Progressive Muscle Relaxation Induction (PMR)
C Michael Brannan
C Michael Brannan
Progressive Relaxation (or Progressive Muscle Relaxation) inductions are a mainstay of therapeutic and stage hypnosis. It is also what most people think of when they think of a hypnotic induction. When you learn hypnosis, a progressive relaxation induction will likely be among the first inductions you learn. Many people associate hypnosis with relaxation, and that association helps to make the induction more effective: hypnosis is relaxation, I'm becoming more and more relaxed, so I must be getting hypnotized.
There are some disadvantages to a progressive muscle relaxation induction. When you get hypnosis training, you will pretty quickly discover some of the drawbacks: it is slow and can be cumbersome. Its slowness can be a drawback for use on the stage. On the other hand, many find the experience of a progressive relaxation induction very satisfying. They just enjoy the experience of going into trance. And, of course, everyone enjoys being in trance.
There are innumerable variations of the progressive relaxation induction, and I will discuss some of the most common ones after giving you one example. Here is an example of this kind of induction that you can use on others, or record and take yourself into a nice, deep hypnotic trance. This is one of my own versions of the induction.
Progressive Relaxation Induction
C. Michael Brannan
Take a nice deep breath in...hold for a moment...and exhale. Another nice deep breath in...hold it for a moment...and exhale. One last nice deep breath in...hold it for a moment...and exhale...close your eyes down. Notice how your breath relaxes you, and as you continue to take nice, deep breaths you relax more and more with each breath you take.
Now, just focus on your left foot. Let every muscle in your left foot relax completely..every toe..your instep...that's right..relax your ankle. Completely relaxed, feeling comfortable, secure...totally relaxed. Now, just focus on your right foot, relax every muscle in your right foot completely. Notice how good it feels to just let go, relax and feel comfortable. Every breath you take relaxes you even deeper because it feels so good to just relax. And you know that relaxation is the key, and as you relax you begin to realize that you can achieve anything.
Relax your calves...the left and the right. Just let them relax, floating...feeling so comfortable. You know you could move them if you wanted, but they are so wonderfully relaxed that you want them to relax even more. Calf muscles so completely relaxed. No cares, no worries, just you and your relaxation.
Let your knees become wonderfully comfortable, relaxed. Notice how quickly they relax because you already know how to relax your body completely and totally. Every breath you take, every thought, every feeling only allows you to realize how comfortable, how relaxed you are, and that relaxes you even more. That's right...just relax, the more you relax, the more comfortable you feel, and the more comfortable you feel, the more deeply you relax.
And relax your thighs and your legs...all of your legs...from your hip all the way down, just relaxing even more. Feel your body drift more and more deeply into this relaxation, into this deep feeling of comfort, knowing that this comfort, this relaxation makes all things possible. Your mind reaches out, feeling that relaxation and comfort in your entire body. Notice how much more relaxed your toes, your feet, your ankle, calves and knees have become now that you have relaxed your thighs so completely.
Focus that relaxation on your hips now...both hips relaxing completely. Notice how good it feels to just relax...to just let go...to just feel comfortable. Your hips, so completely relaxed. Each breath you take, each passing moment, only serves to you relax more. Yesterday is gone...tomorrow is a million miles away...all there is, in this time, in this space, is you and your relaxation. Each gentle, relaxing breath takes you even deeper. All the way down...all the way down.
As you have already relaxed your hips, you feel even greater relaxation in your toes...your feet...your ankles...your calves...your knees...your thighs....relaxing even more deeply, feeling even more comfortable.
Relax your stomach now…just let your breathing, soft, even comfortable breathing relax your stomach even more. Feel your body drop down, relax and feel more comfortable as you relax every muscle, every fiber and every nerve drops you down deeper. And your chest and your back…just relax your back...feel your whole body just relax down, feeling comfortable, knowing that when you relax all things are possible in the mind. And it feels good to know that, does it not. Notice how all your body relaxes more and more deeply each time you relax down more.
All the way down your arms...letting your arms relax completely, totally and completely. Feeling all those sensations that tell you just how deeply your arms have already relaxed. All the way down, spreading that complete relaxation like warm waves of comfort through your arms...through your body...waves of comfort and relaxation...all the way down...your fingers, completely relaxed...comfortable and relaxed.
Now, letting that same quality of relaxation move into your neck. As you breathe easily and comfortably, your neck and all the muscles simply relax...deeply...profoundly...with every breath you take, relaxing more. You're concentrating perfectly only on those things that relax you even more.
You notice how much more deeply that relaxation has taken you already...fingers...arms...shoulders...chest...back...stomach...hips...legs...knees...calves...ankles...feet...toes all so wonderfully relaxed.
Relaxing all the muscles in your face...just relax...eyes shut...closed...feeling so good to just let them rest and relax. There is only your body and mind...and relaxation.
You have completely relaxed your body and now it's time to relax your mind. Letting go of all thought...letting go...as your unconscious...mind simply allows comfort and relaxation. Your mind grows quiet like the sound of a falling snowflake...quiet...still and quiet...like the surface...of a...still lake. All the way.
That is one version of a progressive relaxation that I have written. One unique aspect to this induction is the relaxation of the mind. It is unique to this version, though it appears, of course, in the Elman induction. Here are some variations:
It is usual to have the subject breathe through his nose and out through his mouth. One variation is to have him visualize his breath as he breathes out (breathing away all the tensions...breathing in relaxation...). Visualize it as a soft colored "smoke" kind of like breathing when the air is cold. Watch the subject's breathing. It should be slow, yet be steady and rhythmic.
Order of Relaxation:
You will find that some progressive relaxation scripts start at the head and move down. It works, too. I prefer going the other way and ending with a complete relaxation of the mind (as with the Elman induction). But nearly all will start at at either the head or the feet.
The specific language isn't excessively important, though keep it positive and on hypnotic themes such as relaxation, comfort, security and so forth. You want to use language that not only encourages trance but also assumes trance. One example of assuming trance in this induction is the connection between relaxation of one part of your body and another part of your body. Many progressive relaxation inductions will spend a long time relaxing each body part. It is up to you to watch your subject so you do enough, but you don't overdo it.
How many more things can you see in this induction?