Hypnosis Part 1: The Basics
Before I say anything about what hypnosis is, I want to make it clear what hypnosis is not. It is not magic. It is not spiritual. You cannot contact the dead with it. You cannot contact living people with it. It is strictly a mundane activity that works because of how the human mind works. It does not affect souls, chi, electricity, or the weather. I cannot stress this enough. Throw out all your preconceived ideas about hypnosis before you read the rest of this, for they will only hold you back from actually learning hypnosis. This being said…
Hypnosis is a technique that allows you to let your brain know what is important. During the day, your brain experiences a lot. Everything that you do, your brain is actively involved in. Every time something happens, your brain decides how important something is. The more important something seems to your brain, the easier it will be for it to remember that thing more clearly. For example: let’s compare two things about myself: I like to play the old Final Fantasy games, and I hate English (the school subject). Now, I went through the school system and had years of English. I can’t tell you what I learned in any of the classes. I don’t remember the story to the Odyssey, or what a prepositional phrase is. But I can tell you the entire story to Final Fantasy VI, who the major characters and villains are, the theme of the game (mankind is its own worst enemy), parallels to other major stories (references to Star Wars and the Devine Comedy), and how to find 99% of all the treasure is in the game. The scary thing is: I’ve only played the game four times. Compare that to knowing almost nothing after twelve years of education. This is because my brain considers video games to be more important than the incest-filled love affairs of Oedipus.
Hypnosis helps you learn things by making a message seem very important to your brain. Hypnosis does this by helping you ignore noises and distractions so the message can come in loud and clear. The basic premise can be easily understood by comparing the following situations. Would it be easier to remember what a friend tells you if your neighbors were screaming at each other, a dog was barking right outside your window, you were hungry, you had to use the bathroom, and if your leg was being sawed off by a trained squirrel, OR, if none of those things were happening and you were talking in a quiet room?
Obviously you picked the second situation (if you picked the first, you don’t have what it takes to be a hypnotist, I’m sorry). Hypnosis is based on the principle that people are more adept at remembering or learning things if there aren’t being distracted. What hypnosis is, and all it really is, is making people calm and blocking out distractions to make them more receptive to new ideas. By getting rid of all the distractions so that they can hear the message of the hypnotist so clearly, that the brain thinks that the message is so important, that it must remember it and act upon it.
The actual specifics about hypnosis (especially self hypnosis) are pretty simple once you understand that one principle. First: you meditate to make yourself calm. Then: think the thing you want to tell your brain. Done.
First Step: Meditate
Most people don’t know what meditating is, so I’ll briefly explain. First of all… Meditation is not magic. It is not spiritual. You cannot contact the dead with it. You cannot contact living people with it. It is strictly a mundane activity that works because of how the human mind works. It does not affect souls, chi, electricity, or the weather. I cannot stress this enough.
Don’t get me wrong, meditation is great, but it’s not spiritual. If you don’t hypnotize yourself every day (why would you want to do that anyway?), you should meditate once a day. Every day, from the moment you wake up until you fall asleep, your brain is up and active. Think of it as if your brain is running a marathon every day. It starts off slow, and gears up to a good running speed. Occasionally, it will work harder to go uphill and downhill, but it is always moving. Now, if you’re lazy and out of shape like I am, you can’t run a marathon. Sure, I may be able to start well, but by the end I’m pretty much crawling just to reach the finish line. But… if I take a break every now and then… I’ll do a whole lot better than trying to do the whole thing all in one go. Meditation is a way to give your brain a break, so that it can get a second wind for the rest of the day.
Now… Meditation is really easy. You don’t need to know any special chants or purchase any fancy furniture to do it. The first thing you need to do is go to a spot and find a position where you’ll be comfortable (I usually just lie down on my bed). The second part, the somewhat tricky part, is to then clear your mind of thoughts. How you do this, is different depending on who you are. You need to find out for yourself what works for you. But to save some time, here are some things other people do to clear their head:
Focus on your breathing. If you took a Lamaze class, then you’ve pretty much already mastered this. Try to breathe slow, deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Just keep focusing on your breathing and let everything else just flow away from you as you breathe.
Chant nonsense. Pick a phrase that doesn’t mean anything, and say it until all you can think of is that phrase. Make sure the phrase doesn’t actually mean anything, otherwise you will think about what the phrase means, instead of just the words themselves. Just keep saying the words until that’s all there is in your head, then stop. If you begin to think of other things, start saying the words again (note: you can say the words in your head if you want). If you do try this method, and it works for you, try to use the same words every day. Your brain will associate the words with meditation, and it will work more quickly if you keep doing it.
Imagine that you’re in a happy place. Pick your favorite spot and imagine yourself there. Do you like the beach? The forest? Lakes? A meadow full of wildflowers? An old home? Think of someplace that makes you calm and relaxed, and imagine that you’re there. Be sure to imagine the place in detail. Are there birds singing in the background? If there are flowers nearby, what do they look like? If you’re by the water, what does the water sound like? Does your old home smell just the way you remember it? The more realistic you imagine the place you go to, the more relaxed you will feel.
When you first try these things, it’ll be hard to realize if you’re meditating or not. The change from just relaxing to meditating is a gradual one; you probably won’t notice a difference until you stop meditating. Don’t worry about making sure if you’re meditating or not, just let it happen naturally. If you begin to stress out about trying to find the exact moment that you begin meditating, then you won’t be able to do it. Just relax and go with the flow.
Final Step: Suggesting
Now that you’re calm and relaxed, try giving yourself a message. Don’t try to make yourself quack like a duck or sing the Underdog theme song every time someone claps. That won’t work. You can only suggest things that you would kind of want to do already. Like to stop smoking if you’re trying to quit. If you want to quit smoking, hypnosis will let your subconscious know this so that it can work with you, instead of against you. This is also good for making yourself more confident if you need to speak in public, tone down on the sweets, or pretty much whatever you want. Just remember, this isn’t magic. You can’t hypnotize yourself to become a great baseball player (though you can hypnotize yourself to want to practice more and to get the most out of the practice), or lose weight while you sleep, or increase the size of a certain male organ. As a general rule, hypnosis will not give you everything for nothing, but it will make it easier for you to achieve whatever you set your mind to.
When using self hypnosis, it doesn’t really matter how you phrase your suggestion. You know what you want hear, all you have to do is say it when your mind is at ease. The only thing you may want to avoid is to try to shock yourself with your statement. Try to stay positive instead of focusing on the negative. For example, don’t ever say: “You’re fat, fatso. Lose some weight for goodness’ sake!” Instead try to motivate yourself. Think about how much better you will look and feel if you lost the weight. Try to imagine yourself thinner, and what it takes to get there. Think about how losing weight requires you to eat only a little less, and move a little bit more. Surely that’s reasonable thing to do to be happy with your appearance. Think of who would be happy if you lost the weight. Think of your friends, your family, maybe a certain special someone you know… All smiling, proud, or more, for you for what you will accomplish. Now, the only thing left to do is to turn what you see into a reality. It is something you can do if you put your mind to it, which you know you can since you can hypnotize yourself. So, when you’re ready, begin your journey back to good health. You can start whenever you want, but the sooner you begin, the sooner you can achieve your goal. Just remember, your goal is close at hand, and nothing can stop you now from reaching it.
The trick to making a good suggestion is to use your own words. Don’t use technical jargon; you don’t need to impress yourself with it. Use soft words that don’t have negative connotations with them. Try to never to use the word “can’t” or “won’t”. If you want to stop smoking, don’t say that you won’t ever smoke again, instead try to think of all the things you will do once you stop. Think of all the things you can do with all the extra free time you’ll have that you once spent on smoking. Stay positive, and you will succeed.
Because this is starting to turn into a rather lengthy article, I’m going to split this up into three parts. This first part explained the absolute basics to hypnosis.
The second part will explain how to hypnotize other people (Link will be posted here when I submit it to Hubpages)
The third part will explain how to use fancy techniques like regression, progression, and how stage hypnosis works (when it’s not faked) (Link will be posted here when I submit it to Hubpages).
(Note: Before you try to hypnotize anyone else or use fancy techniques, be sure to hypnotize yourself a few times. Until you can do it to yourself, you won’t be able to do it for other people. Also, the fancy techniques won’t do anything unless you master the basics first.)