When we think about to trying to learn self hypnosis, some of us don’t know where to start. We may think hypnosis as being some ancient ritual practice linked to mantras and Indian mythology (which it does have something in common with).
The funny thing about hypnosis is that it’s nowhere near as complicated to conduct as some people may think. There are obviously many forms of hypnosis, from self hypnosis right through to covert hypnosis, mass hypnosis and a variety of other forms.
The question that often plagues people's mind, especially new hypnotists, is “just what are all these different forms of hypnosis?” Hopefully, in the scope of this article, I shall attempt to answer this question.
Hypnosis isn’t some rare science that has yet to be discovered by the greater community. Believe it or not, hypnosis has been used for thousands of years to help treat a number of ailments and conditions. During the wars of the 1800’s hypnosis was used to help alleviate pain, long before forms of modern pain prevention methods and medication were developed. Hypnosis was used in many circumstances, to help women during childbirth, to help people quit smoking and break a number of their habits, the possibilities it was used for both back in the past, and to this day, really are quite limitless.
The funny thing with modern forms of hypnosis, however, is that people still seem to believe that these techniques are somehow new age, or that they’re still being researched extensively by science. A lot of people miss the fact that doctors and surgeons have been, and still do to this very day, use hypnosis to help treat pain, and many psychologists use it to help overcome a number of psychological conditions.
So of course when one speaks of trying to learn hypnosis, they rarely think of past histories and past times, they’re much more used to thinking about modern preambles stating that hypnosis has many untested areas. Of course, experimentation within this field is going on each day, but just how much it works and just how much it doesn’t is still left open to a lot of debate.
Now when it comes to learning self-hypnosis, we thankfully don’t need to worry about all the complexities of trying to hypnotise another person. You see with self hypnosis, our subjects, being ourselves, are obviously voluntary. One of the requirements in hypnosis is that a subject is vulnerable and willing to accept suggestions from the hypnotist. If the subject doesn’t wish to be placed in hypnosis, then doing so may be quite difficult. No doubt if you’re practising self-hypnosis on yourself, however, then you don’t need to worry about this involuntary side to things as affecting you at all.
The state of hypnosis is achieved by entering into what’s called a ‘trance’. When we’re in a state of trance, we become quite vulnerable to external suggestions and are more likely to act upon them. These external suggestions are normally stopped by a part of our mind known as the critical layer. This critical layer is the part of our mind that analyses suggestions and determines whether or not they should enter into a part of our mind known as the subconscious. You see the subconscious layer of our mind is the part that rejects or accepts external suggestions. If our subconscious takes a suggestion on board, then it essentially becomes a part of our fundamental way of thinking. What we’re consciously we’re off, we’re able to critique, dismiss and judge with a critical mindset. However what seeps deeply into our subconscious is not so easy to see and judge, hence why with hypnosis we like to plant suggestions at the subconscious level.
For anyone wanting to learn self-hypnosis the important thing to try and understand is that you must apply what works best for you in the field of hypnotherapy. What this means, is that if you want to enter into a state of trance, then you’re going to need to find out what works best for you in self hypnosis. One of the fundamental techniques that many people utilise is what is referred to as the self hypnotic concept of autosuggestion. Autosuggestion basically involves telling yourself that you want to enter into a deeply relaxed and hypnotic state. Eventually, your body will feel relaxed and succumb to your mind’s thinking power, and you’ll literally ‘automatically suggest’ (autosuggest) certain thoughts which will seep deeply into your subconscious. These thoughts, when acted upon, will seem automatic and not as if they had any form of pre-hypnotic disposition.
Process of Self Hypnosis
First, we must enter into a state of trance. Once we’re in a state of trance we can then give our subconscious certain thoughts through the process known as autosuggestion. These thoughts can range from anything that relates to something such as a bad habit, right through to thoughts to change certain outlooks we have towards life, to make ourselves more positive for example. Once these thoughts have been placed, we then come out of this state of hypnosis and are then once again able to become conscious of our surroundings.
One method many people use to enter into a hypnotic state is imagining themselves walking down a staircase. Let’s say the staircase has 20 or so steps, and as each step comes closer to the bottom of the suitcase, the person becomes more deeply relaxed and shuts their critical mind off more and more. One would begin by telling themselves that the staircase is right there in their very minds and that they can imagine themselves walking down it. As the person imagines themselves taking more and more steps down, from 10, until 9, and so forth, the person begins to enter into hypnosis. Eventually, when the person reaches zero, they’re able to imagine themselves stepping into a void of nothingness, a void which offers complete and utter detachment from reality and the problems that might be facing the person. When a person is in this relaxed state of mind, they may begin giving themselves certain thoughts and suggestions which get rid of their fears.
Let’s say for example that you had an addiction to smoking or online gaming, and you wanted to break that addiction. You could tell yourself ‘whenever I see a cigarette, I’m not going to want to smoke it, I’m going to put it completely outside of my mind’. Any suggestion can be planted depending on how you want your subconscious mind to change the way it views situations.
Once the suggestions have been planted, all that then remains is to bring yourself out of hypnosis. Now you don’t want to do this too quickly, you still want to be as relaxed as possible, so try and make it a gradual process. Coming out of hypnosis can take as long as putting yourself into hypnosis, and should not necessarily be rushed. So we’d imagine the staircase once more, which you’d be at the bottom of. You’d then suggest to yourself ‘when I reach the top of this staircase again, I’ll be fully alert and wide awake’. So you start by taking your initial step and feel yourself ever so slightly coming out of this deep state of self-hypnosis. With each step you take you begin to become more aware of your surroundings and the room you’re in until finally you take your last step and become fully alert and wide awake, aware of the room you’re in, aware of the noises you’re hearing, totally out of this state of hypnosis.
It can be useful to tell yourself as you’re approaching your last few steps ‘17, 18, 19 and… 20, wide awake’. This gives your mind the subtle suggestion that once you reach the top step, being 20, you will wake up in your entirety.
This is essentially all self hypnosis is. It quite simply just involves telling your body to enter into a deeply relaxed state where you’re not too concerned with the world around you, a state where you can ignore usually every day repetitive and negative thoughts, and ignore the sounds that are coming in. It’s in this state you make the changes, and then afterwards you simply bring yourself out of it.
So as you can see, self hypnosis isn’t some rare, ancient or mystical practice as some people might make you want to believe. There are no inherent dangers in self hypnosis, despite what some sceptics may think from time to time. Did you know that your subconscious will reject negative suggestions? By negative suggestions, I mean any form of suggestion which you’d normally find immoral or wrong. You see our beliefs are usually so ingrained in our mind, right down to such an intricate subconscious level, that even when we’re hypnotised we can’t do things that we normally wouldn’t. But hang on you’re thinking, what about all those people are stage hypnosis shows? Believe it or not, those people willingly do almost everything that they do, to some degree. There is of course always the skill of the hypnotist in trying to word things in such a way that make people believe that what they’re doing is right, even though it might not be, but that relates to an entirely different form of hypnosis which won’t be discussed in this article.
So whatever your thoughts and beliefs are about hypnosis, try not to be too critical of the art until you’ve at least practised it yourself for a little bit. You can practice hypnosis right from the very comfort of your own home, without having to worry about attending any clinic, or being interfered with by other people. If you can find a nice relaxing and quiet period to learn hypnosis and practice it, then you’ll be well on your way to discovering one of the best ways to get rid of your psychological problems, and stress.
If you don’t feel comfortable in trying to attempt self-hypnosis by yourself, then you could always seek out the services of a hypnotherapist who is trained in the field of hypnotherapy appropriately. Hypnotherapists vary greatly in their skills levels and competence, so make sure to pick one that you feel is right for you. Once you’ve experienced hypnosis once, re-entering the state becomes much easier and more self-explanatory. Eventually you’ll be able to enter hypnosis at just the mere suggestion of a keyword, however, we’ll be covering this concept in more detail in Lesson 2.
I hope you have found this lesson to be of use. Remember that with hypnosis the trick is not to expect magical and miraculous things to happen instantly. Whilst in many cases, and quite possibly you will notice changes instantly, such a thing cannot be guaranteed. Go into practising hypnosis with the mindset that it’s more of an exercise that you enjoy, a technique that you want to learn and that with practice you will get better with, and eventually you’ll start noticing the positives associated with this field. It isn’t an overnight step, whilst you may enter into hypnosis quite quickly the first time you experience it, don’t expect instant wonders. Allow time for your mind to absorb what it's learnt and to change your lifestyle.
I do encourage you to check out the next lesson, where I’ll be explaining more concepts relating to self hypnosis, including somnambulism, posthypnotic suggestions as well as ways that you can use hypnosis to help alleviate stress. If you’ve made it this far, then I do encourage you to stick along with the series. As you can see, trying to learn self hypnosis isn’t as difficult as you might think, and with appropriate practice is a task that you’ll be able to pull off with ease, once you get the hang of it. Give yourself time, don’t give up, and most importantly, don’t slacken off. All things in life take time and dedication, and this field is no exception.