyes’,” says Sonia Samtani, one of Hong Kong’s most in-demand hypnotherapists, whose eight-month-long waiting list speaks to her gravitas and popularity. “But hypnotherapy is the most natural state that we are in twice a day.”
I’m here at All About You Wellness Centre to interview its founder, Samtani, about the practice of hypnotherapy, but to better understand how it works, she’s suggested performing a quickie session with me. In under an hour, not only have we covered the basics of how hypnotherapy works, we’ve uncovered quite a bit about me through imagination exercises and some quickfire Q&A. And all of this, it’s worth noting, has done without any altered state of mind – I haven’t even gotten a chance to lie down, yet.
Most of us confuse hypnotherapy with the magic tricks we’ve seen on TV and in variety shows, where unsuspecting and incredulous audience members are convinced to perform silly acts in front of crowds. Before she’s even let you crawl under her affirmations blanket, Samtani spends a good hour discussing and understanding problems that brought you there.
The journey begins with the decision to heal: “If you are in this space, what you’re doing is you’re accepting the parts of you that you have judged in the past. Any issue is created by judgment. And you judge it’s not enough, it’s not OK, there’s something wrong with me. As a result of that judgment, we create a conclusion. The conclusion reinforces it. And as a result of concluding sometime three times, you create a belief. Then there’s a belief that I’m not confident, I’m not enough, I’m not worthy. Other people are better than me. And then we create a coping mechanism – we withdraw from society, we rebel, or we start becoming a pleaser and want validation. Eventually, that’s what results and causes our issues. Whether those issues are fears, phobias, confusion, not knowing life path, nail biting, anxiety, depression, feeling lost.”
The first step, then, is to fill out a detailed questionnaire, learning more about what issues plague you at the surface. Then, Samtani undertakes what she calls a peeling exercise. “Under all of that is judgement. What we do is we peel down the layers, figure out what the core judgment is, give you a chance through the therapy to look at what happened, and give yourself an opportunity to reframe the same event with acceptance. And once you do that, something within changes, because the body has been holding on to that judgment, and the toxic emotion for so long.”
Only then does the “hypnosis” begin. In reality, hypnotherapy harnesses a natural state the body is in at least twice a day: “It’s about being relaxed,” Samtani explains. “We’re in a hypnotic state just before sleeping and just before waking up, and that’s where the brainwaves change. During yoga or meditation you’re actually in that state, too.
“When we’re cognitively talking, we’re in beta. When we’re a little bit tired, defenses are a bit lower, we go into alpha. Then just before sleeping, you’re in theta. The theta brainwave is where we go into a hypnotic state. There, your defenses are low. If someone says to you, ‘You’re confident’, your defenses are going to be low enough for your brain to say, ‘Yeah, maybe I can accept that statement.’ Whereas I’ll say it to you when you’re awake, and you might think, ‘No I’m not. Why should I believe it just because you told me?’”
Only part of what hypnotherapists do actually takes place in this theta-driven state. The rest of it takes a bit more artfulness. In the initial session, once these core issues have been identified, Samtani records a 15-minute track for you to play nightly before sleep, adjusting the necessary beliefs and empowering you to make positive change. Habits – whether it’s how to brush your teeth, starting or quitting cigarette-smoking or beating yourself up mentally – are formed after 21 days of repetition. After 40 days they become the default, and after 90, “the old neuropathway loses its charge”, she says. This is exactly what we want when erasing blame, past trauma and other problems.
Further sessions delve deeper into the issues, further into the subconscious and into childhood traumas and past-life burdens. “We do peeling, understand the objective, and then we place a suggestion. From the other sessions onwards, we do the work here with the younger you that created these beliefs, your inner child,” she says.
“The conscious mind is 10%, the subconscious mind is 90% and 6,000 times more powerful. That’s why what’s really going on comes from there. The subconscious mind is like a giant library, and it contains data that has been there throughout life and time and space. The subconscious mind has two parts to it, one that we call the primitive, and the other is modern. Primitive means old, our evolutionary memories. Depending on if the clients are open to it, I use the term past life. Past lives and evolution are really the same thing. Because what is evolution? Who you were before you were you.
“The modern memory is all about this life, starting from when you are in the womb. So if mom did not want to be pregnant, that could be our first memory of rejection. And right from then, things stay, nothing goes away. We create beliefs, and these beliefs become 6,000 times more powerful than what we want.”
The ultimate goal of this – and, Samtani says, all healing processes in general, is catharsis – “to feel something fully in order to let it go.
“If someone says stop feeling angry, don’t worry, you’re not going to stop. You might feel guilty and angry on top. If you beat a cushion, you’re much more likely to release the anger because you have expressed it. It’s not about beating up a person or shouting, though – it’s about releasing through your body, letting the emotions ride like a wave.”
All About You Wellness Centre is Hong Kong’s only English-language hypnotherapy institute, and offers one-to-one sessions, healing workshops and certification training. The centre’s focus is on hypnotherapy, but also offers holistic nutrition, energy healing, NLP, tarot reading, numerology and public speaking courses.