Self-hypnosis offers a great way to de-stress, and it can help you achieve your personal goals, as well. Whether it’s delivering a speech, running a race, getting a better night's sleep, or just staying motivated to be active and eat healthfully, offering a suggestion or circumstance while in a state of deep relaxation can prime the mind to view it as a possibility. It’s as though planting a seed in the imagination helps it to grow in reality.
Why not try it out for yourself? Adam Burke, professor and director of San Francisco State University’s Institute for Holistic Health Studies offers a “one-minute method” to get you started, reprinted with permission here. It’s an excerpt from his straightforward and accessible book Self-Hypnosis: New Tools for Deep and Lasting Transformation, in which he demystifies the practice and gives practical tools for incorporating it into a busy life.
This “lite” session still adheres to the basic principles of self-hypnosis: first, create a deep and focused state of mind that’s receptive to learning; second, send “transformative suggestions” to the mind; and third, finish up refreshed and ready to act on those suggestions.
Try this one-minute technique in a quiet location, to limit distractions and help you focus.
Self-Hypnosis: A One-Minute Method
- Sit or lie comfortably.
- Close your eyes.
- Take three deep breaths and release all tension.
- Do the following:
- Imagine you are holding a two-inch energy ball in your hand.
- Squeeze it, physically squeeze it.
- Pretend that the harder you squeeze the more it resists, that your forces match equally; you cannot modify the shape of the ball.
- Tell yourself “The harder I squeeze, the deeper I go inside.”
- Continue to squeeze for a minute; then absolutely, totally, completely release everything.
- Feel yourself dropping down deep inside.
- Give yourself your suggestion, “I feel incredibly energetic, confident, strong, loving, or ...”
- See the desired outcome; see a future image of that outcome.
- Feel the positive feelings associated with that outcome.
- After a few minutes, tell yourself that you are “Coming back feeling refreshed, relaxed, and ready for an amazing day.”
- Then slowly open your eyes.
Don’t be discouraged if nothing miraculous seems to happen the first time you try self-hypnosis. As with any relaxation technique, practice helps you become more proficient. Burke reassures readers that whether deep or superficial, different hypnotic states can be effective at producing results – and it often takes time before you discover exactly what the results are.
The good news is, you don’t need hours each day to get going. A mini-session before a speech or exam can help prepare you for that event, and set up an expectation of success. Try using this method any time you want to reinforce a behavior or result -- like daily exercise, or choosing healthy foods at a restaurant -- that you are keen to pursue.
Adam Burke. Self-Hypnosis: New Tools for Deep and Lasting Transformation. Crossing Press. 2004.