Self-hypnosis: Time to start practicing

Now that we believe we have found the right surgeon, we know the risks of having surgery versus putting it off, and keeping in mind that my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson (who will be 3) plan to visit for Christmas, we have begun to talk about time frames for surgery. I need plenty of time to heal before they arrive and if we have the surgery soon enough, I hope to at least ski some green runs this season (maybe easy blues?). So, when we see the surgeon in two and a half weeks, we will begin to talk about a date. We are thinking that September would be the best time. So, that means that there are things to do to get ready.

I decided over the past couple of days that one of those things should be to brush up on my self-hypnosis skills. I have practiced some in the past, but never with any consistency and have not actually worked on my skills enough to produce anesthesia. Anesthesia and deep relaxation are my goals at this point. I believe both will serve me well in the days that lead up to and follow the surgery. The relaxation benefit is probably obvious. The anesthesia benefit may require some explanation.

Self-hypnosis is a state of deep relaxation (mental and physical) that one achieves on one’s own. In this state, the mind is more susceptible (open to) suggestion. Contrary to popular belief, no one can be hypnotized without their consent and participation. And practicing self-hypnosis will not lead to clucking like a chicken or suddenly undressing in public. There is nothing mystical or magical about the process. However, it often requires practice and some degree of patience. 

If we were to compare hypnosis to sleep, sleep is a state of unconsciousness and unawareness. Hypnotic trance is a state of consciousness and awareness while deeply relaxed. My own experience is one of floating, weightlessness. I can, in the distance, hear sounds. However, they do not interest me. I am able to take my trance to a deeper or more shallow level depending on what I would like to experience. At its deepest level, it feels sort of like that time right before you fall asleep when you are comfortable, not really attending to your surroundings, and are deep within your mind.

I will describe to you how I get to that place with the caveat that I am not trained to provide services in hypnosis nor to provide education. I am describing my process more as a demonstration.

I sit or lay comfortably in a room that is comfortable and preferably darker rather than lighter. I have already removed the phone and any other distractions. I start by closing my eyes and focusing on my breathing while I relax my body methodically from head to toes. Once my body feels heavy and comfortable, I allow my eyes (still closed) to rise so that if I were to open my eyes I would be looking gently toward my forehead. I then focus my attention deep behind my eyes and forehead to what generally appears as an irregular violet circle. And I see myself slowly descending steps, thinking “deeper and deeper” with each step. I can make this process take fewer steps or more depending on the level of trance into which I would like to descend. As I take each step, I “see” my foot on the step and my hand holding the railing. The air cools some as I descend and my body feels lighter and more weightless.

When I arrive at the level that meets my current needs, I step into the space away from the stairs. What I do next depends on what I am trying to achieve. Today, I took myself to a very deep level and then stepped out and sort of floated off on warm water for a while. I am not sure when I started, and therefore not really certain how long I floated. However, when I was ready to change focus, I decided to practice some anesthesia for my still injured shoulder.

I focused on numbing my left hand with the intention of then applying that numbness (also known as glove anesthesia) to my shoulder. While I was able to achieve some degree of numbness in my hand, I could not translate that to my shoulder. Unfortunately, about this time my shoulder really started to throb. That was not only uncomfortable, but also interesting; I am not certain what to make of the experience. I tolerated it as long as I could and then came back up the stairs a bit more quickly than I had descended and ultimately returned to a state of awake. This was my first attempt and I found that I will need to work at this in order to develop my abilities.

Count on updates as I work to strengthen my practice. For now, the day is calling me. I would love to hear about your experiences with self-hypnosis.

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