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The Llewellyn Encyclopedia

General Hypnosis Technique

This article was written by William Hewitt on May 29, 2002
posted under Hypnosis

All hypnosis does is capture your natural going to sleep scenario, while keeping you awake, so you can give your subconscious mind beneficial suggestions.

How does hypnosis do this?

Since the conscious mind, or beta, does not do a very efficient job of absorbing suggestions, the job of hypnosis is to bore the conscious mind so much that it quiets down, stops thinking, and allows the brain to slow down into the alpha range, or the subconscious mind.

In general, this is accomplished by performing a series of physical and mental exercises that bore the conscious mind.

The Usual Approach:

- Go through two or more physical exercises whereby the subject relaxes every part of the body by following verbal instructions from the hypnotist.

- Next there are usually two or more visualization exercises which trigger the subconscious mind into creative mental imagery, causing the body to relax even more while lowering the brain frequency.

Note: The preceding two steps are known as the hypnotic induction. The subject may or may not experience R.E.M. or Rapid Eye Movement during the induction, depending on how far through alpha the induction progresses. In any case, it is nothing to be concerned about.

- Then the beneficial suggestions are given to the exposed subconscious mind. There may be as many or as few suggestions as desired. The suggestions may be simple or complex. It makes no difference, the subconscious mind can handle it.

- After the suggestions, there is a short awakening procedure.

Technically it is not an awakening because the subject is not asleep, but merely at a deep level of relaxation. This awakening procedure merely guides the subject slowly back up into beta range, thereby avoiding the subject being startled by suddenly opening his or her eyes while still in alpha. There is no harm if the subject does open his or her eyes while still in alpha, but there could be a moment of confusion. For example, it would be like being awakened in the middle of a deep sleep at night by a loud noise. You open your eyes and are awake, but there are a few moments of disorientation or confusion. The awakening procedure prevents the possibility of this happening.

I have just discussed the general approach to hypnosis. There are, however, many deviations from what Iíve just described.

With children, for example, the procedure is much shorter because their predominant brain function is already in alpha or theta, and often involves some physical contact, such as touching an arm as a signal, and usually lasts only a few minutes as opposed to twenty or thirty minutes, which is typical for an adultís first hypnosis session.

Once an adult has been hypnotized, subsequent procedures can be made shorter depending on the use of post-hypnotic suggestion and on the susceptibility of the particular subject.

Some people are so receptive to hypnosis that they can be hypnotized in just a few minutes, occasionally in seconds, while others take fifteen to thirty minutes. In general, once a person has been hypnotized, the second time is easier and faster and so on.

Most people can hypnotize themselves easier if they have been previously hypnotized and conditioned by someone else. This previous experience could have been by a tape recording as well as in person.

People can, however, learn to hypnotize themselves without having been previously hypnotized, although there generally is more time and effort needed. A person can make a tape recording of his or her own voice doing a hypnosis procedure and then play it back for self-hypnosis. This can work quite well. Some people do not like to hear their own voice on a recording, in which case they should either purchase some professional hypnosis tapes or have someone they know make the recording.

I mentioned the term post-hypnotic suggestion. This refers to a suggestion given under hypnosis that will take place at some later time after the hypnosis session has ended. Here is an example of post-hypnotic suggestion:

"The next time you are hypnotized you will relax ten times faster and go ten times deeper than you are now."

This sets the subject up so future hypnosis sessions will be even more successful.

Hypnotic suggestion usually lasts only about two weeks on average, thus the suggestions need to be repeated and reinforced until such time as the desired result is firmly achieved. On some people, hypnotic suggestion lasts only a few hours or a couple of days. For this reason, hypnotic suggestions should be reinforced every day until permanent success has been achieved.

This is why self-hypnosis is so valuable. You just make a tape recording of your hypnosis procedure and listen to it every day, taking only twenty to thirty minutes, or less, of your time.

If, for example, you want to stop smoking cigarettes you could make or purchase a tape cassette dealing with smoking and just listen to it daily until you have permanently stopped smoking. If at some future time you get strong urges to start smoking again, just get the tape out. Listen to the tape to get rid of the temptation.

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