Hypnotist Eric Mina put students in a trance this past Saturday at Minnesota State University, Mankato. No, like literally.
During this MNSU Welcome Week event hosted by the Student Events Team, hundreds of students piled into Bresnan Arena to see a select number of their peers become hypnotized and parade around the makeshift stage uttering inappropriate remarks and behaving in ways they normally wouldn’t (or would, I didn’t know these people personally).
While laughter filled the arena, I couldn’t help but ponder the power of hypnotism, and in effect, the power of the mind as a whole. Something about watching people in this dazed, unaltered state is utterly amazing to me.
What is even more fascinating about hypnotism is something Mina emphasized in the beginning of the show. He said that he, in fact, was not the one hypnotizing the participants, but rather the participants were hypnotizing themselves. What? Isn’t that what MNSU paid this guy to do?
Well, after some research on hypnotism, this notion isn’t so unbelievable after all. You may even be surprised to hear that you have probably “hypnotized” yourself before.
You know those moments when you are reading a good book or watching a great movie and the world around you seems to disappear? According to science.howstuffworks.com, you are in a hypnotic trance at that moment. The site also explains hypnosis as a state of “suggestibility, relaxation and a heightened state of imagination.” If we view hypnosis by this definition, we can easily see how we have been that soothing voice in our own head putting us in a trance a time or two in our life.
Another interesting thing about hypnosis is not what leaves the mind in the trance (fear of humiliation, etc.), but what remains in the mind. According to the same site science.howstuffworks.com, a sense of safety and morality remains during hypnosis. This fact is quite comforting to know. At least I wouldn’t try to do a triple backflip or on stage and end up breaking my neck while in a trance.
Despite all I have researched on hypnosis, I would be lying if I said it still didn’t scare me a little bit. Maybe I’m too big of a control freak, maybe I’m being chicken; the bottom line is that hypnosis is powerful because our very own brains are the driving force behind it.
At the end of the show, Mina “gave” the participants something: a positive rendition of themselves. He told the slumped-over, sleeping students to picture themselves watching a movie. He told them to see themselves on the screen as they want to be in the future: nicer, more committed in a relationship, less shy, more confidence or anything else they aspired to be. Mina then told participants to imagine themselves floating toward the screen and becoming this future self. He told them that this was no longer the “future you,” but you now.
Since that night, I have often wondered how participants felt as they woke up. I wonder if they felt kinder. I wonder if they felt bolder walking off the stage. I wonder if they felt a weight off of their shoulders. I wonder if they felt more forgiving of themselves as they looked in the mirror that night, seeing less of their flaws and more of their beauty. I may never know the answers to those questions.
What I do know is that the mind is a powerful tool in our lives, for good and bad. But I find comfort knowing that I can feed the positive side of myself. I can use the power of the mind; I can hypnotize myself to make my dreams and aspirations become who I am today.