(Induction talk. Read with caution)
I wonder if anon is @bannableoffense and if it isn’t, I want her to read this anyway.
Quite easily, in fact. When I was younger and far more eager to learn everything I had been searching book stores and online resources for anything I could find on the topic of hypnosis. I had learned the basics already. I knew that hypnosis was a state of heightened focus and relaxation. I knew the goal of an induction was to ensure the listener, reader or partner was following the words intently. It didn’t necessarily matter what the topic was, just that there was focused interest.
That is when I discovered an entire litany of published case studies, lectures and papers by Erickson. These were far from instructional “how-to-guides” and more scientific journals on the various experiments and philosophies of the man. Hypnosis was not his only focus. In fact, hypnosis was simply a by-product of the man’s research. The true area he was most interested in was the power of the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind, as you know, is always collecting and interpreting data without the conscious mind picking up on it. Erickson considered the subconscious to be like a state of auto-pilot and a comfortable state at that. When your minds resources are not needed. When one is “in the zone” so to speak and can just follow along with a task without the need to check back for critical thinking.
I mentioned in past posts how this is useful for relaxing. To just settle in to auto-pilot and let your experience guide you. The mind seeks this comfort and will go there naturally every day. It can go there while watching television, while driving, while reading a book so intently that you fall into the words and sometimes even become so engrossed you may find yourself needing to read back up the page because you were so engrossed you may have forgotten what you were just reading.
It’s a natural phenomenon and Milton Erickson longed to utilize this for the sake of his studies.
When I was learning to trance I always found performance to be nerve wracking. My heart would race while trying to lull a subject into a state of trance and help them accept a calm state of mind, even if they easily and sincerely focus entirely on my every word it was hard for me to hold confidence. That is why I gravitated to Erickson. His stories were slow calm yarns which unfolded gently over both speaker and subject, slow and intricate allowing me to take a breath whenever I needed to, trusting that the story would engross the listener enough for them to follow along without distraction or delay.
I have poured through book after book of boring, droning, endless tests and studies. I paid close attention to how his tensing shifted when talking to individuals or groups. Sometimes he would speak of things very clearly. Like he would talk about the chair his patient is sitting on, the arm rests it had and how rigid they could be in comparison to the soft cushion of the seat. The warmth generated by the patient sitting and listening intently versus how cool the arm rest may be. The way he repeated terms and phrases, like in one passage he spoke about phantom limb theory and asked about the wooden foot, the wooden knee, the wooden leg and briefly asked about phantom pain and how interesting it was that one only thought about pain in these terms where all sensations could be felt but people chose to think of the phantom pain only and how interesting it would be if one were to refer to it as a phantom pleasure instead, wouldn’t that be a nicer thought?
These are real studies one can find on archive.org if one had the time.
But it struck me. The mind is quick to latch on to nice ideas, to ideas that seem beneficial. If one wanted to believe that a phantom pleasure was something that they could feel by settling their mind onto a part of their body and noticing the sensations already present, they could realize all the things they may not have had time to focus on. Tingles of warmth and comfort, rolling waves of relief and perhaps just by listening to Milton Erickson talk for a little while a subconscious mind craving to feel their body relax may be given permission to do so Right Now.
And if anyone reading and imagining the kinds of tricks that Milton Erickson would pull during his sessions decides that they want to imagine how it would feel to sit across from him and let him talk on and on, scarcely allowing you to do more than agree and follow, then you could give yourself permission to follow this story in the knowledge that perhaps there is permission for you to drop along with those imagined patients. Perhaps it would make me happy to know all that study paid off and you may find that it could pay off for you too if you were willing to do the reading.
Another thing Erickson famously enjoyed doing, and no matter where your mind is, focused on my story or finding it easier to be drawn into the text and not quite able to do much thinking outside of the tale, you must know about Erickson’s fascination with sudden inductions.
They are carefully documented too. If the mind is like auto-pilot, and the brain understands what it is supposed to do to enter the trance state, then Milton Erickson discovered that a person could have that auto-pilot briefly disrupted and enter a state of confusion, a crisis where the critical mind is so overwhelmed by the task of re-balancing its off-kilter understanding of its present state that Erickson could make a simple and direct command which the patient would often find themselves following through sheer mental desperation, latching on to the one thing that makes sense.
I am sure some of you reading may already know this. Pattern interruption inductions are fairly common, the idea of being pulled into a fragile state all of a sudden and then being commanded to sleep now. Just like that. It is something we have all seen at one time or another. You could imagine it so clearly in your mind, shaking a hand and feeling an unusual sensation on the bridge of your palm or the momentum of the shake being pulled up instead of down and your body drops with force as you are pulled into your partner and commanded to sleep now, and just like that your imagined self is drifting deeper and deeper, swept into a volley of words, all to quick, swift and sudden for you to do anything more than nod and agree, nod and agree, just like that and it becomes easier and easier to fluidly and fluently follow along as you nod and agree with every beautiful thing that happens as your subconscious mind is finally given permission to sleep now as you know it has wanted to all along and every word helps you sink further and further into relaxation, in chair into shoulder, into the floor or as you may very well know by now the only place you could possibly sink into and that is in to trance.
Just like that, reading along and following along. Erickson knew that the mind would be so comfortable not needing to stress on thoughts and decisions which he could easily provide for his behavioral therapy to teach people better attitudes and coping mechanisms for the future and he was so adept at reminding people that they could chose better paths, much like that phantom pleasure sensation you may have already tried to imagine before. I wonder where you imagined a phantom pleasure spreading from or spreading to? I’m sure you have ideas and those are very good ideas which only serve to help you feel more relaxed and comfortable each and every second you indulge in that sensation and if you wanted to do anything to heighten those phantom pleasures then you may well be able to do if you are in a safe and secure place and knowing you have permission, knowing it would feel so good and knowing that you are serving only to ensure you will have such a wonderful day full of optimism and hope. Knowing you may well need to share how this story made you feel. It would be so good to revisit it time and time again.
Because Milton Erickson was also good at suggesting things which could tickle at the back of the mind, little ideas that would pop up and help a patient in their life. Silly little things like the idea that you may feel a welling of pride and perhaps even hear a special someone whisper “very good” when you brush your teeth every day, a healthy little suggestion like that or that you may think about him and his inductions or me and my story when you’re looking for ideas on experiencing trance state or sharing it with others. But those ideas can sit at the back of your mind if you are willing to accept them or vanish entirely if you chose that too.
For now, I want to end my story with the fact that I am very happy you asked me to share this and would love to speak about it at length at any time. If you did get to feel a lovely trance sensation during this please let me know as you know it’ll make me feel so overjoyed that I took the time to share.
For now, if you were drawn into the tale, I’d like you to come up, up, up now feeling refreshed and bright and excited for the day and if you didn’t, I’d like to thank you for reading my mostly educational but eventually induction filled tale.
For real, Ericksonian inductions are great but require work. I highly recommend searching archive.org for his books and studies which are widely and freely available. It’s a dry read but among the most educational reading I have done in my entire time obsessed with hypnosis… and really? This is the first time in the decade since I barreled through them that I’ve gotten the chance to talk about it. So thank you!
Wow this is brilliant. 🙂 VERY well done.
Another one that worked very well on me.
Am I just suddenly more hypnotizable this week or something?