Tech issues

Bob Pargament, a certified hypnotist and founder of the Westchester Hypnosis & Relaxation Center in Harrison, is just back from a national convention where he lectured on technological advances in his field.

It was back in the summer of 2014 when WAG paid a visit to Bob Pargament, a certified hypnotist and founder of the Westchester Hypnosis Center.

He acknowledged that in his field, he would often meet skeptics who would mockingly ask, “Can you make me cluck like a chicken?”

But that’s not how Pargament views hypnosis: “I don’t believe in playing tricks on people. I want them to be able to get something good out of it.”

When we popped back in on a recent afternoon, that was still the case — and while we found Pargament in the same Harrison office, the growth of his business in the last few years is reflected in its expanded name, the Westchester Hypnosis & Relaxation Center.

Yes, he said, people not only turn to him for his hypnosis-fueled help in smoking cessation, weight loss and phobias such as crossing bridges — he’s “already seen” people who are having trouble with the new Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge — but simply to relax and deal with the ever-increasing daily stress and anxieties.

“If ever there was a need for naturally processing that, quelling the anxieties, it’s now.”

Bob Pargament in his Harrison office. Photograph by Mary Shustack.

Technology, he said, plays into his business in two broad ways — the world’s increased reliance on technology has definitely affected the anxiety level of many people but technology has also given him tools to help those who seek him out.

Technology, he said, has changed the way we all live.

“It’s this need to be connected all the time,” he said. “It’s not natural.”

You don’t need selfies or videos to record every moment of your life, he added.

“The human brain is able to record quite a bit actually.”

But, he acknowledged, it’s nearly impossible to escape “the bombardment of technology.”

“We had this very simple, six-channel universe,” he said of the time just a few decades ago. “Now you have all of these platforms and everybody is competing to fill the space… All of a sudden, something exploded in the technology, the culture… People cannot keep up.”

Anxiety remains one of the main topics his practice addresses.

“Hypnosis is a natural antidote to anxiety,” he said, adding too many today turn to medication.

Aiding clients through meditation and relaxation are a part of the picture, too, and there are many tools that those in his field can access.

In fact, Pargament recently spoke on technology and its integration into the world of hypnosis during the National Guild of Hypnotists’ annual convention in Marlborough, Massachusetts.

He focused on “how the technology of pulsing light and sound works,” exploring the way light and sound machines employ pulsing lights or sounds such as binaural beats to help create a relaxed state.

“It quiets the subconscious mind. It quiets the chatterbox in the mind,” Pargament said.

While the machines may be ever evolving, the process is age-old, he said. He cited the use of shamanic drums or flickering lights in ancient societies to help calm people or treat sleeplessness.

In fact, he said, light and sound machines, “were actually the devices that got me into hypnosis” back in the late 1980s.

“I was amazed at how different I felt,” he said.

Devices have only continued to advance, Pargament said, mentioning the Muse machine, a meditation headset that works with brain waves.

“It’s amazing what’s available to us now… technologies that are designed to improve us.”

But, he noted, “Hypnosis takes it to another level… I’m giving specific messages that shift people’s actions… messages to help you get to your particular goal.”

Whether it’s to be able to get through a dinner without checking your cellphone or giving up a lifetime addiction to cigarettes, each person’s goal can be addressed through hypnosis.

“It’s a life changer,” Pargament said. “They discover what it’s like to be their true selves without all that noise.”

Pargament remains devoted to his second act — which he found after a career in TV production — and that dedication has been recognized. He has been awarded the National Guild of Hypnotists’ Order of Braid, which recognizes achievement, dedication and service to the field and is named after James Braid, a 19th-century pioneer in hypnosis.

For Pargament, hypnosis — from its long history through its contemporary practice — is an invaluable tool.

“People need to get back to basics, and hypnosis is a beautiful process for that.”

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