Preparing For Self-Hypnosis

You know, when you take another person into hypnosis, there is often a good level of quality framing, expectation generation, and subtle psychological processes embedded into a pre-talk… Self-hypnosis is not necessarily any different.

That said, it is hard to sneak around your own mind unknowingly, so you need to prepare for self-hypnosis and create expectation in a way that is agreeable with both levels of mind.

It is one thing teaching yourself how to use self-hypnosis, however, doing it in a way that truly affects and enhances your well-being is something else. I am going to write primarily about that period of time immediately prior to a self-hypnosis session and ways in which you can show your mind how to prepare for self-hypnosis and be most receptive to it.

Self-hypnosis can and should be done anywhere. I have used it outside buildings before speaking events, on busy trains, during trainings, during football matches, in the middle of bedroom shenanigans and many, many other situations that you might not have thought conducive to the hypnotic process.

I am sure that you have read a book in an airport, on a plane, on a train, or with other people around, and you managed to block out all other sounds and distractions and tune in to your book. I used to have a clinic in Harley Street when I first started out.

It is a really busy place, and my office overlooked the street with constant road works and courier motorcycles traveling up and down it. It was very noisy. However, it would not distract my clients if they were guided into hypnosis in a way in which they were able to filter out other sounds.

For some sessions however, most people find themselves a comfortable quiet place for their self-hypnosis. I would recommend this especially with your initial sessions. It may be impossible to guarantee that you won’t be disturbed, so do your best to find somewhere to be free of distractions. I even unplug the phone when I want a really nice, deep and peaceful self-hypnosis session, especially if I am using that session for a life change rather than an on the spot state change.

Once you are better and more comfortable entering hypnotic trance states, you can progress to using it in a wide variety of places regardless of distractions.

Now, when I run self-hypnosis seminars, while I am talking about the hypnotic procedure and processes involved, my students sit still and are engaged in that waking trance… Yet as soon as they are told that we are going to do some formalize hypnosis sessions, they start fidgeting, scratching, shuffling around and so on…

If you want a real, deeply profound trance experience, then it is really good to experiment with stillness… When you are deeply still, you lose your spatial awareness – that is, you are less aware of where your arms, legs and body is and that is a far more heightened sense of trance. If you sit around shuffling and scratching, you know where you are at and as such it feels much like any other time you sat in a chair with your eyes closed.

Again, in the initial sessions, I recommend having your hypnosis sessions indoors and somewhere more private. Those wonderful outdoor sessions in the sunshine will come later. The most important thing at this early, embryonic stage is that you feel comfortable, safe, and are unlikely to be interrupted. This process, simply by its very nature, is already showing you that you are important to you by scheduling some time to do this.

Practice is going to be what leads you to excellence with self-hypnosis; the amount of time as well as the quality of that time that you invest in your self-hypnosis is important. As you will learn, there are a lot of things to do outside of trance to enhance your self-hypnosis results.

However, the periods of time that you spend in the state of hypnosis will vary, of course, there is no real optimum period of time to spend in the state. My average length of time spent in hypnosis is approximately 10-15 minutes each session. Achieving certain objectives may take longer while others are shorter. Ensure that you can keep focused for that length of time.

Many objectives may be comprehensively met with one session of hypnosis achieving the desired result. However, I have worked with many people that needed to repeat the session many times over for it to really work its way into their life. Again, be flexible and do what is best for you.

Repetition is indeed a successful strategy; the more you enter self-hypnosis, the better you become at entering it. The more you focus on achieving a certain objective, the more those self-hypnosis sessions are likely to yield a successful reaching of that objective.

Prior to any hypnosis session, you want to ensure that you have an open and progressive mind with the right kind of expectation. Build in success before you start by having an expectation of success; expect it to be successful and you are opening your unconscious mind to the possibility of that happening. If you think you can’t do something you are perfectly right, and you close down the opportunity to achieve that result.

When entering hypnosis, I have found that people get better results when they are seated comfortably rather than lying down. Your unconscious mind associates lying down with sleeping, and you want to gain the most from your sessions.

Being asleep is not conducive to making unconscious changes. Your unconscious mind especially associates your bed with sleeping, so it is really best to avoid lying down on your own bed to go into hypnosis, unless you are using your self-hypnosis to get off to sleep.

Ensure that you have your legs and arms uncrossed with your feet, ideally, flat on the floor and your hands by your sides or on your lap ensuring that they are not touching each other (your hands that is).

Just ensure you are comfortable. Again, when your arms and legs are not touching each other, there is less to be aware of consciously, and enhances the ability to lose your spatial awareness.

When you are ready to begin, you then allow your eyes to be comfortably closed. You can of course use self-hypnosis with your eyes open, however, you are more likely to be distracted or disturbed and receive stimulation visually. Your unconscious mind associates having your eyes closed with being relaxed, so you can allow them to be comfortably closed.

Quieting your internal dialogue:

In preparation for a self-hypnosis session, you may want to begin quietening your mind. This is not absolutely essential; complete inner silence and peace is something Buddhist Monks take a lifetime to attain. So many people that have been on my self-hypnosis seminars or courses ask me about their internal dialogue and what to do with it.

Many people say that their minds start chattering away just when they don’t want them to, especially if they have had an active or stressful day. It is also very important to be aware of internal dialogue if it is not being very nice to you.

Internal dialogue is the term for the voice(s) people speak to themselves with. Internal dialogue is often out of consciousness, but as you start to become more aware of it, it becomes much easier to hear it consciously. In some eastern traditions, internal dialogue is referred to as ‘the chattering monkey’, and years of practice are spent in meditation with the aim of getting the monkey to stop chattering. The reason for this is that they believe that internal dialogue can be a barrier to clear perception and enlightenment.

From a personal development perspective, internal dialogue is often the channel people use to ‘berate themselves’, reinforce limiting beliefs and generally stop themselves having more fun in their lives, so it’s nice to know that you can get more control over it and make it quieter before self-hypnosis begins, then you can use your internal dialogue and conscious mind to take control of the session.

Please be assured that even I, with the many years of self-hypnosis experience that I have, still chatter away to myself throughout hypnosis sessions, so any quietening down is good and simply having an awareness of it can be very useful indeed. The really good news is there are ways to show you how you can do this quietening, fast.

Think about this notion for a moment; your mind and your body are one system. So, the first technique to switch off internal dialogue is one I learned a few years ago on a training course I attended. I have used it consistently ever since.

Firstly, you stick out your tongue and grasp it gently but firmly between your thumb and your forefinger. Wait a few moments as you continue to breathe. You may well become quiet inside. Simple eh? Though others may think you have gone mad.

This works on the basis that your mind and body are one system. Tiny micro-muscle movements of the tongue and the larynx accompany internal dialogue. When these movements are restricted by your thumb and forefinger, the internal voice stops. Now, I know what you’re thinking – it’s not very practical to go around with your tongue clasped between your fingers, so there is another method.

Now, if the first exercise works well for you, gently place the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth just behind your front teeth (continue to breathe easily.) You will stay quiet.

I use this approach when I’m doing one to one work with people in hypnotherapy or coaching for example. It allows me to quieten down on the inside so that I can put all my attention on them and what they are saying and doing. It also allows me to really watch and listen, because I’m not inside my head having conversations with myself about what I think is going on. When I catch myself talking to myself when I should be in ‘watch and listen’ mode, the mode you should be in when you begin to enter self-hypnosis too (watch and listen to yourself), I simply do the next exercise.

With a soft, gentle and patient tone, go inside and use your internal voice to say to yourself “hush” in a hushed tone, like you would if you were soothing a little baby. Allow yourself to smile on the inside, or at least imagine that you have a smile on your face and really feel a sense of patience with your internal dialogue. It may take up to a minute before you go quieter inside. Remember, you do not have to completely silence yourself, just settle yourself down on the inside.

The next approach is one of the first interventions I ever learned and is incredibly simple. Go inside your mind and imagine that you have the volume control for internal dialogue (usually either a dial or a slider.) If you can’t find one, just imagine one – it will work just as well for our purposes.

Now turn the volume control up and hear or imagine the dialogue get louder. Then, of course, turn it down and hear it get quieter. Then turn it all the way off. Nice and quiet. Zip.

There are lots of other approaches. No one approach works for everybody, but each of these approaches will work for some people. Practice when you are relatively relaxed and have some time, and you will find the ones that work best for you. As you begin to get into the habit of using them systematically and consistently, you will really start to reap the benefits and be priming yourself for your self-hypnosis even better.

Your Breathing:

Now, because we spend our entire lifetimes breathing, many people take it for granted, and we all just assume that we are doing it correctly. There are of course many ways of breathing and different types of breathing. Hard and fast breathing forces us to inhale deeply and quickly so that we can rapidly restore consumed oxygen and expel carbon dioxide; the waste product of our exertions.

This kind of breathing is mostly noted when we exercise or partake in rigorous exercise. There is another kind of deep breathing and that is the deep breathing of relaxation, which is slower and occurs when we rest or are not partaking in physical exertion.

Your usual, every day breathing rate is likely to be shallow and rapid as with most people. It usually involves the chest expanding and moving outwards, however, the chest and ribs do not really have a vast amount of capacity to stretch and expand. As a pre-cursor to self-hypnosis and as part of any healthy routine, deep breathing originating from the diaphragm region is healthier and comes right from the abdomen.

A good way to get used to this is to push your tummy outward when you inhale and imagine that you are breathing from that area just beneath your belly button.

This area is known as the Hara in many eastern health practices. Below your lungs is a large and wide membrane called your diaphragm. As you allow your abdominal muscles to pull the membrane downwards, your lungs draw in more air to fill that space.

I can remember being at school during sports practice and being told my physical education teacher to thrown my shoulders back and breath deeply from the chest and keeping my stomach flat, military style. This was not good advice. It may look good, however it limits your breathing capacity.

Practice slow, deep breaths from your lower tummy area, push your tummy out when you inhale, regardless of how it looks and notice the difference in your breathing.

Renowned cardiologist Dr Herbert Benson (1976) coined the term “relaxation response” for the response that our body has to this deeper breathing as the deeper breathing triggered a series of reactions in the body to stimulate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system and instigate relaxation. This is the opposite to that well-documented “flight or fight response” which is that rush of nerves and adrenalin when our body prepares to fight or flight in response to anger, stress, anxiety or fright.

When you consciously reproduce one part of the relaxation response, by breathing deeply from the tummy, the body notices and responds with more additional agreeable, relaxing physiological changes such as slower heart rate and increased blood flow to all parts of the body. This is a wonderful state to be in and to begin to instigate when entering self-hypnosis and can contribute to it being a better overall experience.

Sounds simple doesn’t it? Asking you to breathe properly. Breathing; we all have to do it. Just how aware are we of our breathing and the effect it has on how we live our life? Even when not used a precursor to self-hypnosis.

So, to get into the idea of understanding your breathing and how it affects you and your life, physiology and your psychological state. Here are several exercises for you to heighten your awareness of your breathing and subsequently enhance your ability to get into a state that optimises your experience of self-hypnosis.

Firstly, when you are experiencing a powerful, positive state in your life, this can be anything or anytime when you are positive and happy, then allow yourself to become aware of your breathing rate. Pay particular attention to the timing and rhythm of your in-breath and out-breath.

Second of all, next time you are in a neutral or negative state, start breathing at the rate and rhythm from the first part of this exercise, and usually, within a minute or so, the positive state should begin to return.

Many gurus advise people to do breathing exercises regularly. I know Tony Robbins does in his book “Unlimited Power” he advises that you start each day with a breathing exercise of inhaling slowly and deeply, then holding it for twice as long as the inhalation and exhaling in a controlled manner in twice the time as the inhalation. It really is invigorating and a great way to get motivated at the start of the day, especially if you are looking to do some things with your day that require motivation.

Breathing is powerful, our life force, and is a major factor influencing our state of mind (if you are uncertain about this, hold your breath for two minutes and re-read this sentence). This being the case, please use your common sense when doing any of these exercises (if you have a respiratory condition, please check with your health advisor first.) I do not want any asthmatics complaining that they did themselves harm following the exercises given here!

So, thirdly, start breathing comfortably but deeply, in through your nose and out through your mouth. Imagine that you are breathing from that area of your abdomen just beneath your belly button that I mentioned earlier. Make the in-breath last to a count of 5 and the out-breath to a count of 6. Continue for at least 2 minutes, and notice what happens.

These techniques can be very powerfully utilised when wanting to get in control of your state if you are going through a period of change such as reducing your weight, stopping smoking or developing more confidence. Tune in to the way that your breathing affects you and begin to use it to settle yourself and create a nice state to proceed into your self-hypnosis session.

Please remember that most people don’t breathe nearly enough. Start to breathe more deeply and notice how much better you feel. Have lots of fun with this. Notice how good you can make yourself feel when you breathe differently and how comfortable you can be as you prepare for self-hypnosis.

Engage in the Moment:

In preparation for getting into self-hypnosis, people often comment to me that they spend lots of time thinking about the past or what might happen in the future. These are fine in the correct context. To get yourself into a good state of self-hypnosis, something that can enhance it further is to really engage in that moment.

Feedback to yourself what you are experiencing at the moment. It might sound strange; however, see what happens when you tell yourself what it is that you are experiencing. You can just do it in your own head, as you are settling, breathing, beginning to relax, just engage in the moment.

Being engaged in the moment does not have to be exclusive to the time immediately prior to a self-hypnosis session; it can also enhance your business and life experience in general.

I spend lots of time working with individuals, corporations and businesses to get them engaged in the present moment. The centre that I used to own and run here in Bournemouth on the south coast used to sell a wide range of books and one that I used to stock was a book called “The Power of Now” by a man called Eckhart Tolle.

Lots of people that came to classes, workshops and consultations at the centre would often tell me how great it was and give me snippets of information about its content and for a number of years I would occasionally think “Yeah, I really should read that book” then kept on deciding that I would wait until later (yes, I am fully aware of the irony in this!) Nevertheless, I am already sold on the power of the present moment, for a number of reasons.

You see when you really think about it, only this present moment exists. I think this is by far the most fascinating reason to put your attention on the present moment. Yesterday only exists as a memory, with all the unreliability we know to be true of memories; when you experienced yesterday, it was now. Tomorrow does not exist either, except in your imagination; when you experience tomorrow, it will be now.

A great way to engage more in this moment is to begin in this comfortable, aligned position (spine straight, hands on your thighs or at your sides, breathing comfortably.) With your eyes open or closed, allow yourself to become aware of the different sounds, sights, smells and sensations around you. Welcome, this is the present moment.

This is the present moment, and there are a number of good reasons for keeping your awareness in the present as much as possible especially with regards to the state you want to be in when you enter self-hypnosis. Again, this is not essential, just something else to enhance your experience of self-hypnosis.

What’s more, I am just referring to the time immediately prior to and at the beginning of your self-hypnosis session; there may well be times during your hypnosis when you might want to reflect on the past or imagine the future; engaging in the moment as I am explaining it now is for getting into a good, receptive state at the beginning of a session.

Another great reason for encouraging you to engage in the moment more is that there is a whole lot more of it (“it” being “now”) in store for you. If you stop for a moment, you will realise that all the experiences of your life will take place in a present moment. The more comfortable you are with the present moment, the more comfortable you are sure to be with those future presents.

Also remember that the present is where you are. If in doubt, look at your hands. Your hands only exist in the present moment. Rub your fingers together, feel how it feels to be in this moment. Because this moment is where your hands (along with the rest of your body) are located.

In addition, the present is the only time you can take action. You can wish you took action yesterday, but yesterday no longer exists, so it will remain a wish. You can plan to take action in the future, but when you take the action, it will be in the present moment. The only time you can take action is in this very moment.

I took some amazing insight from my running experiences with my younger brother Ben. When we ran and trained together and competed in races, he always enjoyed the race and commented on our surroundings whereas I always had my eye on the finish line. So much can and has been said about enjoying and engaging in the journey rather than always focusing on the future. My running experiences became much more enjoyable when I concentrated more on the experience rather than the end result all the time.

Life and work today seem to operate at a faster and faster pace. People have lots of demands on their time, and need every advantage they can get to be more effective. When I do corporate and business consultancy, one of the most common ‘challenges’ that people want to deal with is being focused and making progress on important business objectives or life goals.

As I have investigated more and more how people avoid being focused, I have found that, they are often not centred in the present. Instead, they are thinking about what is happening tomorrow, or what happened yesterday, or running through a list of things that they need to do later. As a result, their attention is not in the present.

I used to work in Victoria in Central London, and if you have ever been there during the rush hours it is a hectic place. What I find interesting is that you can tell who is engaged in the moment and who is thinking about their day or the next day.

Those people whose awareness is within their heads, mulling over their day or dreading what’s in store tomorrow are the ones bumping into people or veering off in wrong directions. Whereas those people whose awareness is outside their heads and engaged in their surroundings are those that are balanced, poised and agile, like a panther!

When you bring your attention and your energy into the present moment, you can accomplish things more quickly, solve problems more effectively, and enjoy the process more than you might expect. So, have a go at connecting with the moment more and more in your days and especially during that time immediately prior to your self-hypnosis sessions.

You can even stop just before starting an important task, and take a moment to center your self and relax. Then, get clear about what you want to accomplish, and then begin. Do this prior to your self-hypnosis session for more clarity about what you want to achieve from that session.

At my website you can download a free self-hypnosis session to help you practice getting into that state… Using the afore mentioned preparation first of course…

Have fun, enjoy it.

Adam Eason

self hypnosisI always write the bio myself. We all do, don’t we? So, I don’t like to talk in that way, “Adam Eason is the greatest human alive..” type way… Hypnosis helped me overcome life and health challenges as a younger man. I abandoned conventional medicine and studied hypnosis and hypnotherapy.

Today, I am author of the Secrets of Self-Hypnosis, one of the best selling books of all time on the subject, as well as The Hypnotic Salesman, High Self-Esteem in 21 Days, all translated into several languages… and many audio programmes that sell globally.

I still work as a hypnotherapist, consultant and my training school thrives in the UK and Europe, I speak all over the world on these subjects and continue to be a student of these fascinating fields.