Self-Hypnosis For You.
By the late-1980’s I had been smoking cigarettes on and off for some fifteen years. I was what some people call a periodic smoker, having given it up for five years but then going back to a pack-and-a-half a day. It so happened I was also a musician and a singer, and when smoking wasn’t messing up my lungs it was damaging my vocal cords, the effect conjuring less Rod Stewart, and more Joe Cocker through a broken meat grinder. I was getting chronic bronchitis, and my cough was charming enough to move people with children thee seats over on the subway.
I knew my wellbeing hinged on giving up smoking, but nicotine was a rough habit to break. I tried everything, including upping the stakes by smoking two packs of Lucky Strikes a day, hoping that would lead to tar burnout. Nothing worked. Out of desperation, I tried hypnosis. When I showed up for the session, the therapist looked to me like a cross between an oversized Leprechaun and James Woods on a bad day. I had to fight myself not to run out of there. I am so glad I stayed.
One session with that hypnotherapist was all it took for me. I smoked a cigarette an hour before entering his office and threw away the rest of the pack once I went downstairs, quitting cold turkey but without any negative side-effects. Six months later, feeling myself wavering, I returned to him for a ‘booster’ session. And that was it for me.
In addition to helping me get back my health, the therapist also gave me another gift: a cassette tape describing a simple self-hypnosis technique that I could use to improve almost any aspect of my life: intuition, weight, focus, remembering dreams, etc.
It was also around that time, as my days as a musician slowly came to an end, that I began studying Chinese Medicine. As a musician, moving energy through my hands and onto a ‘wire’ or guitar string had come naturally to me. Now with acupuncture, I was moving energy through a tiny metal pin in order to affect changes within people. Largely fed up with a medical system that treats symptoms instead of root causes, I found in acupuncture and hypnosis healing systems that addressed causes as well as effects. Over the years, I have utilized these modalities to help people heal from pain, discomfort, obsessive disorders, and many maladies.
The following self-hypnosis technique was developed by Elizabeth (Betty) Erickson, wife of the late psychiatrist Milton Erickson, M.D., one of the seminal figures in modern hypnotherapy. And while I suggest that clients come to me before attempting self-hypnosis, I want to share this technique here because of its great life-affirming ability. Anyone can use it, if only as a meditative device or a sleep aid. And it’s a lot more.
The following self-hypnosis technique is one I use. Feel free to contact me if you get positive results.
BETTY ERICKSON’S SELF-HYPNOSIS TECHNIQUE
This technique asks you to focus on the senses: what you see, hear and feel, as a way of keeping your conscious mind busy so it doesn’t sabotage your unconscious as it works to fulfill your goal for the hypnosis session. I’m going to list the steps involved to show how simple it is:
*Get in a comfortable position – Find a comfortable chair to sit in for the duration of the process. Then start breathing slowly, allowing yourself to become deeply relaxed.
* Determine the length of time for the session – 20 minutes is standard, and you could go longer or shorter (15 or 30 minutes, for example).
* State your purpose for the session – Speaking out loud or quietly to yourself, verbally state your goal. For example: “I’m entering a state of self-hypnosis for 15 minutes for the purpose of allowing my unconscious mind to assist me in (fill in the blank however you like).”
State how you want to feel at the end of the session. I usually reinforce my goal by also including it in this sentence. “When I awake in 15 minutes, I will feel refreshed and vitally alive, better than I have in a long time,” for example. If you’re about to go to bed, you might want to state an intention to become deeply relaxed. Normally, because I want to focus on my main goal, I include only three goals for my posthypnotic state. It’s up to you.
Here’s another example of how your statement of purpose might sound: “I’m now entering a 20 minute trance state for the purpose of allowing my unconscious mind to assist me in becoming completely free of the urge to smoke cigarettes. When I awake in 20 minutes, I will feel peaceful, committed to improving my health and completely free of the need to smoke cigarettes.”
Experiment with different goals for your sessions. You might need assistance in becoming free of a particular obsessive/compulsive habit. For weight control, you could become committed to eating appropriate amounts of healthy food every day (adjust the language to your needs or liking).
If you’re feeling depressed, shoot for feeling serene. Or utilize this technique with the goal of becoming focused on your job, and then journal to see what impact that has on your productivity.
Say you’re trying to stop smoking. Because so many people associate stopping smoking with adding weight, I would annex this to my session: “I’m entering a state of self-hypnosis for 20 minutes for the purpose of allowing my unconscious mind to assist me in becoming free of the need to smoke cigarettes. When I awake in 20 minutes, I will feel serene, aware that I can eat appropriate quantities of healthy food, and also be free of the urge to smoke cigarettes.’ Immediately after you’ve made your statement of process, you’re ready to begin the induction process.
* The Technique – Looking in front of you, notice three things (one at a time) that you see. Go slowly, pausing for a short while on each. Look at small things, such as a spot on the wall, doorknob, lamp, item on the table, etc. Some people like to name the items as they look at them.
As you stare, focus all of your attention on the object’s appearance and try to keep your mind as free of random thoughts as possible. Imagine any thoughts popping like bubbles if they float into your consciousness. (NOTE: It’s okay if you can’t completely still your mind of random thoughts. The process will still work. Just do the best you can.)
Now turn your attention to your auditory channel and notice, one by one, three things that you hear. You might notice the sound of a clock ticking, fan blowing, creak of a settling building, cars passing by outside, or birds chirping.
If it seems perfectly quiet in your particularly environment, notice the sounds of your breathing and swallowing, or create a sound by gently tapping your foot or clicking your teeth. Focus all of your attention on each sound for a short while. If it was just a momentary noise, replay it in your head a few times.
Next shift your attention to your physical being, and notice three sensations that you feel. Again, go slowly from one to the next. Try to use sensations that normally are outside of your awareness, such as the weight of your eyeglasses or the skin sensations created by a watch, piece of jewelry, article of clothing, hair on your forehead or neck, the soles of your shoes, your lips touching, etc. Even focus on an itch if you feel one.
Repeat the process with two different objects, two different sounds and two different feelings.
Repeat the cycle once again using one different object, one different sound and one different feeling.
At this point, you’ve completed the “external” portion of the process. Now it’s time to begin the “internal” part by closing your eyes.
*Imagine one small thing you see. Use whatever pops into your head (a leaf, bird, mirror, etc.) and focus all of your attention on it for a short while.
*Then imagine one thing you hear. It could be a part of a song or the sound of a train’s whistle, running water, etc. Though this is technically the “internal” part of the process, feel free to use an actual environmental one if it comes to the forefront of your attention. It’s better to incorporate such a noise than be distracted by it.
*Next, imagine one thing you feel. You could think of the feelings created by the sun on your cheek, sand between your toes, a kiss on the lips, a comb on your head, a razor shaving your skin, etc. Try your best to focus all of your attention on these sensations as if they were actually happening. Again, if an actual physical sensation comes to your attention, feel free to use that.
*Repeat the process with two different images, two different sounds, and two different feelings.
*Repeat the cycle once again using three different images, three different sounds, and three different feelings.
That’s it. You’re done. Open your eyes and go about your day. You’ll often find that your body’s internal clock works so well that you’re done exactly at the end of the allotted amount of time. But even if you’re a little over or under your desired period of self-hypnosis, it doesn’t matter.
Regular practice is bound to yield better and better results!
Daniel at Blue Phoenix