Self Hypnosis or Shelf Hypnosis?
Self hypnosis is usually thought of as a person listening to an audio tape, mp3, or other mass-produced media, intended to induce a willingness to absorb suggestions centered around a specific topic such as weight loss, stop smoking, etc. Unfortunately, this kind of hypnosis is generally prepared by someone who has never met the person being hypnotized, often presenting unwanted, even unpleasant imagery and suggestions. For example, if you sunburn easily, that last thing you want to hear about is a slow walk on a sunny beach. In this case, the "self" in self hypnosis simply means that you listen to it by yourself!
A true self hypnosis would necessarily be designed and created by the very person who will ultimately use and benefit from it. Unlike the mass-produced hypnosis, this hypnosis is made for the exact purpose the person wishes, including the precise words and phrases that mean the most to that particular person. The true self hypnosis is thus crafted by the person to suit his or her own needs. The benefits derived could only be accomplished with such a personal, one-of-a-kind hypnosis. In this case, the "self" in self hypnosis really does mean that you are hypnotized by yourself!
Custom Hypnosis Scripts
The form of hypnosis in this discussion entails the use of the spoken word. There are other forms - drug induced, fixation of sensory attention, etc. But for our purpose, let us confine ourselves to the spoken word, which is by far the most popular of modern methods. The hypnosis, therefore, requires the composition of what will be recited to the person, otherwise known as a script. It has been shown in the literature that the choice of words included in the hypnosis script can have a profound effect on its success in conveying the beneficial ideas to the user. Even if it is written using widely accepted grammar, and just the right jargon to reflect society's opinions on the topic of the hypnosis, this does not guarantee that those words will have any powerful meaning for the person being hypnotized. It must be meaningful to the user, even if to no one else. A fabricated nonsense word fitting no frame of reference to the rest of the world, may be just the thing for the person who made up the word and knows just what it means. This is one of the great advantages of the custom hypnosis script. Particular people, familiar objects, events, routines, etc. peculiar to the person (and possibly no one else) are probably the most effective words to use. Always keep in mind that the aim of the script is to create a supremely meaningful experience for the person from start to finish. Therefore, all elements of the script should be to the taste, vocabulary, and possess a complete resonance with the beliefs of the individual using the hypnosis. As in the sunburn example above, if the imagery is objectionable to the person, it will probably be at that point in the script that the person "turns off" to t hypnosis experience. Likewise, if an objectionable behvioral idea is presented, that idea will either not be acted upon, or may even have some unwanted collateral effect, worsening the sitiuation. However, if the person to be hypnotized can truly say something like, "I wish I could think about this topic using the ideas contained in this hypnosis script.", we would have every reason to anticipate success. Though there is such a thing as "brainwashing", forcing the commission of behaviors and accepting concepts against the will of the person, it is not self hypnosis. In self hypnosis, the user must want to be hypnotized, and must want the ideas presented in the hypnosis, as well.
Having extolled the virtues of custom wording in hypnosis, we may now move on to the common elements found in many hypnosis scripts, regardless of wording. They may be termed in this way: stillness of the physical body; the imagination gateway; suggestion ideation; return to ordinary consciousness.
The Hypnosis Script Elements:
Stillness of the Physical Body
Since hypnotic induction depends on the mind concentrating on an "inner reality", stimulation to the physical body should be at a minimum. Many scripts begin with instructions to relax the various muscles, moving from one group to another. This is called progressive relaxation. However you want to accomplish this "stillness" is your option. The body function of breathing is, of course, one movement that can't be stopped and so it may be used as part of the relaxation, with instructions for slow and rhythmic breathing. Truly, the simple act of giving one's self permission to be still and quiet may suffice, and prove quite enjoyable to those who lead generally hectic lives.
The Imagination Gateway
This next portion of the hypnosis script is essential, as it provides the entry point into one's inner reality. When the person is engrossed in the imagination and dissociated from the surroundings, the person becomes more suggestible. This is the goal of hypnotic induction, to raise the level of suggestibility. Imagination is not limited to the laws of the physical universe. You may imagine any place, anywhere. Usually, though not necessarily, it is a place where you will feel comfortable and want to return to often. As you construct your scenario, be sure to include all of the five senses, plus movement (or the lack of it). Mention them in the context of the place you are creating and as you touch upon them all, you will find that you have created a rather complete experience. Remember, this need not be the relaxing lakeside or stroll on the beach that one might expect, unless you want it to be. It all depends on your own free flowing imagination. This is the ultimate in freedom!
Once you are thoroughly surrounded by your imagined place, it is time to give yourself the ideas you want/need. Though the whole thing takes place within your own mind, we can still call these ideas suggestions because you will hear them spoken to you, even if they are of your own invention. There has been much written about how to word a suggestion - keep it positive and direct, etc. In this case, all it has to be is meaningful to you. It doesn't matter if you use negativity, double negatives, or negative numbers, so long as it makes good sense to you. Suggestions may be thought of as falling into one of two categories: philosophical and behavioral. The philosophical variety would consist of those ideas that form the reasoning behind something that we do or feel, the why. For example, a stop smoking hypnosis may delve into the rationale for quitting - my family is important to me and needs me to be healthy; It is better to live a long life than a short one, etc. The behvioral suggestions would give direct instruction regarding what to feel, or what to do. To continue the smoking example - cigarettes taste like burning garbage and are abhorrent to me.
It may seem unecessary, even artificial to categorize ideas in this way. If it seems so to you, then it is unecessary. In truth, it is best to write any suggestion that you desire.
There is one more type of suggestion worth mentioning. On occasion, it may be useful to trigger some sort of behavior or emotion at the mention of a particular word, or the sight of a particular person, thing, or even imagining a particular symbol.. For example, to combat anxiety, the suggestion might be, "when I say the word 'playful' to myself I will instantly regain my composure and will calmly face the challenges before me." Picturing a symbolic object or person may also be very effective for this purpose. Symbols in themselves have a powerfully hypnotic connection to non-conscious thinking. For more about the non-conscious, please see the article, "What's Hard to Find, but Always With You?" at www.hypnosoft.com" target="_new">http://www.hypnosoft.com.
Closing Your Hypnosis Script
After making the suggestions, it is time to wind down the hypnosis and return to ordinary thinking. You may want to extend the pleasure of relaxation, giving yourself some time to rest. If the hypnosis is to be used just before sleep, you may wish to give yourself instructions on how you want to fall asleep and what time you want to awaken. For other types of hypnosis, you will want to give the instruction to awaken. Many scripts use backward counting to give the mind a chance to prepare for the return. For example, "you will hear counting, moving backward from three to one. When you reach one, you will awaken and return to your ordinary thinking. Three...two...one. You are awake."
Recording Your Hypnosis Script
When your script is complete, you will want to record it on a cassette tape, computer file, or other medium. Some people like to have music playing in the backgound. Many do not, finding it a distraction. Also, some people like to look at something hypnotic while listening to their hypnosis. Such pictures are available at www.geocities.com/hypnosis_self_hypnosis" target="_new">http://www.geocities.com/hypnosis_self_hypnosis.
About The Author
The work of Richard A. Blumenthal, MS, NCC has been published in such esteemed journals as Medical Hypnoanalysis, The International Journal of Psychosomatics, The Journal of Human Behavior and Learning, and The British Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis. Mr. Blumenthal is the originator of Rational Suggestion Therapy, and the inventor of HypnoSoft Self Hypnosis Software, located at www.hypnosoft.com" target="_new">http://www.hypnosoft.com, for which he was awarded a United States patent.