Abiquiu, New Mexico 2017


How I became a hypnotherapist and how it worked out for me is an adventure story of hope and personal awakening.

     When I was 10 years old, I decided I would be a psychiatrist. Not because Bob Newhart played a psychiatrist on his show–which I absolutely adored–but because I needed for there to be a purpose in suffering. I read books about reincarnation, books about mind control, books about Theosophy, so-called channeled books, books about extraterrestrials, books about Jesus Christ. My hypnosis story starts there.

     At some point I realized that a psychiatrist is a medical doctor. I didn’t care for that. I put Psychiatry out of my thoughts and instead I focused my energy on my studies, playing piano, dancing, theater, art, and writing. I got a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in drama from New York University. How I became a hypnotherapist and how it worked out for me is a very personal journey.

A devoted life

     I have always practiced yoga. As a child I taught myself–I studied the philosophy, meditated, did the breathing exercises and the postures. I continued to study and practice through college and afterward. In 1992 I started teaching yoga full time in 1992–I was 27 years old. In 1999 I opened my first yoga studio named “Mama Nirvana’s New Yoga.” In 2013 I changed the name to “Nirvana Yoga.” How I became Mama Nirvana is another story.

     From 1999 to 2020 I founded, owned, and co-owned three different studios which won the Valley Advocate’s “Best of the Valley” ten times. I also taught yoga teacher trainings and co-led retreats internationally.

A crisis creates an opportunity

     In 2008, I had already felt restless in my career for several years. I needed something new that would challenge me again. I loved teaching yoga, but I had knowledge and talents that would never fit into a yoga career. Then, the economy took a nose-dive and I woke up. No one knew if yoga would survive the downturn. I needed a new (or additional) career.

I got the direction I was looking for from a remarkable astrologer named Robert Tkoch. A close friend had found him through another friend. She urged me (very strongly) to get a reading. As she is an older, practical Yankee lady, the advice was so out of character that I felt compelled to follow it.

     This is how Robert worked: Go to Robert’s website, fill out the form, pay, and wait for recording to arrive by email within 48 hours. (Try to remember how dodgy this seemed back in 2008.) I didn’t expect much from this exercise. I figured this astrologer would have a repertoire of not-very-specific narratives that he would recycle for his never-to-be seen clientele.

Hit right between the eyes, but in a good way

     What I received knocked me to the floor. The scene: it’s around midnight, and I’m sitting in the dark, lit by the glowing computer screen and I’m listening to the low, odd voice speaking to ME–to my soul, in fact. The voice tells me everything I always knew about me but didn’t really know, until another human being is saying it all to me, in words and language rich with meaning, in a way so kind, so compassionate. I couldn’t stop the tears streaming down my cheeks. Relief, recognition, truth.

     I’d like to say I heard the words “you should be a hypnotherapist.” Instead I heard “You will never be happy trying to attract large groups of people to you…don’t expect lots of people to share your profound relationship to yoga. Over time the world will become more and more superficial. You won’t be happy in yoga much longer. You will be much happier working one-on-one. It doesn’t matter what it is, just that it’s one-on-one.”

A Search

     One-on-one sounded like relief to me. I was tired of trying to motivate groups of people. I looked up “occupations” on the Department of Labor website:  Accountant (who wants a creative accountant?) Acupuncturist (underpaid) Animal trainer (no interest), Arborist (no comment)…

Paralegal? House cleaner? Dog groomer? Financial planner? Real Estate? For each occupation I had a good reason to rule it out.

     One occupation not listed was “Buddhist Meditation Teacher.” Throughout my adult years I have studied with some brilliant Buddhist meditation teachers. For a long time I was in awe of my teachers. I wanted to be like them, and do what they were doing, but for many years I felt too young and immature. Training took years and required long periods of time away from home in silent retreats. By the time I might have been ready, I had a husband, two yoga studios to operate, and an aging parent.

     I knew from personal experience the life-defining power of studying Buddhist philosophy combined with daily meditation. I wondered how I could use what I knew to help people who don’t have the time, motivation, privilege or ability to do as I had done.

When I saw “Hypnotherapist” on the list I didn’t rule it out.

The decision

     I continued researching, now to find out how a person goes about becoming a credible hypnotherapist. Was there such a thing? Most of the hypnosis certification programs I found were brief: a weekend or two; five days, two weeks. I became suspicious of the field because I could see no standard of training. I thought that the training should be the at least equivalent of a Master’s Degree from a university.

     I found two hypnotherapy schools that gave me hope. Both required hundreds of hours of training and therefore a big commitment of time and money. One held their classes at a resort in the Bay area of California. The other was a full-time brick-and-mortar school in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I immediately decided to go to New Mexico. At the time, the possibility of spending extended time in Santa Fe was a dream come true. I was excited that I would be able to camp the entire time, which was something I loved to do. In June of 2009, I started my training at the Hypnotherapy Academy of America in Santa Fe.

The Journey

     My time and experiences in the Southwest, both during and outside of training, would fill an entire book. I had expected the training to be deadly dull. What little I knew about hypnosis involved repeating scripts over and over again.

     From the first morning of the course, I knew I was in the perfect place, learning the perfect lessons for me. The course challenged me on all levels. We were required to show our competence performing each new technique–and there were dozens. We were also required to experience each one exactly as a client would. My personal growth went through the roof. I now had personal proof that the methods worked.

From student to master

     After my initial 250 hours of hands-on supervised training, I opened my private practice. That was in 2010. My practice took off immediately and my work has been in high demand ever since. I have sought out hundreds of hours of in-person supervised training, in small groups or one-on-one.  I can’t describe the feeling of satisfaction I get from doing this work. Each day I learn more. I’m still curious and passionate. I still have that powerful inner drive to discover the hidden powers of the human mind to relieve suffering–in myself and others.


Model: Ruth Anne Lundeberg. Photo Credit: Mary Lemoine

Artwork, photographs, copy and design by
Ruth Anne Lundeberg, except where noted.