I'm lying on a massage table in a dim little room somewhere in the middle of Brooklyn's hip Greenpoint neighborhood as my hypnotist, Morgan Yakus, instructs me to take a series of deep breaths. "Now, focus your eyes on a point on the ceiling," she says. "Keep staring at that point until you feel your eyelids get heavy, then let them close when they want to. Take your time."
I lie there breathing and eventually let my eyelids flutter closed. She places a lavender-scented pillow over them and begins to talk me deeper into relaxation. "Allow yourself to really let go," she says. "You're in a safe space." As she continues guiding me deeper into this relaxation, my perpetually tense muscles slowly release and I begin to feel that floating, almost twitchy just-about-to-fall-asleep sensation. Then, she starts to ask me questions.
"Do you remember the first time that you felt anxiety?" she asks. "Oh, I was at a sleepover at a friend's house in second grade," I answer without hesitation. My voice is deeper, more resonant, as I describe said friend's terrifying pet guinea pig. My subconscious brain couldn't be more certain of my responses, while my rational, conscious brain is thinking, Huh?! But I press on, recalling minute details of a memory that until this very moment had been completely forgotten. That's when I realize that I've most definitely been hypnotized.