Pain can be a productive messenger when we need protection, but when it is perpetuated and reinforced by negative emotions such as anger, guilt, hopelessness, fear and anxiety, it becomes self-perpetuating. Pain creates negative emotions, negative emotions produce more tension, and tension produces pain. The hypnotherapy processes outlined in this article disrupt this pain cycle.
These self-hypnosis pain management techniques are not intended to replace medical care and are intended to be adjuncts to medical treatments. It is very important that you have your symptoms of pain checked out by a medical practitioner before you use hypnotherapy for pain management so that you are not masking symptoms that need medical attention. By addressing the physical and emotional aspects of pain, and by aligning with the wisdom and power of your subconscious mind through hypnosis, you can control and even eliminate physical and emotional pain. You can combine the techniques with your prescribed pain medications. These techniques are very effective for pain management and you can expect to learn to manage your pain, however only stop taking any pain medications under the direction and guidance of your physician.
In my clinical experience there can often be core psychological issues intertwined with chronic physical pain. If issues come up that in any way feel too difficult to handle safely or effectively on your own, then please consult a mental health practitioner for support.
You experience pain on two levels. There is the physical as well as the emotional levels of pain. Hypnotherapy will usually work on the emotional level right away and as you relax into yourself more, the physical levels can be managed or controlled. For this first hypnosis process you will need two pieces of paper, and if you have them, crayons or colored felt pens, pencils or pens. The language and experience of hypnosis is linked to your ability to experience with your imagination and inner senses by what you feel, see, smell, taste, hear and know in an inner way.
You are going to DRAW your pain. This is an important exercise because you need a base level of an inner or hypnotic image before you work with hypnosis of how you experience your pain. If you are in pain right now, draw it the way you currently experience and perceive it. If you are not in pain, at this time, draw the pain the way you remember it at its worst. Consider the location, the size, the shape, texture, color, temperature, movement, density, and even the sound of the sensation. The drawing the pain exercise is simply about getting the inner experience of pain out there on the paper. What is the SUDS level between 0 and 10 of the physical pain that you have just drawn? (SUDS stands for the Subjective Units of Disturbance Scale) 0 is no pain and 10 is the worst pain. What is the SUDS level between 0 and 10 for your emotional pain? Write these SUDS levels down. Now, on another piece of paper, draw what the same condition would be like when you are pain free. Again, consider the location, size shape, colors, texture, density, movement, temperature and sound. You now have a map of where you are and where you are going and want to be. This pain free drawing represents a 0 SUDS level for both the physical and emotional pain.
Lowering the Pain
You can record this process for yourself or learn it and practice it in sequence as a way to lower your pain.
Sit comfortably, where you will have privacy and will not be interrupted. Sit so that your back and neck are supported with your arms and legs uncrossed. When you are ready, close your eyes. Focus on the sensation of the pain. Where do you feel it? Tune into the location of it. What is the shape of the sensation? What color or colors is the sensation as you experience it? What is the density? The temperature? Is it moving or still? If moving, how does it move? Listen to the sensation with your inner ears. What do you hear? What is the taste and smell of the sensation? As you focus on these questions, you may or may not get a response to some of them. It is OK. Just notice the ones that you do respond to. As you experience the sensation now, what is the physical Suds level between 0 to 10? What is the emotional level, from 0 to 10? Now take a deep breath. Imagine the sensation at the level just below the current SUDS level. Moving slightly towards the comfort zone towards 0, Imagine, what is the location of the sensation? What is the shape and size of the sensation? What is the density? What is the color? The texture? What sounds do you hear? What is the smell and taste? What is the temperature? What number between 0 and 10 do you give it physically at this level? What number do you give it emotionally at this level? Take a deep breath. Right before it is this intense, right under this level, moving slightly towards the comfort zone of 0, what is it like? Become aware of the location now? What is the size and shape of the sensation? What is the color... the density... the texture... the temperature...the sound... the smell and taste? What number do you give it now physically? What number do you give it emotionally? Right before it is this intense, slightly closer to the comfort zone, what it is like? With your inner awareness, move through the experience of the sensation again. The Location? The size? The shape? The color? The temperature? The texture? The density? Movement, or stillness? Sounds? Taste? Smell? What number do you give it physically? Emotionally? If you are not at 0 for both the physical and emotional sensations, continue repeating this process, moving more and more towards the comfort zone with each level. When you are at a comfortable level or at a 0 physically and emotionally, continue the process below.
Now that you have moved the sensation to a zero or to a comfortable level, reflect on the movement you have made since beginning this self-hypnosis exercise. Choose one mode of experience that you accessed throughout. For instance, maybe the temperature was a clear experience throughout and the sensation began as very hot 9 and gradually moved to a cool sensation at 0. Or, perhaps color was your strongest mode, and the sensation was a black and red 8 that moved down to a sky blue 0. Or perhaps density was dominant for you and you began with hard baseball at level 7 that became a soft fuzzy cloud at 1. When you have chosen your strongest mode, review the systematic changes you perceived from the most intense level to your least intense level. You can now rehearse in your mind's eye and through your inner sensing, your sequence moving from the highest to the lowest level. Take some time to review and rehearse the sequence.
In your daily life, whenever you begin to notice the earliest sign of discomfort, you can mentally tune into the sequence and begin lowering the sensations before they become painful. Now, practice doing the sequence by imagining that during the day you notice the color or temperature or size and shape of your level 3. When you notice it, you take time to tune into the level right underneath a 3 and breath it into your awareness, then move another level lower until you are once again enjoying the comfort zone. Each time you hypnotically rehearse and use this sequencing in your daily life, you get results faster and more effortlessly. You begin to catch your sensation before it becomes intolerable pain. You are able to manage your emotions and to regulate the sensations comfortably and confidently. You might also imagine that your mode of perception is connected to a dial or rheostat. You can move the dial or knob slowly as you lower the sensation to a comfortable level for instance, moving it gradually from really hot to cool, level by level.
You know, just as in any learning experience of the past, the more you practice using this technique, the more effective and easy it is to use. You look forward to using this for your own pain management in your daily life and you find you feel relief more and more easily.
Enjoying your success and feeling the comfort, you slowly allow yourself to come back into the room feeling awake and refreshed. Feeling better than you have felt in a long, long, time.
Holly Holmes-Meredith is a Doctor of Ministry and a licensed Marriage family Therapist who trains hypnotherapists at HCH Institute in Lafayette CA. Learn more about hypnosis and its many therapeutic uses by reading her other blogs on Past life Therapy, Spirit Releasement Therapy, Manifesting your dreams and more.
Visit www.HypnotherapyTraining.com to learn about HCH Institute and its California state approved and registered certification trainings and classes for personal growth in hypnotherapy, energy therapy and parapsychological studies. And listen to her pod cast and samples of Holly's Hypnosis CDs which are available on-line.