The Art of Self-Hypnosis
Until recently, hypnosis has been viewed as a mysterious technique, performed by people with strange skills and special powers. The truth of the matter is there is nothing mystical or magical about hypnosis. It is simply a state of concentration and focused attention. Actually, it is a state of consciousness that we enter naturally, but we usually don't call it hypnosis or trance.
Most of us spend a good part of our day in trance and I find it rather amusing when I explain this to people. My job as a hypnotherapist is to cause the person to "wake-up" from their self-imposed state, relax deeply, and refocus on the goal at hand. We're already familiar with the term "automatic pilot" which is just another name for this self-imposed state.
In actuality, hypnosis is not something someone does to you. All hypnosis is really self-hypnosis. You are the one who induces the hypnotic state with the professional working with you as a facilitator. A good hypnotist will always teach you how to affect various levels of trance for yourself, and how to program your subconscious mind for positive changes by utilizing hypnotic tools. Some of these tools are visualization, imagery, and imaginology. There are specific tools for diminishing emotional responses, pain, old beliefs and memories which are no longer appropriate in our lives.
Hypnosis is widely utilized for weight management, as well as smoking cessation, but it's uses are very wide indeed. Some include pain control, habit disorders, addictions, stress, self-esteem issues, sports enhancement, memory, concentration, and symptom control for disease. Personally, I see self-hypnosis as a "health tool", one which allows us to manage the workings of our total mind and body at optimum levels, continually healing changes brought about by life stressors, while allowing us to accelerate our learning and reach goals far beyond our conscious expectations.
The mind and body work together to facilitate change. When one is very tense, the muscles and organs in the body respond in kind. This tension is self-fulfilling, and we tend to over-produce stress hormones which cause further change in the management of the body and mind. Very often it becomes a vicious cycle, and unless broken we become susceptible to stress-induced disease states. It is estimated that 60-90% of disease states are stress related, and not surprisingly the same percentage of visits to the doctors office are for stress-related symptoms.
The mind is like a VCR, and our thoughts are simply tapes we play. Unfortunately for most of us, we play mainly negative tapes, visualizing negative outcomes or memories that stir up anxiety or depression. It is also not uncommon for us to speak internally to ourselves in quite critical ways. As we practice putting ourselves down, we are essentially in light trance states, preoccupied and internally focused. It is therefore very important to realize that thoughts, imagination and internal dialogue can be counterproductive to our real goals.
When we program the subconscious mind for success, we request to be made aware of our unproductive emotional states and corresponding behaviors, so we can choose to change. It can be as simple as placing the letter X over the undesirable thought pattern, or super-imposing the chosen goal picture, giving new messages to the subconscious mind. While this may sound like child's play, it is indeed very powerful reprogramming, and the changes come in an effortless fashion, something very different from our prior practice of excessive striving.
In hypnosis we alter our internal world. By using our imagination in special ways, we stir feelings and alter behavior and attitudes. When you change how you think, visualize and imagine things to be, your feelings and behavior will begin to change. You not only see what is possible, but the library of the mind will send up other suggestions for your approval, perhaps things you never even considered which take you even closer to your goal, or enhance it in some way.
Remember, the mind works backwards. When it sees the ideal goal picture clearly in great definition, it makes the action plan. The changes just seem to occur, as if all by themselves. Things which were difficult in the past, often become simple, and one is left wondering what the commotion was all about.
Our subconscious mind stores all memories, anything and everything we have experienced through all of our senses are located there in an orderly fashion. This means that we have a wealth of resources on which to draw as we focus on our future. Most of us never utilize these assets, and continue to see everything as a struggle. If we continue to see things in this way, rest assured, everything will be a struggle. As we learn to relax, let go, and ask for the appropriate resources from the inner bank vault, we change with a new level of comfort. When we are tense the subconscious mind cannot get our attention to share it's bounty. As we learn to relax during stress, utilizing the actual stressors as catalysts, the door of the subconscious mind opens, and we are free to work with this powerful part of ourselves.
PREPARING FOR SELF-HYPNOSIS
Creating a Favorable Environment. Especially when learning the art of self-hypnosis it best to practice in a quiet place where you will be comfortable. Later, after you become more skilled, you can practice anywhere. Competitive athletes are often good examples of self-hypnosis in action. They miss a shot, or a jump, and right then and there , in front of thousands of people, change their inner dialogue, pictures, and emotional states. It is suggested that you set aside twenty to thirty minutes for practice. Many people find it beneficial to add additional brief hypnotic experiences spaced through out the day. This is called fractionation, and is a powerful mind/body healing tool.
It is recommended that you set regular times for practicing self-hypnosis. Any self-improvement requires disciplined practice, whether you are learning a new sport, to cook, work a computer, or anything else. The more practice, the more highly skilled you will become, and the better the benefits.
Write Down Your Goals. It is important to have clear cut goals, the more specific the better. Concentrate on only one or two goals per session. My clients utilize journals for goal definition. This writing work is done in a relaxed state at the alpha level with the help of the subconscious mind. The goals are described in minute details, just as if looking at a beautiful color picture. If you plan to make specific suggestions, or plant affirmations during your session, write them out as well and have them available. Affirmations are very powerful when suggested in hypnotic trance.
Remember to phrase all material positively, rather than negatively. Be permissive with regard to the time required for success. Don't magically expect instant and complete change. It is more valuable to think in terms of intermediate goals and of taking several steps to reach your final goal.
Practice Deep Body Relaxation. The deeper your level of relaxation, the deeper the trance. While we can make substantial changes at the alpha level brain frequency, it is good to practice going deeper. It is also very healthy for the body to function at this level, so as you practice self-hypnosis, your body will always benefit.
Some good tools for deep relaxation practice are body scanning, or mental biofeedback. Remember, the more you discipline yourself to practice, the easier it becomes.
Practice Visualization or Imagery. Once very relaxed, tilt your eyes upward about 20 degrees, and on a screen in front of you see your goal completed. Watch it and enjoy how wonderful it is to yourself feeling and being just the way you want to be. At this time present your suggestions in a calm, slow voice. Continue to watch the picture, asking for any information which will help you make this better and better. Those answers may come immediately, or afterwards, but they will come. Sometimes we must persist with our questions, and at the same time learn to be aware for many times answers come, but we are asleep.
Remember, hypnosis is not a magical substitute for making conscious efforts to change. Always use all your resources and work at changing yourself. Then discipline yourself to use self-hypnosis regularly to bring your inner resources forward. When your mind and body work together both consciously and unconsciously, you are on the road to health and success.