On a chilly winter day, I made my way inside the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown. Over the last several years, the spa has built an all-female roster of seven “resident healers” with unique offerings including clairvoyant readings, chakra healing, crystal therapy, sonic alchemy, and the most recent addition—hypnotism.
I was intrigued. What exactly was hypnotherapy? I quickly conjured up a generic image of an older man waving a pocket watch. By definition, hypnotism is a state of focused attention or intense concentration. While the practice dates back to ancient Egyptian and Greek cultures, the modern-day practice reads much like meditation and works when we feel safe and relaxed. Simply put: we become more open to unconscious suggestions (intuition, goals, and gut instincts) over those of our rational, conscious mind.
The Time Traveler
In the waiting room, Nicole Hernandez (who is known as the Traveling Hypnotist) greeted me and ushered me back to a tranquil, low-lit room for her 90-minute “Time Traveler” experience. Hernandez wears several hats: she’s a clinical hypnotist, past-life regression guide, and intuitive (she also worked in corporate America and knows the stresses of modern-day life). She asked me what brought me in. Candidly, I wanted to look into my future (the evolution of my writing and a new home) and mentioned I’d been experiencing roadblocks (fear and resistance). Naturally, I was looking for the best steps to help me move forward. “People can completely reset and change in life. We need to figure out what part of your vision isn’t attainable,” she said.
Your unconscious knows what needs to be healed . . .
And then came the question: how did this treatment work? “It’s hard to explain because each session can be so different.” In a nutshell, Hernandez helps you revisit your personal history (i.e., the past) and address what might be holding you back. She walks you through the journey with visualization, gentle hypnotic techniques, and intuitive downloads. “Just as in dreams, your conscious and unconscious mind collaborate to begin surfacing memories, metaphor-rich stories, glimmers of a past life memory, and occasionally some even feel the presence of a loved one who has passed,” said Hernandez.
Dreaming While Awake
Finding a metaphor that might help me quickly grasp the concept, Hernandez smiled, “You’re a court reporter. Trust what comes up as you’re taking the notes. It might feel like it doesn’t make sense but that’s okay.” As I settled back to close my eyes, Hernandez cleared the room with incense. “Remember, your unconscious knows what needs to be healed. We just let it flow,” she said in a soft voice. There was also ambient music, a slow ringing of serene bells. I felt instantly calm. Wait: was I already falling under the influence?
Like Hernandez suggested, I allowed myself to go with the flow. Surprisingly, childhood memories cropped up, as did people I hadn’t thought about in several decades (and while I’ll spare you the play-by-play details, I certainly felt emotional). Hernandez guided me in and out of these blocks of time with gentle prompts. Most importantly, I never felt scared or alone.
When I was quietly ushered out of the experience, the session felt almost dreamlike. Now, I had new insights as to what was holding me back. “My clients have described the experience as “dreaming while awake,” Hernandez concurred, adding that I should pay careful attention to my nightly dreams. She also gifted me a crystal and a sealed letter (which I later discovered contained a few of her favorite impressions from our session).
While Hernandez’s clients usually return for a handful of sessions, my sole experience felt meaningful. And, although it can take several weeks to integrate and align one’s journey, I noticed some interesting dreams crop up. I made an effort to journal and revisited old fears with renewed vigor, understanding, and forgiveness. Indeed, something had shifted, and for now, that was a start.