Further to my previous blog entry here, citing some of the research supporting the use of hypnosis for help with skin conditions, as promised I am going to share a couple of self-hypnosis techniques in coming days. Today is one such process.
I realise that this blog entry title is a mouthful, excuse me for that. I hope it makes sense nonetheless; we are going to use mental imagery and imagined sensations while in a self-hypnosis session, with the aim of advancing the healing of skin conditions.
This particular process is influenced by the techniques used by Kline in his 1953 research and Frankel and Misch in their 1970 research. Both were used primarily with sufferers of psoriasis, however both can easily be applied to eczema and other skin disorders too.
The research on using hypnosis to help with skin problems does often state that specific suggestions for particular aspects of skin disorders are equally as effective as very general and non-specific suggestions. This process could be used without any particular suggestions, instead just using the sensory-imagery. However if there is the slightest chance that the results will be amplified with the use of some positive self-suggestion within this type of session, then it makes sense to include such.
Kline (1953) whose methodology was shared in the first volume ever of the IJECH asked patients to imagine the afflicted area getting much bigger, then hotter, then a lot colder, to the point of freezing, then a lot larger again before returning them to their usual size, shape and sensation.
Many sufferers of psoriasis have found that certain sunny climes or just safe exposure to sunshine has helped the psoriasis to reduce too. Frankel & Misch (1973) used imaginal sunshine to enhance the healing of the skin.
The ability of our imagination and cognitions to affect our skin is undeniable, and this process must be done safely and sensibly. A piece of research showed that blisters can be caused by hypnotic suggestion (Muftic, 1961). Therefore, when imagining the sunshine and the sensations, make sure you keep them at levels you imagine to be healthy and for your highest well-being.
Get yourself into a comfortable position where you will be undisturbed for the duration of this session. Be seated with your arms and legs uncrossed and feet flat on the floor, then follow the steps.
7 Steps To Heal Your Skin With Self-Hypnosis and Sensory-Imagery:
Step One: Induce hypnosis.
There are hundreds of ways of doing this, however the eye-fixation induction is great one to start with. The basic premise is to attempt to produce a great deal of strain on the eye muscles by having to look upwards with the eyes and without moving the head.
I suggest that you attempt to look up at your own forehead, or that you pick a spot on the wall or ceiling to focus on. The spot needs to be high enough to be a slight strain to stare upwards at.
The reason that the gaze is pointed upwards in this way is of course to advance and enhance the tiredness felt in and around the eyes in a speedy timescale. You do not tilt the head backwards at all, otherwise you assist the eyes and just end up staring upwards with a bent neck. You position your head, hold it still, then raise the eyes upwards until it becomes a slight strain to hold the gaze there.
With the eyes fixed in this way, creating some minor strain, you induce a slight sensation of being sleepy. Importantly though, this process gets you to concentrate in an intense fashion. Aim to close your eyes after around 30 seconds or so of fixing your gaze.
Once your gaze is fixed on the elevated point, you need to employ your imagination to make your eyes feel like closing. This is incredibly important. You must help the process along with your thoughts – imagine that your eyelids are getting heavier, tell yourself that they want to close and that it will be so nice and comfortable when they do so. Convince yourself of them getting heavier.
All the time that you are communicating with yourself in your mind in this way, ensure that you keep your gaze fixed in that same position without waivering or moving or allowing your eyes to relax by compensating in some other way. Keep your head and eye position in the way that ensures the eyes become tired.
Then, once they are ready to close, you let them close and that is the initiation of your hypnosis. Like opening a door to your mind using focus and absorption.
You’ve seen what happens when someone is fighting falling asleep. Like when I am sat in front of the fire with the TV on after my dinner in the evenings. I get that sensation in my eyelids where they start to close and I keep snapping them open to regain my focus. Adopt that same behaviour and posture; let your eyes close slowly like someone drifting to sleep.
Then proceed to let your entire body relax deeper by imagining the relaxation you now have in your closed eyelids spreading through your entire body. Spend a few moments doing this and telling yourself you are relaxing more and going deeper into hypnosis.
Use a gentle, relaxing tone when you communicate with yourself, encourage yourself by telling yourself how well you are doing this. Too much effort or anxiety will impair the process. Be gently assured with yourself. Then move on to step two.
Step Two: Be mindful of your entire body. Notice the rate of your breathing and just observe it without interfering with it. Notice the sensations throughout your body and move your awareness systematically through your entire body starting at one end of your body and all the way through to the other end. Heighten your awareness of the entire body.
Imagine that this absorption and focus is taking you deeper into hypnosis. Be gently mindful or your body, watch what it does, observe it without trying to change anything and if any changes do occur in the body, just watch them happening. Keep mindful of your breathing throughout and let your breathing keep you tuned in to your body.
When you are really aware of your body, then get a sense of the skin covering your body. Just be aware of the sensations of your skin; the temperature, the tightness, be aware of the colouration in your imagination and so on.
When you feel aware and tuned into the skin covering your body, move on to the next step.
Step Three: Imagine basking in the sunshine. Choose wherever you enjoy the sunshine the most. That might be on a beach, in a forest, by a pool, a lake or anywhere else. Let the sun be shining at just the right level of heat and warmth for you to feel comfortable. Allow yourself to be exposed to as much sunshine as is healthy for your skin.
Engage with the scene, really imagine being there. See the sights, hear the sounds and most importantly, feel the healing warmth of the sun upon your skin.
Feel the sunshine warming the affected areas of your skin. Imagine it is healing your skin.
Once you have really imagined being in the scene and can imagine feeling the sun upon your skin, then start to use your internal dialogue and use a progressive cognition such as “my skin is healing” or “my skin feels healthier and healthier” (for example) that you repeat to yourself while you enjoy basking in the sunshine.
Say it to yourself in a way that you find convincing. Believe in the words you are saying to yourself without applying any pressure to yourself. Just say it to yourself in a reassured fashion, remaining comfortable and relaxed.
Then move on to the next step.
Step Four: Continue to relax, while you now fully engage yourself in the following sensations. Convince yourself of these sensations, imagine that the affected areas of your skin have these sensations within, around, and through them:
a) Firstly, build upon the sensation of warmth that has been generated by the sunshine you have been imagining. Turn up the heat as much as you can stand or bear. Just using your imagination, imagine turning up the heat, keeping it at a safe and healthy level. You might imagine a warm colour spreading and getting more intense as you turn the heat upwards, you might use an imaginary dial. Once you have imagined the affected areas of skin being really warm, move on…
b) Now imagine the affected areas turning cooler and cooler until they become cold. Imagine them getting colder and colder. You might help advance this with imagery of ice, or cold water, or even a colour that you consider to be cooler. You might turn any previously imagined dial downwards. Imagine the skin in those areas getting as freezing cold as you can cope with. Remembering to be safe. Then, when you are really engaging and imagining the affected areas as really freezing cold, move on…
c) Imagine the skin is getting heavier. Imagine a heaviness spreading through the areas. Interpret this in whatever way seems right for you. Remember to take all the time necessary to really notice a change in your perceived sensations, then when you imagine the areas are feeling heavier, move on…
d) Imagine the skin is getting lighter and lighter. Imagine a sense of lightness spreading through those affected areas. Again, interpret this in whatever way is right for you, imagine the skin getting lighter, engage and concentrate on this enough to really develop the sensations, then move on…
e) Now imagine the affected areas of skin are getting tighter and tighter. Imagine a sense of constriction, just as if the skin got dry and is drawing in, being pulled tight and constricting. Imagine they are getting smaller and smaller, that these areas are shrinking in size. Imagine this enough to note a change in sensation, then move on…
f) Finally, imagine those affected areas of skin are expanding. Imagine they are getting bigger and get a sense of expansion. When you have imagined the areas getting bigger, and the skin expanding, you can bring this step to an end and move on…
Believe in the sensations as much as you can. Use your imagination as vividly as possible to alter the notable sensations within this step. You also need to ensure you take all the time necessary to develop the sensations in turn and ensure that they are notably different.
Step Five: Run through steps 2-4 a further 2 times before moving on to the next step.
Step Six: Imagine looking at yourself in a mirror in a few weeks time – see the previously affected parts of your skin as being much clearer. Notice the difference, the improvement and enjoy seeing it. Take some time with this step and see it in detail, make it vivid and get focused upon it.
As you look at the mirror image of yourself with healthier skin, repeat some positive cognitions to yourself and engage your belief in the image; tell yourself “I just know that is going to happen” and/or “my skin is getting healthier and healthier” – convince yourself in a reassuring, relaxed manner.
Once you have really convinced yourself and invested some belief in this image, you move on to the final step.
Step Seven: Exit hypnosis. You can count from one through to five, take a couple of deeper breaths, wiggle your finger and toes and get your bearings, remember exactly where you began with this exercise. Maintain the belief when the session is at an end, and be progressive and assured about the outcome.
Repeat this process at least once daily for 3-6 weeks for maximum effect. There you have it, our first process to use self-hypnosis to help with skin conditions. Enjoy!
Adam Eason, author of “The Science of Self-Hypnosis: The Evidence-Based Way to Hypnotise Yourself.”
Frankel, F. H. & Misch, R. C. (1973) Hypnosis in a case of long-standing psoriasis in a person with character problems. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 21:3, 121-130
Milton V. Kline (1953) Delimited Hypnotherapy: The Acceptance of Resistance in the Treatment of a Long Standing Neurodermatitis with a Sensory-Imagery Technique. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 1:4, 18-22
Muftic, M. K. (1961) Fenomeno vesicatorio por hipnosis (Vesicular phenomenon produced by hypnosis). Latin American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 2: 69-75.