The Hypnosis Prognosis

Photo: Illustration by Barbara Reyes

When I think of hypnosis, it conjures up gypsies, magicians, and Catherine Keener in the movie, Get Out.

Hypnosis is one of the only “wellness” rituals I have yet to try. I’ve been cupped, scraped, energy healed, sound bathed, and so much more in my time. A lifelong guinea pig, I’ve been into the area of self-improvement, Eastern practices, and alternative medicine long before it was trendy.

So when I scroll the offerings of Mdrn Sanctuary, a luxury wellness center in Nomad–a full floor of  acupuncture, massage, Ayurvedic medicine, crystal and light therapies, there’s even a Himalayan salt room–I zero in on hypnosis with its owner, Alexandra Janelli.


In the corner office, Alexandra sees her hypnosis clients. (She’s a former environmental consultant, who is also a life coach who trains private clients and corporate groups.) Dressed in a conservative black dress and Mary Jane pumps, she exudes professionalism. She’s neither gypsy, magician, nor Catherine Keener. Her tell– if you’re looking—is a distinctively soothing voice.

Many seek hypnosis as a means to quit smoking, weight loss, and sleeplessness. It’s mainly used as a tool for behavior or habit adjustment, something as specific even as biting your nails. Most of Alexandra’s clients are successful professionals and their number one concern is anxiety.

“Some people come in and say they want to remove all their anxiety.”

Alexandra says, “I tell them, I can’t remove entire natural human emotions. Besides, that would make you sociopath, no one would like you.” She is a pragmatist’s hypnotist.


My own desire is to boost focus and productivity.  With the Get Go just starting up, I want my vision to progress faster but I’m hitting up against writer’s block and other decision-making hurdles. It’s making me antsy.

Instead of taking out a pocket watch and swinging it in front of my eyes, we talk for over an hour. She asks a lot of questions about my work, my process, how I do things, how I’ve done things in the past.

Hypnosis harnesses the power of suggestion. It’s only as effective as how deeply the suggestion resonates with you. “I can’t tell you what to do,” she explained, “If you are afraid of dogs, I can’t tell you that when you see dogs you will now love them. That’s just not a reasonable suggestion; it won’t work.”

Alexandra’s process digs deeper, like a therapist, to hone in on what triggers the fear or anxiety.

What I discovered over the course of our conversation about productivity was not that I was procrastinating or dragging my feet. My issue was something I hadn’t considered.

After our discussion, she poses a train of thought: What if the issue isn’t to do with productivity or focus? What if you’re doing everything you can, but you’re experiencing discomfort with the nature of transition–in which answers or solutions, even ideas, don’t crystallize all at once? What if the suggestion were about finding more calm in the face of the unknown? What if patience is part of the flow of transition that gets you from here to there? Can you enjoy enjoy your own curiosity and the experience of discovery, both in your work and the subjects you are writing about? Would that help alleviate your writers’ block?

Mike drop.


She’s found her suggestions and I’m about to get hypnotized. She has me recline in a chair. I focus on a spot on the wall across from me. She begins to make suggestions to me in her very soothing voice. She suggests that I take more joy in each step of discovery. She plants seeds of calm and patience. When it’s over, I feel relaxed and indeed very calm. I see myself in a new light.

So often we think of wellness in terms of a result. But perhaps at its best—the moments when we feel really good–it’s a flash of insight or self-knowledge, discovery, recognition. It’s identifying what’s missing in the bigger picture of our lives in order to become more patient with ourselves, learn to set boundaries, or give up self-sabotaging behaviors. It’s not the treatment alone that miraculously cures.

Belief that things can be different is what spurs action. From action, we get the result.

With more focus and productivity, I had hoped to speed my result—getting the Get Go going faster! But I left with the insight that I don’t need more focus or to be more productive. I’m already doing everything I can. I need to be more OK with the unknown and more comfortable in this period of transition. I’ve left one way of working—an executive job at a big corporate company with numerous reports, multiple departments, sizable budgets, huge audiences, constant deadlines—but have not yet defined a new way. Being OK with figuring things out is the creative process itself.

In the days that followed, I carried myself with a feeling of lightness. My fingers danced across the keyboard of my laptop. I had a spring in my step and ideas bounced around my head. The power of suggestion is powerful indeed. As I do a final edit on this piece, time having passed, the Get Go about to launch, I’m reminded how I felt right after I saw Alexandra. I remember how my brain lit up when Alexandra suggested a different way through the same problem. It lights me up again in my mind’s eye and I’m energized to keep going. If that’s not the fuel of focus and productivity I don’t know what is.