Set-Up and Preparation For Self-hypnosis
In order to give yourself the best opportunity for success with Self- Hypnosis, we need to pay attention to your immediate environment. The more ideal we can make the set-up, the more relaxed you will become and the less distractions are likely to occur. Most of these instructions are simple common sense, but you’d be surprised at how many people ignore the obvious!
In the early stages, whilst you’re learning the basics, you need to shut yourself away somewhere private, and make sure you won’t be disturbed. Self-Hypnosis is a solitary pastime; the clue is in the title: SELF-Hypnosis, and there’s nothing to be gained by having someone else listening in or involving themselves in the process. If you live alone it’s simple. If you have family, particularly a parent, sibling or partner, it’s up to you if you decide to tell them what you are planning to do. However, it’s always better to come clean, because when you finally shut yourself away to practice you really need to have eliminated any concerns that you are doing something covert or sneaky, or that someone might think of you as foolish or flippant if they accidentally discover what you are doing. Hypnosis always works better if you are free of short-term worries. You don’t want to be trying to induce a trance whilst keeping one ear open for approaching footsteps! Whatever the case, they need to understand that whilst you are practicing Self-Hypnosis, they should not disturb you unless the house is burning down! As for kids: well I think you know the answer to that! But seriously, if you are going to eliminate distraction, which is necessary for this process to work, you must control your environment.
Silence in your hypnosis environment is ideal, though it may be impossible to achieve total peace and quiet, especially if you live in a city. Nevertheless you should strive to establish the quietest possible space for your Self-Hypnosis. Close the doors and windows and switch your phone to ‘Flight Mode’ so that it won’t ring or vibrate. Anything which disrupts your concentration whilst you are doing the exercise will necessarily take you back to the beginning. Once you are well-practiced at this, you will be able to deal with external sounds as part of the trance, but at the beginning, until you have mastered the process, you need to eliminate as much external disturbance as possible. Pets can be a particular problem,especially dogs. I once visited a client in her home, and I was quite concerned to find that she had an open plan house and four pet dogs, including two huge German Shepherd ‘guard dogs’ who barked like crazy when she tried to shut them outside. I decided that the lesser of two evils was to have the dogs in the lounge with us whilst we did the session. They spent the whole hour licking her, climbing on and off chairs, and generally making a nuisance of themselves. I had travelled a long way to see her and she was paying for the therapy, so I was forced to improvise by incorporating the dogs into the hypnotic induction so that she was able to ignore them. It took a little longer than usual to get her into a workable trance, but I stuck at it and the session was, in the end, completely successful. However, I am a professional and I know how to do these bizarre things from time to time. I doubt you will be able to manage anything like this when you are doing hypnosis alone, so don’t try. If there are sounds in the room, such as a ticking clock (preferably you should move it or stop it temporarily) an airconditioning unit, or anything else, you need to take some time in your
preparation to get used to the ambient sounds, because you may have never really listened to them before. The idea is that you merge all sounds into the general environment so that they do not become intrusive. Once you get your trance going, you will either not notice them at all, or alternately they may simply become part of the comforting aspects of your environment.
Remember, you should be using headphones to listen to the scripts in this first phase. If you are using ear-buds, external sounds will break through quite easily. However, if you can use a pair of over-ear or even noise-cancelling headphones, external sounds should not be a problem. I regularly used headphones for my clients and a headset microphone for myself in my London practice, which is just 2000ft underneath the flight path for Heathrow airport!
Your Personal Comforts
As you have understood, achieving the hypnotic trance state will always go better if you eliminate distractions, which includes physical distractions. Wear clothing that doesn’t pinch or constrict (you may want to remove your shoes, belt, and wrist-watch). Please make sure you visit the bathroom before you start, because a call of nature half-way though your session is difficult to ignore, and again it will probably require you to start the induction all over again. Make sure the room temperature is comfortable, not too cool and not too warm.
Where to Sit
If you visit a professional hypnosis practitioner, you will rarely see a couch or flat-bed in his or her office, and there is a good reason for this. As you can imagine, taking people into a state of deep relaxation can run the risk of them falling asleep, especially if they arrive tired for the session. If you are lying down the risk is increased, because this is most people’s natural sleeping position. If a subject nods off during hypnosis, the session is essentially wasted, because the aural senses shut down as soon as you are asleep and nothing goes in, apart from the noise of a fire alarm or a wake-up call of course. Falling asleep during hypnosis is not uncommon, and it is completely harmless. Once asleep, the hypnosis is essentially over, and anything that happens whilst you are asleep won’t be effective.
Stimulants can be an issue, so you should avoid them. Coffee in particular can
inhibit relaxation, so it is best to avoid drinking it at all on the days you are going to work on your Self-Hypnosis skills. Later, once you have mastered dropping in and out of trance at will, it won’t make much difference, but in the early stages you are trying to eliminate every possible obstacle to you being able to enjoy the relaxation state that leads to hypnotic trance. If you are a smoker, especially if you are learning hypnosis in order to help you quit, I recommend that you thoroughly cleanse your breath and hands before you start. In hypnosis, senses can sometimes sharpen unexpectedly, and the smell of tobacco could become intrusive once all other distractions are suppressed or eliminated, which could trigger a craving. Of course – and this probably goes without saying – alcohol and drugs don’t go well with hypnosis. It’s virtually impossible to hypnotise a drunk, and although I did once manage to put a stoner into a deep trance, after many attempts, the work we tried to do once he was hypnotised was completely ineffective because I was battling mental forces I have not been trained for! Other drugs are mainly stimulants and it’s pointless to try.