Thursday, February 22, 2007
Hypnotized on Main Street
By Lydia Crafts/Staff Writer/Winchester Star/Winchester,MA
Thursday, February 22, 2007 - Updated: 11:03 AM EST
Driving along Main Street, shops selling mass-produced coffee, automobile oil-lube joints and ubiquitous stoplights can overshadow the little red house on the edge of the road. But once inside The Self Center, it’s the world outside the windows that falls into the background.
To merely walk inside The Self Center is almost enough to alter your state of mind. Low hanging horsehair ceilings, scented candles, ivory walls, curtains and carpets and exotic rocks from tropical locales create an environment that is both homey and imbued with possibility.
“It’s the energy in this place that does it,” said Pearlan Feeney-Grater, the owner of the Self Center, as she moves through the rooms pointing to where the kitchen table and master bedroom would have lain during the 1860s. She knows every nook in the 19th Century building, as it used to be her childhood home.
“My father always told me you have to have a business in here, Pearlan,” she said.
Practices that some regard with skepticism and apprehension, such as hypnotism, Reiki and handwriting analysis, are right at home inside The Self Center.
When some think of hypnosis, they imagine seemingly normal people being transformed, until before you know it they’re clucking like a chicken in front of a room full of strangers. The effect can seem odd and frightening, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons hypnotism is left largely unexplored.
But the reality is that hypnotism is for much more than entertainment purposes. Feeney-Grater said companies realized its benefits long ago and integrated hypnotic techniques into their commercials. There’s also trance-inducing music and hypnotic writing. “We are getting hypnotized all the time,” she said.
While sometimes used a manipulation tool, hypnotism can also be harnessed for your own purposes — to boost self-esteem, quit smoking, cure a phobia, perform better in a soccer match, release creative energy or to be better at simple, everyday tasks. This is what Feeney-Grater uses hypnotism for.
“We can make conscious decisions to stop smoking or not be stressed but the subconscious always wins over,” she said. “The subconscious is where persistent behaviors reside and through hypnotism we can redirect the course.”
Hypnosis takes place on the second floor, up The Self Center’s tall, narrow steps to a room in the back of a house with a slanted ceiling and floor. The space is small and the setup is simple; a table and chair and warmth emanating from a few candles on the walls.
Feeney-Grater has no one way to lure her subjects into a trance-like state. Through just the rhythm and use of her words and tone of voice, she can help people to retreat into their subconscious mind.
Sometimes she decides the technique to use by first decoding her patient’s personality through handwriting analysis. She said there are 300 characters in handwriting that reveals a person’s intelligence, intuition and creativity, the type of partner he or she needs, among other things. “Handwriting is a neuro-muscular response,” said Feeney-Grater. “It’s brain-writing.”
She also has subjects fill out a questionnaire asking them for their favorite colors, their goals, areas that need improvement in their lives. Once the hypnotic state has been achieved, Feeney-Grater makes suggestions that help her patients imagine their world differently and ultimately achieve their goals.
“I often quote psychologist Emile Coue who said a person’s free will always yield to the imagination,” said Feeney-Grater. “The imagination resides in the subconscious and with certain techniques we can quiet it. What you think is your reality.”
Feeney-Grater began her career as a speech and language pathologist. Needing to learn more about the mind, she was browsing the “holistic” section of the bookstore when a book on handwriting analysis dropped to the floor. It was a sign, she thought, and she later found out that an ancestor of hers had worked as a handwriting analyst years ago.
Then about 10 years ago, she signed up for a course on neuro-linguistics, which actually turned out to be a course on hypnotism. Feeney-Grater soon fell in love with it. “It was very serendipitous,” she said.
Now she said all the pieces of her life have coalesced into her business on Main Street. “It is my way of life to be and do and have whatever you want,” said Feeney-Grater. “To just be who you are and to value how powerful your mind is and use it respectfully and wisely — that’s what I do for myself and aspire for my clients.”