3 ways to use the power of focus to elicit trance
by Mark Tyrrell
"I use a soft voice because that compels attention." Dr Milton Erickson
In the normal way of things, focus of attention flits about like a sugar suffused butterfly from one thing to another. Ideas tumble through the mind like leaves tossed in the wind. Why do we hypnotise our clients? Because we want them to listen - really listen - so they can take on new, more productive ideas and emotional responses. So the first task of the hypnotist (or indeed anyone who wants anyone to take on board new ideas) is to fixate or capture the subject's attention or interest.
I've found that it takes only a couple of minutes of narrowed focus of attention in your clients for them to become deeply hypnotized. However, what swiftly captures one person's attention will be decidedly less compelling for another - which is why using standard hypnotic inductions makes you much less successful at hypnotising lots of different people.
Here are three ways to help you focus and fixate the attention of your clients.
1) Be ambiguous about what is going to happen
When we are expecting something but are not sure what it is, then we narrow our focus in order to check our expectation. Implying by what you say that something will occur, but they - and maybe you - don't know what it is yet,can help fixate the attention of your client.
And I'm very curious... and you can be very curious too... to discover... in just a few moments... just how... your unconscious mind is going to produce a profound hypnotic trance state... and neither of us know yet... just how that's going to happen... maybe you'll just start to feel a little sleepy... or perhaps you'll begin to feel kind of far away in your mind... or those hands of yours will feel a little warmer first... and you have no idea yet... just what the first signs will be... that you have gone into trance... but you can enjoy waiting for a few moments...
2) Use what is already fascinating to them
If your client is clearly fascinated by something, then use it, because that topic already has their attention.
For example, one man kept talking about how he just couldn't believe how he had been able, as a child, to play the piano in front of large audiences - something he felt he could "never do the equivalent of now." Because he had expressed amazement (and therefore was easily focussed by this subject) I began to talk about it as a way to capture his attention even more:
And there is still a part of you that remembers... that knows the exact feeling of being so focussed... on playing the piano... that the crowd just kind of disappeared... a particular room... a particular piece of music...being in total flow... your hands still remembering the precise sensations... of moving over the keys... as your eyes remember what they saw... and your ears what they heard... even if you don't know that... yet...
Because I was talking about what already fascinated him and I was talking about it in an unfamiliar way,this man was able to enter a profound and spontaneous trance without me even asking him to "go into hypnosis."
3) Home in on their symptoms
If you have an on-going problem that really troubles you, it's likely to preoccupy you, even obsess you. So when someone asks you to focus on it - it's easy! People know very well how to focus on their problems (and that is often itself a big part of the problem!)
So with someone who had been having panic attacks you might talk about how "people" experience "faster breathing, feeling hot in the face, feeling like they want to run away... " and so forth, as a prelude to focussing them more positively.
I might say to a blusher:
And blushing is a kind of post hypnotic response... and wonderful evidence of the mind/body connection...and perhaps you can just close your eyes... and notice what that feels like... by imagining you are beginning to blush right now... and as you do that... you can also notice what it's like... not to blush in that situation... and to feel really chilled... cool and calm...
If I'm working with a smoker, I'll invariably start off fixing their attention by getting them to "have a cigarette" in their mind - step by step. This is their area of expertise so it's easy for them to focus on it.
Doing this is a way of getting people used to focussing on ideas presented by you through making sure that what you are presenting is already familiar. And if they can't focus on the reality of having a cigarette, or blushing, then you even use that inability to feel the problem as a way to help them overcome it permanently. Win/win.
This technique of focussing your client's mind on what has troubled them should not be confused with "bringing on a panic attack" or some other symptom. Rather it's a controlled way of discussing their symptoms, touching upon them so that you can catch, and hold, their focus of attention. But once the catalyst has done its work, you can quickly move on to positively focussed interventions.
Human focus is often scattered and undirected. Hypnosis is a way to funnel and channel that focus because once focus becomes narrowed it gains great power, like the magnifying glass gathering the power of the sun to ignite a flame.
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