Deepening The Hypnotic State
For each progressive test, it is usually necessary to have accomplished the preceding tests. However, this is not an absolute rule. Frequently, a subject responds to tests at the beginning of the depth scale and then to others at the end of the depth scale. Certain tests in between do not work. I have had the following experience more than once while teaching one of my classes in self-hypnosis. In testing the depth of hypnosis, I run the gamut of all of the tests from light to deep. In this way, the subject can ascertain how far he has progressed. One frequent test for the deep state is to give the subject a posthypnotic suggestion to the effect that the next cigarette he smokes will have a vile taste and it will be absolutely impossible for him to take more than three puffs. It is further suggested that after the third puff, the cigarette taste will be so unbearable it will become necessary for him to extinguish the cigarette.
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We can expect an excellent hypnotic subject to comply with these posthypnotic suggestions, but a subject who hasn’t even passed the eye closure test (test No. 1) or any other test may unexpectedly react perfectly to the cigarette test which we know is a standard test for determining if the subject has entered into a deep state of hypnosis. How can you account for it? There is no simple or positive answer. If we hadn’t given him this particular test, he would have felt that he wasn’t making progress in his determination to become a good hypnotic subject. Because of this, he might not have given himself therapeutic suggestions because he would feel he hadn’t reached a state of hypnosis which would benefit him.
Remember, follow the instructions of giving yourself whatever therapeutic suggestions you want, regardless of the fact that you feel that “nothing has happened.” I have seen many subjects who were bewildered because certain tests did not work, yet were pleased because of very gratifying overall results from using self-hypnosis. They were baffled because of their inability to pass certain tests which they felt were a prerequisite to the success of constructive suggestions they gave themselves.
It is commonly felt that the deeper the state of hypnosis, the better the results. In actual practice, I have not found this to be so. I have had excellent results in a relatively short period of time with subjects who only achieved a light state, and it has been necessary to work with others who achieved a deep state of hypnosis for a longer period before lasting results were in evidence. Naturally, each individual presents a different set of needs and even though the symptoms may be basically the same, each will respond favorably when his requirements are met. This happens on a conscious as well as unconscious level. For example, the mere assurance by a physician that the patient is all right and has nothing to worry about is often sufficient to bring about desirable results. Another example is the mother who stops the sobbing of her hurt child by a loving kiss. A logical approach, pointing out to the child that he really didn’t hurt himself, would never have worked. We have all heard stories of primitive tribesmen who have died because they knew they were the objects of “death wishes” by another member of the tribe.
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The key to achieving a greater depth of self-hypnosis lies in the use of the visual-imagery technique. You “see” yourself going into the hypnotic state deeper and deeper. You even picture yourself, using this technique, passing various progressive hypnotic tests. The second part of the key lies in giving yourself a posthypnotic suggestion that each succeeding attempt will put you into a deeper state as a result of a given stimulus—such as the count of three.
The following instructions should not be attempted usually unless you have been successful in achieving the two basic tests—the eye closure as well as the uncontrollable urge to swallow followed by the physical act of swallowing at a specific count. If the conditioning process works for these two tests, you have achieved the lethargic state of hypnosis. This is the first state of hypnosis and is generally referred to as the “light” state. Therapeutic suggestions can work admirably in this state. The next stage of hypnosis is known as the cataleptic state and is referred to as the “medium” state. Generally, hypnosis is divided into three states: the lethargic (light state); the cataleptic (medium state); and the somnambulistic (deep state).
As you deepen the hypnotic state, you can accomplish the progressive tests that I shall outline for you. I’ll also number these tests for the convenience of having a reference. Deepening the hypnotic state requires the same type of practice or conditioning as the first two steps. Let us call eye closure—No. 1, and swallowing—No. 2. We are now ready to proceed to the “hand tingling” test—No. 3.
You have just completed tests No. 1 and 2; you are in a completely relaxed state. Now give yourself the following suggestions: “As I count to ten and even before I reach the count of ten, I shall feel a light tingling or numb feeling in my right hand.”
As you slowly begin the count of ten, you keep repeating suggestions to the effect that your right hand is beginning to tingle. Once again, you practice the technique of visual-imagery, tapping your experiential background for this feeling. You can recall how it feels when your hand goes to sleep. Once you get an initial feeling of lightness, tingling or numbness, reinforce this feeling by the feed-back technique as you did with the eye closure test. As you practice this procedure, it will work with greater effectiveness.
The following is a very important point to remember. Be sure that you give yourself a posthypnotic suggestion that the tingling, light or numb sensation will disappear as you continue to count to 15. For example, “As I count to 15, the tingling feeling in my right hand will disappear, and I shall experience only normal sensations. Eleven … The tingling feeling is leaving. Twelve … Now it is leaving faster. Thirteen … I can feel my hand returning to normal. Fourteen … The tingling feeling has left. Fifteen … My right hand feels perfectly normal.” You could try a variation of this test by saying your nose or one of your toes will itch at a specific count. Once this test is accomplished, you are ready for the “foot” test—No. 4.
You will remember that the key to achieving a greater depth of hypnosis lies in visualizing yourself going deeper with each attempt and accomplishing progressive hypnotic tests. Keep this in mind. For a moment, let us go back to the hand tingling test—No. 3. Once you have been successful in accomplishing this test, use the visual-imagery technique to see yourself successfully responding to the foot test. When you have actually accomplished test No. 4, you see yourself accomplishing the “hand levitation” test—No. 5. In other words, you use each step to enhance a greater receptivity for the following progressive test. As you couple this approach with posthypnotic suggestions that you will go deeper and deeper into the hypnotic state at a given stimulus, you set into motion a conditioned response mechanism which must ultimately guide you into a profound state of hypnosis.
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The foot test can be accomplished while sitting or lying down. The idea of this test is to imagine that your feet are stuck to the floor or that your legs are so heavy that they are impossible to raise until you reach a certain count. It is best to begin this test by trying to capture a heavy, relaxed feeling in your legs. You give yourself specific suggestions along these lines: “As I count to five, I shall notice a very heavy, relaxed, pleasant feeling in both legs. It will be a very comfortable feeling; a feeling of complete relaxation.” You then begin the count of ten, following out the idea of the other tests you have successfully accomplished. You should remember that there is no time limit and you take as much time as you need in order to get the relaxed, heavy feeling. Once you get the relaxed, heavy feeling, you use the visual-imagery technique to try to picture your legs stuck to the floor. If you are lying down, imagine you are covered by a heavy blanket which is tightly tucked under the mattress, making it impossible for you to raise your legs. If sitting up, I tell the subject to imagine that his shoes are stuck to the floor with “iron glue,” and since his feet are in the shoes, it is impossible to lift them until the specific count which will enable him to do so.
Here are the suggestions you can use for the second part of this test. “As I continue to count to ten, I shall find that it will be impossible for me to raise my legs. I shall try at the count of ten, but it will be absolutely impossible to raise my legs until I count to 15. At that time, I shall be able to raise my legs easily, and the heavy feeling will leave as well.” You then continue with the count, giving yourself appropriate suggestions. Once this test is accomplished, you use the visual-imagery technique to see yourself accomplishing the hand levitation test—No. 5. Be sure you give yourself the posthypnotic suggestion that the next time you hypnotize yourself, you will fall into a deeper and sounder state.
I’ll assume that you have been able to get a relaxed, heavy feeling in your legs. You have reached the count of five and are ready to proceed further. Here are sample suggestions you can use: “Six … My legs are becoming extremely heavy. Seven … I’ll be unable to lift them until I count to 15. Eight … I feel very comfortable; my legs are becoming heavier and heavier. Nine … My entire body is completely relaxed, and my legs are so heavy that they are impossible to lift. Ten … I’m in a very deep hypnotic state, and it is absolutely impossible for me to move my legs until I count to 15.” At this point, you actually try to raise your legs. If you can’t do it, you have reached the cataleptic stage.
Should you not be able to raise your legs, don’t become frightened. All you need to say is: “I can now move my legs.” You could also say: “As I count to three, I’ll be able to move my legs.” However, since we have elected originally to be able to move the legs at the count of 15, it would be best to follow out this pattern. You could at this time merely continue to count to 15, at which time you would be able to move your legs. I prefer giving suggestions between each count as follows: “Eleven … The heavy feeling is leaving, and I shall be able to raise my legs at the count of 15. Twelve … I can feel the heavy, relaxed feeling leaving. Thirteen … I am beginning to move my legs. Fourteen … I am lifting my legs more and more. Fifteen … I have perfect control over my bodily functions and legs; I am lifting and moving my legs; the heavy feeling is dissipating; I am in complete control; I can now give myself posthypnotic suggestions that will be very effective and beneficial.” Give yourself whatever suggestions you want at this time.
Let us suppose that you tried the foot test for some time and were unsuccessful. Perhaps this puzzles you, and you wonder why it didn’t work. Perhaps you were able to get a heavy feeling in the legs, but the second part of the test didn’t work. The following information will help you to understand why you were unable to complete this cataleptic test. Either you had not conditioned yourself sufficiently, or you weren’t really “letting go” enough to enter into a deeper state of hypnosis. Most subjects need to test themselves and feel secure every step of the way. They don’t just plunge into the cataleptic or somnambulistic stages immediately. In this connection, I believe it can be compared with the bather who goes into the water one step at a time. Even the playful splashing directed at him by friends does not compel him to duck under the water. Instead, he continues to slowly go deeper and deeper until he is completely submerged. Wouldn’t it have been easier to duck under all at once? Perhaps, but I’m sure you have either experienced the same thing yourself or seen it happen.
The analogy should be clear. The subject is reluctant to do what he considers as “giving up his control” when, in reality, he is really more and more in control of himself as he penetrates the deeper levels of hypnosis.
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In reality, the subject who does not or cannot raise his feet really could move in case of emergency, even without counting to 15. He has, in effect, entered into a state in which it is too much bother to lift his feet. A common example of this frame of mind is when you remain in bed in the morning even though you know you will be late to work. You are just too comfortable to move, and your initiative seems paralyzed.
Let us assume, at this point, that you have finally succeeded in getting the foot test to work. You are now ready for the hand levitation test—No. 5. In this test, the goal is to get your hand to slowly rise and touch your chin. Once it touches your chin, you enter into a still deeper state and lower your hand slowly to your side. This test is actually combined with the hand tingling test—No. 3. Since you have been successful with test No. 3, the rest is rather simple. This time as you work test No. 3, aim for a light, pleasant feeling in your right hand. Once you get this reaction, you give yourself suggestions that your right hand will now rise and touch your chin. As soon as it does, you will fall into a deeper state and lower your hand. Here are the suggestions that you can use: “As I count to ten and even before I reach the count of ten, I shall have an irresistible impulse to slowly raise my hand to my chin. As I progress with the counting, my hand will slowly rise, and the impulse will become stronger and stronger. As soon as my hand touches my chin, the impulse will leave. I will then lower my hand and fall into a very deep hypnotic state. I shall be fully aware of what is happening, my surroundings, and will be able to give myself beneficial posthypnotic suggestions.”
At this point you start counting to ten, giving yourself suggestions that your right hand which already has a light feeling will begin to slowly rise to your chin. Time the counting to coincide with the actual physical act of raising your hand. You are trying to feel an involuntary urge to raise your hand. The movement itself should also be of an unconscious rather than conscious nature. A conscious raising of your hand to your chin is not what you are looking for in this test. Should you experience difficulty in attaining the first movement of your hand, you can give yourself assistance by consciously and slowly raising your hand just to get it started. The rest of the movement, as mentioned, must be automatic. Should you find it necessary to start your hand rising, use the feed-back technique to continue the movement. You can give yourself the following suggestions:
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“One … My right hand is beginning to rise. Two … My right hand is very, very light, and I am getting an irresistible urge to slowly raise it. Three … This feeling is getting stronger and stronger. Four … My right hand is rising more and more. Five … My hand is rising toward my chin. Six … As soon as my hand touches my chin, I shall fall into a deeper and sounder state of hypnosis. Seven … My hand is rising closer and closer toward my chin. Eight … The feeling of lightness is becoming stronger and stronger. Nine … My right hand is about to touch my chin; as soon as it does, I’ll fall into a very deep hypnotic state. Ten … My right hand is touching my chin; I’m falling deeper and deeper into a sound hypnotic state; I’ll now slowly lower my hand and continue falling into a deep, sound, pleasant state of hypnosis. The light feeling has left my hand.”
You should not attempt to memorize the exact phraseology for any of the tests. You are to merely use the suggestions that have been written out for you as a guide. The timing of the suggestions is the paramount consideration in attaining successful results. Don’t be impatient. Take as much time as you need. Should you find yourself unsuccessful after ten or fifteen minutes, drop the test and come back to it another day. I haven’t found that working at a specific test all day long accomplishes the end result.
It is best to work for a specific period every day. In this way, the conditioned response pattern is established for the success of the tests as well as the success of the posthypnotic suggestions that you have given yourself. You should bear in mind that if you have been successful in achieving the first five tests, you have reached a medium state of hypnosis, and posthypnotic suggestions will be extremely effective. In the next chapter, you’ll learn, psychologically, how to go even deeper into hypnosis. You’ll learn those psychological factors that are important to know and that can contribute to your development into an excellent hypnotic subject. Following this, the subsequent chapter will give you further tests and instructions for developing into a somnambulistic subject.
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