Use of Subliminal Messages

Question

I have an anxiety disorder--social anxiety. I recently came across some subliminal messaging videos that embed affirmations using neurolinguistic programming. I had read that Swami Vivekananda and Yoganandaji had said that hypnotism was bad for the mind. Could you please let me know if such videos are ok? They help me.

—Chandan K, India

Answer

Dear Chandan,

There are three levels of consciousness that are involved in your question, conscious, subconscious, and superconscious. Our conscious mind is engaged in the senses and in the world. In our subconscious mind lies our old habits, old reactions, old fears etc. Our superconscious mind is our link to the Infinite, to Divine inspiration and guidance. The conscious mind looks outward to the world, the subconscious looks downward into our history and the superconscious looks upward toward the Light. The caution against hypnosis stems from the fact that messages delivered hypnotically are taken into our subconscious without any filter from the conscious mind or use of our will. Hypnosis is passive and opens the mind downward. It increases our susceptibility to subconscious influences.

Subliminal messages which are delivered below the level of conscious perception are similar to hypnosis in that they do not engage the will. They are able to penetrate and change the subconscious and if the message is positive can work on changing harmful influences that might be there. Subliminal messages however do nothing to strengthen our will and in fact may weaken it. When we use our will, understood as our willingness, we actively engage our energy, joined with the Divine energy to grow and change.

Yogananda strongly cautioned against the type of ‘stage’ hypnosis popular during his time when the subject of the hypnotic trance gave up his will to the hypnotist and had no control over actions he was directed to do. Yogananda considered this a spiritual crime.

Therapeutic use of hypnosis and subliminal messages these days does not have the quality of ‘mind-control’ that stage hypnosis has. So in fact, some people benefit from work with hypnosis or subliminal messages to break old habits. If this is the case for you then it is important that you do not use only on this tool to help with a subconscious pattern but include more conscious and superconscious tools such as affirmation and prayer.

Conscious use of affirmation engages the will and all three levels of consciousness. To use affirmation take a positive statement and repeat it aloud with lots of energy, repeat more quietly but with deep concentration, repeat in a whisper directing it into the subconscious and then repeat silently concentrating deeply at the point between the eyebrows directing it into the superconscious. Do this several times per day. There is a book by Swami Kriyananda, Affirmations for Self-Healing, which I highly recommend. You can purchase the book or the audio book at www.crystalclairty.com or at other locations on the web. It contains powerful affirmations and prayers that work with the challenges life brings us.

Here is a selection from this book on Security. You can give this one a try to see if it helps you further. The first two paragraphs give an understanding of security from a spiritual perspective. The affirmation and prayer follow.

“Man struggles all his life to store up treasures for himself, to insure his property against loss and his health against the devastations of disease. He rests his faith in outward measures, and sees not that such faith is like asking a wave not to move!

Security is his alone whose faith rests in the Lord. Most practical of men is he who offers his life to God, praying, “My safety is Thy responsibility, Lord.” This does not mean we should not be conscientious. But after doing our very best, we should leave the worrying to God!

Affirmation: I live in the fortress of God’s inner presence. Nothing and no one can break through these walls and harm me.

Prayer: I accept whatever comes, Lord, as coming from Thy hands. I know that it comes in blessing, for I am Thine, as Thou art ever mine.”

One more thought for you–have you tried meditation to help with anxiety? It is very effective for many people and a primary intervention used in clinics for people with anxiety disorders. You can learn to meditate through our classes at www.onlinewithananda.org.

Many blessings,
Nayaswami Mukti