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The Silva Method is a self-help program developed by José Silva. The Silva Method teaches students guided imagery techniques intended to "rewire" their subconscious and negative programming, tap into their true potential and achieve their goals using a meditation technique and mental training program that is offered in seminars internationally.
It claims to increase an individual's abilities through relaxation and development of higher brain functions. Proponents believe that it can improve a person's self-image, sense of personal well-being, clarity of thought, and ability to overcome conditions such as nicotine addiction. Silva believed that it could be used to develop paranormal abilities such as Intuition and ESP and that it can tap into a higher consciousness.
José Silva was an electrical repairman who developed a great interest for religion, psychology, and parapsychology. He spent much time learning about hypnosis, attempting to increase his children's IQ. After experimenting and being convinced of his daughter's sudden clairvoyance, Silva decided to learn more about the development of psychic abilities.
In 1944, Silva began developing his method, formerly known as Silva Mind Control, using it on his family members and friends, before launching it commercially in the 1960s. Silva did research on the brain, based on Robert Sperry's split-brain theory, to improve his method. However, modern studies have proven most of Silva's beliefs about the brain to be incorrect. Even though some of his underlying beliefs and explanations were proven wrong, his method has been useful to many. One hypothesis as to why Silva's method produced results is that he was training left-brain minds to think with their right brain as well. 
Early Childhood in Laredo
Silva was born in 1914 from poor Mexican immigrant parents either in today's Nuevo Laredo, in the Mexican State of Tamaulipas, or in Laredo, Texas, on the American side of the Rio Grande. He was orphaned in early childhood when his parents were murdered during an attack of bandits during the Mexican revolutionary war.
Instead of going to school, starting at age 6, Silva earned money for his family by selling newspapers on the streets of Laredo, shining shoes and doing odd jobs. Although he didn't receive a formal education, he learned to read and write on his own, in both English and Spanish.
Silva quickly developed entrepreneur skills. By the time he became a teenager, he hired youngsters to work with him, going door to door selling merchandise he had purchased in San Antonio. The youngsters were earning as much money after school as their parents earned working full-time, and young José was earning as much every day as the typical adult in Laredo earned in a week.
Electronics Technical distant self education
Although Silva received no formal education, he received basic education indirectly from his own younger siblings who attended public schools in Laredo with his financial support. He started to study electronics by reading technical books of correspondence courses in his free time. This distant self-education allowed him to become the owner of one of the first radio repair companies in the border. It is likely that he received a graduate certificate as an electronics technician.
With this knowledge, he built the largest electronics repair company in southern Texas in the 1940s. There is no evidence that he has ever pursued subsequent higher education in electronics or any other branch of science.
Silva's career in electronics started to focus on the maintenance of communication equipment; after a long period of time it switched to the maintenance of biomedical appliances. In this context, he developed vital research skills.
Electronics and clinical hypnosis were the fields that allowed him to gradually enter into autodidactic research on the potentials of the human mind. Among original contributions that he is considered to have made is the development of a "scientific" method of mind training through meditation and visualization inducing alpha frequency brain waves.
The Silva method was for the first time offered to the public in the late 1960s. In 1966 word of his activities spread beyond Laredo where he was teaching his method to more than 100 people every week.
At the age of 52, Silva began the work that would bear his name. He has been called the most famous Laredo resident of all time. After a couple of years of teaching the method throughout Texas, Silva began to train other instructors.
In 1975, Silva began his career as lecturer to export his method internationally traveling to Mexico city. He taught his first instructors in that country in seminars at the Association of Jesuit Alumni in the traditional neighborhood of St Maria La Rivera, home of many important figures of the intellectual life of the Mexican Capital. One of his first Mexican graduates was the physician Dr Ignacio Becerra, President of the Center.
In 1980, Silva met Burt Goldman, and in 1989, they co-wrote the book The Silva Mind Control Method of Mental Dynamics.
Silva Method Publication Statistics
Silva served as Chairman of the Board of The Silva Method until his death in 1999. His legacy remains in the teaching activities of five corporations that he founded and are now managed by two of his daughters.
According to statistics published on the website of the Silva organization, there are more than 1,000 licensed Silva Method Lecturers in the U.S. and in 110 foreign countries. Over 6 million people graduated from the program. The Silva Method is offered in 29 languages on six continents.
The technique aims to reach and sustain a state of mental functioning, called alpha state, where brainwave frequency is seven to fourteen Hz.:p19-20 Daydreaming and the transition to sleeping are alpha states.:p19-20
Silva claimed to have developed a program that trained people to enter certain brain states of enhanced awareness. He also claimed to have developed several systematic mental processes to use while in these states allowing a person to mentally project with a specific intent. According to Silva, once the mind is projected, a person can allegedly view distant objects or locations and connect with higher intelligence for guidance. The information received by the projected mind is then said to be perceived as thoughts, images, feelings, smells, taste and sound by the mind. The information obtained in this manner can be acted upon to solve problems.
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The Silva Method teaches people to listen to and control parts of the mind-body that people have not yet learned to access. Silva also uses touch patterns to anchor mind states, in a manner similar to NLP, Anthony Robbins's teachings (which are heavily based on NLP), and Japanese ninjitsu[clarification needed Do ninja have magic powers?]. Skills Silva teaches include:
- Skills that have not been scientifically verified
- Deep relaxation, including both body and mind
- Meditating immediately, with eyes closed or open
- Cure for insomnia--voluntary going-to-sleep in one minute
- Pain control--Silva practitioners are able to not mind intermediate pain, and can get cavities filled without any anesthetics
- Blood flow control, resulting in temperature control--"send heat" to hands or places in the body. This is claimed to be used to lessen blood flow to cuts.
- Self-diagnosis of mental and emotional challenges
- Memory replay of past events (useful for finding dropped keys, etc.)
- Intuitive understanding of subconscious sides of self (useful for overcoming blockages)
- Intuitive understanding of subconscious sides of others
- Brainstorming and idea formation
- Energy level control
- Self-diagnosis of physical challenges
- Increasing healing rates in self, through visualization and laying-on of hands
- Increasing healing rates in others, even remotely
- Remote viewing
- Empathic Telepathy
The website says that the Silva Method research was investigated by Dr. J. Wilfrid Hahn of the Mind Science Foundation in California, who went on to endorse it, and that various research institutions, universities and scientists have studied and verified their research, including: Duke University, Trinity University, University of Texas, Wayland Baptist University, C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University and New York Canisius College. The website claims that the method "has been endorsed by various thought leaders and scientists. This includes personal growth icons like Jack Canfield, Dr. Wayne Dyer and Shakti Gawain, bestselling author Richard Bach, award-winning neuroscientist Mark Robert Waldman and oncology research pioneer Dr. O. Carl Simonton."
Former magician James Randi, an critic of the method, wrote that the Silva Method "claims to develop improved memory, learning ability, and paranormal powers like telepathy. Much of the course consists of 'visiting' absent persons imagined by students and performing diagnoses on them. No tests of the validity of this practice have been done; such tests are discouraged by the teachers of the system." However, his encyclopedia cites no reference and his descriptions do not match what is stated on the Silva Method website.
- Alpha rhythm
- Theta rhythm
- Carroll, Robert Todd (2003) "The Skeptic's Dictionary", Wiley, ISBN 0-471-27242-6
- Randi, James (1995)"An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural", St. Martin's Griffin, ISBN 0-312-15119-5
- "Review of The Silva Mind Control Method of Mental Dynamics on Brian Johnson's Philosophers' Notes".[dead link]
- Silva, José (1977). the Silva Mind Control Method. New York, New York: Pocket Books. ISBN 978-0-671-73989-8.
- James Randi & Arthur C. Clarke. An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural. St. Martin's Griffin. Retrieved January 22, 2014.