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Self Hypnosis - Instructions

Follow our free step-by-step guide to preparing and practising your own self hypnosis sessions

Although we may not realise it, we all carry around within us the necessary resources for personal evolution and success. Self-hypnosis can be a very effective tool for utilising those resources to make changes in our lives.

A good hypnotherapist should teach self-hypnosis to clients as part of their sessions;, always ask about this before booking. In fact, one of the great tools that you can take away from a course in hypnotherapy is the ability to use self hypnosis. Nearly everyone can learn how to use self-hypnosis to make specific changes in areas of their life such as;

  • Stop unwanted habits such as smoking
  • Manage stress
  • Increase concentration
  • Improve athletic performance
  • Improve self-confidence
  • Improve sleeping
  • Achieve goals, such as weight loss or exam success

Self-hypnosis is a perfectly safe, pleasant, non-toxic and often more effective alternative to tranquillisers or painkillers. Self-hypnosis allows you to rejuvenate your body and mind, leading to a greater sense of well being.

What is self-hypnosis?

Many people have experienced a trance-like state many times in everyday life - although they may not have called it hypnosis. For example, if you've ever drifted off into a daydream, become totally engrossed in a book or project, or become absorbed in your thoughts while driving and missed a turning. The main difference between these sorts of trance and self-hypnosis are specific motivation and suggestions towards a goal. Self-hypnosis is deliberate and with a purpose.

Hypnosis can be described as a state of mind in which suggestions are acted upon much more powerfully than is possible under normal conditions. By achieving a state of heightened focus and awareness, and suppressing the critical faculty, suggestions can be passed directly to the unconcious mind.

The above remains true for self-hypnosis, but being done for your self rather than via a third party (hypnotherapist). Many believe that all hypnosis is self hypnosis as the subject or client always remains in control. The hypnotherapist is there only to guide the client into hypnosis, and in doing so teaches them a powerful tool they can use for themselves.

Self-Hypnosis FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions about Self Hypnosis

Who can use self-hypnosis?

Studies to determine people's susceptibility to hypnosis have found that nearly everyone is hypnotizable. Self-hypnosis that uses proven techniques, and is personalised to take into account a person's own perceptions of their own experiences, can be almost always successful. Some people can learn self-hypnosis very quickly, whilst others take more time, however almost everybody can learn to use self hypnotism successfully.

Where should I practice?

The ideal place for self-hypnosis will be somewhere that is private, safe, comfortable and peaceful. This will usually be indoors but it is possible to practice self hypnosis anywhere. Just try to ensure you will be comfortable and free from noise disturbance or interruptions.

Can I practice anytime?

You can practice whenever you are able to set aside a few minutes free from disturbance or interruption. However self-hypnosis should never be practiced when driving, operating machinery or carrying out any other activity that requires your full attention.

How long should I practice?

Quality of time is more important than length of time. Set aside some designated time when you won't be disturbed, 15 to 20 minutes a day as a guide. Remember that time spent practicing self-hypnosis is time invested in yourself to make positive self-change, so practice regularly. Also, as you become more practiced you may find that you need less time.

Should I sit or lie down?

It doesn't matter, being comfortable is what's important so do what's most natural for you. For many people a relaxed sitting position with the head supported is most comfortable. Lying down may make it too easy to drift off to sleep - although if your goal is to use self-hypnosis to sleep then that would be fine!

Should my eyes be closed?

Again, it doesn't matter, but most people feel more relaxed with their eyes closed. Many people skilled in self hypnosis can enter trance with their eyes open, but most people will find it easier with eyes closed to start with.

What kind of results should I expect?

You should expect to make positive changes that will benefit your life, based on the suggestions given during hypnosis. Remember, change is a natural part of our existence and happens to us and all around us every day. To expect change to happen is perfectly natural.

How can I make the process easier each time?

At some point during your hypnosis you can give yourself a suggestion that you will enter trance more easily and quickly next time. For example, when in trance say to yourself "I can easily return to this deeply relaxed and focussed state of awareness again whenever I choose, simply by taking a few deep and relaxing breaths".

We hope this Self Hypnosis FAQs page has helped to answer your questions about self hypnotism and has helped you about to learn how to use self hypnosis more effectively.

Free Guide to Self-Hypnosis - Learn Self-Hypnosis Free

Methods of self-hypnosis range from listening to relaxation tapes to simply clearing your mind of thoughts and worries. Here is a step-by-step free guide to self-hypnosis, using one approach you may find helpful. Many hypnotherapists encourage their clients to learn self-hypnosis.

Please note that self-hypnosis should never be practiced when driving, operating machinery or carrying out any other activity that requires your full attention.

What do you want to achieve?

Always be clear and specific about your goals and write them down before you begin your hypnosis. Writing down what it is you want to achieve or change can really help you to straighten things out in your mind and goals can suddenly look more realistic, specific and focused. Keep it short and keep it achievable. Stick to one or two goals only in a single session.

Write out a plan

Plan what you want to say from beginning to end. You can write out a detailed script to follow as part of your preparation.

Repeat your goals

Write several different suggestions for each goal, expressing the same goal in different ways. This will reinforce the suggestion and ensure that it is accepted into the unconscious mind.

Create your own vision for your success

Develop your own imagery and symbols for supporting and visualising your goals. Imagine yourself achieving whatever you wish to. Make it real, like a memory but in the future.

Imagery in Self-Hypnosis

Using Guided Imagery and Positive Visualisation In Self Hypnosis

Imagery can mean visualisation - using your imagination to form pictures in your mind. However, it can also include all the senses of sight, sound, taste smell and feel. Whilst most people are predominantly visual in their use of imagery, the most powerful and effective guided visualisation will incorporate elements from all the senses.

In self-hypnosis a mental image is often worth many pages of verbal suggestions. You can use your own memories and experiences to construct your own highly personal imagery to reinforce your suggestions for change.

The following exercises can be used to practice and develop your imagery skills;

  • Examine an object for a few moments, then close your eyes and try and visualise it.
  • Visualise a person you know (maybe yourself). Imagine their distinguishing features.
  • Visualise your home. Move around it from room to room and imagine what it looks, sounds, feels and smells like.

There are two principal ways of using imagery to work towards a goal;

Process Imagery is the visualisation of the process or actions of achieving the goal you desire. For example, a golfer might imagine executing a perfect shot as he approaches the ball.

Result Imagery creates mental pictures of the goal or result as if it has already occurred. If you are giving a talk to colleagues, you might imagine yourself confidently delivering the speech, hear the applause and imagine the positive outcome of your successful presentation.

A 1967 study by stress researcher Edmund Jacobson found that visualising an activity produces small but measurable reactions in the muscles involved in the imagined activity. Repeated mental rehearsal implants the learned memory of a successful action, and also conditions the unconscious mind with the outcome you expect to achieve.

Suppose, for example, your goal is to lose weight. You could use result imagery to imagine yourself as the size and weight you want to be. Mentally picture yourself in the mirror looking trim and as thin as you wish, fitting neatly into the dress or suit size you want to achieve. Imagine the feeling of being your ideal weight. You may also use process imagery to imagine yourself eating smaller, healthier portions of food. You might picture yourself feeling full whilst leaving food still on your plate. These images will reinforce the positive processes you will go through to achieve your desired result.

Visualisation and imagination are closely related to the unconscious mind. In fact, imagery has been described as the language of the unconscious. The key to successful use of imagery is to be as creative and imaginative as you can. Use your own memories and experiences and fill your images with colours, sounds, aromas, textures and tastes to be as real and as absorbing as they can be. Keep your visualisations positive and personally appealing to be a powerful tool in self hypnosis.

Make it personal

Use language and images which reflect your own experience. We all have our own memories and experiences of the world, and speak to ourselves in our own language. Put your suggestions into your own words and use images you are familiar with.

The Language of Hypnosis

The use of hypnotic language in self-hypnosis

We all have our own personal collection of memories and experiences, and we speak to ourselves in a language that has unique meaning to us based on these experiences. Your unconscious mind will relate best to suggestions which reflect your own experience of the world. You will find most success with self-hypnosis if you use your own words and symbols in your suggestions.

Try to discover your own predominant mode of communication (that is, which of the senses you most relate to), and use words and phrases that are connected with that sense in your own hypnotic language. For example, primarily visual language; "I can see..", "picture this..", or primarily auditory language; "I hear that..", "it sounds like..", or primarily kinaesthetic "it feels like..", "hold on to that idea..". Research has shown that hypnotic suggestions are acted upon more effectively when they match the individual's own communication style.

Symbols are images that you use to represent something else, and can be used in your suggestions to represent your goals. For example clouds billowing in a blue sky can symbolise a relaxed state of mind, or leaves falling from the trees can represent the relinquishing of problems. These symbols will be most effective if they are taken from your own past experience as your unconscious will be more able to relate to them.

Take the time before a self-hypnosis session to plan your goals and think of some suitable images and symbols to support them. Take images from your own memories and be as creative and as imaginative as you can be in describing them.

Your suggestions should be specific and achievable. Vague descriptions or images are less likely to be acted upon. Finding different ways of expressing the same goal will increase your chances of success.

Make suggestions positive, rather than negative. Most people react unfavourably to negative 'do not' statements. We do not like to be told 'NO'. However, a positively worded suggestion with a positive benefit attached to it is more likely to be accepted. For example, "You will not eat chocolate anymore" is a negative command that might easily be rejected or ignored. A more effective and readily accepted suggestion might be; "As you choose more healthy and nutritious foods to eat, you may begin to feel lighter, healthier and more energetic".

Use emotive words in your script - positive emotions will reinforce your suggestions. For example, 'I feel deeply relaxed..', 'I breathe effortlessly..', 'I can experience a wonderful feeling of calmness..'

And finally, your script need not be half-hearted or flawed for realism - aim for an ideal, make it perfect.

Use your voice

Begin the session in your normal voice at a relaxed pace. As the session progresses, slow down and soften your voice so that as you enter hypnosis, you are speaking softly, and at a slower pace than when you began. Your voice can return to normal at the end of the session as you leave hypnosis.

Make yourself comfortable

Find a place that is quiet, comfortable and free from disturbance to practice self-hypnosis. You certainly must not be driving or in any other situation where your immediate attention is required. Soft music and lighting may help but we would not recommend the burning of candles.

Relax

Use deep breathing and relaxation techniques to prepare for entering hypnosis. Just focus internally and start to notice whatever you notice. This is not a time for judging, analysing, criticising or worrying. Notice your thoughts and feelings and assume that very soon they will just drift away - they are really not necessary at the moment. Allow your mind to become calmer and clearer.

Breathing Exercises and Relaxation

Breathing and Relaxation techniques for self-hypnosis

One proven method of achieving complete relaxation is deep breathing. This is an ancient method favoured by yoga masters and is a useful and enjoyable way to begin self-hypnosis.

Our normal everyday breathing is typically rather shallow and rapid, and usually involves expanding and contracting the chest. However, deep, diaphragmatic breathing is healthier and comes from the abdomen. In diaphragmatic breathing you allow your belly to expand outwards as you inhale, pulling the diaphragmatic membrane beneath your lungs downwards and allowing your lungs to draw in air to fill the space. Inhale slowly through the nose and exhale slowly through the mouth.

This kind of slow, deep, rhythmic breathing triggers a 'relaxation response' in the body, the opposite of the adrenaline-fuelled ‘fight or flight' response. Some of the beneficial changes that occur as part of this type of relaxation are reduced heart rate, increased blood flow to the extremities, and muscular relaxation.

An exercise in breathing

Begin by taking a deep diaphragmatic breath, inhaling through your nose, for a count of three. Now, having filled your lungs, hold your breath for a count of three. Exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of six. Wait for a count of four and repeat the breathing cycle again.

Always keep your breathing comfortable and relaxing. Don't inhale so deeply that your lungs hurt or burn. If you feel dizzy or light-headed at any time stop for a while and then continue.

This exercise in breathing can be done anywhere and any time, and can be used to help counter tension or pressure. Take five of these slow, deep, relaxing breaths as preparation for self hypnosis.

Progressive Relaxation

Progressive relaxation is a system of relaxation developed by Edmund Jacobson and means focusing separately, and progressively, on each of the muscle groups in your body in turn, and allowing any tension held in those muscles to be released. Jacobson designed this technique based on the argument that "an anxious mind cannot exist within a relaxed body". Particular attention should be given to the neck, shoulders and facial muscles as these areas can hold a great deal of tension.

Active progressive relaxation involves tensing each muscle group as you inhale, holding the tension for a few seconds, and then gradually releasing the tension completely as you slowly fully exhale. This can be done for each muscle group in turn until the whole body is relaxed. The main muscle groups which can be relaxed in this way are; legs and feet, arms and hands, back shoulders and neck, stomach and chest, buttocks, face and head.

Passive progressive relaxation is similar to the above, except that it does not require you to actively tense your muscles at all. Instead you simply imagine the tension flowing out of your body with each breathe you exhale, working progressively around your body as before. It can help to visualise the tension as a kind of liquid which drains away out of your body as you breathe. This is a comfortable and easy method of relaxation which can be done almost anywhere.

Once you are fully relaxed, remember how it feels, and create an image in your mind that describes your relaxed state. This will help you to return to this state of relaxation again more easily in future. Deep relaxation is an excellent way to prepare for self-hypnosis.

Count yourself down

Use 'deepeners' in your hypnosis script, such as going down a staircase or an elevator, or floating down a stream, to help yourself go deeper into your hypnosis. Count down in your mind as you go deeper into relaxation. At times there will be inner resistance to relaxation especially when you first start to practice self hypnosis. Just be aware of it and let it go...It will!

Putting Yourself Into a Trance

Achieving a trance state in self-hypnosis

Hypnosis can be described as a state of deep relaxation where the hypnotised subject experiences a heightened level of awareness coupled with a narrowing of their focus of attention. This hypnotic state is called trance and is a perfectly safe state which can occur naturally during everyday life. In self-hypnosis we aim to deliberately put ourselves into a hypnotic trance.

To be in a trance does not mean to be asleep, although it can sometimes look that way, but in fact the opposite is true. Studies of the brain activity of people in trance have revealed an increased level of alertness. Hypnosis is a very personal experience and it should be remembered that each individual will experience trance in his or her own way.

First find a quiet place where you won't be disturbed, and begin by getting comfortable and relaxed. Use deep breathing and progressive relaxation techniques to get as deeply relaxed as you can.

There is no fixed method for trance induction, in fact there are many hundreds of different techniques which have been used effectively. The following are some common and proven examples of techniques and any combination can be used to enter trance, whichever you find works best for you.

Eye Fixation

With your eyes open, focus your attention on any small spot or object in front of you and above your line of sight. Keep focussing on the spot and direct all your attention towards it, clearing your mind of all other thoughts and distractions. Continue breathing deeply and slowly, and begin suggesting to yourself how relaxed you feel, and how tired your eyes are becoming. Allow yourself to keep relaxing more and more and eventually, when your eyes become tired and heavy, you can close them.

Utilise Tension

It is possible to enter a trance state even when you find it impossible to relax. If you are finding it impossible to let go of tension or anxiety, psychologist Michael Yapko in his book 'Trancework' (1990) describes how you can utilize your current stressed, anxious or tense state as a focus for entering trance. You simply allow and accept your present state of mind, whilst beginning to think back to a time when you were involved in an experience of calmness, comfort, or relaxation and absorption, such that you didn't pay any attention to things going on around you. In doing this you can allow your feelings and responses to move towards those remembered from this past experience.

Visualisation

Visualisation is one of the most powerful tools in self-hypnosis. Use visualisation and imagery to create images in your mind that suggest relaxation, for example, lying on a beach or walking in a forest. Allow your imagination to flow naturally and let yourself become absorbed by your mental images as you enter trance.

Stairway to relaxation

This is another example of imagery, and one that is often used to deepen the level of relaxation. Imagine yourself at the top of a beautiful staircase, there may be 10 steps to the bottom. The stairs lead to the most beautiful, wonderful and relaxing place you can imagine, which may be real or fantasised. Imagine descending the staircase, counting down the steps as you descend, and with each step suggesting to yourself an increased feeling of relaxation and a deepening of the hypnotic trance. As you reach the bottom you will be as deeply relaxed as you can be.

Physical Responses

Creating a perceived physical response to hypnosis is a way to focus your attention inwards even further. Use suggestions and imagination to create a physical feeling or sensation in your body. For example, imagine warmth, or numbness, or heaviness, or lightness in your hand. Feeling the physical response occurring will indicate achieving a level of self-hypnosis.

Emotional Responses

Sometimes people find them selves so immersed and preoccupied with an emotional feeling that they find it difficult to use imagery. Strong emotions such as grief, anger or fear can be overwhelming, but may be utilised to help enter hypnosis. In this case, try to develop an image in the mind like a scene from a movie in which you are the main character. Focus on your current emotions and observe the movie of your current situation, allowing your character to experience all the feelings you are presently having. By becoming absorbed in the movie as an observer, and maintaining a detached awareness, you will soon discover that you have entered trance. When you are ready, you can extend your movie towards working on your goals.

Utilise Distractions

Where possible, incorporate distracting sounds in your suggestions, rather than trying to fight them. Notice any external sounds that you can hear and then allow them to be included in your suggestions for relaxation. Similarly, internal distractions such as worries, pains or self-doubt can be focussed on and used to help deepen your self-hypnosis. Of course, some distractions will require your attention immediately, such as the doorbell ringing or a child requiring attention. In these cases deal with the distraction satisfactorily and then return to your self-hypnosis.

Self-hypnosis is a very personal and individual experience and different methods will feel more comfortable for different people. Techniques such as those above can be changed and adapted to suit the individual. Self-hypnosis is a natural skill which can be developed and made easier with practice.

Create an inner world

Spend some time in your own special place. Create your own magical place in your mind, maybe somewhere you know, maybe just an imagined paradise. This can be a place where you feel safe and relaxed and anything is possible. Use all of your senses - what can you see, hear, feel, smell and taste? Make this experience as vivid as you can, again, you will get much better with practice.

Make it easier next time

Towards the end of your trance, include some post-hypnotic suggestions for re-entering self-hypnosis next time you practice.

Posthypnotic Cues and Suggestions

Using Posthypnotic cues and posthypnotic suggestions during self-hypnosis

Usually when practicing self-hypnosis, we are doing so for a reason. We want to change something in our lives or achieve a specific goal when we are no longer in hypnosis. The power of posthypnotic suggestions helps to make this possible.

A posthypnotic suggestion is a suggestion which is given during hypnosis for an action or response to take place after the hypnotic experience. These suggestions may be for an action, a feeling or an internal physical change to occur.

Posthypnotic cues are used to trigger posthypnotic suggestions after the hypnosis session has ended. A posthypnotic cue may be an action, thought, word, image or event that is used to trigger a response implanted during trance.

These powerful tools can be used in self-hypnosis to allow you to change your behaviour and responses during your everyday life, outside of hypnosis.

For example, suppose your goal is to be able to feel more calm and relaxed in stressful situations. During self hypnosis you could make the association between deep breathing and feeling relaxed. The posthypnotic suggestion is to be able to relax and feel calm at any time. Deep breathing becomes a cue for triggering this feeling of relaxation. When faced with a tense or stressful situation, feelings of calm and relaxation can be quickly restored with a few deep, slow breaths.

Some further examples of the use of posthypnotic cues and suggestions might be; feeling full when opening the fridge door, helping to achieve the goal of eating less; feeling calm and safe when fastening the safety belt in an aircraft to help conquer fears about flying; use turning off the light as a cue for yawning and feeling sleepy to help with sleeping.

For maximum effectiveness remember the following guidelines;

  • Your posthypnotic suggestions should be specific to a particular goal or situation.
  • Create a specific cue for triggering the desired response or behaviour, and make sure that the cues are appropriate to the goal.
  • During hypnosis, visualise the scene, the action or feeling you desire as vividly and in much detail as you can to reinforce the suggestion.

One of the simplest and most common uses for posthypnotic suggestions is to help you re-enter trance more easily in future. For example, during your self-hypnosis session you might give yourself suggestions such as the following;

"Anytime in the future I wish to renter this comfortable and pleasant state of calm and relaxation, I will find I can do so just by making myself comfortable and breathing deeply and slowly for a few minutes... and I will be able to return quickly and easily to this level of deep relaxation and focussed awareness whenever I choose."

Count yourself back

At the end of your session, count yourself back to full awareness. Suggest to yourself that when you leave hypnosis you will feel refreshed and alert. Check that you are once again fully awake and alert and enjoy the rest of the day!

You can, if you wish, make your own self-hypnosis tapes from your scripts. This can be a good way to enter hypnosis and make changes you have already planned, without the need to remember your script as you enter trance.

Rameshwar Prasad invites you to the Wonderful Spiritual World

  

CONTACT THE CONSULTANT
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