As we discussed last week, hypnosis can be a great addition to your pain management program. It doesn’t require a certified therapist or practitioner, it can be done any where, any time, on your own, with just a little practice. Hypnosis has been used to control the pain of natural childbirth, getting a root canal, and more. Basically, hypnosis means learning to use your subconscious mind as you choose. Here are 10 ways to practice self-hypnosis to combat pain:
Find a Quiet Spot
The beauty of hypnosis is that a certified practitioner is no longer needed once the techniques are learned. Like anything else, learning self hypnosis involves practice. But once the basic tenets are achieved it can be done anywhere, anytime you have a break in your schedule. In the beginning, find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed for 10-20 minutes.
Imagine a healing, white light. Imagery is a powerful tool in hypnosis. Find the area within your body where you experience pain. Focus on it and then imagine a healing white light surrounding that area. Imagine it to be warm, and soothing and healing. Keep that light on the area until you feel the pain dissipate even slightly. With practice the white light should offer a welcome respite from pain whenever it’s conjured, even if it’s only temporary.
Create a Personal Hypnotic Mantra
Our minds are incredibly powerful, hypnosis uses that power to heal. Pick a mantra that is personal to your needs. Something like: “I take three deep breaths, and for a few minutes, I feel healthy and happy.” Or, “I am calm and stress-free no matter what happens to me.” Or, “Every time I count to three I immediately relax…. 1 – 2 – 3. I am relaxed.” The more you practice, the more the words will encourage your body to respond, outside of the hypnotic state.
If you’re living with chronic pain it is often hard to relax, or even know what that word means. Throughout the day, practice closing your eyes, taking deep breaths – breath in to the count of three, hold for the count of three, breath out to the count of three. . .while repeating “I am relaxed.” When you feel yourself entering a relaxed state, establish a reminder. For example, put your first finger (the pointer) and your thumb together. This becomes a reminder or “trigger” for relaxation. You can use this anywhere you need to calm your body -even when your eyes are open and you’re around others.
Pay Attention to Your Body
Hypnosis is useful way to identify and isolate problems areas. With chronic pain it’s often difficult to know exactly where the pain is coming from. When sitting quietly with hypnosis, and breathing with your eyes closed, you can focus on each area of the body. How does your head feel right now? How much tension do you have in your shoulders? What does your lower back feel like right now? Pay attention to your body in order to better heal yourself.
Living with chronic pain usually means the pain is so great it takes all our focus. But the mind can’t focus on two things at once, so pretending you’re at the beach, smelling the ocean, hearing the waves crash and feeling the salt air on your face, is a powerful distraction. The more often attention is pulled away to something that’s positive and vividly experienced, the less focus it can have on what hurts.
Imagine Positive Outcomes
Hypnosis can’t get rid of the underlying causes for the chronic condition we suffer, but it can transport our minds to a better, more optimistic place. Often believing in the best possible outcome each day helps up to experience less pain each day. The more our mind grabs onto this concept, the better we may feel.
Engage Your Senses
Hypnosis allows us to utilize senses we might not otherwise engage. If I tell you to close your eyes and image a fluffy, adorable animal, a smile often appears as the image of a kitten is pictured. If I ask what your left knee feels like when focused on, it may be surprising to suddenly feel its sensation when it wasn’t part of your immediate attention. The focus becomes more pronounced and more acute with hypnosis, and, with practice, we sense and feel things at a deeper level. This then gives us the power to define where our attention will go next and where it’ll be diminished.
Put Your Mind at Ease
Your mind is constantly trying to find a solution to the chronic pain. What else can you Google for help? What other doctor can you see? What new alternative medicines are there? Our minds can jump from place to place, wearing us out in the process. Hypnosis gives us a break. It asks the conscious ever-active mind to take a rest and allows the subconscious calmer part of our minds to take over for awhile.
Learn to Breathe Correctly
Clearly we all have to breath but most people only breathe in the upper chest and can “puff” in and out. Hypnotic breathing requires you to breathe deeply from the stomach. Deep cleansing breaths in, then breathing out any tension or difficulty. Focus on the breath – breathe in deeply to the count of three, hold for a three count, then breathe out deeply to the count of three, hold there for a count of three and repeat. Doesn’t that feel better already? Whether it improves pain or not, a few minutes of respite daily from our constant pain can’t hurt.