How can self-hypnosis help you sleep?

James Braid – considered by most practitioners as being the father of modern hypnotherapy, practicing in the mid-1800s – often used an eye-fixation technique to induce hypnotic trance.  It’s a simple technique and, while it’s often used by therapists working with a client, it is also ideally suited to self-hypnosis situations.  Using a CD or other recording is, of course, a great way to bring a therapist’s skills into almost any environment but – with a little practice – this eye-fixation technique can be applied without any resources other than your own thoughts and a few photons of light.

Anyone who has ever found driving on a long motorway journey entrancing, mesmerising even, will realise that simply staring into the distance does, indeed, begin a trance process.  Braid himself used an object – like a piece of equipment from his medical bag – as the point of focus while other hypnotists have used a pendulum or a watch on a chain.  But whatever is chosen, the direction of the gaze is always upwards.

So, if you’d like to use this technique to get to sleep or to get back to sleep if your rest has been disturbed, find a point above you – on the wall or ceiling behind you if you’re on your back in bed or just look upwards, as though you are looking up into your own forehead.  Make sure your neck is relaxed and your head is facing straight ahead and that you only move your eyes upwards as you direct your gaze.

Next, just become aware of your own breathing as you continue to gaze upwards.  Try at this stage to keep your eyes open although you will, of course, notice that you do need to blink and that blinking is natural and necessary.  As you notice your breathing just be aware that with each out-breath you relax a little more and that with this increasing relaxation your rate of breathing slows and your breathing comes from deeper down.

You will notice that your eyes begin to close and the feeling that they need to close becomes stronger and stronger after about thirty seconds.  If you notice your eyes closing just open them again and when you have done that begin to count – quietly but out loud and slowly – beginning with one.  If your eyes fall closed again while you are counting, that’s fine.  And before you say each number just imagine it in your mind; imagine it forming and then say its name, allowing it to fade away before imagining the next number.  Very soon the numbers will just become so much effort to call to mind: when the numbers just won’t come to mind say ‘Gone.’

And when you say ‘Gone’ that’s when you can slip easily and quietly into sleep and it can become deeper and deeper, in a natural rhythm.

As with everything in life, the more your practice this the more effective it becomes.


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