Self-hypnosis: how to do self-hypnosis?
Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash

Self-hypnosis is hypnosis applied to oneself. It is an increasingly popular technique to manage certain situations of stress or pain for example.

What is self-hypnosis?

Self-hypnosis consists of practicing hypnosis on oneself, without being helped or guided by another person.

Many people consider that all forms of hypnosis are self-hypnosis since the induction of the hypnotic state requires a good collaboration of the subject and a particular concentration.

Self-hypnosis can be considered a technique of advanced relaxation or meditation, although there are notable differences. The concepts come together: it’s about connecting with yourself, relaxing, and listening to your body.

The benefits of self-hypnosis

Self-hypnosis, like hypnosis, involves processes of visualizations and suggestions, which make it possible to better manage a situation, whether it is:

  • pain;
  • anxiety;
  • sleep disturbances;
  • depressive disorders;
  • phobias;
  • post-traumatic stress;
  • other problems or pathologies.

Self-hypnosis can be practiced at the time of delivery, for example, or taught to manage migraines, phobias, anger or aggression issues in adolescents, etc. It can also be combined with local anesthesia for minor surgical procedures.
Hypnosis is also increasingly used to reduce the side effects of anesthesia (anxiety, nausea, vomiting).

Self-hypnosis in practice

In hypnosis or self-hypnosis, the goal is to achieve an altered state of consciousness using therapeutic suggestions, intended to feed the imagination and facilitate the connection between body and mind. We thus reach a state of concentration and very focused attention that allows us to “cut” in a way from external stimuli.

Practicing self-hypnosis requires good self-knowledge and a certain mastery. It is therefore advisable to start with a few sessions supervised by a hypnosis professional, which will explore the hypnotic state and familiarize yourself with the technique.

Many guides and manuals exist to help people get started with self-hypnosis.

Before starting, you can practice deep relaxation techniques, based on regular abdominal breathing. Self-hypnosis is usually used for a particular purpose, to manage smoking cessation for example, or to reduce anxiety. It is important to have a concrete goal before you start.

Then there are several techniques, and several “suggestions” to achieve mental serenity: imagine going to a secret garden, focus on a part of your body, imagine flying over landscapes, visualize places or soothing objects, etc.

It’s up to everyone to find the technique that suits them best.

Does it work?

More and more scientific studies show the effectiveness of hypnosis or other techniques, such as meditation and mindfulness techniques, in various situations. The tools used in neuroscience make it possible to conduct neuroimaging or electrophysiology investigations to understand the mechanisms involved in the hypnotic state and visualize the effects of these practices.

Several studies have shown a change in brain activity, whether in terms of awareness of the external environment or self-awareness, in people practicing hypnosis.

Even if the neurological mechanisms involved are not all known, the idea is to act on the autonomic nervous system by activating the parasympathetic nervous system which plays a role in the stress response.

It is also known that the mechanisms underlying the modulation of pain perception involve different brain regions, including the frontal cortex, whose activity can be modulated by hypnosis.

Thus, more and more studies and literature reviews show clear genetic, epigenetic, or neurological effects of practices leading to the “meditative brain”.

However, studies on hypnosis do not distinguish hypnosis achieved through external suggestions from self-hypnosis, so it is difficult to decide on the effectiveness of self-hypnosis as such. It is also known that there are great differences between individuals in the ability to reach the hypnotic state.

Image Credit: Photo by Sage Friedman on Unsplash

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