This story is a part of Mia Women Series, sponsored by Tanishq, where we showcase bold, beautiful and colorful stories of inspiring women. (HerStory exercises full editorial control over all the posts.)
‘Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people,’ this thought by Carl Jung (Swiss psychotherapist) is the basis of all healing, says Anuja Pathak, a self-employed hypnotherapist.
Hypnotherapy, a form of psychotherapy, is used to treat patients by creating a subconscious change in them in the form of new responses, thoughts, attitudes, behaviors or feelings. Hypnotherapy finds its applications in treatment of a number of symptoms – from anger management, O.C.D, migraine, eczema to insomnia, depression, trauma and pain control. It is also finding it use in helping cancer patients relax and cope better with symptoms and treatment.
Born in Shillong amidst the plum and camellia trees, Anuja was a happy-go-lucky child. As a young woman she has donned many hats across varied domains. Before she started with hypnotherapy, Anuja held a slew of successful corporate roles. She has worked as a college lecturer, scriptwriter, and also as a technical writer. She has been an Instructional Designer for companies like Motorola, Alcatel-Lucent, and Dell Research and Development. In the recent past, she has worked as a Senior Corporate Communication specialist in a Swiss embedded computing company called Toradex.
How then, one wonders, she got into hypnotherapy? It is the most mystical career choice there can be! Since her teens, Anuja was interested in psychotherapy. Though she tried pursuing a regular career, it called to her like a magnet. Unable to ignore the pull of destiny, she decided to take the plunge and started an in-depth study of the subject. “It came naturally to me,” she says. Anuja’s family and friends remember her as a very observant child. “I suppose that trait has magnified over the years and has culminated in my becoming a hypnotherapist now. It is a very handy trait to have in my profession.”
Actively pursuing hypnotherapy as a career was never part of Anuja’s plan. Hypnotherapy chose her, not the other way round. Her deep love for the subject pushed her into formally learning Clinical Hypnotherapy and various other healing modalities (Metaphor Therapy, Reiki, EFT, Crystal Therapy etc). What started off as a quest for self-learning, is now a deeply satisfying livelihood.
Her first client too happened by accident. A therapist friend pushed her into taking sessions and referred a client. “Though apprehensive at first, since I had no experience of the kind, I took it up out of curiosity. That first case changed everything,” says Anuja. The client was a young woman who had been abused as a child and was the victim of abuse in her marriage too. This particular case was a watershed for both Anuja and her client. The transformation the client underwent from a broken, defeated individual to a confident, self-appreciating warm personality, ready to take charge of herself, was an eye opener for Anuja. It made her realize how powerful hypnotherapy can be when done right.
With each client she had, she discovered momentous epiphanies in her own life. “In one of the sessions it suddenly dawned upon my client what her calling in life was. And interestingly, with her, I found my calling too. The entire process felt like setting a caged bird free. For her and for me. On the last day when she stepped out of my therapy room, with a smile that reached her eyes, my heart was full. This, I decided is what I need to do. This kind of a smile is its own reward. Nothing else is required.” She adds,
The magical part was as soon as I decided to follow my heart, the right people suddenly appeared to guide me along. And I have never looked back since!
In 2006 Anuja had a long spell of severe illness. Wanting to start afresh, suddenly one night she decided to move to Bangalore and build a new life from scratch. With this conviction, she set out to make the boldest decision of her life. She landed in the city with only INR 3000 and a lot of faith. Anuja says, “It was as if by magic everything arranged itself. Friends rushed in to help, the money poured in, accommodation with minimal rent was arranged.” Reminiscing about that phase of life she adds, “your world and your reality is shaped by the way you think, and what you have faith in – limitations, or immense possibilities, and a tremendous faith in a higher power through whom you know you will always be taken care of, no matter what.”
When you believe in miracles, they happen. Period.
Anuja’s passion for her calling can be felt in her voice and experienced in the smile on her face. She lives to see the eyes of her clients light up when the realization hits home that issues bothering them are nothing but overblown reflections of a certain negative belief they held on to for too long. “This awareness is half the battle won. I then tell my clients the oft quoted line, ‘Your time as a caterpillar has expired. Your wings are ready. Now fly.’ The metamorphosis that follows is exhilarating.”
According to Anuja, seeking professional help from a hypnotherapist or a psychotherapist in India has been a taboo. However, major lifestyle changes have increased the stress levels dramatically among Indians and to counter this many people are now turning to holistic therapies which offer complete solutions for a balanced living. Hypnotherapy is fast catching up as an alternative tool of psychotherapy for restoring equilibrium in life. The demographic profile of Anuja’s clients is varied. She says, “I’ve had clients coming from varied backgrounds with issues such as conflicting parent-child relationships, conflicting marital relationships, extra-marital relationships, post-divorce counselling, cases relating to sexual orientation, workplace interpersonal conflict cases, personal empowerment, career instability, fears and phobias, trauma cases like rape, miscarriage, post-abortion and accidents.”
What she finds appalling is how common child sexual abuse is in this country. “I frequently get clients with a history of abuse. Among the girls, the percentage of abuse is very high, especially with relatives, close friends and domestic helps, being the perpetrators of this crime.” Anuja supports the idea that educating and teaching kids the concept of the Bad Touch is imperative.
Apart from hypnotherapy, Anuja is involved with a variety of therapy, counselling, and training related activities. As part of this initiative, every Sunday she conducts Bal Vikas classes for children. It is a child development programme, which is a part of an international movement under the auspices of Sri Sathya Sai Seva Organisations. In addition, every month she facilitates a workshop ‘Cutting the Ties That Bind’ using the Phyllis Krystal method –a unique method which involves visualizations and symbols to connect with the sub-conscious mind to cut all that binds and blocks us, such as fears, phobias, reactions to events that took place long ago, and keeps us from being who we really are. Anuja has more up her kitty. She reads extensively and cherishes writing too. Her artistic self is delighted by converting stained glass into pieces of art. She is an animal lover who volunteers at WRRC and has also been a volunteer with CUPA.
With a job that is emotionally and mentally demanding, Anuja tries to maintain a balance between all her responsibilities. She admits, “Sometimes it can be extremely exhausting and you feel too much is being demanded of you. Having said that, I would also say that at the end of the day it completely depends on me how I decide to distribute my time and prioritize tasks. However, I am still a work in progress and sometimes even my best is not good enough.”
As a hypnotherapist helping people channel their anguish and pain through a process of self discovery into peace, it is no surprise that she relates with the color white. She says,
To me white is indicative of who you truly are. It is through the color white that all other colors get reflected. For me it stands for the person facing me.
To Anuja all aspects of life are important and the roles she plays are important to her. “Be it the professional worker, a wife, or a caring daughter, I ensure that I play the roles to the best of my ability.” The most important role however, according to her, is the ‘role of being myself’. “I make sure I take time out each day for myself. At the end of the day it is only when I am charged that I can share my enthusiasm and happiness with others. You can only share with others what you have.”
Her husband’s support has been crucial. Encouragement from his end motivated Anuja to embrace the world of hypnotherapy. As a hypnotherapist who deals with volatile and emotional states of mind, one wonders where Anuja draws her strength from. Her mother is an immense source of strength. “She is my bedrock of support. She was a working mom who raised me single-handedly throughout life since dad was away, which instilled in me a sense of independence and self-reliance,” says Anuja.
Anuja is fully living each and every moment of life. Her answer to the question about her future plans makes you smile and reveals that she has attained calm and peace as a result of self-discovery and helping others attain a great state of being adds to her mental and physical well being. “Surprising as it may sound, I love the uncertainties so I go with the flow. The universe has always led me to keep discovering myself to the best that I can be!”
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