Hypnotism is a therapeutic process of putting suggestions to a relaxed mind. Though its use is meant for therapy and is usually referred to as hypnotherapy, Hypnotist Chuck Milligan left students in awe with his incorporation of this practice on stage at the Commons last Friday.
The event started at 9 p.m. as I entered the Commons and found myself in a full house. Milligan himself was impressed by the turnout; I passed him on my way to find a seat and heard him mention how remarkable this audience capacity was.
Luckily, I found one chair at the far side of the room, and before I knew it, the show commenced. Milligan was introduced and handed the microphone.
He said a few words about the act he was about to do and guaranteed it was safe and even healthy, giving a person a good rest and fueled with energy.
Milligan explained that all hypnotism is simply suggestions. Human beings already are susceptible to suggestions just in the things they say to one another. To demonstrate his idea for all the audience to participate in, Milligan had them fold their hands together as if in prayer.
Then he had the audience members stick their index fingers out and space them between each other and as they would do this he started saying how he was going to clamp them together with his mind. It seemed as soon as he said the word “clamp” I felt an involuntary urge to press the tips of my two index fingers together.
These instructions were given after he told the audience to take deep breaths and relax. Relaxation is the key to this practice; for it opens the mind allowing for Milligan to almost get inside the heads of the participants.
The rest of the show consisted of 20 volunteers: 10 gentlemen and 10 ladies from the audience. They were sat down in chairs in front of the audience, and Milligan started by putting them all to sleep. There were sound effects that helped enhance the mood, such as little snippets of calming music that aided Milligan to create an environment to put them to sleep.
“Deep breaths. Let it fall into your body, and let your shoulders drop,” said Milligan several times putting emphasis on the word “drop.”
It took about five minutes for all 20 volunteers to start nodding off in their state of drowsiness, but they didn’t completely doze off until he tapped their hand and said, “Sleep.”
From here on out he had these 20 volunteers under his spell. Near the left side of the room, a girl went asleep right in her chair. Milligan commented by asking, “How is that even possible?” as he woke her and brought her up to the stage to join in the activity.
He could wake them and put them back to sleep just by command, and it worked instantly, transitioning his art from hypnosis to something more like voodoo. He could create delusions in the volunteers causing them to feel shocks of electricity in their chairs, changes in temperature and even growth in body parts.
“I just felt so relaxed,” said Matt Lindberg, a student who volunteered for the act. “Everything he said just seemed right and made sense.”
Milligan had a duck floatie and a whistle he had Lindberg wear in the act, convincing him that he was a lifeguard and that anytime the hypnotist yelled “Water,” the lifeguard stood up and yelled at the audience, “Hey, don’t piss in my pool.”
By the end of the show he had people dancing and lip-syncing to Shakira, Michael Jackson, Psy and Britney Spears. He even twisted the wrist of one girl in a full 360 and a half.
The things he could do just with his fast-talking voice and his stage presence seemed almost magical. I could feel a sense of drowsiness just from listening closely.
“I went to school for therapy and put it [towards] entertainment,” said Milligan.
Milligan has made 21 consecutive visits to Sonoma State University and though he plans to retire on Oct. 31, his birthday, he promised to return to do his act at this campus and other places.