“Each person goes in and out of hypnosis many times a day” – Ankita Magdani

29 September 2022
Neha Jain Written by Neha Jain
Neha Jain

Neha Jain

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A mental health therapist, career and mindset coach, and hypnotherapist based in Dubai, Ankita Magdani’s approach to therapy is collaborative. She is a client-centered therapist with the aim of fitting the therapy to the client and not the client to the therapy.

Hailing from a family of healers, with her mother being a reiki master and her two closest uncles, a yoga master and a crystal and occult healer, Ankita knew that she would be a healer too. While following her first passion, which was to be a flight attendant and travel the world, Ankita did her Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Mumbai. Ankita has traveled to 6 continents and visited more than 80-90 countries in her 14 years in aviation. She also volunteered as a peer supporter and enrolled in the crisis management team in the airline to stay in touch with the healing aspect of her life. 

MyndStories talked to Ankita about her life, her work as a hypnotherapist, and how she handles her mental health.

You started as a flight attendant. And now you are a therapist. That is some switch! How did that happen?

Being a flight attendant is a beautiful profession, but it takes a lot out of you. The job has great benefits, but it also has its cons. During my years as a flight attendant, I had no personal life! For 14 years, I did not know which festivals were when, what government holidays were, or the school closing time. I had to look pretty, smile all the time, and deal with 300-400 people simultaneously. It was a fast-paced life. Eventually, I was exhausted, and it started taking a toll on my mental health. I already knew my second career would be in psychology. So when I knew the time was right, I resigned and switched my career. 

And just how did that switch happen to be hypnotherapy?

Fate has a way of finding you, and that’s how hypnotherapy found me. In 2019, I flew with a colleague who was studying hypnotherapy. We got into a conversation out of nowhere, and she started telling me about hypnotherapy. And I was curious. I knew this was what I wanted to do. So, I enrolled myself in the Essex Institute of Professional Hypnosis and Psychotherapy within 24 hours of the conversation. 

There’s so much confusion and lack of clarity around hypnotherapy. How would you explain this to a layperson?

To understand hypnotherapy better, let’s take the example of an iceberg. Imagine an iceberg. What you see is the tip, the 10% of the iceberg. The underwater part is 90% of the iceberg. We usually do not see that. Compare this to our mind. What we see on the top is the 10%, which is our conscious mind. Our conscious mind is responsible for logic, reasoning, rationalization, etc. The bottom of the iceberg is our subconscious mind. Our upbringing, belief system, fears, limiting beliefs, and things that people have said are all stored in that 90%. The water’s surface that separates the top and bottom of the iceberg is a filter system. The filter system decides if the information you are getting will go down to your subconscious or not. As a hypnotherapist, my job is to get the filter system down and access that 90% of the mind that makes our subconscious. 

It is easy to confuse hypnosis with hypnotherapy. Are these two different things? How is hypnosis different from hypnotherapy?

Every person goes in and out of hypnosis many times a day. When you go on a scenic drive and don’t realize how quickly time has passed, it is a classic case of hypnotism. Time-lapse is a symptom of hypnosis. Hypnosis is a state of mind. It’s a tool that hypnotherapists use. On its own, hypnosis cannot help you heal. Hypnotherapists use hypnosis first to calm the conscious mind. It is vital to relax the conscious mind because it is constantly rationalizing, always thinking, and active. If it is calm, it is easier for the mind to accept the hypnotherapist’s suggestions. Therapy begins when the hypnotherapist gives tips. For example, if a client comes to me to boost their confidence, I will first calm their mind to access their subconscious. I will give suggestions and rewire the subconscious.  

Ankita during a session

Are there any specific conditions where you suggest hypnotherapy? If a person has confidence issues, they can work on it in psychotherapy, so why go for hypnotherapy? 

Okay, so psychotherapy happens at the conscious level. We work at that 10% part of the brain. It works, yes, but the process is a lot slower. So, why not target the subconscious level where I know the effect is faster? Hypnotherapy has more immediate results. In just 3-5 sessions, I will see the results, and the client will also see the result. 

Are these changes in the subconscious long-lasting?

They are. However, it requires a conscious change in the belief system. If I can change the conscious mind, the subconscious also changes quickly, and the changes are long-lasting. As much as the target is 90% of the brain, if I can bring the 10% onboard, then it is done. 

There are many misconceptions about hypnosis and hypnotherapy, primarily due to the lack of proper exposure and the media portrayal. Would you like to dispel some of the myths surrounding hypnotherapy?

  • The client does not remember the process.

It is a myth. You remember everything that happens during hypnotherapy. 

  • The hypnotherapist can control the mind.  

No, hypnotherapists cannot do that. Your subconscious mind is there for your protection. It will not let you do anything you don’t want to do. Your mind will only accept suggestions that it wants to admit. As a client, your mind is prepared to be hypnotized when you visit a hypnotherapist. If the hypnotherapist tries to take advantage of or cheat you, your subconscious will immediately bring you out of that state. 

  • Hypnotherapy is a quick solution to all mental problems.

Not exactly. It is one of the solutions. However, hypnotherapy does not work for disorders. It works for stress, anxiety, confidence, etc. This is because hypnosis is a state of mind, and if the person is not in the right state of mind, it won’t work. 

  • Hypnotherapy can help you recover past memories. 

Yes, it can. There have been accounts of people remembering vivid memories that they did not know they had. But if you intend to find a particular memory, you might not find it. Your subconscious will block that memory as a way of protecting you. If you go openly and with no expectations, you might remember more.

  • People can be hypnotized against their will.

Hypnosis can only happen if you are willing. 

And now, if you ask me, there’s a general feeling of uncertainty that seems to have increased during the pandemic. Generally, speaking, how has this affected our mental health? What are the common fears you have noticed in your clients?

In my opinion, the pandemic is not the cause, it’s the trigger. People were already dealing with the issues that surfaced during the pandemic.

Some of the common fears that I noticed are fear of uncertainty, fear of the unknown, fear of change, fear of losing control, and failure. Procrastination and social anxiety increased, and OCD sparked up. These issues were already there, but the pandemic triggered them. 

Would you say that good things also came out due to the pandemic?

I think a lot of good things came out. People came out of their comfort zones. They had to let go of their past beliefs. Take my example. A few years back, I was not comfortable with technology. I didn’t even have a laptop. But the pandemic forced me to get comfortable with technology. I and technology had to become friends for me to take online sessions. 

Many people addressed the issues that they were not willing to address. Because during the pandemic, we had only two options. Either we could binge-watch and ignore our issues or face them. Mental health became more accessible and normalized.

Hearing others’ issues daily must also take a toll on your mental health. What do you do when it gets too overwhelming? 

Whenever it gets too overwhelming, I reach out to my therapist. I also keep myself active. Thanks to my dogs, I walk twice a day. I do yoga and meditation, and lately, I have started to dance. The movement in the body releases a lot of endorphins, the happy hormone, which is good for you. They counterbalance cortisol that is released during stress and anxiety. 

Is it difficult to separate your life from the lives of the people you’re helping? How do you do that?

At the start of my career, I didn’t know where to draw the line. It was exhausting. The most important thing for a therapist is to draw the line between her life and her clients’ life. Activities like meditation are essential. It is crucial to detach, draw a line, know when to separate and get to a level where you are not living your client’s life. When you are in too deep, you realize you require healing. Now, with practice, the detachment comes naturally.