When we think of hypnosis, it’s common to imagine a magician-like performer making men and women cluck like chickens on stage or a doctor with a steady voice and a swinging pocket watch. However, many different types of hypnosis are backed up by mountains of scientific evidence. In turn, some forms of hypnosis allow subjects to perform important self-care and improvement.
One form of hypnosis that is seeing considerable popularity right now is self-hypnosis. This procedure involved slightly altering your own state of mind, allowing you to tap into your subconscious more easily. Once in the deepest recesses of our brain, we can treat many different problems, from self-esteem issues, anxiety, and depression, to chronic pain and confidence issues.
In the following article, we’ll go over some of the most common and most successful self-hypnosis techniques. First, however, we’ll have a broader discussion about what hypnosis is and how it can benefit you.
What Exactly is Hypnosis?
Scientists, entertainers, mediums, and many other individuals have debated precisely what hypnosis is and how it works for years. For some, hypnosis is the gateway to controlling other people’s minds. For others, it’s a tool to be used in advertising or marketing. For still others, hypnosis is little more than a parlor trick to help them make a living.
According to science, however, hypnosis is an “altered state of consciousness” similar to what one can achieve with deep meditation, fasting, or even drug use. It leaves people in a different state of mind, often leaving them open to suggestion or manipulation. While the debate still rages about how it works, there’s no escaping that the phenomenon of hypnosis is real enough to have measurable results.
However, as we’ll see, there is still a lot that needs to be understood about how hypnosis works and what it can do. Indeed, if we maintain the image of a deep-voiced doctor and a swinging a watch in our faces, it only serves to prevent us from truly understanding the process.
An Altered State of Consciousness
Most experts refer to the state of consciousness achieved through hypnosis as a “ trance.” While this word can also conjure up specific images in our minds, it is not the type of trance that will have us performing actions that we’d usually never do. Instead, it is a state in which we, or someone else, is in touch with a part of our minds that generally remains hidden.
A State of “Suggestibility”
The Victorian concept of hypnosis mostly focused on the idea that when a hypnotist puts their subject “under,” then can then goad them into performing specific actions that would otherwise be entirely out of the ordinary. While there is still much debate about the validity of performance hypnotism, there is scientific evidence to back up the fact that hypnosis leaves one open to suggestion.
Modern hypnotists take a much more tempered view of these claims, insisting that their interaction with their subject’s subconscious mind is more like advertising than mind control. Rather than giving commands, they simply “push” the subject toward certain viewpoints or actions by implanting phrases or ideas in their subconscious.
What is Different About Self-Hypnosis?
Through self-hypnosis involves no watches, doctors, or outside manipulation, it does operate on many of the same principles we just discussed. As both the subject and the hypnotist, you force yourself into a trance-like state where you are open to suggestions. In this state, you will be more aware of yourself, more relaxed, and – in many cases – will be able to tap into your subconscious mind.
Self-hypnosis allows you to treat a variety of specific issues, including some that are resistant to medical treatment (PTSD, Depression, Addiction). You can create mantras for yourself (“I will quit smoking,” or “I am a confident person”). In this state of mind, your subconscious will generally regard these statements as true, which will, in turn, affect your conscious state.
Now that we’re aware of how the average person can use self-hypnosis, we’ll discuss some of the most common and most successful techniques for achieving results with self-hypnosis. Some of these are quite simple, while others are more complex. However, used in combination or alone, there is almost guaranteed to be something here that can help you achieve your desired state.
Self-Hypnosis Through Audio Assistance
One of the most significant barriers to self-hypnosis is our tendency to be distracted. No doubt anyone who’s ever tried to fall asleep and failed will know how easily the mind can start racing, or how hard it is to put the phone down and concentrate on sleep. Situations like this are where audio self-hypnosis comes in. Thanks to some professionals out there, there are hundreds of hypnosis audio files out there that you can use for free.
Audio hypnosis gives you something to focus on as you try to achieve that perfect mental state. If you’re the type of person who just hasn’t gotten the hang of meditation yet, listening to a professional and having them lull you into the meditative state might be very helpful. You can find audio files for download almost anywhere, including YouTube and for download from professional hypnotists’ websites.
You can also try recording your own self-hypnosis audio. Creating your own can be even more helpful because it will allow you to put in the specific affirmations (“I am a confident person,” “I will quit smoking cigarettes”) on which you need to work. You can find scripts to record your own audio all over the internet. If you don’t like the sound of your familiar voice, consider having a friend record the audio for you.
Self-Hypnosis Through Breathing
The key to virtually every type of meditation and altered state of mind is breathing. Not only should your breathing be low and slow to help you enter a hypnotic state, but your breath should also serve as your guide. Following your breath, or even feeling it with a hand on your chest and your stomach will give you something internal to focus on and help you ignore outside distractions.
In the cases of many self-hypnotists, breathing should be in sync with the hypnotic words. If you listen to hypnotic audio, you’ll notice that it has a plodding, very deliberate pace. Try to match your breathing and your internal hypnotic monologue. If you can achieve this, you’ll find yourself lulled into a state of relaxation that you can quickly turn into a hypnotic state.
Try the “Arm Levitation” Technique
Another way to trick your mind into beginning a trance-like state is to use the arm levitation technique. In this exercise, you’ll again be directing your attention away from the environment and your thoughts. Instead, you’ll focus on the natural movements and sensations of your body. You’ll require pleasant, relaxing music, or total silence to perform this correctly.
Start in a sitting position and lift your right arm up and down, focusing on the sensation as you move. As you do this, begin silently telling your unconscious mind to lift the arm for you. Make a mantra of instructing your mind to do this. Continues this process while focusing entirely on the movement of the muscles in your arm. After a while, you will find yourself in a deep state of meditation.
Self-Hypnosis Through Hypnosis Videos
If you’re just getting into self-hypnosis, you should spend some time on YouTube watching (highly-rated) professional hypnotists perform. Not only will this serve as a guide for you on how hypnotism works, but you can use these videos to hypnotize yourself the first few times you try (before you get the hang of doing it yourself).
As with everything else on YouTube, there are thousands of videos and hundreds of hypnotists from which to choose. If you don’t care for one person’s voice or style, you can move on to a different one that suits you better. You can also use these videos to learn more about the art of suggestion, which will allow you to design personalized therapy sessions in the future.
Hypnotize Yourself Through Seated Exploration
Seated exploration is a unique visualization technique that has proved to be extremely useful for those who want to self-hypnotize and who also have an excellent imagination. It involves visualizing a room that you are familiar with, focusing on rendering as much detail as possible. From this room, you will explore your house while seated in one place, using only your memory to visualize your surroundings.
As you move about the house, it is incredibly helpful to describe it (silently) to yourself as if you were explaining each room’s contents to another person. The goal is to engage as many functions of your mind as possible while you visualize the space. You’ll also want to visualize your own body and actions as you move from place to place. When you find yourself in a trance-like state, you can begin your hypnotherapy.
Self-Hypnosis Through Message / Mantra Repetition
You don’t need to be in a hypnotic state for your suggestions on mantras to be of use to you. One trick that many self-hypnosis beginners use is writing down their suggestions before every session. Like detention back in grammar school, the repetitive writing of the message helps engrain it into both your conscious and subconscious mind.
An alternative to this is to memorize your suggestions so that you can easily repeat them at will. You don’t want to have to interrupt your hypnotic state to take a peek at your script. Instead, commit your suggestions to memory. If you must, try putting the words to a rhythm or song. These types of tricks are common in hypnosis and can be endlessly beneficial down the line.
Self-Hypnosis Through Visualization
One of the best ways to reprogram your mind is through visualization. Using positive visualization during your self-hypnosis sessions is almost always guaranteed to get results, and doesn’t require a particularly vivid imagination to work.
Depending on what sort of issues you’re trying to overcome, your visualizations might vary quite a bit. You could use visualization to help relax your body, envisioning yourself in a place you love or in a spot you find relaxing. You could also use visualization to help with your problems, picturing yourself climbing a mountain, overcoming adversity, or otherwise living your best life.
Self-Hypnosis Through Meditation or “Slow Yoga”
If you find you don’t have a talent for self-hypnosis, you can find new ways to practice the same basic concepts. These might include slow yoga or meditation. Though they are far from hypnosis, they do provide the opportunity for you to practice getting yourself into a deep, mindful state. Once this becomes more natural for you, self-hypnosis will gradually become more manageable.
In the case of meditation, you can often find classes available in most towns and cities. If you can’t find any near you or simply don’t have the budget for the classes, you can achieve a similar effect with YouTube classes and a quiet room. Slow yoga (not western yoga) videos can also be found on YouTube, though it’s easy to develop personalized routines as well.
Self-Hypnosis Through Music
Musicians and professional hypnotists have worked together in recent years to develop a new type of music that helps induce trance. Called “Binaural Beats,” musicians specifically design these audio recordings to alter your brain waves and put you into a state of deep relaxation and meditation. You can find hundreds of such sound files on YouTube.
There are other types of music that, while not designed with the specific intent of inducing hypnosis, can assist you with finding an “inner” spot of deep relaxation. Depending on what kind of music you find relaxing, you could explore everything from throat singing and chanting to light orchestral music and sound effects.
The 3-2-1 Self-Hypnosis Technique
Attributed to famous hypnotists Betty Erikson, who was herself the wife of Milton Erickson, of the progenitors of hypnotism, the 3-2-1 technique helps strengthen your visualization while moving your attention away from your inner monologue. In essence, the method requires that you focus on things in the room you can see, hear, and feel a total of three different times.
To start, focus on three different things you can see in your room. Afterward, focus on three things you can hear. Lastly, focus on three different things you can feel. Once this is complete, repeat the process while naming only two items in each category. For the last repetition, focus on only one in each group.
Now, go through the entire process again, but with your eyes closed. The things you see, for example, will be things you can visualize. They could be anything. Count down as you did before, and when you finish, you will be in a deep, self-hypnotic trance.
Hypnosis Through Nature
For all of our cities and smartphones and endless distractions, humans are members of the natural world just as any other animal. Because of this, we have certain instincts and engrained memories that often draw us to nature. We feel at home there, and often find a deep sense of relaxation when surrounded by the sounds of the forest or the breaking of ocean waves.
Like music, nature has a rhythm, and you can harness that rhythm to assist with self-hypnosis. If you can, try to find some safe, quiet places outside where you can self-hypnotize while communing with the natural world. If you’d rather perform this type of therapy in your own home, you can find websites that offer all manner of nature sounds, many of which you can program to suit your needs.
Self-Hypnosis Through the “Body Scan” Technique
Another particularly popular technique when it comes to self-hypnosis is the body scan. Through this technique, you will develop a heightened state of awareness about all parts of your body. Begin in a comfortable seated position. Start by placing your hand on an area of your body (such as your forehead or face).
While focusing on the sensation of touch, move your hand to another part of your body. Continues moving your hand like from place to place, continuing to focus all of your mind’s energy on the part of your body you’re touching. Once you get the hang of this, continue the scan without placing your hand anywhere, still focusing your entire mind on specific parts of your body.
As you move from your right knee to your left foot, your elbow to your eyeball, you’ll discover a level of focus and awareness of your body that should be tremendously calming and meditative. Use this feeling as a springboard into a hypnotic state.
Self-Hypnosis Through Transformational Training
One of the most interesting and fun ways to hypnotize yourself is through a process called transformational training. In this technique, you will attempt to experience the sensations and emotions of an image you are visualizing. In the end, this will bring a deep sense of concentration and an overwhelming state of calm.
You begin by describing an image in your mind. It can be an animate or inanimate object. Once you can picture it, describe the mood of the object, the sensations you feel when you see it, and the emotions the object invokes in you. In the next step, you will merge with that object, and imagine what it might be like to be that object.
For lack of a better word, you are going to be personifying something entirely non-human. It could be an animal or even a vase sitting on your counter. The point is to feel what that object feels and think what it would think as if it were alive. Now, return to your own body and start the process with a new object in the room.
This type of exercise puts you in a deep state of empathy and focus. From here, it can be quite easy to springboard into full meditation and a hypnotic state.
Healing Hypnosis with EMDR
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is essentially a type of psychotherapy that helps people head from emotional distress, trauma, and disturbing life experiences. To perform this therapy, you would move your eyes from right to left while under hypnosis, visualizing a traumatic memory as you access different parts of your brain.
The therapy works because the mind is naturally geared toward healing, yet sometimes our level of distress over specific experiences interrupts the healing process. EMDR can be assisted by audio or video supplements that switch back and forth between accessing different parts of the brain. It’s a breakthrough therapy, and you can find lots of resources about it online.
Hypnotize Yourself with a Pendulum
Remember when we told you to get the idea of doctors with swinging watches out of your face? That wasn’t entirely true. There’s a reason why many hypnotists, real or fake, use pendulums on their subjects, and the pendulum has proved equally useful for self-hypnosis as well. You can use a necklace, bracelet, or (if you must) a pocket watch, but all that matters is that you have something one which to focus on.
Start in a comfortable, seated position and hold the pendulum loosely between your thumb and forefinger. Ensure that your elbow is free and not locked on a table. As you focus on the pendulum, “will” it to move from side to side, forward and back. Keep your mind clear as you move the pendulum, eventually allowing it to fall on the floor.
You should be in a deep, near-hypnotic state, allowing you to go about your affirmations and meditations.
Hypnotize Yourself Through Positivity
Self-hypnosis is about healing, therapy, and the removal of bad habits, experiences, or memories. Correctly entering a hypnotic state requires a positive frame of mind before, during, and after the process is complete. While not necessarily a “technique,” hypnotizing yourself with positivity is a vital part of the experience if you want to avoid doing more harm than good.
As you self-treat through various hypnosis techniques, think about the way you’re phrasing your mantras and suggestions. Rather than say, “I won’t do this,” try simply saying, “I will do this.” It’s a subtle change, but one that can make all the difference when it comes to your success with self-hypnosis. Remember, your goal is to have a positive impact on your subconscious, and this takes confidence.
Try the “Magnetic Hands” Technique
One of the most popular self-hypnosis techniques, particularly among beginners, is the “magnetic hands technique.” This technique works like many of those on this list – by tricking your brain into concentrating on something other than the actual hypnosis. Not only is this technique quite effective, but it is also an interesting experiment on how the mind works.
To perform magnetic hands, start by rubbing your hands together, generating heat. When you feel the heat, separate your hands by four or five inches and move them ever so slightly toward or away from each other. You will have effectively tricked your brain into feeling a magnetic pull between your two hands. Play with this energy and focus on it as you move your hands around.
When you put your hands together, you’ll be on your way to a deep, hypnotic trance.
Hypnotize Yourself with Pyramid Breathing
This particular self-hypnosis technique requires you to feel resistance in your body and mind. This resistance can come from any place, outside or inside. You could push your arm against a wall, or you could curl your toes to feel the energy there. Doing this will help you move away from your thoughts and enter a more harmonious place in your mind.
Start the pyramid breathing technique by taking a deep breath and making your movement, whatever it might be. Pay very close attention to what you feel, and the sensations that are running through your body as you perform the action. Take a second breath and change movements. Do this until you reach nine movements, then repeat.
As you perform each movement, you’ll find yourself moving toward an ever-calmer state of mind. Achieving this calm will put you in the right state for mental healing and recovery, as well as suggestibility
As you can see, there are dozens of self-hypnosis techniques that you can utilize to attain a state of deep calm and relaxation. Some of these you can use on their own, while others can be combined to help you better commune with your unconscious mind. From here, it should be quite easy for you to encourage your body to heal itself, resist the temptation of addiction, or overcome past trauma.
The benefits of self-hypnosis are there for you to discover. All it takes is a strong will and the courage to start down the path of better health.