“Keep your eyes on the pocket watch as it swings back and forth and concentrate only on my voice. Block everything out of your mind. Relax. You’re eyes are getting heavier. When I snap my fingers, you will do what you are told…”
These are the kind of words you hear when you’re watching a movie of a hypnotist mesmerizing a willing volunteer from the audience into doing bizarre acts on stage. Like a robot, the participant obeys just as he is told: “Bark like a dog,” he barks. “Cry like a baby,” he puckers his face, lets out a “waaaaa!” and real tears stroll down his cheeks. If he’s told that he is in freezing temperature without a coat, he starts to shiver uncontrollably. He never questions the command or shows embarrassment.
In a sense, this is mind control. At least, it’s the way Hollywood depicts it. That’s entertainment.
But in the real world, clinical hypnosis is different according to some. For example, hypnotherapists will assert that someone who undergoes hypnotism is not under mind control, like some zombie. Rather, it’s a combination of relaxation and focused imagination for achieving self-improvement, not for controlling people’s minds to do bizarre acts.
Others, on the other hand, are skeptical of hypnotherapy citing that it is not psychology or medicine. But advocates of the practice claim that hypnotism can help persons desiring to break bad habits like smoking or overeating, or those dealing with chronic pain, or persons struggling with stress and self-esteem.
But whether or not hypnotism, per se, is valid treatment, the objective is about having control of some kind. The question is, who’s the one having that control? Is it under the one who makes the command or suggestion? Or, is it from the person engaged in such a state who submits to it? Moreover, what does this indicate when it comes to actions triggered by suggestive thoughts and personality types?
These questions come to my mind when I think about how we are subconsciously influenced by our environment from day to day. When we look at the way people are almost brainwashed through advertising, media, groupthink, education, entertainment, and the like it’s as though people are walking around in some hypnotic state. Do people really think for themselves anymore or are they blindly complying with the voices they hear and will do anything they are told without questioning them?
Interestingly, the Bible speaks of “depraved minds” who “did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God…to do what ought not to be done,” (Romans 1:28, New International Version). Persons with depraved minds have allowed their thinking to be conditioned not according to God’s standards but according to what the world dictates as “normal.” Instead of using their reasoning to behave rationally, they’re rationality is lost so that they act irrationally or unnaturally. But they do not think they are acting irrationally or unnaturally because the world is telling them they are behaving naturally. And because they are not retaining the knowledge of God, they think their unnatural actions are natural. Though they may not realize it, their error is the result of human mind control.
Speaking of mind control, their conscience is numbed to what is right and wrong because they have little or no sense of wise judgment. (Compare with First Timothy 4:2.) So, they commit bizarre acts without any shame. In fact, they boast that what they’re doing is good while encouraging others to imitate them, when actually it eventually leads to society’s downfall as well as their own destruction (Romans 1:32).
You can read for yourself what these “unnatural,” indecent acts are: Romans 1:21-32. In view of these acts, compare them to the ways the world wants us to view and accept them as something we’re just born with. And then consider how they scorn us for not agreeing with or approving of their lifestyles. Does our tolerance or silence or even our acceptance indicate our minds and beliefs are being subconsciously manipulated to conform in some way?
When left to our own futile way of thinking, we can easily be persuaded that what we think is right, really isn’t. The Apostle Paul points out how those who have not chosen salvation in Christ are living “in the futility of their thinking,” (Ephesians 4:17). Their decisions, behaviour, and inclinations are the result of ignorance due to a hardened heart, according to the apostle. Thus, “having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality, so as to indulge in every kind of impurity with a continual lust for more,” (Eph. 4:19, NIV).
When we are alarmed and saddened by the many human tragedies we hear and see in the news—the shootings, the scandals, the apathy, and the blatant disregard for life itself—we can go right back to these scriptures to get to the crux of what is really happening to our society. We are willing to go to God’s Word not only for the answers to “why,” but the solutions for preventing these tragedies. And how is this possible? In short, “…we know Christ.”
For, as Paul stated to the church, “You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely, you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus,” (Eph. 4:20-21, NIV). He went on to instruct them “to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,” (vss. 23-24).
For good or ill, mind control depends upon who is controlling it. If one has “the mind of Christ,” this is the constructive kind that brings about healthy changes with positive benefits. (See 1 Corinthians 2:15-16; Isaiah 40:13.) Unlike those who trust in “hypnotherapy,” believers know the guaranteed results of having the mind of Christ provides good, desirable effects both personally as well as collectively.
As a matter of fact, while some might question the genuineness of hypnotherapy, we need not question the therapeutic value of having the mind of Christ. Those whose Spirit-led minds are controlled by his teachings while striving to live in accordance with them will receive eternal blessings. This is true self-improvement.
So…Relax. Close your eyes. Concentrate. Pay attention to my voice. You will follow my instructions. Ask yourself: Is my mind being controlled by the mind of Christ or is it being controlled by someone else?
Good News to you!