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Learning Self Hypnosis Is An Essential Element Of Any Hypnotic Practice

Why Learn Self Hypnosis?

Why Learn Self Hypnosis?

There are a lot of good reasons to learn self hypnosis, but you may be surprised to learn that you already KNOW self hypnosis. You've done it, you do it, and you'll continue to do it. You can't help it - it's just the way the human brain works. Trance happens...

The trick is to do it with purpose and intentional focus. You can learn a lot about using self hypnosis just by paying attention to how your brain works!

Or... you can read this article. It's your choice.


Are Meditation and Self Hypnosis The Same Thing?

If you want to skip the next couple of paragraphs that discuss meditation vs hypnosis, and get right to the learning self hypnosis stuff, just click the button.

Before we go any further, let's address this common debate. Any course in self hypnosis should help you understand what hypnotic trance is, and how it may be different from meditation.

Many, many people who think they can't meditate DO find hypnosis, even self hypnosis, very effective and useful. So it's an important topic to address. 

Here's our take on it:
Meditation, not self hypnosis

When people question whether self hypnosis and meditation are the same thing, the answer is a resounding "No". They can have similar elements and effects, however meditation tends to lack the specific elements of intention and suggestion that is used in self hypnosis. 

Often meditation is about "quieting the mind", or more specifically, "watching the mind". Being aware of your mind or body in a non-judgmental, unattached way. People who have practiced meditation may, indeed, find self hypnosis a bit easier to learn.

A common form of meditation is to count each breath, or "watch your breathing". Just notice it. This is a useful grounding and calming technique, and it can be used for either meditation or the beginning of self hypnosis.

What is the difference between meditation and self hypnosis?

It's what happens next - after the calming, or relaxation, etc., that determines the difference. 

By the way, this is true for guided meditation as well. Although guided meditation can have more commonality with hypnosis, in and of itself it is often not a hypnotic experience, whether listening to an audio file or being guided during a meditation class - neither of these would qualify as hypnosis or self hypnosis.

In the case of meditation, the calming and mindfulness IS the purpose. You have reached your purpose when you are doing it. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes or an hour, the meditation IS the goal.

With self hypnosis, some techniques may be similar to meditation, but they are merely a means to an end. The goal is to achieve a level of trance, and then do some work with your subconscious mind. That work may be to manage anxiety, it may be to lose weight, or it may be to get over an attachment to bad movies that give you nightmares.

And You Thought This Page is just about learning self hypnosis...

Wait...What's This Page About Again?

Although this page is intended for hypnosis practitioners and people interested in becoming hypnotherapists, there is a lot of information here that can help you determine what to look for in a course that teaches self hypnosis, even if that is your sole purpose in being here.

For instance, any time you are working with hypnosis you should know the signs of hypnotic trance.

This page won't be going into what hypnosis is and isn't, or other details about becoming a certified hypnotherapist, however. You can learn more about THAT by visiting our "Hypnosis Certification Guide".

Self hypnosis at work.

Setting The Goal Is The Thing

While learning to hypnotize yourself your goal will be learning self hypnosis. However, once you have the steps to self hypnosis down to an easy ritual, the somewhat more important step is knowing how to set effective goals for your self hypnosis session.

So let's talk about that first. When you enter into a self induced trance, you can do some real work while you're in there. You can effectively "talk" to the part of your mind that is in charge of a LOT of your behaviors, emotions, and habits. The ones you like, and the ones you want to change.

Just 3 Easy Steps To Setting Your Self Hypnosis Goal Or Intention

First Step:  Pick a thing to work on and form an effective, positive goal statement.

Keep it simple at first. Think in terms of small, achievable chunks. Maybe your overall goal is to stop smoking, but first, what if you simply understand the things that make you want to smoke in the first place? So perhaps your self hypnosis goal for that session would be to answer the question: "What makes me want to smoke?"

Sure, you might be able to answer that question just by sitting down and making a list. But there may be subconscious triggers that are deeper down, below your conscious awareness.

Second Step:  Practice your goal statement while involving your 5 senses.

This step could be an entire article on it's own, so this is a quick look at effective goal setting in general.

  • Create a goal statement that is stated in the "positive present". For example:
    • Negative statement: "I don't want to smoke anymore."
      Positive statement: "I have replaced smoking with healthier habits."
  • Make your goal statement achievable. For example:
    • Not achievable: I can smoke as much and as long I want without doing any damage to my body.
      Achievable: I replace smoking with taking deep breaths to nurture and heal my body.
  • Imagine your goal with all your senses. For example:
    • Ineffective goal statement: I don't want to be sick anymore.
      Effective, sensory goal statement: Clean, fresh air fills my lungs AND
      • Imagine feeling the air on your skin and filling your lungs
        Imagine hearing the sound of a deep, healing breath
        Imagine smelling fresh air while you breath in
        Imagine tasting fresh air - as if you were standing near the ocean, and you can taste the salt in the air
        Imagine seeing your reflection taking a deep breath, or perhaps seeing a scene that represents your feeling healthy and well

Third Step:  Shorten your statement if need be to make it easy and repeatable. Then practice, practice, practice.

This part is quite simple. Take the things you worked on in step one and two, shorten your goal statement if you need to so that it is easy to remember, and practice the statement while imagining the sensory elements. Practice it a lot, but make sure every time you practice, you involve the 5 senses. You might have to write them down - this part is important.

When you are confident you can use that statement without effort, and it will elicit the sensory information you practiced, then you're ready to use it while in a self hypnotic trance.


OK, I have My Goal or Intention set, now How Do I hypnotize myself?

As with any hypnosis, the standard disclaimer applies - make sure you are someplace safe, not driving or operating machinery, etc. In other words, find a safe, quiet, comfortable place before you begin to hypnotize yourself.

Again, this article is not intended to teach you self hypnosis, but to help you know what to look for when searching for a course on self hypnosis. One of the things you need to look for, obviously, is that they teach you the basis steps to a self hypnosis. Here's a guide to help you know if they will teach you what you need:

The elements of a self hypnosis session are as follows:

  • Get your body safe and comfortable, and make sure you have the time you have allotted for self hypnosis free from potential interruption.
  • Induce a hypnotic trance (more on this below).
  • Deliver positive suggestions you have prepared, i.e. positive goal statements/intentions.
  • Going deeper - deepening trance in self hypnosis. You want to be able to go as deep as possible into the experience self hypnosis, and experiencing achieving the goal or intention you set for yourself.
  • Bring yourself out of trance, with an appropriate process and positive suggestion.

Inducing Trance In Self Hypnosis - Knowing The Signs

One important element to look for when learning self hypnosis is whether the course you are considering teaches you about hypnotic phenomena, so you can tell if you're in a trance - or just says "do this", without telling you how or why.

For instance, make sure the course you choose teaches you that you can find, and even develop for yourself, many different ways to take yourself into trance. And most importantly, how to know you're there! 

The key to self hypnosis is to bring your focus from the external world, into your internal world. But there are many ways to do that, including just practicing different hypnotic phenomena.

For example: You could...

Just close your eyes.
  1. Stare at something in the distance - don't squint... just "stare off into the distance" - get that feeling.
  2. Close your eyes. That's right - you can just do it. It doesn't have to be fancy. In fact, you can close your eyes and play with not being able to open them. Try it - practice creating this effect just because you want to.
  3. Slow your breathing.
  4. Relax your body. Focus on relaxing specific muscles, and relax them more and more as you count down from 10 to 1.
  5. Play with arm, hand, leg or foot catalepsy
    1. This term, in the context of hypnosis, just means a stillness and reduced ability to move, if even for a moment - even a delay, before your arm or hand does what your brain is telling it to do. (This is NOT medical catalepsy!)
    2. Just...make yourself imagine your hand or arm feels very heavy, and then play with pretending to lift it, feel like you're really, really trying, but just can't lift it.

The point is that you need to understand signs of trance, and know that many hypnotic phenomena can be created by choice. YOU are in charge, whether you are working with a hypnotherapist other than yourself, or practicing self hypnosis. You can create trance just by practicing feeling what trance feels like.

Below is one popular self hypnosis technique that you can use to induce trance. But remember, this page is not here to teach you self hypnosis. It is to help you understand what you should look for, when you are looking to learn self hypnosis. This Betty Erickson 3-2-1 self hypnosis technique is a very direct approach.


Betty Erickson's Self Hypnosis Technique

Here’s a simple example of a popular self hypnosis technique created by Milton Erickson’s wife, Betty. If you don’t yet know about Milton Erickson, your foray into hypnosis will give you ample time to learn about him.

For now, let’s focus on Betty Erickson’s simple technique.

This is a sensory technique that you can do anywhere in which you are safe and not operating heavy machinery! We have modified it ever so slightly, just to make it something that progresses from when you first start, to once you have experienced it enough so that you can shorten the process.

Simply sit, or lay, in a comfortable position, with your eyes open and focused on something a bit above eye level, so with your head relaxed, your eyes are looking slightly up. This helps your eyes develop that feeling of wanting to close - this is intentional, and with practice you’ll understand why.

This process, as with all hypnosis, is about taking your awareness from outside yourself, to inside yourself, in a focused and intentional way.

Starting this process with “5 things” helps you learn how to choose to relax, and study your own responses. Once this is easier for you, you can start with 3 things instead of 5.

Betty Erickson 3-2-1 Technique Steps

Take a couple of deep breaths, set your body at rest, and begin:

  1. Notice and name 5 things that you can see. They can be anything - a spot on the wall, the door handle, a tree…anything.
  2. Notice and name 5 things you can hear. If the space is very quiet, hearing your breathing, hearing the silence, etc, is perfectly fine.
  3. Notice and name 5 things you can feel. This can be tactile or environmental (i.e. the chair you’re sitting on, the temperature of the room)

Repeat the steps from above in a cycle. You can make this a slow or fast process - it is up to you and how your individual mind works. So noticing 4 things, then 3, then 2, then 1. With each cycle, breathe deeply and relax and focus intentionally.

Now, you’re going to go inward.

  1. Notice and name 1 thing that you can see inside your mind. In other words, imagine seeing one thing.
  2. Notice and name 1 thing that you can hear inside your mind. Imagine hearing 1 thing.
  3. Notice and name 1 thing that you can feel inside your mind. Vividly imagine the feel of your favorite texture or a summer breezy - it’s ok to make it up!

Then, simply repeat the internal process with 2 things, 3 things, and so on, until you feel like you are in an altered state. A trance.

As you are practicing, this may be all you do at first. Practice going into trance, feel what that feels like, enhance those feelings intentionally.

Once you have the process down, you can start adding positive suggestions for yourself, and setting your positive intention prior to going into trance.


Coming out of self hypnosis awake and happy.

Finally, you can allow yourself to come out of trance in a variety of ways.

Your self hypnosis learning journey should include this, as well. Even if all you do is allow yourself to come back to the present, conscious reality naturally...you should KNOW that this is what you are doing!

You can just let yourself wake up. You can set a reminder on your phone or clock. You can just choose, and count up backward from 3 to 1, giving yourself positive suggestions such as "I am coming back into my body feeling better than ever.

We hope this page has given you a good idea about self hypnosis, and what you should look for when seeking a self hypnosis course.