- Mental Health
The benefits of Self Hypnosis
A useful tool for personal development.
Firstly, it is important to make clear what hypnosis, whether self-induced or under the guidance of a hypnotherapist, is not.
It is not, as many people believe, brain-washing, by which they mean one loses the ability to control one's own mind.
It is necessary to understand that brain-washing is only ever achieved by torture, hardly something that one submits to willingly, and utilises many deprivation techniques which are the polar opposite of the relaxation techniques used in hypnosis.
Hypnosis is really only deep relaxation.
Hypnosis, on the other hand, is only ever beneficial and I have never had a client that did not love the sensation of being hypnotised, whatever natural apprehensions they may have had before their first session. Here I must clarify what I mean by hypnosis.
This is 'Clinical Hypnosis’, not stage hypnosis where people are persuaded to do things that they would not normally do for the entertainment of others. This can often be amusing and it certainly does show the power of hypnotic suggestion but laughing at the confusion of others must always be somewhat morally suspect and possibly even cruel.
The word hypnosis is really only a term that describes a deep relaxation when the mind is more open to suggestion. It is a way of being able to achieve a level of relaxation that today many of us have lost due to the fast pace demanded by this modern age.
With a little application self-hypnosis, whilst perhaps not as powerful as therapist-induced hypnosis, is still a technique that can be learnt and practised for everyday health and personal development. Think of it as a useful tool in your skills box.
So how does hypnosis work?
When we are fully relaxed, either asleep or simply daydreaming, our subconscious mind recognises that we are not sharply aware of our surroundings.
At these times we are not consciously keeping our usual lookout for danger, as we have been programmed to do since primitive times. So our subconscious keeps watch for us.
This programming is a throwback to our days as cave dwellers when it was very necessary to watch out for dangers such as sabre-toothed tigers whilst we were sleeping off our mammoth steaks.
And while few dangers in our modern lives are quite as real as that, unless you count a letter from the bank manager, our ‘fight or flight’ mechanism is still primed and active and ready to react.
This means that whilst our dominating, and verbal, conscious mind is lying idle, the much more powerful, but non-verbal, subconscious mind comes to the forefront of awareness to protect us.
This is when it is much easier either to access information from the limitless knowledge stored in the subconscious or, possibly more usefully, to re-programme it with beneficial suggestions in order to bring about positive changes in behaviour by removing unhelpful beliefs about ourselves.
Why should I want to change my behaviour?
If your behaviour somehow limits, or in any way restricts, your life why would you not want to change it?
For many, if not most, of us, somewhere in our early lives, and usually when we are in an emotional state, we absorb negative notions about ourselves. It may arise from something as simple as a careless comment which we perceive as hurtful from someone we love or trust.
Or it could be from something much more serious such as sustained abuse, either physical, sexual or emotional. Because we are emotionally hurt by these things we dwell on them until we have programmed our subconscious mind with negative beliefs about ourselves.
Even though these beliefs are false they have now become deeply ingrained in our minds and we accept them as the truth about ourselves and act accordingly with this erroneous belief.
In time this engenders behaviour or character traits that we know are unhelpful or unpleasant but which we seem powerless to change. We may even be unaware of them until someone tells us just what a pain we are being.
Of course there will always be some of us have no ambitions to be the best we can possibly be ... but there are many more of us who see our own faults all too clearly and constantly strive to make improvements.
A simple technique for self-hypnosis.
I would advise you not to try to do this when you are about to go to sleep as although you will achieve relaxation you will simply go to sleep and the opportunity to re-programme me your mind with beneficial suggestions will be lost. Unless of course you are using hypnosis to banish insomnia.
1) Get comfortable somewhere quiet where you won't be interrupted by a telephone or callers. If you think you may nod off, get into a comfortable sitting position. It is not necessary to lie down.
2) Close your eyes and bring all of your attention to bear on your body. How does it feel? Focus on any specific areas of tightness or discomfort and concentrate on relaxing them. Stay with this process until your body becomes warm and heavy. For those of you who don't know, this is what true relaxation feels like.
3) Now you are going to leave your body and inhabit your mind. You are going to use your imagination. This may seem difficult for many of you at first. All you have to remember is that the imagination is like a muscle, the more you use it the stronger and more streamlined it becomes. Patient practice will hone your imagination until you can access it quickly and effectively.
4) Now I would like you to imagine a downward staircase and see yourself moving slowly down it. It can be helpful at this stage to actually focus on your feet and see them step down one step at a time. (For some reason when I do this my feet are always bare). Do it as slowly as you like, there is no need to rush and every stage is valuable to you.
You can even do an interesting check when you reach the bottom. Ask yourself internally how deep your relaxation/trance is and see what comes up. Take the first figure you are shown, it may be a number from 1 to 10, or a percentage, or I have even had it shown as the measurement on a ruler. The more you practice getting into trance the greater the figure shown. So you may start of with 5 out of 10 and get up to 9.
Important: There are just two things to remember here: a) all trance is useful, you do not have to be in a deep trance to effect useful changes and b) always take the first figure you are shown. This is your super-efficient subconscious giving you the information before your lumbering conscious mind has time to filter it through its own biased thought processes. It can be quite a battle between the two of them sometimes, just think of it as being like the difference between broadband and dial-up internet.
5) Now you have a choice and this is only limited by your imagination. Take your imagined self to a safe place. I usually use a well-loved garden, but you may find yourself on a deserted beach. It could be an actual place or a fantasy place. Try to use all of your senses to experience this place even to the point of trying to smell the sea salt on the air if it's a beach or the flowers in a garden.
Once you have familiarised yourself with this place, take yourself somewhere to lie down in it. See yourself becoming comfortable, maybe even drowsy.
6) This is the time to give yourself beneficial suggestions so form simple sentences that describe the change you would like to effect in your behaviour or performance. The most important thing to remember here is to phrase your suggestion positively and always in the present tense.
For example: to improve learning ability perhaps. you would say, internally, 'I learn quickly and retain information easily' rather than 'I want to learn easily ...' which would appear to set up a 'want' rather than an actual.
Always keep your message simple and make sure there are no negatives in it which could confuse the meaning. Always tell your subconscious that this is how you are now, not how you will be in the future, or it will stay just that, in the future.
The subconscious is very literal and has been known to interpret 'keeping an eye' on something as just that ... a physical eyeball sitting all alone on a parcel. Funny but not what was meant at all, and gruesome to boot.
How to finish a self-hypnosis session.
Your mind will tell you when it feels the session is finished and you can just allow yourself to come out of trance gradually. Always 'listen to the whispers’ as it were and allow yourself to be led by instinct as that is how the subconscious guides you.
It may help you to bring yourself back up the staircase but don't worry if you have to snap back into reality quickly for any reason. If you have to ‘come back’ in a hurry because the cat is being sick or the vicar calls unexpectedly don’t worry, you will easily come round with no danger to you or your mind.
Self-hypnosis in the modern day.
You can, of course, use today's technology as an aid. Recording your mind journey onto a CD so that you can follow spoken instructions, just as you would if you were working with a hypnotherapist, might make self-hypnosis easier for you.
If you choose to do this write your own script before recording so as to make it as smooth and professional as possible. Be aware that you may not relax if you find your own voice grating or hesitant and you could also find yourself becoming distracted by an accent you never realised you had.
On the plus side however, recording your own 'treatment' can lead to a more effective uptake of the suggestions being offered due to the fact that you tend to trust yourself and with regular practice you will become aware that the change you were working for has happened. That is an inspiring moment.
The other side effects of self-hypnosis.
One of the other things you may notice is how this sort of mind work makes you feel much more peaceful and balanced in your everyday life. It enables you to develop a better sense of perspective which in turn helps you deal much more effectively with the everyday stresses we all encounter in our lives. And that can only be a good thing.