Today I did a hypnotic induction with a member of a study group that I’m looking to grow. The gist of the induction was that every time the subject would breathe out I would utter a single word. On one exhale I would say the word, ‘Relax’ and then I would on the next breath say, ‘Deeper’. I alternated back and forth between these two phrases as a means of demonstrating how easily a person may induce an altered state of consciousness. The actual induction itself only took a mere minutes maybe at most four and was not more complex that alternating between those two words and timing them with the person’s breathing.
I know when I first started studying Hypnosis that I thought inducing altered states was something that required great skill. In fact I remember having an incredible about of anxiety over whether or not I would be able to actually pull of the task or not. Pacing someone’s breathing is something that is commonly taught as a means of teaching rapport. In my experiences I have never been able pull off using pacing of breathing patterns with my rate of speed in dialogue during normal conversation in order to build rapport. However in the context of inducing a ‘trance state’ I’ve been able to accomplish this task many times before.
It all seems to come down to context. Some things are permissible in one place are not in others. The ease with which a person can induce an altered state seems to rely as much on what a person is doing to elicit it as it does where and when they are attempting to accomplish this task. Something that is extremely effective in one area can be utterly useless in another.
The other day I was doing a trance induction on a friend (when people think you’re a hypnotist there is always a line to be hypnotized). To me experiences such as these gives a person an opportunity to practice skills that they don't always get to try out. It’s been a long time since I’ve induced a ‘formal trance’. So for fun I thought I would start with hand levitation just to see what would happen. I let them decide which hand they wanted to allow defy gravity and to allow to float seamlessly into the air.
They chose their right hand and we sat there and watched with amazement at how their hand was lifting without any effort on their part. I’m always amazed when I watch a good hand levitation it always just seems so magical to me. Now I’ve seen many hypnotists elicit arm catalepsy from clients but I have never seen them make anything more than an arbitrary use of this phenomena. My thinking when ever eliciting something from someone is how many different ways can I use this. I know that I don’t think of every way to use it but it at least gives me some different options that I wasn’t thinking about before.
As I sat there watching their hand levitate I began to think about instances and scenarios in my own life where I was fairly stiff and rigid in my thinking or in my responses to a particular situation. I began to think of this arm catalepsy as an example of rigid thinking or as a rigid response to a particular situation. I told my friend a story about how in certain situations in one’s life they can have rigid ways of thinking or relating to a particular situation and that they can feel the great deal of tension in the same way that they can feel it in their arm. I further went on to elaborate as to how that when someone tenses themselves in too rigid of a matter that they can begin to feel fatigue.
I further went on to explain to him that sometimes the best thing to do is to relax one’s arm and to notice the type of comfort and relaxation that they can experience in that situation. I continued to explain to him about how certain things in life can be reflections of other things and that people can use learnings that they acquire from one situation to another in the most useful way to themselves. Then I told them to go ahead and to head out of trance while he made a full wealth of the recollections of all the implications of my statements and that I was sure that he would understand what I was referring to.