The Silva Method, named for its creator José Silva, is a self-help program based on the using the mind-body connection to minimize stress, improve health, and use the mind to its fullest potential. Researched and developed by Silva in the 1940s, the key elements of the program are the use of positive thinking, visualization meditation, and self-hypnosis. The Silva Method is now a global business enterprise. Critics of the program point out that the claims the program makes regarding its benefits are not supported by any scientific evidence. Some claim it is not science at all but more like a religion.
When he first began researching his program, Silva was studying the use of hypnosis on intelligence. He experimented with his children to see if hypnosis could improve IQ. During these tests, he reportedly discovered that one of his daughters was clairvoyant. Silva may also have been influenced by the work of Roger Wolcott Sperry, a neuropsychologist who shared the Nobel Prize for medicine with two other men for his contribution to split brain research. Silva ultimately concluded that a person could access information in the subconscious, usually accessible only through dreams or hypnosis, while in an awake and conscious state.
Further speculations that went into the Silva Method included that only about 10% of the population, mostly geniuses, thinks with both hemispheres of the brain. The capacity to think at this level is inherent in everyone and can be achieved by training the mind to function at a higher state. Once this higher consciousness is reached, the additional right brain thinking puts the mind in touch with its own intuition and powerful creative forces. This heightened consciousness, which Silva sometimes referred to as Christ consciousness, allows a person to accomplish anything he desires.
Obtaining Christ consciousness could lead to new mental powers such as clairvoyance, the power to heal the body, and to find God. It also allows a person to engage in remote viewing, in which the person projects himself mentally and emotionally to view events in another location. Once the mind is projected, a person can connect with a higher intelligence, which may mean God, for guidance in life’s problems.
The brochures for the Silva Method list weekend courses like reconditioning to relax, hand levitation, and projection into trees, metals, and other objects. There are also alpha breaks for rejuvenation. Part of the course work involves training the mind to achieve an alpha state in which brain waves stay within a certain frequency range. This state clears the mind and allows the body to relax.
Critics of the Silva Method charge that its theories and claims are not supported by scientific methods or proofs. Any validation of the program comes from statements of participants or instructors in the program. Others note that his claims about how the mind works are outdated or simply wrong. Some also think that because of its ideas about Christ consciousness, the method is more religion than science. Participants in the program, however, have reported life improvements like lower stress, better self-image, and overcoming destructive habits like cigarette addiction.