How To Attain Self-hypnosis

Let us begin with the hypothesis that anyone can learn and practice, to

some degree, the science of self-hypnosis. We shall assume that you have

carefully thought out what you want to accomplish. You have, through

self-analysis, come up with reasonable goals of therapy and

self-improvement. The next step is the acquisition of the hypnotic

state, per se.

Before giving you the specific instructions, I would
like to clarify a

question which invariably arises in teaching a student self-hypnosis. It

is: "Are the suggestions that I give myself as effective as the ones you

would give me in hetero-hypnosis?"

It is natural to assume that the suggestions of the hypnotist would be

more effective than those given by the subject himself, but both have

the same intrinsic value. It is well to remember that all hypnosis is

really self-hypnosis, and all hetero-suggestions are transposed into

self-suggestions. If the hypnotist firmly suggests, "From this moment,

you will feel very confident in all life situations," the subject

automatically and unconsciously rephrases the statement, "From this

moment, I will feel very confident in all life situations." The subject,

ordinarily, mentally or aloud, repeats all suggestions using the pronoun

"I" instead of "you".

The easiest and quickest way to learn self-hypnosis is to be hypnotized

and given a posthypnotic suggestion to the effect that you will be able

to put yourself into the hypnotic state at a given stimulus whenever you

desire to do so. The hypnotist need not be a professional. Anyone

understanding the rudiments of hypnosis can do this. However, let us

assume you want to learn self-hypnosis and cannot find help. If you

understand and consciously practice the instructions that I shall

outline, you will attain your goal.

Sit in an easy chair or recline on a sofa or bed. Next, choose a point

of eye fixation on the ceiling, preferably a spot behind you which would

normally cause eye fatigue or strain. Now, breathe very slowly and

deeply. As you do this, repeat, aloud or mentally, the word "sleep" as

you inhale and "deep sleep" as you exhale. Do this for several minutes

in a very monotonous manner until such time as you find yourself getting

drowsy. Next, suggest to yourself that your eyelids are becoming heavy

and tired. The goal is to acquire eye closure using this method. You

want to reach a state where it is uncomfortable to keep the eyes open.

Once you get your eyes closing, seemingly of their own volition, you

have reached the first step in achieving self-hypnosis.

You can repeat to yourself such suggestions as, "My eyelids are becoming

very heavy and tired ... My eyes are becoming very watery ... My eyelids

are blinking ... I just want to close my eyes ... The moment I close my

eyelids, I shall fall into a deep, sound, hypnotic sleep ... Even though

in a deep state of hypnosis, I shall be aware of my surroundings and be

able to direct posthypnotic suggestions to my subconscious mind."

When your eyelids actually become heavy or when your eyes actually begin

to water, you intensify these feelings by repeating affirmative

suggestions along these very lines. This is known as "the feed-back

technique" and helps to reinforce the actual condition that exists.

Proceeding in this way hastens the actual closing of the eyes and

attainment of the hypnotic state, per se.

Let us assume that you practice this procedure and seemingly nothing

happens. Continue to practice it again and again until such time as you

are able to achieve an eye closure. You will eventually be able to do

this within a relatively short period of time.

One of the best times to practice the technique just given is when you

are falling asleep at night. The lights are out and you are lying in

bed. Choose an imaginary spot above and behind your eye level so there

is some strain on the eye muscles. Now begin giving yourself suggestions

that your eyelids are becoming heavy, etc.

The reason this period is such an excellent time to practice

self-hypnosis is that the suggestions you give yourself spill over into

your subconscious as you drift from consciousness to unconsciousness.

It's like telling yourself to wake up at a certain time in the morning.

The suggestion reaches your subconscious and activates you consciously

to waken. Using this approach, you can give yourself dynamic,

constructive suggestions at this time as well as giving yourself the

posthypnotic suggestion that the next time you practice self-hypnosis,

you will fall into a deeper, sound, hypnotic state at the count of

three. You also emphasize that your eyelids will close involuntarily

whenever you relax for five minutes and afterwards count to three. This

conditioning process will be augmented by the use of the sleep period.

The suggestions will tend to work unconsciously during this period and

hasten your attainment of the constructive goals as well as the

self-hypnotic goal itself.

Once you have achieved eye closure, deepen the hypnotic state by the

following suggestions: "As I count to three, I shall go deeper and

deeper into a profound, hypnotic state. As I count to three, I shall

find myself becoming more and more relaxed. As I count to three, I shall

fall into a deep, hypnotic sleep." You repeat these suggestions many

times, actually trying on a conscious level to feel sleepier, more

relaxed, more at ease. In doing this, you take on the characteristics of

a deeply hypnotized subject.

Part of the difficulty in learning self-hypnosis is that the subject is

aiming at a state of mind in which he has no experience. If I say, "Act

happy" or "Act sad," there is an immediate reaction from your

experiential background, and you can react accordingly. If you have

never seen anyone hypnotized and I say, "Act as though you were

hypnotized," you must, of necessity, act in a manner that you would

assume approximated that of hypnosis. If you had actually seen someone

hypnotized, you would naturally take on the characteristics you had

observed. This would either be done consciously or unconsciously.

Some individuals describe the hypnotic state as a state of "complete

relaxation." Many get a feeling of "detachment;" others a feeling of

"disassociation," as though their entire being was only thought. Some

get a "floating" or "drifting" feeling, likening the experience to

lying on deep clouds. Others experience a heavy, pleasant, "sinking"

feeling. Still others get a feeling of "peace and serenity." Many

describe the hypnotic state as being akin to the state just prior to

falling asleep or like daydreaming, and they experience the same

reactions. Yet, there are some who do not feel a definite change. They

describe it by saying, "I just felt that I had my eyes closed. I heard

everything and was completely aware at all times." Since it is possible

to direct your feelings (reactions), I would suggest that you aim for a

completely relaxed, comfortable state.

You have now reached the point where your eyes are closed, and you have

given yourself further suggestions to deepen the state of hypnosis. This

has taken from about six to ten minutes. You are not sure, though, that

you are under hypnosis. There are many ways to test this, and I shall

outline one of these tests later in this chapter; however, for your

initial attempts, it isn't too important whether or not you are under

hypnosis. You are still to give yourself the posthypnotic suggestion

that the next time you attempt to hypnotize yourself you will fall into

a deeper and sounder state after you have relaxed for about five minutes

and counted to three.

In your initial attempts, you will be trying to establish a conditioned

response to the count of three which will subsequently cause your eyes

to close and put you under hypnosis. Eventually, you should react

instantly to the count of three or any other cue you may use to trigger

the response. The key words or stimulus become associated with the

action that you seek. Through repetition, just thinking about the

stimulus can bring on the response. This is known as ideomotor action

and is present in the waking as well as the hypnotic state. Pavlov's

famous experiments which induced dogs to salivate when a bell was rung

after previously having had food fed to them at the same time are

examples of this type of conditioning. Don't we generally become hungry

if someone tells us it's noon and time for lunch when, in fact, it's

only 11 o'clock?

I had a common experience recently that I am sure many readers have

shared. One of my neighbors, seeing my car was parked in front of my

house and knowing I was home, called to say he was dropping in to see

me. While working on the manuscript of this book, I thought I heard the

doorbell as I was typing. I went to the front door and no one was there.

I even walked around the house looking for him because I was so certain

I heard the bell. This is another example of an ideomotor action. I told

my friend about it when he arrived approximately 30 minutes later. He

looked at me rather whimsically, and we both shared a laugh. Haven't you

thought you heard the phone ring when you were waiting for a call?

In the chapter, "How Does Self-Hypnosis Work," stress was laid on the

importance of the visual-imagery technique. During every attempt to

achieve self-hypnosis, you attempt to visualize yourself going into the

hypnotic state. Once you have deepened the state, you begin the process

of visualizing yourself exactly the way you want to be. You may

experience difficulty at first, but as you keep at it, you will be able

to picture yourself the way you want. You use the visual-imagery

technique whether you think you are under hypnosis or not. These images

become clear as you constantly hammer home these suggestions. This is

the exact procedure necessary, and you needn't complicate it.

Let us suppose that you are getting your eyelids to close at the count

of three and have achieved a good state of relaxation. With these

prerequisites, you can anticipate going deeper into the hypnotic state.

Actually, being able to get the eyes to close at a specific count is the

first test in determining if the subject has gone under hypnosis. If you

have conditioned yourself this far, then you can go to the next step.

The next test is called the "swallowing" test. You mentally give

yourself suggestions that as you slowly, to yourself, count to 10, you

will get an irresistible urge to swallow one time. You further suggest

that this will happen even before you reach the count of 10. You then

begin the count. "One ... My throat is parched, and I feel an

irresistible urge to swallow one time. Two ... My lips are becoming very

dry, and I feel an irresistible urge to swallow. Three ... My throat

feels very dry, and I feel an irresistible urge to swallow one time.

Four ... Before I reach the count of 10, the urge to swallow one time

will become irresistible because my lips and throat are so dry. Five ...

Once I swallow, I shall no longer have the urge to swallow again, and as

I swallow one time, I shall fall into a deeper and sounder state of

hypnosis." Continue with similar suggestions, repeating and affirming

the suggestions about swallowing. Once you actually swallow, you

discontinue the suggestions and, instead, give yourself suggestions that

you are falling deeper and deeper into a sound hypnotic state and that

the constructive suggestions you now give yourself will work for you.

Once again you practice visual-imagery, seeing yourself the way you want

to be, while fortifying this image with forceful, positive suggestions.

You close by giving yourself suggestions that you will enter the

hypnotic state whenever you relax for five minutes and count to three.

The suggestions are just as effective whether given aloud or mentally.

Many subjects report that they are reluctant when it comes to giving

suggestions to themselves. I can only say that as you continue to work

with yourself, you will develop confidence in giving yourself

suggestions. In order for the suggestions to be effective, they cannot

be given in a reticent or hesitant manner. They must be given with

enthusiasm and anticipation. If you assiduously follow these

instructions, you will derive the benefits you seek in the shortest

possible time and witness the positive, tangible results of your

suggestions and efforts. In the next chapter, you'll learn how to deepen

the self-hypnotic state.