5 Ways to Relieve Pain and Increase Comfort with Hypnosis
A Complement to a Healthy Lifestyle
Hypnosis is one of many ways to reduce pain and increase comfort.
Hypnosis has a recorded history dating back to ancient Egypt. In modern times, pain management was one of the first medical applications of hypnosis. Beginning in 1845, using a simplified version of medical hypnosis, Dr. James Esdaile was able to perform successful pain-free surgery without anesthesia. Today, a growing number of doctors and dentists have clinical hypnosis certification, and use hypnosis as a complement to medical protocol to reduce pain and improve healing.
In 2000, researchers at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine compared the results from 18 different studies on the subject of pain relief with hypnosis—which included patients from a wide spectrum of ages, conditions, and ethnic backgrounds. They found that 75% of the patients with chronic and acute pain enjoyed significant relief of pain after receiving hypnotherapy with a certified clinical hypnotherapist. All of the studies concluded that hypnosis is essential as one ingredient in treatment. Success in pain management improves when combined with a healthy lifestyle, including exercise, nutrition, and daily maintenance, such as self-hypnosis. Hypnotherapy alone has proven effective in pain relief. But the effects can be even better when combined with other medical treatment, and a healthy lifestyle.
Therapeutic hypnosis as a method of pain relief is unique, as there are no needles, no pills, and no equipment involved. It can be a s simple as taking a nap in a comfortable chair, using only relaxation and the intentional direction of your thoughts.
So, how does it work?
Get in the Zone
Hypnosis is relaxation.
When you are relaxed, you have the enhanced ability to access your memory, your imagination, and your emotions. By closing your eyes, you can close off stimulus from the outside and go inside. By nature, with your eyes closed, information transfers from short-term memory to long-term memory. This is one reason why relaxation and eye closure are excellent tools to use in preparation for an exam. But you can use these tools for other positive results too.
There is more than one way to “get in the zone” for hypnosis. We do it, by nature, throughout the day. If you have ever experienced “information overload,” you may find that you “zone out—” by staring into space, or closing your eyes. That is your brain’s way of taking a break. You can get in the zone by intentionally mimicking the physiology of “information overload:” close your eyes and stare into the darkness.
This is one of many ways to slip into hypnosis. A certified clinical hypnotherapist is trained to induce hypnosis, and guide your session in a way that helps bring about your desired outcome, i.e. pain relief.
Here are a few ways that you can practice at home:
There are many creative variations of progressive relaxation, but the basic idea is to imagine a focus of relaxation beginning at one end of your body, then progress it through each area to the other end of your body. Here is one warm and comfortable guided meditation for progressive relaxation.
Have a read through. Then try it with your eyes closed.
- Imagine you are stepping into a warm bath. The day is over and the temperature is just right.
- First your big toe on your right foot touches the water, then your whole foot is submerged in warmth.
- The heat sinks in and you step your other foot in. Sigh into it as the water embraces you.
- Feel the warmth surround and melt into you as you ease into the warm water slowly until your whole body is bathed in warmth. Everything inside is at peace. Even your mind is at peace.
- Just for now, allow yourself to feel your own natural healing sink in, as the warmth absorbs into the deepest part of you.
Use your imagination for progressive relaxation. If the colour blue soothes you, wrap yourself in a blue blanket, and imagine a healing light begins at the top of your head, and slowly flows to the bottom of your feet.
Have fun with it. It’s a great way to put a child to sleep, or put yourself to sleep. You can also have someone else read the above guided meditation to you, as you lie down and rest. There are CDs and MP3s that can walk you through progressive relaxation as well. Ask a certified clinical hypnotherapist for resources that you can use at home.
Imagination and visualisation are key ingredients to get the most from hypnotherapy. Everyone imagines in a way that is unique. If you do not see the warm bath, hear it. Or feel it.
Children respond very well to the simple use of imagination in healing. Consider a mother and daughter going for a walk. The girl falls and hurts her knee. The mother might say: “Mommy will kiss it and make it better.” Mommy kisses it, the child feels better. The child has used her imagination to heal herself.
We retain this ability to imagine and manifest healing right into adulthood. It only takes a little bit of child-like playfulness to make use of it. But imagination can deliver results.
- If the pain feels like a knot, imagine the most loving person in your life gently massaging the knot loose.
- If it feels like burning heat, imagine a cool blue healing liquid melting into the area.
- If it feels like a dull ache, imagine a drop of healing water in the centre of it. See the water drop evaporate. As the mist rises, allow it to heal as it leaves your body.
Dissociation means to separate. Dissociation in pain management means to remove and separate the sensation, so that it can be treated as an isolated object. As an object, you can use your imagination to control it, change it, turn it up, turn it down, and let it go. Here’s an example:
- Imagine the discomfort is an object.
- Give it a shape—such as a cube or a sphere.
- Hold the object in your hand.
- Give it your love.
- Change the color.
- Change the texture.
- Make it smooth and beautiful.
- Look at it from every angle.
- Make it bigger.
- Make it smaller.
- Make it solid.
- Make it a liquid.
- Make it a gas.
- Walk it outside and throw it to the wind.
Again, have fun with it, and use your imagination.
Tension-release exercises are useful to create a sensation that the pain is moving on, and breaking up, like an old patch of ice as the weather warms.
- Make a fist with your right hand. Turn up the power in your fist to a 5 out of 10.
- Now turn up the power to 6 … 7 … 8 … 9 … 10. Hold it for a count of 3.
- Now relax your right hand. Let it go loose and easy, just like it has always been.
- Make a fist with your left hand. Turn up the power up to 5 … 6 … 7 … 8 … 9 … 10.
- Relax your left hand.
- Make a fist with both hands, and curl them to your shoulders—like a bicep curl.
- Flex the muscles and turn up the power to 2 … 4 … 6 … 8 … 9 … 10.
- Then relax both arms.
You can continue tension-release with each area of your body—including the area you want to relieve. If you would like your stomach to feel comfort, make a fist with your stomach: curl your body around the gravitational centre of your navel. Turn up the power to a 10. Squeeze and hold. Let it go and release.
There is a physical benefit to the tension-release exercise, as you are strengthening the muscles and blood flow to each area of your body. Moreover, with a tension-release exercise, you are increasing your autonomous control of your body by allowing yourself to feel the pain … and allowing yourself to feel the comfort. You control it by making it worse—making it better. Make it worse—make it better. Turn it up—turn it down. Turn it off.
Give it time
Healing does not need to be a race or a contest. Take the pressure off yourself and allow yourself to take time with it. If you feel 1% better every day, before you know it, you will have forgotten what all the fuss was. The goal is long-term sustainable health. A small improvement every day lasts longer than a quick fix.
What has Hypnotherapy been used for?
This is not an exhaustive list, but these are some of the more common uses of hypnosis for pain management:
- Anaesthesia and analgesia for medical or dental surgery.
- Treatment of burns.
- Pregnancy and child-birth.
- Chronic pain, such as: a headache, backache, fibromyalgia, temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ), mixed chronic pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, and other neuropathic pain.
- Acute pain, such as pain from a bone fracture, surgical healing, appendicitis, muscle sprain, or sports injury.
A Complement to Medical Attention
Hypnotherapy is one of many ways to relieve pain. There is, however, a time to see other specialists. If a joint is out of the socket, if a bone is broken, or if a nerve is pinched, there are medical experts trained to diagnose and treat those conditions. Consider hypnotherapy as a complement to medical attention from a physician, physiotherapist, or other health professional.
Hypnotherapy is an enjoyable way to relieve pain that is affordable, and can be as simple as listening to music while you rest. All you need is a place to lie down and a little imagination.
Want to start with a Hypnosis audio at home?
Positive Brighter You guides you through relaxation and motivation.
It’s an excellent way to start your day.
Want to come in for a consultation?
Creating yourself is the most creative act of all.
Montgomery, G. H., DuHamel, K. N., & Redd, W. H. (2000). A meta-analysis of hypnotically induced analgesia: how effective is hypnosis? International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, Vol. 48, pp. 138-153.
Read the next Article:
© 2015 Empowering Hypnotherapy Clinic, Perth, West Australia.
All rights reserved.