It is not in any way necessary to incorporate a special starting cue in the self-hypnosis procedure. You could just begin with a relaxation exercise, or even go directly to a visualization. In my practice I might select one or the other of these alternatives for selected clients. However, on the whole and for myself I prefer to incorporate a clear and unambiguous action with a strong feeling component to signal start of hypnosis.
The part of any session in which you establish the situation and frame of mind we identify as hypnosis is usually called the induction. Parts two through five of your routine serve this purpose. They represent a combination of relaxation techniques gleaned from many sources. These include a form of progressive relaxation, deep breathing, letting the eyes roll down (using their downward motion as a symbolic suggestion, combined with the sensations of releasing strain), using zero as a verbal cue to relax, which is then further utilized as both a symbol and a sort of mantra or relaxation-response device to be repeated over and over. These steps cover the gamut of commonly used relaxation techniques.
There are other ways of entering hypnosis. Two that I have found useful at times are imagining yourself getting wider and wider awake, or getting higher and higher in any way you'd care to interpret that phrase. However, strategically, it pays off to fit deep relaxation in somewhere along the line, since you'll want to obtain the benefits of deep psychosomatic relaxation. Therefore, it never hurts to follow the principle that it is always a good idea to get yourself deeply relaxed to facilitate entering a hypnotic frame of mind.
If you'd like, there are two further relaxation techniques worth exploring for use with self-hypnosis. One is to employ massage as a way of relaxing your body, and then to go on to your imagining work. This requires finding a cooperative massage partner, but it may just do the trick if you have real difficulties letting your body relax completely. Even if this is not a problem for you. massage is something you might want to play with.
Second, many clients who initially found it difficult to get into their self-hypnosis overcame that difficulty by doing their exercise while soaking in a warm bath. You might want to try this, or just experiment for fun with doing your self-hypnosis in a bath or hot tub. Obviously, however, this tactic is limited with respect to where and when you can use it.
The basic exercise gives you complete discretion with regard to how long or how deep to go. This is a particular benefit of using a repetitive technique; it enormously expands your options. You can use the same procedure of saying zero to clear your mind, get into session, deepen your hypnosis, or trigger the relaxation response. By the amount of time you spend saying zero to yourself, you can create the precise effect you want at the time.
To get the full benefit from this technique, you must do more than just say the phrase over and over. You have to involve both your thinking and your feeling as fully as possible. This is why I have instructed you to say, hear, and visualize zero. You want to be able to almost feel it. One very enjoyable and highly effective way to bring about this holistic involvement is to use fantasy, particularly cartoon images. This tactic is not only fun to do, keeping you interested and involved, but it also permits you to choose symbolism reminding you of the feelings and effects you wish to bring about for yourself. Look back over experiment eleven to see how this can be done.
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