Training and changing the subconscious mind

Updated: Mar 31, 2019, 08:12 IST | Prutha Bhosle | Mumbai

A Pune-based company customises subliminal tracks to help you beat anxiety and insomnia, among many other things. We give it a week's trial and feel the shift

Illustration/Ravi Jadhav
Illustration/Ravi Jadhav

For some, merely watching a rain sequence at the movie theatre can conjure up images of popcorn and piping hot coffee. For others, the sound of a jingle triggers thoughts of buying new fitness equipment. It's not a mental association. It could very easily be the result of subliminal messages in these advertisements.

The idea that people can be subliminally influenced by flashing words and visuals, which can seep into the subconscious mind and impact the viewer without their awareness, was first discovered in 1957. James Vicary, a Michigan-based market researcher, said that by flashing words 'eat popcorn' or 'drink Coca-Cola' for a long time during a movie for the subconscious mind to pick up, he significantly increased the sale of these snacks.

As the word spread, audio recording companies mushroomed in the US. Not to sell products, but create tracks with subliminal messages to reduce stress among listeners. Some tracks include murmured speech behind sounds of rain or the ocean, or a crackling fire, or some with occasional bird sounds or sounds of nature. The hypnosis usually has a gentle voice coaching the listener to relax. Over the years, subliminal audio recording has also ventured into customisation that allows users to serve their subconscious the message they want. This could be to rid yourself of a smoking habit, or even sleeping better, stress free.

A Pune experiment
Krishna Yeddanapudi who founded a custom subliminal audio recording company in Pune in January 2019, claims it to be India's first. Ahead of a trial, they ask us what our relaxation needs are, i.e. what's the kind of stress that needs to be addressed. We are given four tracks: two for the day and two for the night. The audio files reach us within 24 hours of our request via email. We are told to listen to them for at least a week to see results. But, Yeddanapudi, an IIT Kanpur alumnus, who was drawn to this project after a chance meeting with a group that has studied the phenomenon for 12 years, doesn't wish to divulge what the subliminal scripts in the recordings are, assuring us only that they are safe for use.

The first track titled, Get Stress And Anxiety Relief, is meant to be heard during the day while conducting routine chores. It begins with a sharp tune, almost hurting the ears. However, the one-hour-long track, soon grows on you as the overall music softens. While one can listen to it on loop through the day for faster results, I could only give up an hour for this on Day 1.

Given that I am in my twenties and live away from my parents, I am terribly anxious on most days. So, this typically space-ambient music actually eases the strain a little. There are times, however, when I think of moving to my rock and pop which I prefer listening to on my way to work; my ultimate key to reduce stress. I stay on track, however.

The same day, I listen to another similar high-pitched track, meant to be played at night. Unlike the one played during the day, this second track took longer to get accustomed to. It's a lullaby at its best. It turns out to be the best cosmic background for dreaming. The soft tunes calmed me, took me to space and lulled me to sleep. Sleep has never been so peaceful for someone who suffers from mild insomnia. After completing three days and nights of listening to these tracks, I move on to the next set as by now, I am feeling much calmer.

On Day 4, I play the third track, Always Be Happy. It begins with the gentle sound of water, followed by loud ocean waves. This, too, takes time to seep in. But a few minutes into listening to the 55-minute long piece, I suddenly feel calm and relaxed. In an otherwise situation, I would be stressing over minor things like the scorching heat I deal with every afternoon.

It is now time to listen to the final night-time track, named under the same title as the third, which also starts with the crashing of sea waves, eventually slowing down, taking me to a tranquil cave, where you only hear pitter-patter of raindrops and soft waves. To someone who has grown up with Harry Potter, sea caves are only infested with zombies. But the cave this audio track takes me to is inferi-free.

Yeddanapudi explains, "If someone were to tell you that you are a great singer, you immediately laugh, thinking it's a joke. Here, your conscious mind is filtering the message and not allowing it to reach your subconscious mind." Elaborating the music further, he adds, "We embed subliminal messages in normal music. These messages are not heard by your conscious mind but your subconscious mind. They instruct or persuade your subconscious mind to make the impossible possible." There was initial resistance to the tracks. However, soon as I showed some faith in their possibilities, I started looking forward to listening to the audio every day. The days are much calmer, but of course, this hasn't been an overnight shift.

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