The Art and Practice of Self Hypnosis


When one hears of hypnosis, the first impression is often of something a bit mystical. In fact, as a dentist in Ottawa, I have taken several clinical hypnosis courses. It was defined as being a form of focused and altered concentration. When one is hypnotized, it is under the guidance of someone who will induce a deep relaxing state. At no time is the subject, in any way, under the influence of the guide.

Before I studied hypnosis, at a clinical level, I had read several books on self hypnosis. My goal at that time was to be surely able to grab a quick nap. As a student, this was a nice premium. I was able to doze off during my commute from our suburban home in Dorval to downtown Montréal. When I moved to an apartment in the city, near McGill where I studied dentistry, I soon changed the commute nap to a pre-study relaxation time. But, I found that after I awoke after 30 minutes or so later, I felt drowsy. As good fortune would have it I read in a medical journal that to counter this one could introduce a post hypnotic suggestion to prevent any drowsiness. The process is solely simple and only takes a few sessions to begin a nice practice of self hypnosis. I usually fall sleep; but, I feel it is in fact akin to meditation. Some meditation practitioners tell me they do not, nor should not fall sleep to gain maximum relaxation. But, over the years I have found that I awakened fully alert and relaxed. There are several techniques that can be tailor to one's mental state, the one I learned at first was while sitting as I commuted or 'relaxed' in the University library before studies. I would find a nice chair and get comfortable.

I closed my eyes and picture myself relaxing after a busy day. I visualized taking my shoes off and I could 'feel' the muscles around the feet relaxing, just as one feet when removing shoes. As the relaxation deepened I visualized it spreading up to my calves, then to my knees and upwards. At the hips I mentally circled my body and visualized the muscles around the hips relaxing. This proceeded up the back and around to the abdomen. At the chest I took a deep breath and slowly exhaled. At the shoulders there are a lot of muscles that are amenable to relaxing. So I slowly circled my body in a mental visualization. I then allowed the relaxation to proceed down my arms to the fingers in a slow pattern. I then returned to my neck and did a similar circular scan, as it were. I crossed the skull from the back to the top of the head, down the temples. I allowed my face to relax from both sides to the lower and upper jaws. My last stop are the eyes and nose and I felt the total relaxation deepening from there. To be honest I find I often drift off into a relaxed sleep before I finish the process.

But, I have become so comfortable that I do not feel I have lost anything in the process. Before I start I "tell" myself that I will relax my mind and expel negative thoughts and emotions. So I feel I am continuing the meditation / self hypnosis process even though I have drifted to a sleep level. It is such a standard process for me after many years, that I do, in fact awaken without a drowsiness. I also find I am able to suppress many negative thoughts that life may present. In dental school I had a fun reputation for my sleeping between classes and before studies at the library. On one occasion I was invited to a fraternity party ,. A nice looking gal came up to me and said, "Hey I know you, you're the guy who sleeps in the library". As bad fortune would have it my classmates were near by and had a good laugh for some time. "Hey guys Mike sleeps around". All good fun. In my clinical courses I learned to help nervous patients relax with positive results. Dentistry is not always people's favorite topic and I have helped a few relax and if nothing else, avoid having to take tranquilizers before an appointment.

Dr Michael A Pilon