When you think of self-hypnosis, what comes to mind? A swinging pocket watch? A vaudeville act? The words ‘You’re getting sleepy…’? Not even close.
“In the field of self-hypnosis and hypnotherapy, there are scores of verbal and nonverbal ways to induce the desired state, but none require props — no lights, no candles, no Hypno-discs, no crystal balls, no pendulums. Hypnosis does rely on relaxation, but sleep is not the goal. And the guy in the black suit and Freudian facial hair? Not needed. Hypnosis is something you can do by yourself, for yourself.
“Hypnosis is nothing more than a state of mind that lets you become responsive to suggestions. When you can induce it in yourself and keep those suggestions positive, the benefits of your life will astound you. You will learn the basics of the technique.”
Your Two-Part Mind
Your mind has two parts: the conscious mind and the subconscious mind. Each has a different task:
The conscious mind is objective and analytical and makes up approximately 7–10% of the mind. It has partial control of the nervous system and muscle action. When you deliberately slow your breathing or your heart rate, your conscious mind is in command.
The conscious mind is also the part that organizes our mental processes to lets us cope with reality. It takes incoming messages to the senses and decides whether to accept or reject the information. We use this part of our minds to make day-to-day decisions, and it’s the guardian of the suggestions that enter the subconscious mind.
The subconscious mind makes up the remaining 90–93% of the mind. It controls the autonomic nervous system, regulating heart function, breathing, glandular activity, and other organ and muscle functions. When you’re unconscious for any reason, your subconscious mind is still at work, keeping you alive and well.
The subconscious is a vast storehouse of knowledge, impulse, and experience accumulated since birth. Everything you’ve ever heard, smelled, felt, and experienced is stored in your subconscious.
The subconscious is nonjudgmental. It simply stores and maintains all habits and attitudes, appropriate or inappropriate, good or bad. Self-hypnosis allows you to access this databank and change what’s there.
The 3 Steps to Self-Hypnosis
Successful self-hypnosis relies on three things:
In self-hypnosis, relaxation doesn’t mean taking a nap. It means becoming deliberately relaxed in mind and body, escaping momentarily from the cares of the day, to create the receptive state necessary for auto-suggestion.
First, set up each practice session this way:
- Select a comfortable chair in which you are at ease.
- Remove or loosen any tight clothing — neckties, belts, etc.
- Turn off radios and televisions, and turn off your cell phone.
- If you have pets, put them in another room.
- Place both feet on the floor or a footrest.
- Uncross your legs and arms.
Look at the clock. Note what time it is, and then imagine that it’s 15 minutes later. For example, if you’ve chosen to practice at 6:00, imagine that the time is 6:15. With repeated practice, you’ll find yourself opening your eyes after your session at the exact time you’ve imagined.
Next, follow these relaxation techniques:
- Begin every session with three deep breaths, and as you exhale, think silently and inwardly; I am relaxing. Close your eyes and feel yourself relaxing from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.
- Think to yourself. Any outside noises, sounds, and confusion only cause me to go deeper and deeper into this wonderfully creative state of deep relaxation. Concentrate on your toes. Feel a tingling sensation there and imagine this sensation spreading across the bottom of your feet and up your legs to envelop your entire body completely.
- Take your time — feel this wonderful feeling of relaxation spreading slowly up your back and around to your abdominal muscles, up to your chest to your neck, scalp, and eyelids, and then to your facial muscles and entire head. You will now recognize that you’re completely bathed in the feeling of relaxation.
As you communicate with yourself, use your own thoughts and words as often as possible, but be sure to include the words “deep,” “relaxed,” and “relaxation.” After you’re relaxed, don’t be concerned with whether or not you’re hypnotizing yourself. Follow through with the relaxation procedures. If you feel a bit drowsy, that’s fine.
Time Out to Try It
No time like the present. No matter what you’re doing, being relaxed will help. Loosen that belt, make yourself comfortable, and take those three deep breaths. See how relaxed you can become using the techniques you’ve just learned.
Welcome back from your mini-vacation. While you’re good and relaxed, let’s move on to the next step. In your daily sessions, to help you develop your imagination, practice producing these sensations:
- After approximately 5 to 7 minutes of relaxation, take 2 to 3 minutes to feel heavy. Imagine that you’re made of lead or weighed down by G-forces in a climbing jet.
- Next, take 2 or 3 minutes to feel light. Imagine how it would feel to be an astronaut, floating in weightlessness. Or feel yourself floating right off the chair.
- Next, take 2 or 3 minutes to feel warm. Imagine yourself in a sauna or steam room, or feel the sun on a sweltering day. Relate to an experience you’ve had. Your memory and imagination will do the rest.
- Now take 2 or 3 minutes to feel cool. Imagine yourself in the snow or a cold swimming pool. Again, relate to physical sensations you’ve previously experienced.
Finally, imagine how you would like to think, feel, act, and react today, or, if you’re practicing at night, imagine how you wish to be tomorrow.
Time Out to Try It
Stop again, and try to produce one or more of the sensations described above. See how well your mind can guide your body.
To conclude your practice session, always include a post-hypnotic suggestion, such as “Each time I hypnotize myself, I relax more easily and freely. I look forward to practicing every day because I enjoy it.”
Then, to bring yourself back to a normal state of mind, count from one to six, using a phrase with each number. For instance:
- I am feeling wonderful
- I feel energized and vital
- I feel light, elevated, and exceptionally clear-headed
- I am alert and feeling refreshed
- I readily accept and respond to my own suggestions. I enjoy practicing daily.
- I am wide awake — wide awake, feeling wonderful.
Feel free to substitute any other phrases with which you are most comfortable.
In constructing suggestions, always think in terms of the result. Tell yourself what you do want, not what you don’t want. And always think in the first person, present tense — “I am.”
It takes time to see the results of self-hypnosis. With repetition, and only with repetition, the mind internalizes suggestions and reshapes behaviors and attitudes. Advertisers know and rely on this principle — how many commercials do you see just once?
As you use the techniques you’ve learned in this module, you’ll be able to abbreviate or eliminate some of them or even substitute others. Select the techniques that work best for you and make you the most comfortable. It would help if you enjoyed whatever techniques you choose because your own enthusiasm for learning self-hypnosis will determine how regularly you practice, and that will determine how much you benefit from it.