Throughout my past few years covering the spa industry, I’ve been fortunate to end up on the receiving end of some profoundly relaxing massage experiences, and a few facials so rejuvenating as to seem magical. But until I met Alisha Lalji, an esthetician, massage therapist, energy healer and the owner of EM Luxury Spa in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, I was a total stranger to hypnotherapy, the ancient practice through which practitioners help people reach a trance state of enhanced relaxation.
What’s the point of combining hypnotherapy with massage, as Lalji does? Once clients are guided into this super-meditative state, she explains, deeper aspects of the subconscious typically become accessible. And as I discovered firsthand, this trance state infinitely amplifies the relaxing, good-vibey effects of spa services on the body and mind. Throughout Lalji’s treatment, I became hyper- (yet blissfully)aware of the therapeutic benefits taking root within my body and felt myself becoming energized, inside and out, by these sensations. In short, Lalji had me floating in a cloud-like “happy place” of my own mind’s design.
As Lalji, who has studied alongside the founder of alchemical hypnotherapy, pointed out to me, pros such as massage therapists and yoga instructors induce trance-like states all the time, whether or not they realize it. “When you’re relaxed, the subconscious mind automatically gravitates toward its ‘alpha’ state, wherein we’re better able to accept new ideas without the filter of resistance,” she says. When combined with gentle, professional hypnotherapy, Lalji adds, the mental and physical relaxation of massage is intensified, and should bring the recipient into a state of deeper subconscious awareness. “This is when the subconscious mind can receive powerful therapeutic suggestions that can create lasting improvements in clients’ bodies and minds.”
A far cry from any outlandish antics typically associated with stage hypnosis, the clinical hypnotherapy Lalji facilitates is performed with clients completely aware, in control and able to move. In contrast to certain comedic portrayals of hypnosis in the media, in which subjects are made to look like fools and left unable to remember a thing, I felt perhaps preternaturally present throughout my hypnotherapy experience—thinking more clearly than usual and experiencing heightened physical awareness.
Lalji often performs hypnotherapy massage on clients suffering from chronic injuries and ailments. For, she explains that oftentimes, lingering or repeated injuries become stored in bodies’ muscle memories, preventing proper healing and repair. In these cases, she says hypnotherapy can help clients to subconsciously clear their own emotional traumas connected to these injuries, which in turn speeds healing. “Oftentimes, problems such as aches and pains and migraines are connected to deep-seated insecurities we’ve carried our whole lives, or they originate from subconscious fears,” Lalji says. “Once we identify those specific blocks, we can reprogram clients’ thinking. I’ve had clients fully recover from chronic ailments such as lower back pain and migraines.”
But even for those who are, like me, fortunate enough to live free from chronic injury, hypnotherapy supersizes the relaxation quotient of massage. Here’s a firsthand account of how Lalji works her magic:
After greeting me, she asked a series of in-depth questions about my aches, pains and general well-being, both emotional and physical. After assuring me that I would be conscious and coherent throughout the experience, she had me lie on my back, and then led me into a deeply meditative state by verbally guiding me down a gradually steepening staircase, and into my metaphorical subconscious. When we reached the last step, she had me open a door to a “happy place” of my choice (with a few suggestions including beach, forest and mountain panoramas). There, Lalji had me take several deep breaths, and then encouraged me to explore the happy place throughout the duration of my massage. As Lalji proceeded to deliver more than an hour’s worth of deep, therapeutic strokes, I floated as if on a cloud, savoring each new physical sensation with the most distinct sense of bodily awareness. Rather than the zombie-like sleepiness I typically experience on the treatment table, I felt sharp and über-aware, with waves of positive thoughts crystallizing efficiently, and inspiring me creatively. To conclude the full-body massage, Lalji gently guided me out of the trance state, and I was left feeling refreshingly grounded, enlightened and well, healthy. I remained sublimely happy and relaxed as she proceeded to give me a thorough and supremely energizing microderm facial. (Esthetics is, after all, Lalji’s original trade.)
Because it is difficult for people to drive following hypnotherapy, Lalji typically performs the above treatment in her clients’ homes. She spent much of the month of March treating lucky spa industry insiders to the novel experience during a two-week tour of Los Angeles. Though Lalji is now back at work in her home base in Vancouver, she has proved more than willing to travel far and wide to spread the gift of hypnotherapy massage. That’s right, mobility is among EM Luxury Spa’s many magical qualities. —Katie O’Reilly
P.S. Ever since receiving Lalji’s treatment, I’ve enjoyed a powerful (and fun) new tool in my arsenal of stress-busters. That’s right, the happy place! I am able to simply close my eyes and revisit that lovely setting to which Lalji guided me at the bottom of my “subconscious staircase.” Revisiting this moment of positive, subconscious clarity has been an amazing tool. For, as Lalji herself pointed out to me, “Our thoughts create our reality. When we habitually redirect our thoughts this way, eventually all of our thoughts will become positive, and that’s when the magic in life happens.”