The common misconception about hypnosis is that it's a total hoax. It usually involves a lot of smoke, a fancy magician, and a lot of people doing the chicken dance involuntarily on a cruise to the Caribbean. While it is fascinating to see people moved by the power of suggestion, that tool can actually be used to help us lose weight, get over our fears and anxieties, quit smoking, or be more outgoing. Even though it seems like you must have some special power to be able to use hypnosis, there are ways that you can practice hypnotizing yourself.
Of course, hypnosis might not happen the first time you attempt it, but like meditation and yoga, it is a practice. Everyone practices hypnosis differently, but here are some common steps to help get you into your first hypnotic trance!
1. Envision your goals by creating affirmations.
Everyone comes to self-hypnosis with a different goal in mind. It can be a small goal, like feeling confident enough to ask your boss for a raise, or it can be a large goal, like getting over your terrible arachnophobia. Positive affirmations are short phrases that encourage us to stay on task. "I am eating healthy and I no longer crave cinnamon buns," is a great example of an affirmation because it is in the present tense, is easy to remember, and can actually be believed if you have an open mind.
2. Get comfortable and eliminate distractions.
Get into your roomiest pajamas or sweatpants. Make sure you are not constricted in any way. You'll also want to be in a quiet space. Turn off your phone, the TV, and your dog, if you can! If you can't achieve this level of library-like silence, some people like to self-hypnotize with a music track. Here are some great ones to check out.
3. Get in the zone.
In order for self-hypnosis to work, you'll have to believe you can do it. If you're skeptical, your conscious mind might get the better of you and you can sabotage your session. Start by reclining in a chair. If you lie down all the way, you might end up asleep in a few minutes. Note: hypnosis is not sleep! Keep your eyes slightly open, but heavy, and concentrate on a single point in the room.
4. Start the Deep Breathing machine.
To achieve a deeper state of consciousness and focus, controlling your breath is key. Start to breathe deeper, imagining a positive light going into you as you breathe in, and a negative black cloud coming out of you as you exhale. Each breath should get you deeper and deeper into relaxation, taking you from "sleep" to "deep sleep."
5. Take it even further.
Visual distractions can get in your way when you're trying to self-hypnotize, so suggest to yourself that you close your eyes. Everything in hypnosis is based on suggestion, not command, so do whatever feels right to you. Next, some people find it helpful to count down. You can count down from 3 or 5, each time increasing your hypnotic state. Repeat phrases like "I will be more relaxed by the time I reach 1."
6. Test the authenticity of your hypnosis.
Give yourself challenges to see if you are really able to feel effects that you suggest to yourself. For example, you can say, "By the time I count down from 10, my right arm will feel heavier." Then, you can turn these physical changes into emotional ones: "By the time I count down from 10, I will no longer crave cinnamon buns."
7. Visualize situations and reassess your goals.
To aid in achieving your hypnotic state, imagine yourself in daily situations, walking up or down the stairs, or riding an escalator, for example. You can imagine yourself floating in water and then coming back to dry land, too. The physical sensations you can feel under the power of suggestion are almost limitless! Now it's time to reassess. Think about your goals again. Do they feel easier to achieve now?
With an open mind, you can train your brain to change behaviors and attitudes, leading you to a more fulfilling life. Hypnosis is a non-invasive way you can practice at home to enter deeper states of consciousness and suggest change when your mind is easily vulnerable to it. A "fixed" mindset can hold us back, but self-hypnosis can help us to visualize challenging situations and approach them with positivity and originality.