Autosuggestion and visualization for treating stress

Autosuggestion is a process of self-hypnosis in which you make therapeutic suggestions to yourself before you sink down into a deeply relaxed state which corresponds to Stage 2 of self-hypnosis. Here’s a technique that works well.

Fix your gaze upon one spot on the ceiling (if you are lying down) or on the opposite wall (if you are sitting in a chair). This spot should be slightly above eye level towards the top of your head, a position which naturally produces tension in the eye muscles, and makes them feel heavy, so that they eventually begin to close. Mentally repeat the following induction statements several times each:

1. My eyelids are becoming heavier.

2. They are heavy and tired and I cannot keep them open.

3. I am allowing my eyes to close.

Now breathe slowly and deeply. Repeat mentally:

4. Each time I breathe out, I am becoming more relaxed.

Allow yourself to feel relaxed. Pass your attention over each muscle group in turn. As your attention moves over each muscle group, simply think:

5. My hands are becoming relaxed and heavy.

Do this in turn for your hands, arms, shoulders, neck, face, head, chest, stomach, back, legs and feet. After you have made each suggestion, move on to the next area of your body.

Then, mentally repeat:

6. Each time I breathe out, the feeling of heaviness increases.

Do not check to see whether it is happening or you will alert your critical factor. Simply accept that it will happen, that it is happening and that you want it to happen.

Then, when you are comfortably relaxed, practice the use of the five deep breaths. As we described on the self-hypnosis page, this involves breathing in and out slowly five times. On the first four cycles of inhalation and exhalation, mentally repeat the words “This tension is all….” as you breathe in, and “….going away” as you breathe out. On the fifth, mentally repeat “This tension has all…..” as you breathe in, and “….gone away completely” as you breathe out. While you do this, let feelings of relaxation to overcome you and spread throughout your body.

Once you can relax deeply and quickly, you can use autosuggestion proper. To do this, work out your therapeutic suggestion in advance, and mentally repeat it several times just before the five deep breaths. The five deep breaths then act as a quick trigger to induce self-hypnosis, after which you can allow your mind to wander on to any subject it wishes. The method works because the conscious mind has no chance to examine the suggestion critically before the five deep breaths take you into hypnosis. The subconscious can act upon the suggestion even though may not be aware of it; this can work well in helping you change things. Another useful tip to deepen the hypnotic state just after the five deep breaths is to imagine that you are riding down an unending escalator or repeating the word deeper.

Your self-hypnosis will become deeper, so that you may lose conscious awareness and your mind may begin to wander. Alternatively, you may feel you have gone deep enough at some point. If so, stop there. You are always in control!

To come out of self-hypnosis, all you have to do is think “I now wish to return to full awareness. I shall count from one to ten, and, as I do so, I gradually come back to full awareness.” Then count up, coming out slowly, telling yourself that will feel fine in every way, feeling better than before!


This is really a development of autosuggestion. Almost without exception, people find that visualization is the most powerful tool for changing the way they see themselves and the way they behave, and it also forms the basis of self-help treatment for certain anxiety problems, in particular phobias. Perhaps its most important use is in self-help treatment for a lack of confidence. The method’s simple enough: relax, use the five deep breaths, and then picture yourself in your imagination doing whatever you wish achieve. The technique involves seeing and feeling yourself doing what you want to do, being what you want to be, and so on; not just thinking about it, but actually seeing and feeling yourself as though you were really doing it, not as though you were observing yourself doing it. This might include:

• being relaxed at a party

• confidently asserting yourself in a particular situation

• speaking confidently to strangers

• remaining calm in an exam

• winning a game of tennis

• picturing yourself as you would like to be after losing weight.

The more vividly you can imagine your goal, the better.

Points that might help….

Research shows that adult emotional and personal problems can be treated without examining past trauma. It is a matter of learning to relax, apply self-hypnosis (and other techniques as needed) for specific problems. This is behavioural therapy at its best.

But….is that always true? I met a man who could relax really well at home, but as soon as he went out of his house, his perspiration became so bad that it poured from him and stained his shoes and clothes. The problem only stopped when he was regressed under hypnosis to relive the events which had caused the trauma.

A middle way is to use self-hypnosis to gain greater understanding and insight into your emotional challenges at a rate which you can handle. In other words, to record a tape along the lines of:

You are gradually gaining insight and understanding into your emotional and personality problems. Each day now, your subconscious mind releases a little more of the memories which you have repressed. This will happen only as fast as you can cope with them. As you recall the events and feelings which have caused your problems, you gain greater insight and understanding into the way you feel, think and behave. And as you do so, you will be more and more relaxed, calm and confident. You gradually understand your problems and they trouble you less and less often, less and less severely all the time now. Very soon they will have gone away completely.

To help the process, spend time experimenting until you find a formula which suits you.

Try to use the recording at least once a day – but the more often the better.

A good attitude to have is that you want the changes you hope for (being relaxed, less stressed, whatever) to happen, expect them to happen and let them happen.

Don’t worry if you feel you haven’t gone very deeply into hypnosis. Although deeper hypnosis may have a more rapid therapeutic effect, even a light trance will produce good results.

Don’t set yourself up for failure in any of the following ways:

By expecting instant results. Improvement takes time, but you will make steady, forward progress. Remember that improvement can be measured by reduction in intensity, duration or frequency of emotional problems.

By giving up. You may not notice immediate improvement. Don’t give up! Some people suddenly have a breakthrough some time (perhaps two or three weeks) after they start. You must also be aware that there may be setbacks, when your forward progress stops or reverses slightly. This depends on many factors, such as the amount of stress you experience. Simply accept what has happened; above all, don’t criticize yourself; simply carry on using the techniques.

By rushing into situations you are not ready for. But that, of course, is not an excuse for avoiding them. Just take things one step at a time.

By being half-hearted.

By changing your self-hypnosis therapy too many times. Select one target at a time, and make it realistic and specific. Set a date by which you will achieve it.

Finally, be adventurous. Experiment with as many techniques as you need until you are able to relax completely. The section on deep relaxation has other useful ideas. Always remember: you are in control, not only of the use to which you put this technique, but also the benefits which you gain from it.



By Core Spirit

Core Spirit Where Science Meets Esoterica

Core Spirit is your source for the latest news, articles, posts and videos on complementary and alternative medicine, holistic healing and spirituality.


(Source:; February 1, 2017;
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