“Prathusha’s Pandora” –
Auto Suggestions vs. Self-Hypnosis
Self-Hypnosis (SH) and Auto Suggestion Treatments (ASTs) help to modify our behavior, emotions, habits and attitudes. They also help us to increase confidence and develop new skills. In fact, it is scientifically proven that these mind training techniques will mitigate stress and anxiety. One of our brilliant coaches, Leah, noted that anxiety or fear is not the cause of stuttering but the effect. I absolutely agree with her because a PWS finds it nearly impossible to reduce fear or anxiety when faced with a large audience or any dreadful speaking situation. Of course, if the PWS uses the crutches to stop stuttering, then automatically the stress and anxiety reduces. So, the more you use a crutch, the less you stutter and hence fear and anxiety drops. Once a PWS masters the crutches, he/ she does not stutter hence, anxiety is reduced.
How do we remind ourselves to use the crutches in all venues? We have trained ourselves to speak in a certain way (with stutter) all our lives and this sudden shift in speaking style (using the crutches while speaking) needs to be consciously used until it becomes a habit. How do we engrain this in our system? This is where SH and ASTs comes into play.
SH is more effective than AST, but it is harder to do and takes much more practice. But, for either method, relaxation is key. According to Melvin Powers, “Hypnosis is a state of heightened suggestibility in which the subject is able to uncritically accept ideas for self-improvement and act on it appropriately”. Let me explain it with an example: take a sponge which is already clogged with oil and soak it in water. Will the sponge absorb the water effectively? No, because the oil clogged perforations in the sponge will resist the movement of water molecules into the sponge. The analogy here is that the sponge is our mind, oil clogging is the baggage (unrefreshed thoughts that are carried forward from the previous day) and the water is the ASTs. So, the positive affirmations cannot be absorbed effectively by our mind when it is already filled with previous day’s baggage, hence we need to unclog it in the form of relaxation which is considered as the first phase of SH.
Relaxing The Mind
Proper techniques to relax our minds are extremely important to help free our minds from chaos and to attain inner stability and tranquility. The slower you breathe the longer you live. So, how do we even do go about this?
Here are 3 steps that you need to follow:
- Step 1: Spread a mat on the floor. Sit on the mat in “Ardha Siddhasana” position. Please watch this link to learn “Ardha Siddhanasana” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qc0ZA6ciWgc). If sitting in this position is difficult, then one can sit in any comfortable position.
- Step 2: Close your eyes and focus on the temple spot (the spot between the eyebrows). Now, inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. (Note: Exhalation must be longer than the inhalation. For example, if inhalation is 3 to 5 secs then exhalation must be minimum 8 to 11 secs. Once you get comfortable then you can extend your exhalation to 15 to 18 secs). As suggested by Monica Dobbie, a certified hypnotherapist, the best way to help the “out breath” to be slower is to purse the lips a bit and breathe out slowly as though you are blowing out through a straw. One may even practice 7/11 breathing technique wherein the exhalation is deliberately made slower and longer than the inhalation (7 secs to inhale and 11 secs to exhale).
- Step 3: During every exhalation, instruct each body part to relax. For example, during the first exhalation instruct your forehead to relax, during the second exhalation instruct your cheeks to relax then comes the neck area, shoulders, arms, chest so on and so forth. With every exhalation try to relax yourself more and when you are able to do this then you will feel as if your entire body is floating and the gravity will pull you backwards and that’s completely normal. Please do the relaxation 3 times from head to toe.
The Hypnotic State
Now let’s discuss how to perform hypnosis. Hypnosis can be achieved in two ways: one is hetero-hypnosis, wherein the hypnotist instructs the subject; WSSA has some hypnotists who have worked with PWS and can help. The second is self-hypnosis, wherein the subject instructs himself. Usually the length of time required to learn self-hypnosis varies from person to person. So, do not worry if you are not able to attain hypnosis state in your initial attempts. It requires diligent practice.
There is a common misconception that hypnosis is a highly vulnerable state and people become unconscious. But it is just the opposite, hypnosis is a state where one is highly aware of what’s going on around him. When I do self-hypnosis I sometimes hear my heart beat so profoundly and I can feel the blood flow through my veins. So, you are in complete control of yourself.
Now let me tell you how I do the 2nd phase of self-hypnosis.
Once I’m completely relaxed, I count from 1 to 7, where at count 1, I slowly close my eyes visualizing myself wearing a beautiful red dress standing in front of a closed door.
Count 2, I slowly open the door in front of me and while opening I’m also able to hear the door creaking (so, here I’m including an auditory effect in addition to visual effects).
Count 3, I’m able to see an auditorium filled with large a audience, but instead of panicking, I surprisingly feel good about the multiple stares that I get from people.
Count 4, I walk gracefully on the red carpet, with every striking sound of my stiletto my confidence grows stronger.
Count 5, I ascend the stage and as my hair comes across my face I smell the wild flowers (here I’m including olfactory effect in addition to auditory and visual effects, with more practice one will be able to add taste and feel as well).
Count 6, I walk towards the limelight with so much confidence.
Count 7, I’m in the limelight and I’m completely calm. Now, I start doing my ASTs “Every day in every way my speech grows better and better”, “I’m the best speaker in the world and people love the way I speak” etc. When I say these ASTs I also keep track of the count using my fingers.
When finished with my ASTs, I again from count 1 to 5.
Count 1, I bow and say thank you.
Count 2, I smile as the audience applauds and gives a standing ovation.
Count 3, the applauding slowly recedes and I’m coming back to my present state.
Count 4, I’m back to normal.
Count 5, I slowly open my eyes saying “Today I will make a happy day”.
Note: If you are not able to open your eyes at the count of 5, give another set of 5 counts and you will be able to open your eyes.
Relaxation of the mind should be done for a minimum of 5 minutes before you do the 2nd phase of SH. As mentioned above, the ASTs can be combined while doing the 2nd phase of SH.
Playing the “Binaural beats” in the background aids both SH and ASTs as it improves the concentration. Here are the links to binaural beats: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIfw9kAbMlc,https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pmxO9fHBHk, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acQS2Fef8tU).
In this blog I visualized myself speaking confidently on stage. Similarly, you can create your own scenarios of fluency! But remember to have a count as it helps us to control the situation that we are imagining. You can also give the counts and record the scenario step by step in the form of audio and play it while doing SH (this is similar to hetero-hypnosis but the only difference is that you are doing the hypnotist’s job in giving the instructions).
If you do this on a regular basis, trust me, you will see a significant improvement in terms of both confidence and speech (fluency). Wishing fluency for you, too,