A good friend, colleague and fellow runner pointed out to me a great book last year by endurance runner and record breaker Stu Mittleman (thanks Eddy). In the book Mittleman writes about breathing when running, by imagining a ball in your lower abdomen area is expanding and deflating as you breathe in and out and I found it a great help to focus my breathing when running.

I have also written a lot about using breathing techniques to help relax you and prepare yourself for using hypnosis.

So I thought I’d share a bunch of techniques that I have used over the years with clients, myself and even as standalone inductions to help people use their imagination and breath to induce hypnosis in yourself or your clients.

The Long, Finger Breath:
One process I first saw used by Terrence Watts in his work that is also featured in other works pre-dating him, is imagining breathing through the fingertips, a single, sweeping breath that moves up the arms and then exhales down through the body and out through the feet. It is like a long breath that comes in and up through the fingers and arms and out through the body and feet. You can suggest that because the relaxation inhaled goes in a single direction, it does not interfere with anything unwanted that you exhale away from yourself, so can be a very uplifting way to breathe using the imagination.

Body Breathing:
This is like imagining breathing through your skin. As you inhale deeply and slowly, imagine that you are breathing through your body. You imagine that beginning at your feet, you breathe in and upwards through every pore of your body, all the way up to the top of your head. Let yourself feel relaxed throughout your entire body as you breathe out through each pore right down to your toes.

Just enjoy this body breathing process for a couple of minutes and imagine drifting deeper inside your mind and creating a good receptive state.

I have read of this sort of process also being done just focusing on one particular part of the body, such as the forehead or another part of the body’s surface, but found that people were not as responsive when I attempted the same.

Pebble Dropped Down Well:
We do tend to focus on the abdomen a great deal with the breathing methods and this is no different in that sense. Imagine that at the pit of your abdomen you have a deep well. Then using your imagination, imagine letting go of a pebble into the well as you exhale gently and comfortably. As you breathe out imagine the pebble falling and watch how far it goes, following the pebble with your awareness. notice how long the fall lasted and how deeply it fell and then repeat the process a few times remaining mindful of how deep the pebble falls each time.

Using Nature:
While lying or sitting in a comfortable position, imagine the waves of the sea flowing and start to match the flow to the pace of your breathing. With this process, it is best if you let your breath just happen without you altering it or getting involved with it, just watch your breath, observe it, almost as if you were watching another person breathing.

Feel where your breath goes and notice where the waves flow as your breathe with it. Waves are hypnotic things to watch for some people anyway, so you may have to keep focused and tune yourself in to the waves and your breathing. You can experiment with imagining the waves pace slowing and moving further in and out to influence the depth of our breathing.

As well as flowing natural aspects of the world around us, you might also use other items that swing or revolve – swinging watches and pendulums are often associated with hypnosis and you can imagine them in your mind swinging in time with your breath and taking you deeper inside your mind.

Filling and Emptying:
So I mentioned the notion that Stu Mittleman uses at the beginning of today’s blog entry and there are many similar versions you can find for use too. So you can imagine that you have a ball in your abdomen that fills with air as you inhale and deflates as you exhale and you keep focusing on that – you can imagine it the same way as you would imagine your diaphragm in some forms of meditative breathing.

Another way of doing this is to imagine filling and emptying a bottle, as I first read being illustrated by Beata Jencks, that has been used by actors and singers for years and years. You imagine matching your breathing to an imaginary bottle being filled and emptied with fluid. When a bottle is filled up with fluid, it fills from the bottom and you breathe upwards and inwards as it fills. As you exhale, the liquid empties from the top downwards and you imagine the air leaving your body.

With all of these techniques, it is nice to stick with it for a few consecutive breaths to help you get focused or to get nice and relaxed, but then hand the process of breathing over to your body and enjoy it happening naturally all by itself, it is the foundation of many breathing and meditative practices of varying kinds. These ones are those I use the most in hypnosis sessions, I hope you enjoy them.

Have a great weekend, I’ll be back on Monday.