Hypnosis Methods You Can Use on Your Own
3 ways to use our minds to feel and function better.
By Ran D. Andbar, MD.
Therapy with hypnosis can yield many improvements in health, behavior, academic achievement, athletics, creativity, and spiritual understanding. However, it is not always necessary or possible to find a therapist with whom to work. Fortunately, there are many helpful methods used within hypnosis therapy that you can use on your own. This blog will explore three of these.
How we think and talk about ourselves helps to create our future. For example, if we do not achieve a particular goal, and we tell ourselves that we are “a failure,” the mind can accept this as a reality, and we can feel that there is nothing else to be done. On the other hand, if we tell ourselves that next time we want to “do better,” the mind starts to think about how to make this happen. Therefore, structuring our thinking in a positive way helps propel us towards success.
A simple example of the power of a positive attitude can be checked out whenever it is difficult to find parking in a crowded location. If you believe that you are going to find a parking spot then you are much more apt to be successful because you will become more patient and look for parking in places that appear to be full. Thus, you increase your odds of finding a parking spot. Conversely, if you feel like you are not going to be able to find a spot easily this can translate into a decision to give up quickly, and park far away. My family knows that we virtually always find convenient parking when I announce, “I am going to find parking!” Henry Ford, the automobile manufacturer knew all about the power of a positive attitude one hundred years ago. He said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you are right.”
Maintaining a calm state can help us better tackle life challenges including dealing with stressful situations, interacting in a constructive way with others, and coping with illness or pain.
One way to achieve a calm state is to take a few moments to imagine being in a safe, calming place. This can be a place you’ve been to, a place you would like to go to, or even an imaginary place. You can activate multiple sites in your brain that will help achieve calm by imagining what you might perceive in your place with each of your senses. What can you imagine seeing? Hearing? Smelling? Feeling? Tasting?
Another calming activity can involve deep breathing. First, ensure that you are lowering your diaphragm to inhale deeply, in order to allow your lungs to expand fully. You will know that you are breathing effectively, when your abdomen expands each time you inhale. Second, breathe in slowly through your nose, with a slow count to 5. Third, hold your breath for a slow count of 5. Finally, exhale slowly through your mouth for a count of 7. Deep breathing can be repeated several times to achieve even greater calm.
Novelist Hermann Hesse observed, “Within you, there is a stillness and a sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.”
Listen to Yourself
With hypnosis, people can learn to interact directly with their subconscious, which can be a source of knowledge and wisdom. For my patients I define the subconscious as being a part of them of which they are unaware. However, you do not need to be in hypnosis to gain increased self-awareness as a result of quieting your mind.
Your mind can be quieted with a meditation exercise, such as focusing on your breath for several minutes. I suggest to my patients that they imagine a sailboat at the lower tip of their breastbone. I encourage them to watch the sailboat in their minds as it rises with inhalation and falls with exhalation. I tell them that if they find their mind wandering during this exercise that they should calmly refocus their mind on the sailboat.
Other ways to quiet the mind include taking a walk in nature, listening to soothing music, or contemplating calming art.
Once your mind is calm you can ask your subconscious a question. As you continue in your calm state an answer likely will enter your mind. The answer may be a complete thought or thought fragment, an image that you might need to interpret, or a feeling.
Albert Einstein recognized the importance of a tranquil mind when he said, “The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”
Take Home Message
Each of us can use our minds to help ourselves to feel and function better. Keeping a positive attitude, calming ourselves, and self-reflection are three important ways of enhancing our life experience. As philosopher and psychologist William James said, “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another.”
Copyright Ran D. Anbar
Ran D. Anbar, M.D., FAAP, is board-certified in both pediatric pulmonology and general pediatrics, offering hypnosis and counseling services at Center Point Medicine in La Jolla, California, and Syracuse, New York. Dr. Anbar is also a past president, fellow, and approved consultant of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis.
He is the author of the new book Changing Children’s Lives with Hypnosis: A Journey to the Center.