There has been a lot of talk lately about self-hypnosis. Before we get into what it can and can’t do for us let’s talk about what self-hypnosis is.
If you have ever been to a hypnotherapist they may have told you that all hypnosis is self-hypnosis. This is essentially true. What this means is that no one can make you go into hypnosis without your consent or cooperation. The media and stage hypnotists have led a lot of us to believe that hypnosis is an unnatural state that can be imposed upon us by those with mind control powers.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Hypnosis is a natural state of mind that we all enter into several times a day. Any time your attention is so focussed that you are not aware of what is going on around you, you are in a hypnotic state. Whether it’s watching TV or reading or playing, any time we slip out of the present and into our minds and where our attention is focussed, we are in a state of hypnosis.
There are other times too when we go into a light hypnotic state. For instance when we are called into the office we are in a highly suggestible state. When we are in a large crowd at a concert or other event, we are in a light state of hypnosis. These are just a few examples of when we are in hypnosis in our regular daily lives.
From these examples we can gather that hypnosis is a state of mind where we are focussed on other than what is happening right in front of us, or we are so focussed on what is in front of us that we lose awareness of all else. It is a state where we are suggestible, meaning that we can internalize information and make it part of our reality or belief system. An example of this is when we watch a movie and cry at the end. Although the events did not happen to us, we are so engaged that we experience the emotions as if it was happening to us.
Of course, when we talk about self-hypnosis in a therapeutic sense we are not talking about these experiences. We are talking about an intentional process where we take our attention off of our current surroundings and put ourselves in an altered state of mind for a specific purpose.
So how do we do self-hypnosis?
There are as many ways to do self-hypnosis as there are people, but for this writing I will describe a simple but effective way that anyone can do.
The first thing you want to do is find a quiet place where you will not be disturbed. Give yourself a good half hour. Turn off your phone and ask the kids to be quiet and entertain themselves for this time. In an emergency, though, know that you will easily be aroused and return to normal waking consciousness, without difficulty.
Get comfortable, whether sitting or lying down. You can have soft music in the background if you like. There are several recordings of meditative music that are perfect for self-hypnosis. Some people use the music to take them deeper into relaxation.
Now focus on your breathing. Watch your breath going in and out of your nose. Feel the air going into your body. Watch your belly rise and fall. Often the breathing exercise is accompanied by the thought “Breathe in relaxation and calm and breathe our tension and stress.”
You can also use relaxation to bring you down into a relaxed state of deep tranquility and calm. Imagine the muscles around your eyes starting to relax and go limp. Then take that feeling up to the top of your head. Feel all the muscles in your head, face and neck totally let go and relax. Use this technique to go all the way down your whole body, relaxing and calming all the way down.
Use words in your mind like “deeper and deeper into relaxation” “going all the way down” “calm peaceful relaxation” etc., as you breathe and feel all the tension moving out of your muscles.
Counting backwards is another excellent way to take yourself deeper into relaxation. “10 going down,… 9 twice as relaxed as before,… 8 still going down… etc.”
You may start to feel a physical sensation like floating or tingling or numbness. You may notice a change in temperature, either warming or cooling down. Everyone has a unique experience as they go into hypnosis. Pay attention to your senses and see how you will experience hypnosis.
At this point a lot of people will ask, “What’s the difference between self-hypnosis and meditation?”
Meditation is a practice of clearing your mind. Hypnosis is similar in that you may relax and watch your breathing, but that is where the similarities end. Hypnosis has a specific intention attached to it, so rather than being clear your mind is particularly active, although in a different way than your normal state of awareness.
You will go into hypnosis with an intention. If the reason you are using hypnosis is for stress relief, for example, you may hold the intention of ‘I am calm and relaxed throughout my day. I feel the tension slipping out of my fingers and toes.” You may repeat this several times and actually visualize or imagine the tension leaving your body through your fingers and toes. It may appear like static electricity or you may see angry gnomes marching out of the ends of your feet.
Imagination plays a large part in hypnosis. Visualizing or imagining the outcome you want helps to implant the idea into your subconscious mind. Once the idea is in your subconscious mind it becomes a part of your everyday life.
The subconscious mind does not know the difference between reality and imagination. When you visualize or imagine something enough your subconscious mind will incorporate it into your life. When you go into self-hypnosis with a specific purpose in mind and repeat that intention, it becomes a part of you.
You will notice that when you are in hypnosis that you have an overseer. This is a part of your mind that remains in control at all times. This is the part of your mind that will repeat the intention. It will also bring you out of hypnosis at the agreed upon time.
To come out of hypnosis say to yourself, “I will now count from one to five and on the count of five I will open my eyes and return to normal waking consciousness.” Now count… “One, coming up slowly… , two, feeling refreshed and rested and energetic… , three, feeling my body back in the room… , four, remembering every beneficial thing I have said to my subconscious mind today… , five, all the way up, eyes open.”
Stretch and take a few moments to return to your normal awareness. Remember that when you give yourself a suggestion to repeat it a few times to really get it into your mind. This is called compounding. The more you say it the more it gets in there and the better it takes hold. It may take a few times and a few days or weeks to see the changes in your life, but they will come if you do this procedure as described.
Now I can hear you asking, “if I can do this all on my own why would I go to a hypnotherapist?”
Great question. Here’s the answer:
The title of this article is “Self-hypnosis Benefits and Limitations”. The word hypnosis and hypnotherapist have a major difference. One is a state of mind and one is therapy.
You can do a lot of good with self-hypnosis. You can reduce your blood pressure if you desire. You can relieve stress or improve your sleep patterns. You can improve your study habits. There are numerous things you can do with self-hypnosis. But there is one very important thing you cannot do with self-hypnosis and that is therapy.
The difference between a hypnotist and a hypnotherapist is the therapy. A hypnotherapist uses therapeutic tools while the client is in a state of hypnosis to make changes in their lives. Hypnotherapy is a collaboration between the hypnotherapist and the client. It is not possible for someone in hypnosis to ask questions and dig deeper and utilize the tools necessary to find the root of a problem or engage themselves with their inner child in a therapeutic way. For these effects it is necessary to have a hypnotherapist to work with.
Self-hypnosis is very beneficial for stress reduction and other related issues. For a therapeutic experience it is essential to have a hypnotherapist to work with to get to the root of a problem and find solutions.
When looking for a hypnotherapist, find someone with whom you connect feel comfortable. Make sure they have the training to do the job. If possible check their credentials. Hypnotherapy is not regulated by any governmental agency so anyone can hang a shingle and call themselves a hypnotherapist. Make sure the person you are dealing with is properly trained and professional in their business practice. It is better to take your time in choosing the correct hypnotherapist beforehand than you find out afterwards that you made a mistake.
Start with self-hypnosis and get a feel for what it is like and what it can do for you and then go and find the right hypnotherapist for you.