Quasi Self-Hypnotic Pain Relief
To be successful in this intervention you will have to let go of ego-based defensiveness and remain quite focused for quite some time. These are not easy things to do. DO NOT do this intervention if you are feeling highly vulnerable at this time, or if you are not working with a well-trained and experienced psychological health care provider. If you are in therapy this might be a good intervention to do with your helper, that is if your helper feels confident and competent with this level of clinical intervention. This is a long intervention, so it may be helpful to have your helper read the instructions to you. It may be a very good idea to share this with your healthcare provider/s to see if they think you should or should not do this intervention. It is quite OK to beak this intervention down into a couple shorter experiences. Here we go!
- While lying down in a comfortable positions complete several long, slow, deep breaths.
- Take another long, slow, deep breath; this time hold the exhalation to the count of 4-5.
- Close your eyes and be very gentle with yourself. Just rest and breathe calmly.
- For the next few minutes use conscious distraction to pay close attention to places in your body where you are not experiencing physical or emotional pain and suffering. Focus strongly on the absence of pain.
- Now make an image of either a safe or happy place from your life experience. Do your best to expand the details of this image (colors, people, places, things, etc.). DO NOT get stuck in wishing for this experience again. Simply be with the experience and remain positively focused. If “poor me” sets in, the rest of this intervention will most likely not be helpful.
- Now take a closer analysis of the safe or happy place: What were you thinking? What were you feeling? What were you doing?
- In that happy or safe place in your imagination, notice what your senses were doing: What did you see? What did you hear? What did you feel? Were there any specific tastes or smells associated with the pleasant experience? What was your interoception like (internal feelings and sensations)?
- Now shift into trying imaginal numbing of the painful area of your in-body suffering. You may use an ice-pack to assist this process (no more than 15-20 minutes, never directly on your skin, and never if you have been told not to use ice).
- Now note the quasi-hypnotics. As you change the imagined shape of the pain, what do you notice? As you change the shape again, what do you notice? Now work on the size (larger or smaller, whichever feel better). As you work on the size, imagine your favorite color over the painful area and notice. As you notice the color, also notice if pain is more/less in the center of the area or on its periphery. Working from the center or the periphery, notice where the pain or suffering subsides. Where is that place? Be there! Concentrate!
- As you move on from these imaginary manipulations, bring your spiritual self to act on your behalf. Allow! Allow your spiritual self to support you in the reduction of your pain/suffering.
- Shift gently to any helpful relationship you now have or did have in the past. If in the past DO NOT lament; instead use the power of caring from that experience to support yourself here now. See the positive person.
- Now do your best to combine the image of the caring person’s face with your happy or safe place experience. This means you are sharing it with them, and that your memory will allow them to help you.
- Say “As I visit my safe/happy place I notice I am feeling less pain.”
- Say “As I feel slightly less pain, I notice I am feeling emotionally stronger.”
- Say “As I feel emotionally stronger, my sensation of pain is reduced.”
- Say “As I notice these improvements, I smile deeply to myself.” Smile now! Smile deeply!
- Say “As I smile and focus on my facial feelings, I feel less pain sensations.”
- Say “As I feel less pain sensations, I notice gentle, glowing white light all over my body.”
- Say “As I notice this healing white light, I also notice feeling less pain.”
- Say “As I experience the healing white light and less pain, I feel happier.”
- Say “As I feel happier, I breathe more freely and notice pain leaves my body on each of my exhalations.”
- Say “As I continue to breathe myself out of pain, smile, and feel more happiness – I feel less pain.”
- Now simply rest and smile – breathe in a self-loving manner. Let the pain leave on each exhalation. Just be there! Use the power of your mind to assist you.
- After a few minutes you can end and leave your lying position.
- You may want to keep a pain-reduction journal – note only positive changes in your efforts. Read the entries again later.
- I hope you found this helpful. May you be free from suffering – free from pain! Love yourself more!
Anthony R. Quintiliani, PhD., LADC
From the Eleanor R. Liebman Center for Secular Meditation in Monkton, Vermont and the Home of The Monkton Sangha
Author of Mindful Happiness