For this installment of Horoscope.com’s Mystical Careers series, I spoke with hypnotist and astrologer Sandra Sitron. The first thing I asked her: “Can you practice hypnosis on yourself?” Sandra lit up. “It’s so funny,” she said. “I was just thinking about that this morning. You can definitely practice hypnosis on yourself. I could teach you how to do it right now. Do you want to learn?” I did.
She told me about a technique in hypnosis called fractionation, in which you close your eyes and open them repeatedly. We were sitting on a bench at a busy coffee shop in Brooklyn, and I found a spot on the wall slightly above eye level and held it with a steady gaze, as Sandra instructed. “The way you would look at a candlelight,” she said.
“Close and open your eyes three times,” she explained, “and then, on the third time, keep your eyes closed and breathe in, three, and breathe out; breathe in, two, and breathe out; breathe in, one, breathe out. Then, in your mind, count from 20 down to one.” She asked me to think of a statement to use to hypnotize myself with. Be more fearless came to mind instantly, so I went with it.
As I repeated my statement, I could feel my heart rate slow down, and there was a sensation of being on a cloud, a lightness—but I was still somewhat aware of the music playing in the background. After a few minutes, Sandra spoke again, bringing me back to the coffee shop. Already, I felt bolder and much calmer—even an abbreviated version in a public setting had offered a hint of what self-hypnosis could do.
Sandra conducts hypnosis sessions (kind of like this, but better) and astrology sessions at her sunny Brooklyn apartment; the healing and wellness center, Maha Rose; and via Skype. —Jesse Sposato
Horoscope.com: How would you describe hypnosis for people who don’t know anything about it?
Sandra: Hypnosis is a process of relaxing the conscious mind and making space for the subconscious mind to come forward so that we can be more in alignment with what we want.
Horoscope.com: You do hypnosis and astrology. Do you combine them?
Sandra: I have an astrology and hypnosis offering. In that session, we start out doing astrology and cocreating affirmations or suggestions to bring into the hypnosis. A lot of times in astrology, we’re going deep into somebody’s psychological challenges and gifts and what they’re wanting most in their life. I’ve always really enjoyed thinking about the planets as archetypes; and so a lot of times we can bring that archetype forward in a hypnosis session and actually talk to it [about these things].
We don’t have to use hypnosis that way. But it’s a way to take what was talked about very conceptually and bring it into the subconscious and shift the patterns.
Horoscope.com: How did you first get into it?
Sandra: My stepmom is an astrologer, and when I was a kid, she was always talking to me about it. When I was in high school, she taught a class for me and my friends. I was fascinated with it. In my 20s, I really took it for granted; it didn’t occur to me that this wasn’t something most people had access to, and I would just talk casually to my friends about it. Eventually, one of them was like, “You need to do this professionally.”
Horoscope.com: What is a straight hypnosis session like?
Sandra: Most people, when they come in for hypnosis, are really trying to move something, whether it’s a practical behavior, like quitting smoking, or just changing a habit; or it might be an inner-working kind of thing, like, “I need more confidence,” or, “I want to feel like money is more abundant.” When people come in for that, I try to bring them in for three sessions.
Sometimes you can work on something in one session; sometimes it needs five sessions—it really depends on the person. Most of the time, in the first session, we’re looking at an overview; in the second session, we’re doing some deep, inner-child work and going into the roots; and in the third session, we’re cleaning up, catching everything we didn’t get, and seeing what comes up.
In the last few years, I’ve started doing a shamanic journey practice that’s really simple. I’m not a shamanic practitioner, but I’ll do a journey first; and while I’m doing that, I’ll write down a hypnotic session for the person, so what needs to be said is coming through.
Horoscope.com: Can you explain what a shamanic journey is?
Sandra: I basically close my eyes and turn on a drumbeat recording—you can also play a drum—and I listen to the recording and imagine myself going into a hole in the ground, into the middle world. And there I meet my spirit animal. It’s basically an imagination process.
Horoscope.com: And how do you apply that to the person you’re seeing?
Sandra: I’ll ask for their guides to come forward and give me a message that’s in their ultimate best interest; what comes through, it’s weirdly really [accurate].
Horoscope.com: Do you have any tips for someone wanting to learn about astrology and/or hypnosis?
Sandra: If you want to learn astrology, I would recommend taking a course. Once you get a foundation, you can really grow and develop on your own. It can seem overwhelming at first, and I would say, expect the first part of your education to be a lot of memorizing, [but] after you get over that, it all falls into place.
For hypnosis, find a program that you like and do the certification. It’s an investment, but [it’s worth it]. The hard thing about learning hypnosis is really feeling comfortable in a counseling setting. Because you’re not a therapist and you’re not a licensed counselor, but you have a responsibility to hold space for people and not trigger them.
Horoscope.com: What’s your favorite part of it all?
Sandra: When we dig into something that’s a breakthrough for somebody—it’s so beautiful to get to share that space with someone when their world gets expanded.
Horoscope.com: Is there anything else you want to touch on?
Sandra: One thing that we didn’t really cover is my philosophy of astrology. Astrology can be used for self-actualization, like, I will help you understand who you are, [but] I think people can pigeonhole it as: This astrologer is just going to tell me all the things that are going to happen to me; and, I’m really nervous to have a reading because I don’t feel strong enough to handle any bad information. And I’m always like, “That’s not what I do; that’s not how this works.”
Horoscope.com: There isn’t bad information?
Sandra: There may be information that you’re coming up to a checkpoint. But it’s more like, “Here’s your opportunity for growth,” not, “Your house is going to burn down.” Because really, your guides are not trying to scare you. And nothing is black and white. I like to tell people that my approach to this work is to be sensitive to what needs to come through, and almost always that message is going to come through in an empowering way.
Above right: Sandra Sitron at work with a client.
More in Mystical Careers:
So, You Want to Be an Astrologer?
An Ancient Technique for Releasing Trauma
Your Body's Herbal Allies