Well it’s a slightly misleading title as you don’t have to be a hypnotherapist to do this with others, or yourself, though the process itself is fairly hypnotic. I first came across a variant of this technique what seems like about three thousand years ago, when I started ‘doing’ NLP. I had joined a friend of mine who had stepped outside from the training room because he had, in his words, ‘a pretty bad migraine’.
It was then that one of the trainers, Michael Breen, happened by. Upon hearing of my friend’s headache Michael proceeded to do a variation of what follows and to my (and my friend’s) amazement, within a few minutes the pain had gone. And it stayed gone. I have used variants of this with severe chronic pain relief, phantom limb pain relief, cluster migraine relief etc etc, to great success through the years. As I say, although I’ve titled this blog ‘hypnosis for pain relief’, anyone can learn the following technique. If you were doing this on yourself, you would obviously have to read it through first as its an eyes closed thing…
Get Medical Advice
Now before I take you through this ‘hypnosis’ pain relief technique I really should point out that if you or someone you know is in pain, especially chronic pain, then for goodness sake do seek medical advice. That’s obvious to you, I expect, but it’s worth mentioning nevertheless…
The Pain Relief Technique
OK, this is basically a visualization disassociation thing. And the first thing to say is to do it slowly, very slowly and gently and patiently. For the purposes of teaching this to you I am going to pretend that you are the one who needs pain relief and that you are indoors. So if you are lucky enough to be reading this whilst sunbathing in the tropics then you will have to use your imagination…
Sit with your back supported and your feet on the floor. If you are laying down then get into as comfortable position as you can. Calibrate. Decide for yourself, one a scale of 1 to 100, with one being total comfort, and 100 being excruciating agony, what number you would ascribe to the pain, hereafter referred to as the ‘feeling’.
Look at the room you are in, and look as if you are looking for the first time. See the contents of the room, the colours, the shapes, where the light is coming from, where the shadows are. Look at what you are wearing. Look around you and see what is behind you. Now close your eyes and see the room with your eyes closed in your imagination. In other words, remember what you were just looking at. Do this for, say, 10 seconds or so and then open your eyes and look at the room again. Now see what you weren’t seeing just now, add detail so that when you close your eyes again your picture, or memory, will be more complete. I repeat, do this slowly. Now close your eyes again and see the room with the additional detail added in. After 10 seconds (or whetever time seems right) open your eyes and repeat the process. Repeat this a few times until you have a pretty good idea of what the room looks like, sitting there with your eyes gently closed.
Keeping your eyes closed float out, in your mind’s eye, so that you are pretending you are looking at the front of your body, from about 10 feet away. There may well be an intervening wall and/or furniture in the way so simply use your imagination and pretend you can see through any intervening objects. See what you would see from this perspective, how your face looks with your eyes closed, what is behind you, what is to the left and what is to the right. Perhaps remember tiny details, such as what is in a picture on the wall, or how the light may be reflecting of objects in the room etc. Remain looking at yourself from this perspective for 30 seconds or so (or whatever feels comfortable).
Now float clockwise, gently, until you are looking at yourself from 10 feet away from the right. From this position see the right hand side of your head, the right hand side of your body. Remember what would now be behind the seated image of you, in your mind. Remember, once again, where the light is coming from, where the shadows are. Once again, do this for 30 seconds or so (or whatever seems comfortable).
Steps Four, Five and Six
Repeat the above, seeing yourself in your imagination, from 10 feet behind you, then then 10 feet from the left and then ten feet from the front again.
Steps Seven to Eleven
Now glide further away, so that you are 50 feet away, in your mind, looking at the front of you, sitting there in the chair. Everything is smaller now, all the details are smaller, your face is smaller, your body is smaller. Do this for 30 seconds(ish) again. Then drift away, and repeat the process in your minds eye, and see yourself from 50 feet to the right, then 50 feet behind, then fifty feet from the left, then fifty feet from the front again.
Now glide, in your imagination, 50 feet straight up above yourself and look down. Look through the ceiling and the roof and/or other floors and see the top of your head, and the furniture, and the light and the shade. Spend 30 seconds or so looking down at the smaller you in the smaller room.
Step Thirteen And now drift up, in your imagination, higher and higher above the building. Imagine what else you may be able to see from up there, the rooftops, the buildings, the plants, the landscape. Keep floating up and up and up, gently. If the sky isn’t cloudless, pretend it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s night or day. Keep drifting up until miles of land becomes visible in all directions, and keep going. The tiny you in the tiny room is still down there, but will become too far away, in your mind, to see. Keep floating smoothly up until you begin to be aware of the curve of the earth. Drift higher and higher seeing more and more of the planet and being aware of more and more space. Then the planet itself, a blue, green and white ball, dwindles into the distance and you are drifting in deep peaceful space, surrounded by thousands and thousands of shining stars….
Pain Relief Hypnosis that works
Slowly open your eyes and ask yourself, ‘what number is the feeling now’. If you have done this really slowly and gently with yourself, or with a friend or a client, you or they will probably be pretty spaced out by now, in more ways than one. I find that the ‘feeling’ well almost invariably have either reduced significantly, or be gone entirely. Sometimes you may need to repeat the process. If you are doing this by yourself it’s going to take a bit of practice. It’s easier to begin with to have someone talk you through it. If you are the person talking someone through it then make sure you are as relaxed as you can be before you begin. Although I’ve described this technique as pain relief hypnosis, like I say, anyone can learn it.
If you have any questions about this then please feel free to ask. If you are a therapist then please do feel free to add your comments, tips, observations etc..
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PS here is a skype interview where I talk through this technique, apolgiies for the scary face….. To watch this directly on Youtube click here – Hypnosis For Pain Relief