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This induction is a variant of a technique popularized by the famous hypnotherapist, Milton Erickson. It is called the "handshake" technique because of the position of the hand at the beginning.
Extend your hand in front of you as though you were going to shake someone's hand. It's rather a limp handshake, because your wrist is very loose. You can either close your eyes or fix your eyes on your hand. It's up to you.
You will notice that you have a lot of options in self-hypnosis. There are many "right" ways. This makes sense, because everyone has different preferences and experiences, so trying to force everyone into the same mold is unrealistic. You are in charge.
After assuming the handshake position, hold your hand out and pay attention to your breathing. Then notice how your hand is dangling in midair. Imagine different ways your arm might be suspended, such as floating in water or being suspended by balloons.
When you're ready, notice that your arm is beginning to feel heavy. You may want to count backward from 20, feeling your hand get heavier.
Any movement in your arm makes you more comfortable. If your hand falls in your lap as you finish counting, you will enter a trance. If your hand decides to go up and touch your face instead, that will signal you are in a trance. If your hand is still extended in front of you, you can finish the induction where you began it and continue on with the rest of your session.
You will notice that Erickson is not too strict, but allows you to use what works best for you. You shouldn't be too strict with yourself either.
Eye fixation is part of many inductions. In our standard induction, we fix our eyes on a spot on the ceiling.
You can choose anything that works for you for eye fixation. A candle works very well. Just make sure it's set up safely and is not going to burn out or tip over while you're watching it. The stereotypical pendulum or pocket watch you see in pictures works too. You will have to suspend it yourself, as you will not have the mysterious literary hypnotist there to swing it for you.
Think about an interesting, intricate design you might have on a picture or poster. Something that has different facets or colors can be sufficient to be used for an induction itself.
If you have trouble concentrating, it will be helpful to just sit for a few minutes and stare at something. Choose something natural, like an orange or a flower, so you can look at the different planes and shades of color. Add another minute or so each time. You will improve your concentration and powers of observation. You will probably slip into a light trance, but you can come out of it easily.
You can use one of these eye fixation techniques as an induction when you get more comfortable with self-hypnosis. If you are a beginner, use it as part of our standard induction, as the spot on the ceiling.
Here is a standard induction we use for self-hypnosis, which you can use or revise or replace with another induction. This is a good one to use when you are learning, and even later. You can record the script or have someone read it to you. Most likely, you will just run through it in your mind. Read it over several times. Just go through the routine. You don't have to repeat the exact words. Note that you are not asleep. It is just traditional to use the word "sleep" for entering the state of hypnosis, and it works nicely in an induction.
Fix your eyes on a spot on the ceiling or high on the wall. Pick one that doesn't require you to tilt your head back. Look at that spot and nothing else. Now take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and say to yourself silently: Sleep now. Take a second deep breath, let it out, and repeat: Sleep now. Now take a third deep breath. Sleep now. As you finish breathing out for the third time, let your eyelids close and breathe quietly and feel your eyelids growing heavy. Your facial muscles are relaxing and your eyelids grow so heavy that you don't know if you could open them if you tried. But you don't want to try. You are so comfortable and relaxed, sitting there with your eyelids closed and heavy.
The induction is what gets you into the state of hypnosis, that is, the trance. There are many different inductions. Some are very quick. In fact, there are so many potential inductions, it's not possible to list them all.
Remember, in hypnosis we want to divert the conscious mind so that we can get through to the subconscious, which is where change will be made. One way to do this is through shock or surprise. This is, of course, difficult to do if you are hypnotizing yourself.
The preferred type of induction for self-hypnosis is relaxation and repetition. We are going to get around the conscious mind by fatiguing it so it lets down its vigilance.
Our standard hypnotic induction, used here, centers on relaxation and is rather lengthy. When you are more experienced, you will be able to put yourself into a hypnotic trance quickly, using a method of your choice. Or you can continue to use the longer routine we present next.
Remember, we are going to divert the conscious mind. One way to do that is to bore it, so it's not necessary to do anything clever or novel as an induction.
There are a number of quick inductions you can use when you are proficient in self-hypnosis.
You can use the quick relax routine as an induction.
You can give yourself a post-hypnotic suggestion. Here's how it works. Use the standard induction plus some relaxation. Give yourself the suggestion: I enter this wonderful state of relaxation every time I count backward from twenty to one. (Use something you're not likely to do by accident.) Repeat this over several days.
You can use a quick induction with a regular suggestion, or when you just want to spend a little time in a relaxing trance. This is especially useful at times when you haven't had enough sleep or are going to have to be awake and alert at a time you're not used to.
Here's one more example, though you can come up with your own.
Sit behind a desk or table. Put your fingertips of both hands on the desk. Feel one hand becoming very light and the other becoming heavier and heavier. It doesn't matter if your hands actually move, though it's fun if they do. Then take a deep breath, drop your shoulders, and put your hands in your lap. Feel your hands tingling as the energy moves through them. Then continue with your session.
The advantage of quick inductions and relatively brief self-hypnosis sessions is that you are more likely to do them.
You can use relaxation as an induction. Instead of just using your mind to relax various body parts, this time we will use the technique called progressive relaxation. The theory is that you can relax deeper if you first tense the muscle involved and then relax it, so that is what we will do.
Most people like to go from foot to head, but you can go from head to foot if you prefer. They both work.
Use as many increments as you can. For instance, tense your toes first, then your feet, then your ankles, rather than tensing them all as one unit.
This takes a little practice, as it is easier to separately control some muscles than others. You may be able to tense each finger separately, or you may choose to tense them all together. It's hard to tense your scalp, but you can tense your forehead and your jaw. Wiggle your ears if you can.
You may decide you're bored with this and want to get though it more quickly by tensing groups of muscles.
Don't forget to breathe! Breathe in when you tense your muscles. Breathe out when you relax. Take at least one breath between tensings to let the relaxation sink in.
When you finish this induction, survey your body and relax any area that seems tight. Then go on to the deepening and continue your session.
You have to do this induction in a sitting position. Close your eyes. Sit up straight and press your hands together, in any position you choose.
Press the palms of your hands together tightly, as you tell yourself your hands are beginning to stick together. Feel all the surfaces of your palms touching each other. Do you feel your hands getting warm?
Try to pull your palms apart, and you will find they are stuck together. See if you can concentrate on your hands and make them feel cooler.
When you are ready, tell yourself your hands will no longer stick together. Drop your shoulders and relax your hands so they just fall into your lap. Feel them cooling off. Continue with your session. Breathe normally for this one.
As an alternative to the sticky palms induction, interlace your fingers and try to pull your hands apart with the same routine. When you are ready, spread your fingers and let your hands come apart.
You can use deep breathing as an induction. Do this seated.
Put your feet flat on the floor and your hands in your lap, in any way you find comfortable and relaxed. Fix your eyes on the floor, looking down about 45 degrees. Breathe deeply and easily, from your diaphragm. (Your abdomen should move out when you inhale and in when you exhale.)
After a couple of minutes, you will enter a light trance. Close your eyes and continue with the self-hypnosis procedure.
An alternative is to use rhythmic breathing. Try breathing in to a count of 5, pause, then breathe out to a count of 7. Try different rhythms. What is natural for you? Don't force it. Don't rush it. You can also try just taking a few deep breaths, then starting rhythmic breathing.
Most of us do not breathe deeply enough in everyday life. There's also a tendency to hold your breath when you are concentrating on something. Make sure you breathe deeply and easily during self-hypnosis. It will help you to breathe more deeply and efficiently during the day as well.