Hypnotist entertains, entrances audience members

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No one could have predicted that the goofy middle-aged man wearing a tie-dye shirt could take the stage in Union Station last Friday and have the power to put curious volunteers in a deep trance with just the sound of his voice and some simple instructions.

The Union Program Council sponsored Andrew Becker, a hypnotist and certified member of the National Guild of Hypnotists, the world’s largest professional organization comprised of dedicated individuals committed to advancing the field of hypnotism. His training lies mainly in psychology, but he has always been fascinated by the magic of the mind, and exploring limits of the imagination.

“I started performing hypnosis about 14 years ago after seeing shows in high school and college and deciding to look into what the training entailed,” Becker said.

Hypnosis is described by psychology.com as “a cooperative interaction in which the participants respond to the suggestions of the hypnotist”, but Becker insisted that we have all been hypnotized in every day life in situations where reality seems hazy, whether it be when you get wrapped up in something and lose track of time or jump during a scary movie.

The process for putting volunteers into light level relaxation, middle and deep hypnosis begins with Becker calming the nerves of participants. He assures everyone that he will not ask participants to reveal personal information, it is impossible to get stuck in hypnosis, and most promising, one hour under hypnosis is equal to 8 to 10 hours of sleep, providing healthy and natural energy. According to Becker’s website, the experience is subjective and different for everyone, but many people feel like it is a very intense and realistic daydream. After prompting deep breathing, relaxation and specific visualization, bodies went limp, eyes glazed over and participants were ready to act on Becker’s every command, no matter how absurd or embarrassing. Audience members who weren’t selected also had an opportunity to be hypnotized by following the same instructions, although very few were.

According to Becker, virtually anyone can be hypnotized provided they go into the experience with an open mind. However, it is impossible to be hypnotized against your will. This meant that some volunteers were asked to sit down if for any reason they weren’t responding to the process.

Becker explains that because he can’t predict how participants will react each show is unique and certain components are unscripted. Throughout the night participants minds were manipulated, providing entertaining outcomes including convincing them they had a winning lottery ticket and were competitors on the popular show “So You Think You Can Dance.” At one point Becker talked them through a visualization that placed students on the beach in 125 degree weather, leaving those hypnotized frantically fanning themselves and lathering on imaginary sunscreen.

“I was captivated by the whole thing, I couldn’t believe what these people were doing in front of such a huge crowd. My favorite part was watching their bodies slump to the ground when he said ‘sleep,'” Jarrod Zaborac, freshman in architectural engineering said.

Before brining participants out of their deep hypnosis Becker left each with a few last directions. After coming back to reality one participant was told that each time Becker said the word “K-state” she would mysteriously have the urge to run up on stage, grab the microphone and make an announcement that she would immediately forget. Others heard a certain phrase, and immediately their lottery ticket, that they had previously tucked away in their pockets felt unbearably cold.

In addition to slight grogginess and confusion, some emerged from hypnosis remembering everything that was said and done, and others didn’t remember for quite a while.

“I lost all sense of time, I felt like the show had just started and I couldn’t remember a thing that had gone on it was pretty bizarre and I can’t wait to hear about all the things I did,” Amy Geske, freshman in pre vet said.

Becker even showed pictures he had taken on his iPhone to each student that he had taken throughout the show. DVD’s of the night were also available for purchase. Overall, audience members’ consensus was a satisfied one.

“It’s impossible not to be amazed by hypnosis, it takes a lot of trust for volunteers to go with me on this journey, because it makes them so vulnerable,” Becker said.

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