This is the first of two parts where I am going to be talking about hypnosis and self hypnosis. By the end of this article you will know more about what Hypnosis is, why it can be so helpful and also gain a practical understanding of how to enjoy the benefits of self hypnosis. In part two, I will discuss how you can use self hypnosis to improve specific areas of your life.
So what exactly is hypnosis?
Well the common explanation is that it is an altered state of consciousness, which implies that it is a conscious state of awareness. It can also be called a trance state too. Basically, in most situations, it means that we are still very much aware that we are conscious and awake, yet it is altered from our usual awake state. The reason it is altered is because our attention is focused either internally or externally. The degree of how much it is altered is down to both our level of focus and our own perception of the experience we have. If we are guided in the right way by an experienced hypnotherapist it is possible to go into a very deep trance state, yet we are still conscious and we are still making the choice to go to that deep state.
We go in and out of this altered state on a daily basis far more often than we realise too; whenever we have our attention specifically focused on something will mean we are experiencing a trance state to some degree. Daydreaming, being engrossed in a book, music or TV programme and the state we are in upon waking or just before we fall asleep, are probably the most common. Meditation is the closest to hypnosis, with the only difference being that when meditating we are not looking to achieve anything other than a quieting of the mind. Hypnosis is different because even though the feeling is the same we usually want to have a particular goal or purpose in mind, which is where Hypnotherapy comes in.
And why is hypnosis so helpful?
When we are in the trance state, our ability to learn and integrate these learnings is far greater than in a fully awake state. Yet the misconception is that you need to be in a deep trance state to affect this change, when in fact learning to control and access a light trance is just as beneficial, and in fact necessary if you are doing self hypnosis as you need to be alert enough to guide yourself. Self hypnosis is a really easy and lovely way to relax and something that absolutely anyone can benefit from and enjoy with a little practice.
How do you ‘do’ self hypnosis then?
As you will undoubtedly realise the way we interpret our reality is by using all our senses. It is something we do every single waking moment and quite unconsciously most of the time. The visual sense is the most powerful yet all the other senses are busy at work in the background.
There are a couple of ways we can guide ourselves into a trance state
When we close our eyes and start to remember a good experience from our past and how it felt then our kinaesthetic sense (inner feeling of our body and emotions) becomes more dominant. If we then try and focus on using our sight in our minds eye before running through the other main senses of touch, hearing, smell and taste, imagining we are back there experiencing that good memory, it then becomes much more vivid and we can also get a better feel for which senses are easier to access. For instance some people have a very vivid ability to bring pictures and colours into their mind whilst for others sounds are easier to recreate.
Once you can easily go in and out of your predominant senses, then try and focus on the ones you find harder to access as not only are you developing your acuteness to those senses but because they are harder for you to access you naturally go into a deeper state of trance. Eventually you should be able to switch and overlap between each of your senses with relative ease. In addition to using a memory or a made up place you can also do this sensory overlapping by focusing your attention on the space you are sitting in; the sounds around you, the feelings in different parts of your body and then imagining what it would be like to walk around the room you are sitting in and beyond, using your sense of touch, sight and smell....all in your mind. And of course by doing this you are developing your ability to go in and out of a state of self hypnosis!
Practicing this will mean it will become easier to slip into this wonderful state very easily. For some it will still be quite a light state of trance whilst for others it might be deeper, yet you will still feel fully in control and aware of the choices you are making. An important point to mention is that it really needs to be done sitting rather than lying as otherwise you may very well fall asleep. Certainly a good thing if that is what you want, however you won’t really get adept at self hypnosis.
Now for some, enjoying this journey into trance is enough as it can be deeply restful and restorative, like meditation. However as mentioned above if you want to start using the state of hypnosis to make some changes in your life, you will need to be a bit more targeted. To do that it makes sense to become more familiar with accessing your trance state, which means regular practice for at least 5-10 minutes.
I will pick up from here in part 2 with an exercise for how to develop your self hypnosis further, to improve specific areas of your life. In the meantime enjoy practicing!
Article written by Lawrence Michaels - Hove
I'm a qualified Solution Focussed Psychotherapist and Hypnotherapist and NLP Practitioner, specialising in anxiety related concerns. I have been practising since 2008 and have also worked extensively with clients who have eating, weight and body image concerns in addition to a large number of other life issues. I hold a current... [read more]