Hypnosis is often seen as something done by an ‘expert’ to a ‘patient’. And, of course, this is often the case. Hypnotherapy has an excellent success rate in dealing with problems ranging from anxiety to giving up smoking.

Hypnosis is a part of modern life

In my view we spend much of our time in a light state of hypnotic trance, anyway.

Some of these are pleasurable, for example when listening to a favourite piece of music or staring out of the window in a moving vehicle.

Others have more sinister overtones: politicians’ speeches and adverts are often full of visual and auditory tricks to hypnotize us into agreeing with them. This light hypnosis brings about a gentle lowering of our conscious guard, while we believe we are still in full control of our faculties.

The point of this is to show that hypnosis is not some weird thing only seen on a stage. It’s part of our lives. The question arises: to what extent can we send ourselves into pleasant and healing states? Can you hypnotise yourself?

My view is that we are very capable of this, once we have learnt some techniques.

How to hypnotise yourself

Meditation is one well-known way. I actually studied this before getting interested in NLP.

A stressed businessman, I found myself in need of relaxation, and found it in this practice, after which I investigated it in greater depth, looking at various forms: Buddhist mindfulness, TM, Qigong and Yogic meditation. When I began learning about NLP, I soon spotted how similar many of these were to Ericksonian Hypnosis.

Inducing relaxation

A simple form of self-hypnosis is just to induce relaxation. Lie down, get comfortable, and speak gently to yourself. “Become aware of your toes [pause], you can relax…… your toes.”

In doing this you are giving yourself what NLP calls an embedded command. Your unconscious mind will hear ‘You can relax’ and react accordingly. Then move your attention up your body. “Become aware of your feet [pause], you can relax…… your feet.”

Just work your way up to the crown of your head, and notice and enjoy how relaxed you feel!

Try the classic ‘mindfulness’ meditation to enhance this. Once relaxed, count your breaths silently… Breathe in, breathe out, count ‘1’. Breathe in, breath out, count ‘2’ (and so on. When you reach 10 go back to 1.)

You can also try counting yourself down into relaxation. Ten, nine, eight… Include a few comments such as ‘when I get to one I will be really relaxed’.

Is meditation safe?

Some people fear this will induce a state from which they cannot recover, but this will not happen – if you feel stressed, simply stop; otherwise the worst that could happen is you might fall asleep!

By far the most likely outcome is that you will enter a pleasant state of moderate trance. In this state, you will find yourself able to talk to yourself and suggest positive messages – those old-fashioned ‘I am a confident person’ affirmations work much better in this state than stuck on post-it notes around the house and viewed by a busy, conscious and rather sceptical mind.

This may sound odd, but try it and see what I mean.

When you are ready to return to ‘normality’, count yourself back from one to ten, telling yourself that by ten you will be wide awake. Or just enjoy sitting in silence for a couple of minutes more doing nothing – after all you are a human being, not a human doing.

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