Many New Age concepts have mainstreamed by being presented as self-improvement instruction taught in business seminars, universities, government, and prisons. Due to their use of neutral language and disguise of spiritual concepts as scientfic, these have multiplied and spread far beyond their original audiences.


These programs  are fueled by testimonials, clever marketing, and promises of success. One example is the Silva Method, also known as Silva Mind Control, Silva Dynamics, and similar names. Behind the glitz of media and success stories lurks a New Age and occult spirituality that can bring spiritual, emotional, and/or mental damage due to the belief system at its heart.


What Is the Silva Method?

In the 1970s, several mind and human potential training programs, including the development of paranormal mind powers, were proliferating. One of the popular programs was the Silva Method, started by Jose Silva (1914-1999), who had experimented with hypnosis and mental training exercises after concluding his daughter was clairvoyant. Silva had an interest in parapsychology and ESP (Extra Sensory Perception, another term for psychic abilities). One article giving the history of the Silva Method writes:


“Silva’s program purports to teach adherents to increase their I.Q.’s, develop clairvoyance, use the mind to find God — tap into their ‘Christ consciousness’ — and heal the body.”


“Silva Mind Control or the Silva Method espouses beliefs and teachings that point its subjects towards the goal of bettering humanity. Its methodology includes positive thinking, visualization, meditation, and self-hypnosis. José Silva taught that through right brain thinking individuals could connect with a ‘higher intelligence’ or what he termed ‘Christ consciousness.'”


Silva claimed his program would help students develop untapped powers and potential of the mind (mostly paranormal) and also teach students to heal the body using the mind. Instruction was/is heavy on visualization and guided imagery (both forms of hypnosis), self-induced hypnosis, and meditation.


Visualization is using the imagination to picture a desired goal or object for the purpose of obtaining that goal or object by the process of visualizing it. Visualization is not merely imagining or trying to picture something. It is the belief that the imagination is a tool to bring a desired end into reality.


Silva based much of his theory on what is called the right brain/left brain dichotomy (split brain), a theory since refuted though it is still popular. In actuality, people use both sides of the brain most of the time.


The massive website for The Silva Method states that it teaches methods to “awaken the hidden power of your mind,” a common promotional statement used by Silva. The website offers courses in training your body, mind, dealing with health, stress, memory, sleep problems, enhancing intuition, “manifesting,” and more. On the same page are endorsements from several New Agers, such as Wayne Dyer and Shakti Gawain (Gawain made creative visualization a popular method through her books and teachings; I read her book on this when I was in the New Age), and on other pages are dozens of testimonials.


The Silva Method Today

Today the Silva Method has spread through its accredited instructors, books, seminars, and sites offering courses online. There are what appear to be hundreds of videos on YouTube promoting the Silva Method. Some businesses hire Silva teachers to conduct seminars or trainings. Silva has a program for business managers.


Programs include the Silva Life System, Silva Intuition System, Silva Mastery System, and others. Many claims are made and references to studies on the Silva Method are given, but there is nothing on the site to back up the claims. There actually is no scientific research supporting the Silva Method, possibly because the claims are unfalsifiable. That is, there is no way to test the claims because there is no hard data to examine. Silva is largely based on what could be termed a belief system.


The Guides

The main techniques in Silva teachings are forms of hypnosis and meditation. Through these methods, students are introduced to “inner guides” or “inner counselors” to help them. Since Silva is more polished now, they may no longer use those terms. However, these exercises, which are still a part of Silva, could introduce a person to a spirit guide.


Such guides are fallen angels. Hypnosis is the easiest way to introduce someone to a spirit guide(s), and all forms of the New Age and occult teachings will eventually introduce participants to such guides, either deliberately or inadvertently, through a form of hypnosis or meditation (this is how this writer “met” her main spirit guide, described as a “spiritual master” in the Inner Light Consciousness training she took).


Other mind development programs may incorporate Silva training or methods similar to it. In fact, most organizations that offer motivational teachings or mind training are using techniques similar to Silva. These methods go back to the New Thought classic Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, and can be found in Norman Vincent Peale’s teachings , and in The Secret, all of which are part of New Thought.


Detecting and Responding to Silva or Similar Systems

Warnings on weekend gatherings for Christians such as Cursillo, Tres Dias, Walk to Emmaus, the Feast, and others are given because these groups came out of the stream that the Silva Method, est (now called Landmark or the Forum ), and other New Age programs were a part of. These weekend gatherings are not retreats, but controlled programs that do not disclose what happens during the weekend. The secrecy, isolation, and urging of attendees to recruit others are the same methods used in the human potential seminars.


A simple online search for Silva Method or Jose Silva will produce countless links, books, and promotional sites. With the Internet, the reach is wider for these groups and their teachings are more accessible, and so more will be deceived.


The warning is simple. Any program that offers


Nobody should want his or her mind manipulated through hypnosis or being reprogrammed according to a secular worldview or New Age spirituality, but this can be done in subtle ways that do not suggest manipulation. And nobody should be okay with control, no matter how it is presented or explained.


The Christian is being renewed by the Holy Spirit through the process of Bible study, prayer, worship, and serving the Lord. It is not an instant process or even one that takes place over a short period of time. Rather, it is a lifelong walk of study, faith, and testing but which results in rich and authentic growth through transformation by the Holy Spirit. There is no shortcut to Christian growth.


“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” Proverbs 4:23

(Note: The Hebrew word translated as “heart,” leb, refers to the inner self, including the mind)


Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2


“The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace,
Because he trusts in You.”
Isaiah 26:3


More Information

Skeptic’ Dictionary on the Silva Method


Christian Warning on Silva

“Despite his use of the name “Christ” here, Silva’s teachings emphasize powers within the self. His 48-hour Silva Basic Lecture Series stresses self-developed power to manage stress, dreams, memory, and negative habits. Through the use of visualization and meditation, subjects can accelerate physical healing and solve problems. It is rightly deemed a self-help program — the emphasis on self!

People are strongly cautioned to consider a danger with Silva Mind Control — the emphasis on “looking inward” and tapping into the self and subconscious. The Bible lets us know that God is the source of help; we are not. “It is not that we think we can do anything of lasting value by ourselves. Our only power and success come from God” (2 Corinthians 3:5).


First published on CANA site April 2024


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