There are ten commandments for self-hypnosis, and they are easy to follow but must be repeated every night.
1. Talk to yourself. Talk to yourself in your mind as if you are talking to someone else, and tell this someone else to relax. There is no need to move your lips as this talk is in your mind. This self-talk is important as it actively keeps that single spotlight working on the relaxing ideas.
2. Repetitive talk. The repetition of relaxing ideas is sleep-inducing and conveys a protective effect on the mind. This is like a mother rocking her baby to sleep. The repetitive rocking movement induces confidence and regularity in the baby's mind and hence induces a secure feeling. Any unexpected movements or actions are arousing and threatening to the mind.
3. Use pronouns of the second person. Do not say 7 am going to relax'; say 'You are going to relax'. By saying 'you', you encourage detachment from yourself and your associated anxieties and worries. Hence it is like telling someone else to relax, although this someone else is really you and your body.
4. The law of reverse intention. Avoid words and phrases like 'sleep', 'insomnia', 'sleepy feeling', and 'waking up' as these cause anxiety for those who have a sleeping problem. This is the law of reverse intention; the more you want to sleep, the more the word sleep wakes you up. This is because, for the problem sleeper, the word sleep is charged with enormous anxiety and the mention of the word has an arousal effect on the sleep centre. Use words that are relaxing, like peaceful and tranquil, slack and loose, heavy and warm, comfortable and calm, easy and nice, deep and down, good and let go, and so on.
5. Lie in bed. Do this exercise in bed at night and every night without exception. Lie on your back, with the arms beside you in a symmetrical position. Do not wriggle and turn, as movement may generate anxiety and stimulate the mind. Most other forms of meditation also require stillness in the body.
6. Do not reject unwanted thoughts. Whenever you feel the mind is intruded by unwanted thoughts, do not reject them, as the idea of rejection means focusing on them. You should ignore them, let them flow past you. In fact, once you notice them you should immediately actively focus your spotlight back on relaxation. The unwanted thoughts will disappear gradually, as they are no longer focused on.
7. Talk to your body part by part. Tell each part of your body to relax, from the feet up to the top of your head. Do this repeatedly again and again. The feet, the legs, the thighs, the stomach, the chest, the back, the shoulders, the arms, the hands, the neck, the head, the face, the eyes, the lips, etc. Then you should restart from the feet again up to the head, and repeat this many many times. Also, when you are telling a part of the body to relax, try your best to experience that feeling at the same time. Hence when you tell your legs that they are heavy and slack, you must try to really feel the heaviness of your legs, and let them flop on the bed all by themselves. As you keep the spotlight on the relaxing part of your body, you are in fact shifting the sense of awareness in your mind to that part of the body.
8. Shifting from the THS mode to the sleeping mode. This shift normally happens unconsciously. Do not get worried or impatient that you do not feel the sleeping mode coming on. This shift from the THS to sleep is an unconscious act, and no one can tell himself that now is the moment of shifting from the THS to sleep. Just stay in the THS as long as is necessary and you will drift into sleep without knowing it. This is because, when you are in the THS, the arousal activity of the cerebral cortex is minimal and you will have less and less effect on the sleep centre. The sleep centre will trigger off natural sleep at anytime while the cerebral cortex is engaged in the THS.
9. Do not despair if it does not work initially. It may take a bit of practice before you are familiar with the technique. Perseverence is the key to success in self-hypnosis. Just perform the self-hypnosis religiously every night. Remember, even if you are not asleep, you are having all the rest you need if you just stay relaxed. However, no one can stay relaxed continuously in the THS mode, as the THS is the precursor of sleep.
10. Physical relaxation is the same as mental relaxation. There are two schools of thoughts as to the relationship between the body and the mind. Some people think that the body and the mind are completely separate and that, if the body is relaxed, the mind can still be tense. My belief is this; the mind is housed inside the brain, and the brain is made up of nerve cells that are in direct communication with the rest of the body. The mind commands the body to relax; when the body is relaxed, the mind has to be relaxed also.