Note: This article was originally published in March 2015, but was significantly updated on 28 December 2016 to include even more self-hypnosis techniques.
When it comes to inducing a deep, self-hypnotic trance, a common misconception is that there is a magical, fool-proof method.
There is not.
The secret sauce is actually much more localized, specific to each individual’s practice.
If you haven’t guessed, it all boils down to you.
To what your mindset is, and your willingness to persevere if you hit a brick wall.
One reason many people fail at self-hypnosis is because they tend to focus on the method first, and when this doesn’t work, there is a strong temptation to give up and let out an exasperated exhale.
Needless to say, this is not a very effective approach. Which is exactly why we encourage the opposite.
In order to master self-hypnosis, you need to first focus on mastering yourself, and only then use an induction method to get you into a trance.
A little like how if you’re a hypnotist, you need to set a positive intention (your H+) before putting a subject into trance.
If you rock up to the session in a grumpy mood feeling distracted, no matter which techniques you use, they’re not going to work.
Your mood will rub off on your subject. If you have trouble going into a trance first (going first), and setting the tone you want your subject to experience, how do expect them to reach the desired state?
The same is true when you practice self-hypnosis. You need to set your mental state first, and only then use your desired induction method.
How To Set The Right Mental State For Self-Hypnosis
Having a go-to induction method can be useful as it helps your brain get into sync and quickly get down to business.
But of course, no two days are the same. What works for you one day may be less powerful on another, depending on your state of mind.
So mixing things up by using different techniques can be a useful way to keep the conscious mind stimulated and focused before you sink into a deep trance.
But before starting with an induction method, it is important to remind yourself of why you want to get into a trance.
The reason self-hypnosis is so powerful is because of how it gives you the ability to gain access to the unconscious, which is why it’s a fantastic tool for tapping into creativity, abundant mindsets, problem solving – among many other things.
So having a clear idea in advance of what you want to achieve during self-hypnosis will set you off on the right foot.
By tapping into your unconscious, you can find the information you need to learn, grow, and become a better human being.
However, it is the gaining access to your unconscious that often poses the greatest challenge. If you’re having trouble inducing yourself into a hypnotic state, do not get frustrated.
What may appear to be a problem is a learning opportunity for improving your ability to go under.
The unconscious is an aspect of awareness that records every experience you’ve ever had, even those that we are not aware of.
Forgotten memories, gut feelings about a situation and even information that is beyond your direct experience can be found there.
It is your unconscious that orchestrates most of your waking life. But it is more than that. The unconscious has an intelligence of its own, and one of its major functions is to keep you safe.
What’s more, your conscious and unconscious minds are constantly communicating with one another. So by preparing yourself mentally, you’ll find that gaining access to your unconscious can be easily achieved.
That said, you don’t have to do much work; your unconscious will do most of it for you.
What preparing yourself entails is learning to get out of your way so you stop blocking yourself from going into a trance. Preparing yourself to go into a deep trance simply involves learning to let go.
That said, there are some exercises you can do to help with this, which will also increase your conscious awareness. And because people tend to exert a lot of energy towards suppressing problems and negative emotions – these exercises may become a very important part of your practice.
Through self-hypnosis, you can redirect your energy towards increasing your awareness and exploring deeper levels of consciousness.
To increase your awareness is to strengthen your mental architecture, which is accomplished by increasing the number of brain connections, also known as neural connections.
One of the most effective ways of increasing the number of brain connections is through emotions.
Emotions, in particular positive emotions, build brain connections. Additionally, emotions tell you if things are going right or wrong: they will tell you if you should go further within.
Mindfulness exercises are ideal for building a stable mental platform by cultivating positive emotions, strengthening your awareness and increasing brain connections.
We’ll be explaining what some of these exercises are shortly, but before we jump in, here are a few practical tips on how to prime yourself for a focused and effective session:
3 Tips For Setting The Scene For An Effective Self-Hypnosis Session
- Find a quiet place where you won’t be distracted or disturbed. Make sure you’re free from all beeps, alerts and pings of modern technology. If you need to keep track of the time, set an alarm. If you prefer listening to guided self-hypnosis audios or music, shut down all other programs if you’re using your computer.
- Pick a time of the day or week where the chances of being disturbed are minimal – and you’ll find it easy to relax. Some people prefer mornings, before they get started with their day. Others prefer doing it before they go to bed. Choose what works best for you. Once you’ve trained yourself to go into trance easily, you’ll find it easier to do the same during the more challenging times of the day – which can be the exact moments you need self-hypnosis the most. For example: Taking time out to mentally prepare yourself before a meeting you feel anxious about. But to begin with, put the odds in your favor by choosing a time or a routine that sets you up for success.
- Before you start, take a few minutes to become aware of what you’re feeling and what you want to achieve while practicing self-hypnosis. Are you feeling stressed or worried about the time? Are you tired? Are you feeling relaxed? And what do you want to achieve? Clarity, relaxation, focus? Becoming aware of these things before you start will not only help you to acknowledge any potential roadblocks, but will set a clear intention for your practice.
Once you’ve created the right mental and physical space for your self-hypnosis practice, you’re ready to experiment with the induction methods, visualization techniques and mindfulness exercises listed below.
13 Self-Hypnosis Techniques To Induce A Deep Trance
It is important to keep in mind that success has less to do with the method than it has to do with you!
The different exercises listed below are just tools to exercise your awareness. You can use any induction method you like for self-hypnosis, as long as it helps your brain to get into sync and down to business.
And the best way to tell which techniques are best for you is to practice and experiment.
(TIP: It’s useful to have a few go-to techniques to match your varying mental states.)
Get creative. Be inventive. And most of all – be patient. Never under any circumstances judge yourself!
The reason self-hypnosis (and meditation) poses so many challenges is because in essence, you’re trying to change how your conscious mind operates. You’re up against a lifetime of conditioning where it likes to roam around at free will. So cut yourself some slack!
That said, just like any habit, anyone is able to learn (and master) self-hypnosis if they continue to practice. While it does take some time, you’ll get better at it quicker than you think.
And what might also surprise you is how once you’ve got the hang of it; your mind starts to crave the trance state more and more.
Just like how when you’ve got into a good exercise routine, your body wants to exercise more because it desires the feel-good benefits.
So if you’re looking for some inspiration to get started, or want to add another technique to your repertoire, you might find the techniques below incredibly useful.
Hypnotic Induction Techniques
1. Magnetic Hands
Aside from being an interesting exercise to try, the purpose of this technique is to direct your attention towards feeling the energy between your hands – and away from your thoughts.
1. Start by rubbing your hands together to develop heat.
2. After you feel the heat, pull your hands apart until they’re about 4 inches from one another.
3. Now move the hands very slightly in and out, so you can feel the natural magnetic pull. It will feel like a magnet. Focus on those sensations until they get stronger and stronger.
4. Play around with the energy until you feel that your hands want to come together. At this point, just close your eyes, and deepen the trance from there.
5. It doesn’t matter if your hands touch or if they’re 10 inches apart, what you’re looking for here is a strong magnetic pull. If your hands aren’t touching, focus on the space between them to intensify the experience.
Playing around with energy like this is a great way of keeping the conscious mind distracted so your unconscious can take over – allowing you to relax and sink into a deep trance.
2. Arm Levitation Method
Like the exercise above, this technique is designed to direct your attention towards movements and sensations in your body – and away from your thoughts. And given how attention grabbing this technique is, it’s a really effective induction method when you want to quickly get down to business and let the unconscious takeover.
1. Begin by lifting your right arm up and down so you get used to the physical sensation and the movement.
2. Pay close attention to all those micro-muscular movements that occur as your arm is moving up and down.
3. Once you have done this a few times, repeat the following affirmation: “Unconscious mind, I want you to lift my right arm. Lift that arm. Lift that arm. I feel my arm getting light, lifting, lifting and lifting.”
4. You might be surprised at how quickly this happens. It works whether or not your arm is lifting very slowly or twitching as it lifts.
5. Continue the process and allow your arm to come all the way up to touch your face. Pay attention to all those tiny movements as your arm is lifting because this is an important part of the process.
6. You can also try focusing on your fingers, your wrist, the muscles that are working inside your wrists, and even the connection between your hands and your arms.
>> Want to see what an arm levitation looks like in action… and on a resistant subject too? Then you might be interested in watching this video: HYPNOTIC DEMO – Arm Levitation: How To Help A Subject Overcome An Unconscious Mind Block With Step-By-Step Breakdown (Part 2)
3. The Betty Erickson 3-2-1 Technique
Betty Erickson, Milton Erickson’s wife, was an accomplished hypnotist in her own right.
She used self-hypnosis throughout her life, one method, in particular, was the 3-2-1 Technique, which involved going through things you see, hear and feel 3 different times. This technique can be used to strengthen your visualization skills and redirect your attention away from your thoughts.
1. Start by noticing 3 things you can see, such as the wall in the room, the picture on the wall, or the sunlight beaming through the windows.
2. Next focus on 3 things you can hear, for example, the sound of your breathing, a bird outside the window, or the TV that’s on in the background.
3. You would then focus on 3 things you can feel such as the pressure of the chair at your back, the warmth of the room, or your clothes touching your skin.
4. On the next round, you repeat the same cycle, except this time you only notice two things you see, hear and feel. These could be the same or different things.
5. During the last cycle, only focus on one thing you see, hear and feel.
6. Now repeat steps 1-5 with your eyes closed. Notice 3 things you can see (in your mind) hear and feel.
7. Repeat by noticing two things, and then one thing, like you did when you had your eyes open.
8. When you complete the final cycle, you’ll be in a trance, and continue with your self-hypnosis practice.
4. The Power Pendulum
A pendulum is a powerful way to communicate with the unconscious mind and to induce trance. You can purchase a simple pendulum at any new age store, or you can make your own.
If you have a pendant, you can easily transform it into a power pendant. Any chain with a stone or anything else hanging on it can be used as a pendulum. You can also use a piece of string by tying it on a bolt or a nut from your toolbox.
1. Begin by finding a comfortable position. Hold the pendulum between your thumb and index finger, holding it loosely without the chain or the thread slipping out of your fingers.
2. Make sure your elbow is free floating, and not resting on a table or locked in place. Stay relaxed and loose, and start familiarizing yourself with the feel of your pendulum.
3. Instruct or “will” the pendulum to move by focusing on moving it forward and backward. You can simply tell your pendulum to start moving, and it will.
4. Make sure and keep your mind clear. Don’t try too hard, because your conscious mind will get in the way.
5. Just approach this in an easy going and relaxed manner.
6. Once it starts moving, close your eyes and allow the pendulum to fall to the floor, and then start your practice as you usually would, for example, start using visualizations or affirmations.
>> Related article: How To Use A Pendulum During Self-Hypnosis
Note: In the following exercises, the words visualizations and mentalization are used interchangeably. The term mentalization was developed because some people feel that they can imagine an object in their mind, but they’re unable to visualize it. Additionally, the next 4 visualizing exercises build on each other, so it is important to do them in sequence.
5. Visualization A Room
1. Close your eyes and visualize a room that you are familiar with.
2. In visualizing the room, try to see it in as much detail as possible.
3. In your mind, scan the room to view its different features, such as furniture, pictures, doorways, and other features.
4. Now repeat steps 1-3, except this time, visualize a room that you’re less familiar with.
5. Do you notice any difference in the clarity of your mentalization when viewing the two rooms?
Your mentalization of the unfamiliar room was most likely less detailed than the familiar room, while your mentalization of the familiar room was more stable and secure than the unfamiliar room.
As stable mentalization is what you’re trying to achieve during self-hypnosis, this is a useful exercise to build up your visualization skills and induce a calm state.
6. Describing A Room
This exercise is the same as the previous technique, except for one difference.
In this exercise, you will visualize a room that you are familiar with and describe it to yourself or another person.
Described the room in as much detail as you can. The purpose of this exercise is to increase the stability of your awareness by engaging other functions of your mind while visualizing, which in this case would be verbalization.
7. Pantomimed Mentalization
This is a variation of the last two exercises, except this time you add another dimension to your mentalization: you will use pantomime while describing the room.
For example, upon visualizing the room, you might tell yourself:
“The room is very large (spread your arms wide to emphasize this point) and there is a hallway to the left. To the right of me is a window. I think I will open it.” (Go through the gestures of opening the window.)
The idea is to strengthen your mentalizations by both incorporating speech and physical movement. With repeated practice, you’ll be able to make your mentalizations of the unfamiliar as real as those that you’re familiar with.
Remember, the more mental functions you add, the sharper your awareness will become.
8. Exploring The House
Following on from technique # 7, in this exercise you venture beyond the room you mentalized in technique # 7 and explore the rest of the house.
When mentalizing the house, remember to incorporate both verbalization and pantomime to your visualizations to strengthen your skills.
9. Breathing Count
Practice counting your breaths with your eyes closed.
To know how many breaths to count, start counting and as soon as a thought other than counting your breaths comes in, stop there.
Many people new to self hypnosis or mindfulness can only count 2 or 3 breaths in the beginning without distraction – and that’s just fine.
Repeat your breath count several times until you feel more focused and calm and then just sit and let your mind be free, not focusing on anything in particular.
Just “sit with” whatever is happening in your mind without censoring.
The expression “sit with it” refers to allowing yourself to refrain from any effort and just enjoy the feelings and sensations of your experience.
Allow everything that you experience to express itself to you without any judgment or need to change things. When you feel satisfied, open your eyes.
Each time you do the exercise, count your breaths without distraction at the beginning and notice how over time you can take more breaths without becoming distracted.
This is a great sign that you’re changing your brain and improving your ability to focus on a task.
10. Pyramid Breathing
In this exercise, mindful moment refers to anything that you can do with your body where you experience resistance.
Examples of mindful movements would be pressing against a wall or curling your toes. The purpose of this exercise is to experience the sensation of resistance in your body, while releasing you from your thoughts.
1. Breathe and make a mindful movement, paying attention to the sensations or pressures in the body
2. Take a second breath and perform another mindful movement
3. Repeat this exercise until you have reached your target breath (the breath you reached in technique # 9)
4. Rinse and repeat until you experience a calmer mind
11. Detailed Breathing
In the previous breathing exercises, the focus was on duration. In detailed breathing, the focus is on the strength of your awareness to perceive detail.
When breathing, focus on the sensations of a specific part of your nose, such as the tip of your nose or your right nostril.
Try to make the target of your attention as specific as possible by focusing on the smallest details.
If you find this difficult to do, focus on larger areas of your body such as the expansion of your ribs.
12. Body Scan
In this exercise, the goal is to develop heightened states of awareness in your body – eventually without having to touch your body.
1. Place your hand on a part of your body, such as your forehead.
2. While focusing on the sensation, touch another part of the body.
3. Place your focus on the sensations of this part of the body.
4. Repeat with different parts of the body. As you get better at this exercise, you will not need to touch your body as you would have developed a greater sense of awareness.
13. Transformational Training
The purpose of Transformational Training is to experience emotions and sensations of an image you are visualizing. As these techniques build off one another, do them in sequence. a) Describing an image
a) Describing an image
- i) Describe an image in your mind
- ii) Describe the mood of the image, the sensations that you get from it, as well as the emotions it invokes
The purpose of this technique is to find an animate object or inanimate object and allow yourself to merge with it.
For example, if you were visualizing a tiger in your mind, imagine what it would be like to be the tiger.
Imagine how it feels and what its thoughts are. Allow yourself to merge with the tiger. After experiencing yourself as the tiger, return to yourself and then visualize a different image, and then repeat this exercise. Allow yourself to go from image to image as you merge with each one.
c) Spontaneous Transformation
1. This exercise is the same the previous exercise. The difference is that instead of focusing on an animate or inanimate object, focus on a landscape.
2. When you find yourself in a landscape, allow an object from that landscape to enter your awareness.
3. Allow yourself to merge with that object.
4. When ready, find another landscape and repeat the process. Do this exercise with at least three landscapes.
All of the above techniques share one thing in common – they challenge you to expand your awareness by focusing on a specific task.
By expanding your awareness, you will find it easier to get into a trance. If you haven’t tried these methods yet, give them a go and see how they can enhance your self-hypnosis practice and induce a deeper state of trance.
And remember: there are many routes to the unconscious mind, there’s no right or wrong method to get there. The main thing is to continue with your practice, be patient and have fun.
When you try too hard, you run the risk of your conscious mind getting in the way. So try and let go and see self-hypnosis as skill you need to slowly build upon, rather than it being something you need to instantly master.
If you’d like to discover more self-hypnosis techniques, or find out how it can be used to transform everything from your career to your personal relationships, you might be interested in the Beyond Self Hypnosis online training program. This course has been created by master hypnotist Igor Ledochowski, and will show you how to expand the limits of your unconscious mind.