Hypnosis for beginners #2
Switching off the muscular system.
In which we explore various ways in which muscular relaxation can be induced. The main systems
used to do this include the verbal, visual, emotional, musical and humorous.
We end with a sample compound induction script.
In the previous chapter we looked at ways in which activity in various parts of the brain could be
switched on which were sometimes obvious and at other times rather unfamiliar.
In this chapter we will be exploring this area of how to switch off a system. In particular we will look at
reducing the activity of the muscular system and its related nervous system.
There is one very important fact about muscle tissue that is worth bearing in mind in this context. It has
no direct Off switch! ANY electrical message, whether delivered via the nerves or via wires switches a
muscle On: it makes it contract. There is no electrical signal that can direct a muscle to expand. That is
the reason why throughout the body muscles occur in pairs. You have one muscle to curl a finger and
another to straighten it. You have one muscle to bend the knee and another to straighten it. When you are
walking your body runs through a sequence of first tensing one muscle of a pair and then the other. The
one that is NOT being tensed gets stretched by the action of the other. Then the action is reversed.
Incidentally much chronic or long lasting muscular pain is a result of a pair of muscles being
SIMULTANEOUSLY active or tense. They are each pulling against the other, but nothing is moving.
This can often be seen in "stressed" people, in which there are two mental systems also fighting against
If you have clearly in mind this basic physiological fact that ALL electrical activity reaching the muscles
cause them to contract then it will make clearer the basic notion that you cannot ORDER a system to
switch off, but that if you stop it being activated then it will slowly subside into a resting or nearly
The first exercise in this chapter is something that might be familiar to you. It is a relaxation technique
that is sometimes called "progressive relaxation". Something similar can be met in ante-natal clinics;
stress-relief courses and so on. But it is also a common starting point for many hypnotists. The simple
idea is that you pay attention to a particular muscle or muscle group and think "relax", NOT in a spirit of
"For heaven sake, RELAX! I tell you. RELAX!!" but rather of, "I am asking nothing of you now and so
you can stop doing anything, you can go to sleep." Alternatively you can use the word "sleep" rather than
"relax". It is not that YOU are going to sleep but that a group of muscles are going to sleep.
(A very common misconception about hypnosis is that it feels like going totally asleep. Some people are
disappointed if they do not feel that they have lost consciousness.)
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