You are now ready to begin doing hypnosis with yourself— that's what self-hypnosis means. Once you've gotten the hang of thinking, feeling, and imagining along with suggestions, there's nothing especially difficult or tricky about learning to work with suggestions you are giving yourself.
In fact, you've been exposed to a variety of self-hypnosis practices already. What else is listening to a tape recording of your own voice reading a hypnosis script than a form of self-hypnosis? In the future you'll use this same approach from time to time, but with scripts you make up yourself. Unfortunately, this method is impractical for daily use.
You have also been working with a number of in/ormai self-hypnosis methods. Also known generically as suggestion, such techniques are very often promoted as something other than hypnosis. They are called by more fashionable names such as guided visualization, imagery, biofeedback, meditation, behavior therapy, or affirmations. What they all boil down to is self-hypnosis- thinking, feeling, and imagining along with your own suggestions.
It doesn't matter what you call it. the process is the same. The only real difference between what you have been doing in most of your experiments and exercises, and what is more commonly thought of as hypnosis or self-hypnosis, is that you just sat down and did them without defining the situation as hypnosis. Hence, I call such methods informal self-hypnosis.
Techniques of this kind are relatively loose and unstructured. Normally they begin with relaxing yourself in some way. Then you make up and involve yourself in your imaginations in an open-ended, free-flowing way. Sometimes the whole process might take only a few moments to complete; at other times it can go on for as long as you can continue to concentrate.
In self-management, problem solving, and performance enhancement, you will very often find informal techniques your method of choice when on the spot, in the actual situation itself. You train yourself to work with them, however, in formal self-hypnosis. You practice them in your imagination, again in formal self-hypnosis. This way, when you need to use them, you will know how to make them work for you. An example of such a tactic is the pause-and-say-zero technique to which you were introduced in Exercise Four.
There is however, no substitute for training yourself to work with a formal self-hypnosis routine. In this chapter you will begin working with one. Only by practicing a set routine of this sort can you make the detail work of shifting into use of a hypnotic frame of mind your natural habit. Only by familiarizing yourself with and mastering a standard and unvarying routine can you take your attention off all those little details and focus instead on the actual work you must do in order to achieve your goals.
The discipline of practicing a strategic self-hypnosis ritual is invaluable in and of itself. 1 cannot stress this too much. If you just take the minimal time and effort required to do your self-hypnosis routine once—or even better, two or three times a day—you will simply amaze yourself. On the other hand, if you don't bother, you will defeat yourself from the very start.
Practicing your self-hypnosis routine no less than daily is the bottom line. Do it and you'll never regret the effort involved. Happily, it's easy to build into the design of your routine all sorts of payoffs and other inducements that make it easy for you to do this. Let's consider a ten-part basic self-hypnosis routine you will be using, and see exactly what is required of you.
Key Technique Three: Strategic Self-Hypnosis Routine
To provide an easy and effective way of practicing formal self-hypnosis.
Self-hypnosis (that is. giving yourself suggestions directly and then working with them hypnotically).
1. Close your eyes. Touch a finger to the center of your forehead and stare at that spot you are touching. Return your hand to your lap or side. This should take about one second.
2. Take a deep breath and, as you inhale, tense all your muscles at once or just those of your butt and bottom (if your body is already relaxed).
3. Count down silently from ten to one as you hold your breath and keep your muscles tensed. When you reach one. breathe out and let all your muscles relax.
4. Whisper "zero" to yourself with the last of your breath as you breathe out and let yourself go completely limp and loose.
5. Now begin repeating "zero" to yourself in your mind; repeat it over and over and over. Visualize zeros, imagine hearing the word zeeerowww, feel zero, fantasize along with the associations of zero- being empty, a place-holder, neither here nor there, neither positive nor negative, a resting place, a hole through which you can escape the objective universe, and so on. Saying "zero" just once will calm and clear your mind. Ten or so times will take you deep enough for routine self-hypnosis. The more time you spend saying zero in your imagination, the deeper and more relaxed you will become; ten to fifteen minutes of this will trigger the relaxation response. Ybu will want to get this deep at least once a day (the best time is after your day's work is finished).
6. When you are ready, give yourself your suggestion. Say the statement out loud, so you can hear yourself saying it. A typical general-purpose suggestion might be "It's good to be alive. I can relax and make things go right for myself—I'm free!"
7. Now repeat your suggestion to yourself for thirty seconds to a minute or so. A good tactic is to imagine it echoing or being sung by a chorus of your inner voices throughout your being, penetrating into every fiber of your body and mind.
8. Then visualize your suggestion, as you will be learning. Use all the senses and all the symbols you can. Take as long as you'd like. When through, it is helpful to imagine the mental picture shrinking into a dot, like the image on a TV set. then vanishing into the depths of your mind.
9. Now you can employ any additional hypnotic techniques you wish or you can practice tactics you are learning.
10. When ready to end your session, repeat your suggestion to yourself, take a deep breath, count up from one to ten, open your eyes, and feel wide awake and get all the pleasurable sensations you'll always feel upon completing a session of hypnosis or self-hypnosis. Be sure to let yourself feel these good feelings; they are very important.
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