THE ART OF SELF-HYPNOSIS
by Jimmy Eldred Quast
Imagination is the centerpiece of the incredible art of self-hypnosis. All of us make use of our powers of imagination every day. As you remember some event that happened in the past, your mind may conjure up images of the memory. You may hear familiar sounds or voices in your head, and you may experience the emotions that are still attached to that memory as you giggle, or shake your head in wonder, or cringe with embarrassment. For a few moments, you relive that old scene. You might even become so absorbed by it that you largely forget where you are right now.
We are just as capable of creatively projecting our minds into imagined future events. For example, some people mentally plan their day over morning coffee. As they do this, they mentally see, hear, and/or feel bits and pieces of the day they believe is ahead of them. Artists often have an image of something they want to create before they go to work on it. Even designers, engineers, and inventors work this way. However there can be a down side to this kind of mental processing. When a person’s imagination is focused on difficulties, those difficulties are more likely to be realized. Bad habits continue because the individual cannot imagine life without the bad habits. Many people, when they have to speak in public, find that they always have to struggle with a quavering voice and trembling body, during their speech. The truth is that they constantly imagine any upcoming speaking event with an expectation of extreme nervousness as an unavoidable part of the experience. Other problems that are created and maintained by such negative mental rehearsals include, lack of motivation, low self esteem, road rage, many forms of fear and anxiety, and even psychosomatic diseases. Actually, when it comes to diseases, some scientists (like the famous neuro-pharmacologist, Dr. Candace Pert) say that ALL disease is either caused by, or significantly exacerbated by, negative thoughts and emotions. One can become quite skilled at hiding such negative feelings but the neurochemistry associated with those emotions is nonetheless felt within the body. In fact stifling the emotions probably only increases the harmful effects.
Everything I have described so far is actually self-hypnosis. We all do it every day, one way or another, with beneficial results or detrimental ones. This is why I personally believe the positive art of self-hypnosis should be taught as a required subject in the first few grades of elementary school.
If we do that one day, perhaps we won’t actually call it hypnosis, because most people have been exposed to false information in movies and novels that cause them to think hypnosis is a form of dangerous mind control. We could just call it the wonderful art of imagining. I suspect that children are born with a natural ability to understand these things, but our modern world has become so mechanistic that we are unable to help our children develop their natural mental gifts, and therefore we un-teach them in the same way we were un-taught. Without a basic understanding of the power of our own imagination, intuition, and emotions, we go forth and create way too much of our life experience in an unwitting fashion. When the results are unpleasant, we blame others. When results are wonderful, we often attribute it to mere good luck.
Self-hypnosis is not used to stifle problematic imaginings and feelings. It is used to literally rewrite inappropriate, and completely useless, software that has inadvertently gotten planted in our minds. In its simplest form, self-hypnosis consists of relaxing deeply, followed by a creative mental rehearsal in which a once problematic situation is now experienced as easy and comfortable. All of the appropriate senses are brought into play. There is often considerable attention to detail during this positive and pleasant rehearsal. The whole thing may take just minutes to do, and by repeating it once or twice daily, the preferred new behavior can usually become automatic and normal within a matter of days. If you think this sounds like fun, well that’s because it is.
All of us have been taught how to use willpower and intellect to do things. But intuition and imagination are sometimes the only tools that will work. Those tools can give you access to the unconscious mind, which is the seat of our emotions, controls all of the body’s autonomic systems, officiates over all of our habits (whether good or bad), and seems to be recording a permanent record of everything we experience. Willpower and intellect reside in what we call the conscious mind, and therefore they have no control over the unconscious functions. If you wish to end a tenacious habit, willpower and intellect will probably fail you, but only after much exhaustive and futile effort. You will likely find that you can willfully control the habit only temporarily. It returns as soon as you become distracted, irritated, fatigued, or hungry. Obviously willpower and intellect are not bad things. They are just not enough if one really wishes to understand oneself.
Once a person learns how to practice self-hypnosis, they become used to easily slipping into a very relaxed and inwardly focused state which is characterized by a dominance of alpha brainwaves. Every artist, be they musician, painter, sculptor, or story teller, knows that the work cannot flow until they get into the appropriate state of mind. The mental state they are after is the same deep relaxation with dominant alpha waves that we use in self-hypnosis. The most successful athletes use this mental state as well. They call it “The Zone.” Once we achieve our alpha state, we bring on the thoughts, images, ideas, and self-suggestions that we have thoughtfully prepared with the intention of self-improvement. Or we may sometimes enter the altered state and just quietly be open to wisdom from within (the latter is also called meditation).
So we are all playing with this powerful “thing,” and most of us are doing it unawares. Doesn’t it make sense that we would want to learn how to take charge of it and make it work for us, instead of against us? Just imagine the possibilities. Anything from sleeping better and having increased self-esteem, to getting rid of chronic headaches or relieving allergies. What if you could simply have greater peace of mind? Not just a simulation of it, but the real thing! What if you could get rid of your “anger button” that others push in order to manipulate you? What if you got so good at this that you could actually waive the Novocain when you have a tooth repaired? Or you might not want to get that good - in which case, just accept the Novocain.
Note: hypnosis for medical issues may require a physician’s referral.