Strategies and Benefits of self Hypnosis

Self hypnosis, or auto-hypnosis, is a method by which a direct path of communication can be established between the conscious and unconscious minds. That path can be used to reprogram the unconscious mind so as to conquer bad habits, learn faster, master skills quicker, and gain positive character traits. The unconscious mind is also the gateway through which we can access our psychic potential and higher spiritual forces so self-hypnosis can be of value to psychic development and in religious and occult rituals. On this occasion I will focus on the use of self-hypnosis in self improvement.

Hypnosis is a state of physical relaxation and intense mental concentration which allows you to overcome the normal physical distractions and random thoughts that clutter our minds. A trance is a profound state of concentration that allows the focusing of the whole mind onto a task. In this state you feel as if you are wide awake but are as relaxed as if you were asleep, you’re extremely focused and totally relaxed. We all naturally enter this state twice a day, immediately before going to sleep and immediately after awaking.

When in a hypnotic trance you are still completely aware of what you are doing and able to react instantly to any events occurring around you, this is true of both self-induced hypnosis and when a hypnotist puts you into a trance. A hypnotist merely guides you during your trance and helps you enter it. You are more suggestible in the trance than normal but you cannot be made to do anything you do not want to do. Any action that would make you
uncomfortable normally would break the relaxed state needed for hypnosis. When the trance is self-induced you are in complete control of yourself, you are more suggestible and impressionable but you control the suggestions you give yourself. Even if someone walked in while you were in a trance you would be aware of it and if they tried to talk to you, or otherwise interact with you, you would be aware and able to react immediately even if it did not break your concentration. Hypnosis has also been compared with day dreaming.

You can practice self-hypnosis using the natural states, reprogramming yourself immediately before and after sleep, but this has its limitations. The main problem tends to be identifying when you are in this state on a night and remembering to repeat your suggestions on a morning, but with practice this can still be an effective method. You can put yourself into a deeper trance than is achieved naturally, it is not a difficult skill to master but like any skill self-hypnosis requires practice, patience and dedication.

When you begin practicing self-hypnosis it is best to choose a place were you can comfortably relax in peace, a place were you will not be disturbed and to wear loose fitting comfortable clothing. With practice you will be able to enter a trance in adverse conditions and use such a trance to calm and focus yourself when stressed, distracted or otherwise preoccupied but for now go for somewhere quiet, comfortable and free of distractions. You can enter a trance either lying down or sitting up, the choice is yours but you must be able to relax completely and safely. The main danger when lying down is that you will fall asleep during the trance, do not worry if you do, at least you got the relaxation part right. If you enter a trance sitting up in a chair be sure that you can relax completely without falling out the chair, do not laugh, it happens when you relax completely, ideally your back should be straight and feet flat on the floor but the important part is to be comfortable.

An eye fixation point is a useful way to focus your concentration during the first stage of self-hypnosis and aids in entering the trance. The process of using a fixation point involves triggering a state of fatigue in the muscles around the eyes and can be used to place a person into a hypnotic trance involuntarily, but for purposes of this text it is merely a way to focus the mind and an aid to entering a trance.

The point should far enough above the level of your eyes that you have to look up to concentrate on it but not so high that you need to move your head or use your neck muscles to see it, you should be able to focus on it by moving your eyes alone. If you are entering the trance lying down you should put the eye fixation point on the ceiling, if you are sitting up in a chair it should be on the opposite wall or on a platform in front of you.

An ideal eye fixation point is a flashing light, flickering flame or light reflecting of a moving pendulum, hence the traditional pocket watch, but it can be a mark or object on the wall or ceiling. Some use glow in the dark stars affixed to a wall or ceiling while I originally used the standby light on my TV, I now prefer candles.

Their are three main stages to entering a hypnotic trance, the first is to relax the muscles of your body, the second is to use the eye fixation point to induce a shallow trance and the third is to deepen the trance.

Start by tensing and then relaxing all the muscles in your body, start with the facial and eye muscles, then the neck, the shoulders, the upper arms, lower arms and hands. Tense and relax the muscles of your chest, abdomen, groin area, then the upper legs and thighs, lower legs and finally the feet. Hold the tension for a few seconds and then let the muscles relax; incidentally this is a good exercise when done on its own! If you have any injuries or health problems it is probably best to miss out those muscles when doing this, or at least be gentle, consult a doctor or physiotherapist if you have any doubts.

Their are many methods for entering a trance, many involving quite sophisticated visualization techniques that an experienced practitioner would struggle with or which are likely to bring on hyperventilation. Most use a combination of counting backwards, coordinated breathing, suggestions which you say to yourself and a relaxation exercise. When I was told the first method I learn’t I wondered how I was supposed to remember it all and relax at the same time. The counting and the suggestions between each breath left me struggling for breath because of their length.

The important part is to count backwards from ten to one, breathing in and out and relaxing your body with each number while keeping your eyes focused on the eye fixation point. On the count of one close your eyes and you will be in a mild hypnotic trance.

It may help to tell yourself to relax, say to yourself “relax,” before saying each number and feel yourself relaxing as you count down. Your breathing rate should be regular and natural, let it determine how fast you count and breath at a normal comfortable rate. Just concentrating on your breathing can induce a mild hypnotic trance and is amazingly relaxing. If before you reach 1 you are struggling to keep your eyes open feel free to close them early, you have entered the trance early but you should still complete the count.

Deepening the trance is even easier than entering it, count back again from ten to one in time with your breathing again but this time imagine yourself sinking deeper into your subconscious mind with each count.

It may help you to tell yourself deeper, say to yourself “deeper,” before each number. You may feel as if you’re falling or sinking and some people notice a change in the color they see in their minds as they descend deeper into the trance. This is all normal and is a good sign but do not be concerned if you don’t feel or see any change.
One the count of one you will be in a hypnotic trance and ready to receive suggestions.

Initially you may only be able to enter a light trance while others will very quickly be able to enter a very deep trance, that just means they are very suggestible but with practice anyone can enter a deep trance. Many are concerned that they have not succeeded in entering a trance because they feel normal and are still aware of what’s happening around them. That’s perfectly normal for a shallow trance and you will still be able to use that state to reprogram your subconscious mind.

If you need to leave a trance quickly you can do so instantly just by opening your eyes but this is likely to feel jarring, similar to if you stand up too quickly or awaken from a day dream, it is better if you take your time. When it is time to leave a trance count upwards from one to ten, saying “awaken,” to yourself before each number. Gradually exercise your muscles as you count and on the count of ten open your eyes. If you need to awaken quickly you will probably be wide awake before you even know it.

With practice you will be able to quickly enter a trance at any time but hear is a simple technique that you can do to speed this process and to help you relax. Whenever you are preparing to enter a trance push the thumb and forefinger of one or both hands together so that when you relax they will stay together. This creates the association in your mind so that whenever you put your thumb and forefinger together and tell yourself to relax it will do so automatically. This also means that if you are stressed or unfocused and need to relax your body or focus your mind you can just touch the forefinger and thumb together and tell yourself to relax. With practice this simple suggestion can become an extremely powerful technique.

Within a trance you can imprint suggestions and new thought patterns on your subconscious mind which will help you to achieve your goals and learn new skills. This can be done by two methods, the use of suggestions and visualization. Suggestions are commands or affirmations that are repeated to your unconscious mind every time you enter a trance; these suggestions can produce spectacular results over time but are most effective when reinforced with visualizations. Visualization is used to reinforce suggestions or to rehearse desired behavior and to give your unconscious mind an incentive to help you achieve your goals. Unlike your conscious mind your unconscious mind has never been educated and is still very much like a child, rather than telling it to do something you have to encourage or bribe it. Visualization is the method by which you explain to your unconscious mind why it wants to change its behavior.

You must create your suggestions before you enter your trance and memorize them, they are statements that you say to yourself three times while within a trance. You should always limit yourself to three or four suggestions per hypnosis session and each should be a simple sentence that you can easily remember, keep it short. Use simple natural language and terms that are familiar to you, grammar is not important. Multiple suggestions should be used to achieve the same goal but in different ways. It is best to concentrate on achieving one goal at a time. Suggestions must always be positive and be phrased in the present tense, state your goal as if you had already achieved it and use the term “I am,” not “I will!”

Visualization is a term I dislike because when I first studied this technique I tried to force specific images into my mind which ended up being totally lacking in emotion, a better term is to imagine. Never force images into your head, imagine what it will feel like having achieved your goal, what you will be able to do and enjoy, let images and feelings come naturally from this. The important part of visualization is to feel positive emotions and thoughts so that your unconscious mind will feel and understand the benefits of achieving your goal. With practice your ability to imagine your goals and what you hope to achieve will improve, the important part is always the emotions.

To reinforce suggestions simply imagine the benefits you will enjoy having achieved the goal, show your unconscious mind what it can enjoy once the goal is achieved. Remember to focus on the feelings and try to strengthen them and make them as strong as possible.

To reinforce desirable behavior imagine yourself in a situation behaving in the desired way in a natural and confident way, then feel the pride, confidence or other emotions associated with the action or behavior. Imagine the benefits you will get from that behavior, the emotions they produce and make those emotions as strong as you can. This technique can be used to pre-visualize presentations, dates, debates, examinations, specific problems, competitions or conflicts, always remember to focus feeling on confident and self assured during the visualization and on the emotions and benefits of a successful resolution.

I was originally taught that last method of visualization while studying martial arts and recommend its use to pre-visualize sparring, competition fights and the correct practice of martial arts techniques, kata and form.