Why I Use Self-Hypnosis

Tried and True: Hypnosis to ease anxiety and to promote better sleep

A few weeks ago, I was faced with a big decision–the teeth-grinding, jaw-locking (literally) kind of decision that I wrestled with on so many levels. On the outside, it looked like the perfect opportunity; I fell in love with it the way that you fall in love with a pair of shoes that would be perfect if it weren’t for the fact that they were a size too small.

As I wrestled with the decision, I think my subconscious mind knew exactly what to do. Every once in awhile–standing at the kitchen sink, sitting in the car, in the inky blackness before sleep–I’d burst out saying, “I don’t think this is going to work.” It was loud and clear, but my conscious mind kept trying to shoot it down.

The subconscious carries incredible power, not just to tell you when you’re about to do something you’ll regret later (that “gut reaction”), but also to put you on the right path. During the period I was struggling with this decision I woke up with lockjaw five or six nights in a row. I noticed that I was hungry all the time. I wasn’t sleeping well. When I finally paid attention to my subconscious screaming at me, I remembered that hypnosis had gotten me through similar situations in the past, and I turned back to it for relief.

It worked.

What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is a deep state of relaxation, similar to that state just before you fall asleep, when you can still hear dogs barking in the distance or people speaking in another room. Unlike depictions in the media, you’re aware of your surroundings and actions while under hypnosis. Hypnosis is useful for changing habits or starting new ones; things like beginning an exercise program, calming anxiety, or becoming more productive. For those who can be hypnotized, it’s also an excellent way to manage pain.

Hypnotherapist Dr. John Ryder does a better job of explaining it:

“Do you remember getting lost in thought? The most common example is when you are in a car, bus, or train, thinking about something until you get surprised, catching yourself reaching your stop or exit and you return to the normal alert state of awareness. That is a typical example of a trance, your mind being in two places at the same time.”

How to Hypnotize Yourself

Self-hypnosis can be as simple as becoming very relaxed and repeating a mantra to yourself, but since I have a busy mind, I turn to a series of apps which use recordings and something called a “Hypnotic Booster” (a white noise that makes me feel like I’m floating in the ocean).

You can use hypnosis at any time of day but I do it at night, and it never fails to help me fall asleep. Here are the steps:

  1. Get very comfortable. Lie down or sit in a recliner.
  2. Put on headphones or ear buds. Turn off your ringer, text alerts, etc. Turn on the recording.
  3. Relax! Listen to the recording, which will take you through some breathing and visualization exercises. It’s not necessary to listen intently; think of it as background noise. You may fall asleep. That’s great! In fact, that’s my favorite part.

I’ve had success with the recordings from Surf City Apps (which has a huge range, including relief from migraines, smoking cessation, and enjoyment of exercise recordings), as well as the Happy App.

The older I get, the more I find that alternatives to traditional medicine generally work best for the treatment of these kinds of small, nagging problems. Have you ever tried hypnosis with any success? I’d love to hear about your experiences.




Avoid the Grumpies

Without enough sleep (or enough food), I am a very unpleasant human being. In fact, I don’t even know if I qualify as a human at that point — surly, disheveled Muppet would be more accurate. So I go to pretty extreme lengths to get as much sleep as possible. Working at home is an enormous bonus on that front. But aside from that, I’ve accumulated a number of lovely things that help me feel like I’m sleeping in a fluffy cloud.

1. Incase Reflex Headphones  2. Martha Stewart Sleep Wise Gusset Foam Pillow  3. Ikea Rens Sheepskin  5. Aerie Softest Robe

Perhaps the greatest find of 2011 was these Beech sheets from Bed, Bath & Beyond. Lindsey found them, washed them, slept in them, and sent me a euphoric text: YOU MUST BUY THESE SHEETS!!! Since this is the woman who recommended Mario Badescu’s skincare line, which ended my fifteen year struggle with acne, I usually take these recommendations pretty seriously. The sheets are heavenly. I want five sets of them. I want clothes made out of them. They’re the shit.

Also, if you have trouble turning off your brain at night, you should definitely try hypnosis. The iTunes store sells an app by Hypnotransformations called “Sleep Soundly” that’s pretty amazing. The layers of sound come through in waves, so it’s important to have a good pair of headphones. Will you wake up with somewhat crazy hair? Probably. That’s what flat irons are for.

If you want to read something less fluffy than this post about the link between sleep and happiness, check out this article at Psychology Today by the Happiness Project’s Gretchen Rubin.

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