Self-hypnosis for anxiety

Can self-hypnosis help me get over my anxiety?

Q: I am a tense, anxious person. I have been told that self-hypnosis may help me. Please suggest an easy-to-do practice which I can learn and practise at home.

A: Think of self-hypnosis as a form of meditation, a hobby — not something that gets caught up as one of your usual preoccupations. Rather, think of it as an area of life where you can let go of the obsessive desire to improve yourself, get ahead in the rat race, or do better than anybody else.

Self-hypnosis as a hobby is worth its weight in gold, but not if you want to project yourself as one who is doing it for peace — to improving the world. What’s more, you also ought to think of the method as an open approach. You do it because you like doing it, without fanfare, or show-off mock-up. Think of self-hypnosis as a sport: of reaching a goal, a goal that brings happiness, or fulfilment. When you practice the method in this manner — simply and sensibly, and without jargon — it will help decrease the many stresses of our lives.

But, one thing is crucial. You should always think of the method as a leisure pursuit — without ever losing the lightness of your first approach to it. Always stay as a beginner, never the expert. That way you will not be caught up in a “competition” — a tool that can be learned quickly.

Simple practice

Sit in a comfortable armchair, or lie down, and relax. Close your eyes and imagine yourself at the top of a staircase with 10 steps, which leads down to a beautiful place of great calm and peace. Descend the staircase slowly — counting the steps. Try to synchronise the count with your breathing — one step on every second outward breath. Now, tell yourself as you descend that you are feeling increasingly relaxed and comfortable; and, when you reach the bottom that you will be contended and at peace with yourself. Also, tell yourself that you are going deeper and deeper into your inner self. As you reach your special place, find a nice spot where you can sit comfortably. Now, dwell on your suggestion, or “mantra” — e.g., “I will be more relaxed and confident” — so as to allow it to get fixed deep in your mind. Now, simply reverse the process to come out of self-hypnosis — just “climb back” the stairs and count back from 10 to 1.

As you open your eyes, suggest to yourself that you now are going to feel refreshed and alert. You will slowly, but surely, feel nice, confident, relaxed, and refreshed!

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