Hypnosis, Venn Diagrams & Vulnerability

woman sitting near black and white striped wall

This morning dawned bright and clear, and I was up five minutes after my alarm went off. An accomplishment, that. As I mentioned, I’ve been doing the 30 Days of Yoga, but I did miss two days: one due to starting the new fitness class, the other to being over at Sir’s. Both excuses, truth be told: I could have done one in the morning before and one in the evening after. But I’m trying to be gentle with myself, recognize the need for improvement but not bashing myself over the head for my imperfections. This morning I picked back up with a heavy core-work yoga practice and then an 8-minute guided meditation.

I’ve been pondering the Venn diagram of hypnosis, self-hypnosis, meditation and guided meditation. (Is a Venn diagram the correct visualization? I am trying to understand what each does, how they are similar and dissimilar.) This morning I thought about that as I was led in the meditation practice. There, I played with the edges of self-hypnosis, scootching down into a self-induced trance-state in the middle of the meditation and coming out, deliberately trying to find the edges, the differences.

I had an unsettling experience the other day. The Hypnotist and I were at dinner, and we were discussing an acquaintance of his that is curious about hypnosis and accessing (achieving?) a specific state of mind. And I recalled something I had experienced years ago at a Poly/CNM conference. I had attended what I thought of as a guided meditation session that listed itself as helping us to open or activate both our root and sacral chakras. We practiced breathing exercises, specific poses and finally a deep, guided meditation intended to help us open ourselves to receive love and to connect with one another. I had a very profound experience during this, and left the class feeling wonderfully positive and opened emotionally in a way that I had not felt before the class. Later in that same conference I had a deeply connective interaction with a gentleman who I ended up in a relationship with for about a year.

When I finished relating this to The Hypnotist he looked at me strangely. “And you said you’d never experienced hypnosis,” he said. And then he talked about how what we had done in that class was a kind of hypnosis. That “guided meditation,” though its focus is outward rather than inward, is (or maybe can be?) a kind of hypnosis.

I was bemused by this – I had gone very, very deep in that class session – but also, honestly, I was very taken aback. I consider myself an astute, intelligent woman. I readily admit I can be swayed by the right kind of persuasion, when I choose to allow myself to be. But I don’t consider myself easily manipulated – unless I am consenting to it. I don’t mean in the out “do you consent to this,” way, I mean inside my head: I have allowed myself to be manipulated in the past, for reasons of my own – eyes wide open. I consented to it, knowing it was happening. And I entered into this relationship with The Hypnotist specifically and explicitly consenting to his manipulation. It’s a kink of mine and intensely erotic to me.

But. Was I manipulated into being open to a relationship with T, in a way that I might not have been if I hadn’t been in that class only hours before? I didn’t consent to that. At least not in a way that was informed consent. At least I don’t think I did.

I’m not saying that anything that was done was wrong. I’m not even saying that if I’d understood the (possible) breadth of it, that I wouldn’t have done it anyway. I was at the conference hoping to have exactly the kind of encounters that I had with T and with others there. But upon reflection, in looking back now, it makes me feel distinctly…vulnerable. Vulnerable in a way that doesn’t jive with my perceptions of my self, then or now.

I have played with a lot of people, in a lot of very risk-aware ways – accepting the risk of (usually physical but also emotional) vulnerability – deliberately. It’s part of what I do, and why I do what I do. But I have always felt completely in control of what that looks like. Even in play with The Hypnotist, I feel the power of ultimate control – even when I long to let that slide, to forfeit it. But looking back on that other experience, knowing that I was, possibly, manipulated in a way that I did not consent to, that someone accessed my mind and turned it in that direction – no matter that I would have consented to it had I been asked – I don’t know. It did make me uncomfortable for awhile.

But but. Even writing about it, here and now, I also feel that familiar tightening in my belly, that almost-Pavlovian response to even thinking about the topic. And I think about The Hypnotist and what we do, and hypnosis and behavior modification and mind control, and I am so fucking turned on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *