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It would be difficult—nay, impossible—to speak at length with a bona fide hypnotist without asking for a demonstration. Dr. Amir Raz was happy to comply, which is why I had to scour the office for a piece of aluminum foil before heading out to meet him.
The foil, pilfered from a friend's cigarette package, would play a key role in what I was about to experience. After first confirming that I had, in fact, brought the paper prop with me, Dr. Raz has me sit in a comfy chair and listen to his voice—no dangling pocket watch, no spinning spirals, just the sound of his calm but assertive words as he guides me through a creative visualization intended to send me into a deep state of relaxation that would open my mind to the suggestions to come.
"You're in a large freight elevator, you push the button and the elevator starts to move slowly, going down ever so slowly," I hear him say. He tells me to relax my muscles, to begin feeling waves of warmth cascade over me, to move the warmth around my body wherever I liked. And to some extent, I am able to do just that—a feat he later explains is evidence of the mind's innate ability to effect change in the body. During these moments, he could see my colour change, he said.
By the time my imaginary elevator reaches the ground floor some 30 minutes later, I am awake but really, really relaxed. When he tells me to open my eyes, I do so, almost involuntarily, with all the sloth of the lumbering freight elevator that is still fresh in my mind.
I feel a little groggy but am otherwise present and sufficiently alert to follow his instructions as he tells me to tear the aluminum foil in two. We both then take a piece, roll it up into a ball, and Dr. Raz tells me to hold a piece in either hand.
"Hands up," he says, and I thrust my fists into the air. "Do you feel a difference?"
My left hand, I confirm, feels somewhat warmer than the right. "It's going to start heating up," he tells me, his voice a little more forceful now as he almost breathlessly warns me that soon the foil in my left hand will be too hot to hold.
Sure enough, I feel the rolled-up foil starting to burn in my palm, as if I am moving my hand ever closer to the flame of a candle. Soon, it feels white-hot and I toss the foil to the ground. A few seconds later, he tells me to pick it up off the floor. It's no hotter than a rolled-up piece of paper should be.
Though trained in the art of prestidigitation as much as in the art of hypnosis, Dr. Raz assures me no trickery was involved in the demonstration, just the simple power of suggestion. I believe him and thank him for the experience as I step back into the freight elevator and slowly make my way back to reality.