How do we enter and emerge from Hypnosis?
An hypnotic induction is a series of simple tasks that prepares you to relax, to be focused and to enter a state of high responsiveness to the suggestions that will follow.
This phase is used to prepare you by narrowing your attention to a simple task, like looking up at the ceiling. A tension is created, then released, which increases physical and mental relaxation. It helps you to become more easily hypnotised each time you practise it.
The induction is followed by a Deepening phase, where the hypnotherapist uses suggestions about relaxation, mental absorption, and suggestibility, to increase the “depth” of hypnosis and the relaxation.
Hypnosis ends with an Emerging phase, when the therapist instructs you to emerge from hypnosis, counting from one 1 up to 5, while gradually encouraging you to feel fully awake, on the here and now. Emerging is used as a signal, to gradually bring you back to your “usual” state of awareness. Even if nobody gets “stuck” into hypnosis, emerging techniques help to feel completely awake and ready to go on with your day. It is used to reinforce the suggestions and the positive feelings, and to encourage you to take them back with you after the session.
The Eye Fixation Induction
The “Eye fixation Induction” is a traditional well known hypnotic induction used by James Braid (1795-1860).
During the “Eye fixation Induction”, you are asked, with your eyes closed, to look up as if looking at the ceiling, then to slowly open the eyes while keeping them looking up. The feeling of tiredness is accentuated by suggesting that the eyes want to close, that they are very heavy and tired. The therapist uses counting from 5 down to 0 to increase the feeling of heaviness with each number. Reaching number 0, you let go and let your eyes close. It is an efficient technique that can easily be reproduced by when/if you are practising self-hypnosis at home.
Many variations exist on the same principle. It can also be practised by asking you to stare at an object like a pen, and by placing it above your gaze to create this uncomfortable position that will make the eyes tired. In the “Dave Elman induction”, the therapist uses his fingers and suggestions to make the eyes close. You are asked to stare at the two fingers above your gaze, and the therapist repetitively moves his fingers up and down, asking you to follow with your eyes. This technique involves fractionation, by repeating the procedure a few times.
Associating Sensations with Suggestions
The position of the eyes looking up creates a strain that will induce the eyes to close. By adding suggestions to imagining that the eyes get very heavy and tired, your eyes will close more rapidly, and you will associate these sensations to the suggestions of the therapist. When closing the eyes, the muscles around your eyes will relax, and this feeling of relaxation will be enhanced and associated again with the suggestions of the therapist of letting go and relaxation. When focusing your gaze on a single point, it narrows your attention. When closing your eyes, the attention will stay narrowed and more focused on the suggestions, which will increase the efficiency of the session. You will also be less disturbed by external stimuli and pop-up thoughts.
Hypnosis allows you to explore and benefit from the relationship between your imagination, your sensations, and your muscular responses. It shows how they influence and interact with each other. You can then develop a curious attitude about the process and learn to develop this skill to relax yourself, to focus your attention and to respond to positive suggestions easily.