Mindfulness & Self-Hypnosis
Hypnosis and mindfulness seem as opposite as avocados and chocolate, and yet those two ingredients whip up a surprisingly healthy mousse. Unlike that yummy dessert, mindfulness and hypnosis have much more in common than you might realize, since both involve deeply focused attention. You wouldn't know it though, considering the spooky mind-bending way movies usually portray hypnosis. You know the scene, where the creepy bug-eyed hypnotist puts an innocent person in a trance, suggesting they commit some unsavory act... And while this Gothic horror idea of hypnosis may send chills up your spine, it's pretty much all second hand smoke and fun-house mirrors. “What some would call mind control, is a misunderstanding perpetuated from Hollywood movies and television shows where the aim is to provide an entertaining sensationalist story,” according to Erika Flint, Professional Hypnosis Trainer for Busy Entrepreneurs.
The truth is less theatrical and far more holistic. According to Erika, “Hypnosis is a normal and natural state of mind.” And this part is pretty shocking... Without sitting in a chair and staring into anyone's eyes, or watching a ticking pendulum, hypnosis is happening to us naturally, to different degrees, all the time. Yep. That's right. “Common examples of everyday hypnosis include reading a great book or watching a compelling movie and you get pulled into the story,” says Erika.
Time isn't a butterfly. It doesn't have wings... so it can't simply flutter by. According to Erika, “anytime you've lost track of time you are in a light state of hypnosis.” How does it work? Erika explains that when you're “captivated and highly engrossed into an experience, you are focused on it and tap into the deeper part of who you are. Because of that focus, everything else is filtered out of your experience, including the sense of time passing.” One of the reasons hypnosis is so intriguing is that it taps into your subconscious mind. In doing so, it opens a portal to deeper understanding of hidden parts of your psyche.
Can hypnosis help with everyday stress and pressures? Erika says, “The brain learns anxiety when you are rushing around and doing a million things at once. Hypnosis can retrain the brain for relaxation, and with a relaxed mind comes focus and clarity.” How can that alter daily life? “You are able to get significantly more done in a much shorter amount of time. Daily hypnosis will allow you to make faster and better decisions, while physiologically feeling better, and getting better sleep,” says Erika.
One of the earliest practices of self-hypnosis, traces back to French psychologist and pharmacist, Émile Coué, who introduced a therapy he called “conscious autosuggestion,” in the early 20th century. The process involved repetition of a certain phrase until it penetrates one's consciousness; the innovative therapy quickly became a wildly popular self-help method, also known as Couéism.
Is there a connection between meditation and hypnosis? Erika says, “Yes, the intersection is the state of mind - highly focused. The differentiator is the intention. The intention with meditation is usually to clear or focus the mind on a single thought. The intention with hypnosis is the hypnotic suggestion. The hypnotic suggestion will be different depending on what changes you want to make in your life.” What about mindfulness? Is there any awareness linked to being hypnotized? Erika says, “Being mindful - and thoughtful of what you are doing or thinking can lead to hypnosis. As you continue to focus on something, you will enter a hypnotic state.”
You might wonder, since self-hypnosis involves focus and repetition, how does it differ from repeating a mantra or affirmation? Erika says, “Hypnosis helps you to tap into your subconscious mind and become aware of things you weren't previously aware of - learning important insights about yourself and your life. A mantra or affirmation is intended to put information into the subconscious mind, not bring anything to out of the subconscious mind to conscious awareness.” Hypnosis is an incredible self-awareness tool, since, “there are always limiting beliefs holding people back from achieving whatever it is they are wanting to do,” says Erika. If you're interested in reprogramming your subconscious mind, there various methods of implementing self-hypnosis, Erika mentions different ways that include: “listening to a recording, and working with a hypnotist to come up with unique hypnotic suggestions.”
When it comes to creating lasting change with hypnosis, Erika talks about how the four stages of incompetence, (attributed to Martin M. Broadwell) influences activity in the brain. Unconscious incompetence is just how it sounds: you're unaware of something you're not good at. Conscious incompetence: you're mindful about it but inactive. Conscious competence: making an effort to change and it's working. Beyond that there's: Unconscious competence. Erika says this is when, “You've reprogrammed your subconscious mind to do what you want, without having to think about it.” And it's precisely at this stage where hypnosis fits it. What should you tackle during hypnosis? Erika suggests, “Anything that in your mind you know you should be able to do - yet you're just not doing it. That is a very good issue to work on with hypnosis.”
Ready to give self-hypnosis a try? Erika walks us through her step by step instructions below...
Step 1: Focus on one thing to change and stick with it until it has become unconsciously competent. Instead of thinking about "I want to lose 20 pounds," which could include any number of things to change, focus on "I eat only when I'm actually hungry," or "I drink a glass of water every time I go into the kitchen."
Step 2: Set the timer for 5 minutes so your mind doesn't bother you with intrusive thoughts on whether or not it's been 5 minutes or not.”
Step 3: Get into a comfortable position.
Step 4: Put on some focusing music. Choose music that you know helps your body relax. If you don't have a good recording, you can request a free one here from Cascade Hypnosis Center.
Step 5: Close your eyes, listen to the music, and focus on your breathing. Just be mindful of your breathing, as you do this you will enter a light hypnotic state.
Step 6: Repeat the suggestion to yourself that you came up with in Step 1. Make it real. Imagine it with all your senses - what it looks like, smells like, tastes like, sounds like, and feels like. Imagine you are already that person who has made the change. Your mind doesn't know the difference between a real or imagined event, so when you make it real enough, then your subconscious mind will reprogram your behavior to fit the new beliefs.
Ultimately, performing hypnotherapy on yourself is a lot like maintaining a Yoga/meditation practice at home. It takes an honest effort; but more than that it requires a great deal of discipline, coupled with a willingness to repeat the process over and over, even when you may feel lazy, unmotivated, and just plain not in the mood. But it's worth the effort of forging ahead. Because like Yoga and meditation, hypnosis has the ability to expand self-growth in a long term holistic way.