Friday just gone, I travelled to Manchester to run a self-hypnosis seminar on Saturday… Despite my flight being 4 hours late for the journey which should have been 45 minutes in the air and door-to-door travelling of 30 more minutes, my enthusiasm for the subject was not affected… This is one of my loves in life… Self-hypnosis.
On the seminar, I teach my own process for self-hypnosis. It is a structure that features in some of my work that has featured on video and in 3 of my books and one that has been tweaked over the years.
I talk about learning how use self-hypnosis and then abandoning my set structure for a process and method of your own design and measure. It is self-hypnosis after all and therefore something which should be suiting you, the self, and not something prescribed by a tutor like myself.
My structure of self-hypnosis involved steps A-E.
A- You access hypnosis.
B- You take control of it.
C- You deepen the hypnosis.
D- You deliver suggestion or the change work.
E- You exit hypnosis.
There is much to be learnt about each of the steps, and on the seminar I hypnotise the students and set up an easy way for them to do step A, the access. I install a trigger that they use to access hypnosis readily from there onwards. They then test it, practice on the seminar and learn how to make it even better.
However, I also talk about other means of this step. before we even deepen, do the all important changework and so on, the actual establishment of hypnosis can be done in many other ways, via the Betty Erickson method for example. So I thought I’d share with you one such way here today: the classic eye-fixation induction.
On my hypnotherapy training diploma, the eye-fixation induction is kind of the “hypnosis 101” induction that all students learn before any other inductions and here today, I want to show you how to apply it to yourself rather than do it with another person.
This method of inducing hypnosis was originally developed by James Braid, believed by most of us in this field to be the founder of hypnotherapy as we know it today. As well as being a medical man of the day, James Braid specialised in eye treatment and as a result, having coined the term ‘hypnosis’ and moved the notions away from the field of Mesmerism, it was natural that his initial methods of inducing hypnosis would involve the eyes and fixing their attention. What’s more, there is a great deal more research been conducted on this induction than the majority of the hypnosis field.
The basic premise is to attempt to produce a great deal of strain on the eye muscles by having an individual look upwards with the eyes and without moving the head.
After trial and error with a variety of ways of doing this, Braid used an object, such as his lancet case and elevated it in front of the individual to the point where it would be a strain to continue looking at it. If such an object was not used, an individual could be asked to look at a point on the wall or ceiling, without moving their head, which caused them to slightly strain their eyes if the gaze was fixed for a while.
Today for the purpose of using this technique for inducing self-hypnosis, we tend to suggest that the individual look up at their own forehead, though again, picking a spot on the wall or ceiling to create more strain can be done if necessary.
The reason that the gaze is pointed upwards in this way is of course to advance and enhance the tiredness felt in and around the eyes in a fairly speedy timescale. I have mentioned it a couple of times, you do not tilt the head backwards at all, otherwise you assist the eyes and just end up staring upwards with a bent neck. You move the eyes only with the head in its usual, balanced position upon your neck.
With the eyes fixed in this way, creating some minor strain, the individual induces a slight sensation of being sleepy (though we do not use the cliché ‘you are feeling sleeeepyyy’ here!) as the eyes get closed in this slow manner. Importantly though, this process gets the individual to concentrate in an intense fashion by staring at that point.
Braid actually attempted to call hypnosis ‘monoideism’ at one stage because of the importance he placed upon getting some focus and attention to achieve it.
When doing this with an individual, taking them in to hypnosis, they tend to close their eyes after around 30 seconds or so. When using this to induce hypnosis in yourself, you should consider aiming for a similar timescale to close your own eyes.
So, once you have adopted a comfortable position, with your head facing forward, without moving your head you move your eyes to the elevated position whereby it is a slight strain to hold them there, you then need to employ your imagination to make your eyes feel like closing. This is incredibly important. You must help the process along with your thoughts – imagine that your eyelids are getting heavier, tell yourself that they want to close and that it will be so nice and comfortable when they do so.
All the time that you are communicating with yourself in your mind in this way, ensure that you keep your gaze fixed in that same position without waivering or moving or allowing your eyes to relax by compensating in some other way. Keep your head and eye position in the way that ensures the eyes become tired.
Then, once they are ready to close, you let them close and that is the initiation of your hypnosis. You then deepen accordingly, deliver your suggestions, do any changework before exiting.
Nonstate theorists of hypnosis would also offer up some ways of advancing the success you have with this process which I thought I’d add here too. For example, you could adopt the behaviours of someone who is in hypnosis. That is, act as if you are hypnotised to enhance the fact that you are and enhance your openness to it. Take on the posture of someone who is initially concentrating very hard, who then falls asleep as the eyes close.
You’ve seen what happens when someone is fighting falling asleep. Like when I am sat in front of the fire with the TV on after my dinner in the evenings. I get that sensation in my eyelids where they start to close and I keep snapping them open to regain my focus! Adopt that same behaviour; let your eyes close slowly and adopt the posture of someone drifting on in this way.
To further complement this, you can let your body relax deeper when you close your eyes as you proceed on to whatever deepening strategies you are going to use.
As you purposely take on these behaviours, the idea is that you’ll start to take on some of the things you are acting – the same way a method actor takes on characteristics of their character when acting – you then notice how you do actually start to feel slightly drowsy as your eyes flitter, and slowly close.
As I alluded to earlier, it is also important how you communicate your thoughts throughout the process. Use your imagination to advance the process and make it more effective.
You can simply tell yourself you are feeling more relaxed and that your eyelids are feeling heavier, for example, using your internal dialogue. You could imagine them closing and getting heavier during the straining process. You can imagine them closing and imagine how much more relaxed they are when closed.
You might remember times when you have been drowsy or sleep and your eyelids felt heavy and wanted to close. As you remember that sensation, tell yourself that this is the same.
You might imagine a light shining in your eyes or a gentle breeze blowing toward them, exaggerating the desire to close them and let go. Use a gentle, relaxing tone when you communicate with yourself, encourage yourself by telling yourself how well you are doing this and use your imagination and cognitions in whatever way helps advance the overall process.
As with any self-hypnosis process, repetition makes it better. So practice this over and over to get really good at it. Use your thoughts, posture in line with the structure and really get good at using this method.
Enjoy this other way of starting the self-hypnosis process off.
For a full, evidence based approach to learning self-hypnosis and it’s many applications, grab a copy of my book The Science of Self-Hypnosis: The Evidence Based Way to Hypnotise Yourself.