What are hypnosis, hypnotherapy, and more importantly, what is self-hypnosis?
Hypnosis is the act of hypnotising, whereas hypnotherapy includes the use of therapy within the state of hypnosis.
Many people have the idea that if they are hypnotised they are unconscious or asleep. This is far from being the case. Hypnotherapy does not put people to sleep, or make them lose control, or do things against their will.
Going into hypnosis involves turning your attention away from your external experience and directing it internally. Although conscious awareness is reduced, at another level the mind is alert; you hear every word from the therapist and remember what has been said. You can reject any suggestion made by the therapist if it is against your own beliefs.
The physical feeling of hypnotherapy is one of comfort and relaxation. There are many varied ways of bringing about this state of relaxation. Which ever method you choose, the intention is to slow down your brainwaves, so that the thinking part of your conscious mind is bypassed, and that suggestions go straight to your subconscious mind.
In this comfortable daydream-like-state of hypnotherapy, the hypnotherapist is able to reframe thoughts, feelings and responses. In hypnosis people are far more amenable to positive change, healing or beneficial suggestions compared to when they are in their usual state of consciousness (thinking mode). It is in this amenable state that clients are helped by the hypnotherapist to reach what’s described as a relaxed state of consciousness, like being absorbed in a good book. Hypnotherapists may start by describing images that create a sense of security and well-being. They may then move on to suggest ways of achieving the client’s stated specific goals.
A good deal of suffering is a consequence of negative thoughts and impulses from the past, which can accumulate and sabotage ones health, happiness and efficiency. By the time one has reached adulthood, one can have built up many negative modes of thinking,
feeling and acting which then persist like bad habits, sometimes causing us stress, anxiety and depression, which can cause us to medicate ourselves through over eating, smoking, alcohol, gambling and the like.
When we were younger we might have taken up a habit because it was cool, the in-thing, it made us feel grown up, one of the group. And through repetition… repetition… repetition… it has now become firmly entrenched as a way of life, i.e. it’s become a habit that we do unconsciously.
Any habit requires effort to break, and though consciously we often no longer know why things have become a habit, we do know that we would like to stop this habit, yet find it seemingly impossible to do so. With some of these issues you might like to try using self-hypnosis.
What is self-hypnosis?
The four main steps to self-hypnosis.are –
1. Taking yourself into the hypnotic state
2. Making the suggestions to influence your subconscious
3. Bringing yourself back to normal awareness
4. Applying the hypnotic suggestions in your everyday life
Self-hypnosis is the act of deliberately creating our own trance state, focusing within ourselves. Sometimes we unwittingly, create it without even knowing that we are doing it. We catch ourselves in the act of daydreaming, or doing internal thinking whilst not being consciously aware of what else we are doing, like when we are driving a car and suddenly becoming aware of where we are, not realizing we have been driving on auto-pilot while we have been thinking on the inside.
This thinking influence in our mind can be used in a positive or negative way. So, on the one hand if your mind is thinking positive it can make you feel great, and on the other hand if you are thinking negative it is likely to make you feel miserable. Obviously we would rather feel great.
We process information (that is we think) in various ways. We see things in pictures, hear things via sounds, taste, smell, and feel things physically and emotionally. We not only do this in our outside world, but we also do these things in our imagination. So for example if I offer you a strawberry to eat, you will taste the strawberry – yet if I ask you to remember how a strawberry tasted, you will be able to bring this taste to mind from your imagination.
Simply telling yourself that you do not want to feel this or that, will not make changes, as your conscious mind is aware that this is not so, and will reject your suggestions. However when you have created your trance state and bypassed your conscious mind, suggestions are able to go straight to your subconscious. (Although your conscious mind may wish to create the change, if there is a deep rooted issue, the subconscious may be unwilling to cooperate and you will have difficulty in making changes. If this is the case, you might want to get some professional help.)
In self-hypnosis through following certain procedures, your mind enters a heightened state of focused concentration (the trance state), and it is within this focused trance state that you are able to give yourself the suggestions to assist you to achieve your desired outcome. This may be accomplished through methods by repetitive, constant self-affirmations to your sub-conscious mind. A note of caution here – self-hypnosis may not be sufficient to address all issues. Some issues are best left for you to go and seek out professional advice.
An example to seek help might be if you were thinking of using self hypnosis for pain control. Pain is often there for a reason and if you took the pain away, you may end up hurting yourself even more, or causing permanent damage without knowing it. But you could make suggestions about this area of pain becoming comfortable, but leaving you with a lesser feeling that will make you better able to cope with it but still remind you to look after yourself. It often helps to go to a professional hypnotherapist for a session first, to discuss any problems you might have, or how self hypnosis may benefit you with a particular problem that you have.
Emotional issues should be left to the experts. And, if you have a condition that requires medical attention, speak with your doctor or therapist before starting anything new. Self-hypnosis is not an alternative to your doctor’s advice, nor should you stop taking your medication without speaking to your doctor, even if you think hypnosis has helped you.
First determine the issue you are concerned about. Then, based on the rules of suggestions shown below, determine a script for yourself. Write it down. Memorize it, so that when you have taken yourself into self-hypnosis you won’t have to think about what you should be saying. Otherwise you might bring in the ‘critical conscious mind’ that will reject what you are saying.
For some people the biggest problem of self-hypnosis is that when you make a suggestion to yourself, you obviously use your conscious mind. This can alert your “critical factor” that can pull you back out of your relaxation into normal consciousness. Doing that may also cause a rejection to your suggestion. If this is you, you might find it worthwhile to make yourself a tape recording, and then play it back to yourself.
Speak to your subconscious mind in the present tense when making suggestions to influence your subconscious. Your subconscious mind does not understand negatives, so avoid using statements with negatives such as “I don’t want to be fat and overweight.” Instead say, “I am slim, trim, fit and feel terrific.” But don’t only say the words – In your imagination; feel slim, trim, fit and terrific. In your imagination, see yourself in the new outfit you would be wearing… your new hairdo… feel how you would be walking differently… hear how much more confidently you would be speaking… how you are satisfied with your meal and stop when you know that you have had enough… feeling just great!
Did you know in a recent study, British scientists have shown that actively remembering your last meal suppresses appetite and reduces the desire to snack on junk food? So you might bring this into your self-hypnosis visualization – see yourself writing down a description of your last meal – making the memory of it vivid in your mind. They have also shown that concentrating on food while eating – rather than grabbing a meal in front of the TV – makes you less likely to get hungry later on. See yourself making these changes. Feel the results. Think yourself slimmer.
Remember our minds are like a computer. Our software programming is filled with macros that get set off on auto pilot. When you do this or that, it starts a sequence of events without you doing anything further. (In the above issue of weight, that sequence of events might be; I hate the way I look… so I might as well pig out anyway… this causes me to feel sad… lonely… depressed… etc.) What we are doing with using self-hypnosis, is giving our mind certain commands that are specifically designed for you to change this around. Commands designed to “rewire” your subconscious program which in turn alters your conscious action.
Below you will see some positive statements for some issues. Write the one you want to use or make up some of your own, then use your imagination to put ideas such as mentioned above to work with the issue you are working on.
I feel calm and relaxed. I am able to able to cope easily and with ease. I like what I do, or I can change to do something else if I set my mind to do that. I make the choices to feel in control. I feel wonderful. I can take it slowly. Calm, relaxed, in control. I am successful and positive. I am relaxed and it feels great.
I take in a deep breath and it satisfies me to breathe easily. Deep breaths relax me and make me feel like I am glad that I kicked the habit. I feel in control being a non smoker. I feel healthy. I like the smell of my fresh hair and clothes. My mouth tastes good. Everything smells better. I am so glad that I kicked the habit. I feel in control. I am a non smoker and it feels great!
I smile at the thought of being happier. When I look in the mirror I see a happy person. I do things that cause me to feel happy. All around me I see things that make me feel glad to be alive. I have two choices – one to feel happy, one to feel sad – I chose to feel happy. I find myself changing things in my life that brings happiness for me. If I always do, what I have always done, I will always get what I’ve always got… I am changing something today to change and it feels good. I am in control. I am happy and it feels great!
LET’S DO IT!
Taking yourself into the hypnotic state can be as diverse as you want it to be. Start off with having some time to yourself so you won’t be disturbed. The average time is your preference. Some people do 15 to 25 minutes, some like to have longer. You can tell your subconscious how long you want to take, and you can be pleasantly surprised how accurate your inner clock can be. But if you have to make sure you don’t take longer, you can set a timer to ring to let you know that it is time to finish.
1/ Find a comfortable armchair (preferably a recliner with foot rest), or like down flat on your bed.
2/ Have your arms comfortably at your sides, with your legs relaxed and slightly apart.
3/ Take a few deep breaths and as you exhale each time, drop your shoulders and feel that you are sinking into that chair or bed.
4/ Now chose your own way to go on…
1. Progressive relaxation – Take your mind to each part of your body in turn and relax that part of your body that you mind is focusing on. Each time as you relax that part of your body, feel the rest of your body letting go even more. Then follow that with imagining that you are on an escalator, or the stairs, and as you go down it takes you even deeper and deeper into relaxation. Then continue with your self-hypnosis suggestions.
2. Visualisation – Imagine you are walking along a beach near the waters edge, hearing the sound of the waves, so soothing and relaxing. The sea, as it comes into shore gently goes over your feet. You feel it pleasantly cool and smell the salt air as it sprays gently on your face. As the sea goes out again, you feel the sand dragging under the soles of your feet. You might notice the sun gently warm on your face. White fluffy Clouds. Hear the sound of seagulls. Follow that with walking up onto the beach where between two palm trees you see that someone has tied a hammock. You lie yourself in the hammock and as it gently sways to and fro, you find yourself going deeper and deeper into relaxation. Then continue with your self-hypnosis suggestions.
3. Breathing – Take your mind to the top of your head. Now imagine that you are breathing into the top of your head. As you breathe out, take your mind to your forehead. As you breathe in again, breathe into your forehead. Now take your mind to… follow the same procedure as above to these other areas; throat… heart… navel… bladder… bottom of the torso… tail bone… kidneys… spine… bottom of your skull… back to the top of your head and forehead. Follow this with imagining as you look out of your forehead (with your eyes closed); you begin to see a misty swirling whitish-blue/purple cloud in front of your eyes. This mist starts to turn into a small ball the size of a golf ball. Feel it leave your forehead and start to climb up above your head, getting bigger and bigger as it climbs to about 30cm above your head. It then opens up and a gold cascading energy comes down onto your head and enters your body. This energy goes into every part of your body. Into your neck, chest, arms, hands and finger tips. It continues down into your legs, feet and leaves via your toes, taking all debris and negativity with it. It continues going through your body, healing all parts of you. Then continue with your self-hypnosis suggestions. When complete, the energy slows down and stops. The ball comes back down getting smaller and smaller and returns to your forehead.
Your self hypnosis complete, it is now time to bring yourself back to conscious awareness. You can do this by telling yourself; as I count from 1 to 5, with each number that I count, I will come further and further out of self-hypnosis. When I get to the number 5, my eyes will open and I will be very relaxed and wide awake. Count slowly from 1 to 5. As you open your eyes, just enjoy the feeling a few moments before getting up.
Work with your issue daily, and apply the positive suggestions during the day whilst in the conscious mind. For a moment use a slight meditative relaxing state. For example, working with your issue, when you are waiting in line to get served at a shop, bring some of those positive sayings, pictures and feelings into yourself while you are waiting. If you go to work by train, use that time to do the same.
The potential of hypnosis is tremendous. What it can help you with is only limited by your imagination, and to the amount of time you are willing to donate to it will determine how much it can help you.
Self-hypnosis can be used for many issues, some that come to mind; sports performance enhancement, improve your mental concentration, memory recall, sleep better, improve your metabolism or immune system, boost your energy levels, fingernail biting, social situations, self esteem, overcoming addictions and the list goes on… One of my clients had arrhythmia of the heart after a heart attack. His heart-beat sometimes went as slowly as 30 beats a minute and sometimes as fast as 200 beats a minute. He was on the waiting list to have a pacemaker plus a restrictor put in his chest to control this. He was suffering panic attacks each time his heart-beat fluctuated either too low or too high. By releasing some early-life emotional issues and through the use of daily self-hypnosis he eliminated his arrhythmia and no longer needed the operation. He would be the first to tell you that he needed to change some aspects in his life, through following his doctors and dieticians instructions. That was 10 years ago and he is still doing fine today.
“The patients primary task is to develop their unconscious potential. Everyone is an individual in the process of development. Hypnosis is an experience in which people receive something from themselves.” ~Dr. Milton H. Erickson