- The Four Seasons Hotel spa in New York offers consultations with “certified spiritual healers.”
- From chakra healing to astrology, the unique offerings tap into a $639 billion wellness tourism market.
- I’d choose the spa’s hour-long hypnosis session over spending the same amount of money on a massage.
Luxury hotels now offer a range of wellness treatments that go far beyond your typical facial or massage, but the Four Seasons “resident healer” program takes the trend to the next level.
The hotel’s spa in downtown Manhattan offers appointments catered to an individual’s “spiritual awareness and personal enlightenment,” ranging from a $380 astrology reading to a $485 crystal healing session.
Over the course of an hour, I was hypnotized by one of the hotel’s resident healers with a combination of visualization, manifestation, and mindfulness exercises. The session put me into a semi-trance that left me feeling more confident and relaxed.
For $285, the session lived up to its advertised promise of providing “clarity and emotional release” — plus access to the spa’s amenities, including the sauna and steam room. In the future, I’d choose the unique experience over spending the same amount of money on a traditional spa treatment like a massage or facial.
Prior to my session with Nicole Hernandez, also known as “the traveling hypnotist,” the only experience I’d had with hypnotism was a disappointing stage performance in high school. I didn’t fall into the trance that made my peers dance awkwardly and fall asleep, so I was escorted off the stage.
I could tell this would be a completely different kind of hypnotism. Nicole felt more like a professional psychologist than a wacky stage guru, despite references to past lives and a fair amount of mindfulness buzz words.
She explained that everybody has different levels of susceptibility to hypnosis: movies, reading books, daydreaming — these are all different ways we hypnotize our brains without realizing it. People who don’t frequently seek out those escapes may be harder to coach into a trance, she said.
After Nicole explained what to expect, we had a 20-minute conversation about any issues I’d like to tackle. Officially a year out of college, I wanted to focus on taking the next step in my career and improving my relationships as I transition into full-on adulthood. We discussed my value system and the things that are most important to me. This part felt like therapy but with more specific action items.
From there, Nicole began our first visualization exercise, which I can only describe as trippy. She guided me through “expanding my peripheral vision” as far as possible while focusing on a single spot on the wall, which felt like my eyes were a camera zooming out. Afterward, I felt strangely relaxed, a sensation Nicole credited to our brains only being able to handle so much visual stimulus. When you intentionally overload it, everything else shuts down.
With my inner eye officially open, Nicole proceeded to have me visualize myself on the other side of the room “wearing” the issues we discussed, taking the form of a backpack filled with rocks. Then, I had to visualize taking the backpack off and seeing how I felt without the weight.
As the projection of myself ran around and danced, Nicole asked me what else she (I?) needed. I hadn’t eaten lunch yet, so I opted to feed imaginary-me steak and french fries, an answer that Nicole did her best to take seriously while we both laughed.
After feeding my projection, Nicole instructed me to open the backpack and see if there were still rocks inside, to which I responded, “well, I’m making this up (duh) … but now it’s just filled with paper.” Imaginary-me then put the bag back on and found the weight much lighter than when we started.
Next, I was instructed to have her walk closer to me until our “energy merged.” At this point, I was definitely in some kind of a trance and experienced an emotional release. The exercise left me feeling lighter and happier afterward (and craving steak and french fries).
One of the crazier things was that the entire exercise only seemed to last 10 minutes, when it was actually closer to 30. Nicole said this is super common, and that four-hour hypnosis sessions can go by in a minute.
Three days later, I’ve found myself returning to the backpack-filled-with-rocks image when I’ve felt overwhelmed or stressed, thinking to myself: “It’s not rocks! It’s just paper!” And maybe that’s just pretending life’s problems aren’t there instead of fixing them, but hey, we’ll see how it goes.