“Suggestions” for Relaxation: Hypnosis for Stress Management
Recently, I received a request to blog about the use of hypnosis for stress management. “Hypnosis” can be a charged and mis-understood word. Many under-educated people will say that the use of hypnosis is immoral because some religious authority, who has probably used a lot of waking hypnosis, has scared them into believing that “evil” can be done with hypnosis. (In fact, this very negative comment is a hypnotic suggestion that can have huge impact on unaware people.) Putting this aside, hypnosis is a commonly used technique that is used in sales/marketing, health care, and for mental health. Most people have experienced some level of hypnosis or hypnotic “trance” and may not even realize that they have “been under.” As an example, have you ever watch a series of commercials on TV and then can not consciously recall the products that were advertised BUT you find yourself drawn into buying a marketed product when you get to the supermarket like a brand name product (instead of a less expensive generic product, that probably will work about the same…) Or, have you ever been driving down the highway, watching the lane lines flow by, and miss your turn off. These are light trances that happen to most people as they move through life.
Hypnosis is a mental state of relaxation that can vary from a light state of trance to a deep, sleep-like state of trance. In the deeper states of trance, you may “drift-off” into dream-like state where many normal distractions will simply melt away, leaving you comfortable, peaceful, and with greatly reduced anxiety levels. Once in a “trance,” you can allow yourself to accept a “suggestion” that may be able to assist you by working with the “sub-conscious” part of your mind. Most of what actually happens in the brain dwells in the “sub-conscious” part of the mind because there is so much going on in the brain that we could not possibly be “conscious” of all of it. For example, we can not consciously know our heart rate, blood pressure, hormonal activity, all levels of muscle activity, internal temperature/metabolism, and all the micro-adjustments necessary to maintain balance. But, the sub-conscious part of our brains is monitoring and adjusting to subtle changes, unless we are manifesting some sort of ailment. A positive suggestion like: “you are feeling deeply satisfied with the small portion of food you are eating (on your current diet)” can help people to feel better and to lose some weight. A “positive suggestion” is created to be both a positive phrase and placed into the “present” moment of time for this is the best way to reach the sub-conscious part of the mind in a positive way. There is an art to creating the perfect positive suggestion and knowing the ideal time to use this suggestion to get the best results.
The state of hypnosis is truly “self-hypnosis” because most people will not allow themselves to slip into this state of consciousness unwillingly. Also, any suggestion offered will be screened for safety and moral appropriateness by the sub-conscious mind so people will not blindly follow a suggestion and hurt themselves or others unless they would normally do this in their normal lives. 10% of the population are very “suggestable” and will comply with an offered suggestion. These people are great consumers (for commercials are aimed at influencing these people) and a stage hypnotist will select these people for a stage show because they make for entertaining spectacles up on stage. Most people are not nearly as suggestable but can be offered positive suggestions that will work if they are motivated to make the suggested change (and if this change does not go against their normal moral beliefs.)
To go into a “state of hypnosis” or trance, you can relax yourself with many relaxing strategies such as: slow deep breathing, counting slowly backward, progressive relaxations, using autogenic training phrases, focusing on an object like a candle, fireplace, stream, or waves breaking on the beach and then allow yourself to drift into a more calm and peaceful state of mind and body. This act alone is therapeutic because it allows for relaxation, stress/anxiety management, and reduced levels of pain and discomfort. You can also use a more specific “induction” like the one written out on the “articles” page of the Stress Education Center’s website (link at https://dstress.com/basic-guided-relaxation/) to get to a deeper level of relaxation that can be used for self-hypnosis. Once you are relaxed and comfortable, you may want to read or mentally repeat your positive suggestion (maybe 10 times) so this suggestion will begin to drift into the sub-conscious part of your mind. This technique may need to be repeated for several days or even weeks before the suggestion will really work to the best level possible. If you do this work, and are motivated to change, you will find the positive results.
Hypnosis and positive suggestions can be used to control or change habits or behaviors, improve performance and productivity, manage health related challenges, and to enhance the quality of life. Most people can not be forced into making changes unless they are motivate to change so be careful of your expectations if you are ambivalent about what you wish to change.
If you feel that you may want more support or coaching consider contacting the Stress Education Center at www.dstress.com for a personalized coaching program. Please take good care of yourself.