by Charles Curtis
Being minimalists at heart, we are always looking for the most efficient way to get results. So after reading how Milton Erickson used pauses to deepen his client’s trances, we decided to experiment with how to use pauses as an induction, a deepener, and a repetitive programming device. The result is the Progressive Pause process, which has exceeded our expectations, giving us very nice results in a scientific study.
You can take the client into trance by increasing the space between your verbalized thoughts. If the thought is a desired post-hypnotic suggestion, as you increase the pause length, you are embedding the suggestion in the subconscious at the same time. This technique really teaches the value of SLOWING DOWN. It is amazing the major difference in effect that can happen when you add just 10 seconds to the length of a pause. (This is one reason affirmations don’t always work, if said too fast)
NEGATIVE TO POSITIVE SHIFT
When the pause becomes long enough, if the client was at first experiencing a negative reaction to the suggestion, the reaction will often switch from negative to positive sometime during one of the pauses. This polarity shift is the desired end result. At this point, any further repetitions of the suggestion will result in embedding the message deeply into the subconscious mind as a post-hypnotic suggestion.
PROGRESSIVE PAUSE AS AN INDUCTION
This technique can be used for either self-hypnosis or during a client session, for the main induction, or as a deepener. It works best when pre-recorded or done to one person by another but still yields wonderful results if done eyes-open to oneself with a stopwatch or watch with second hand. Just repeat the desired suggestion using pauses of 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 110, and 120 seconds. This corresponds on a stop-watch to repeating the suggestion at 0, 10, 30, 1:00, 1:40, 2:30, 3:30, 4:40, 6:00, 7:30, 9:10, and 11:00 and then waiting until 13:00 before you stop. Use whatever number of pauses gets the job done. In our experience, the person is usually going into trance within a couple of minutes and is in a nice deep trance long before the maximum length of 120 seconds, so we often don’t even use the full length unless we want the maximum effect or we’re recording this on the client’s CD
AS A DEEPENER
Use the induction of your choice, then affirm the agreed-upon suggestion, making the pauses between the repetitions longer each time. You can use the recommended pause lengths, or do this intuitively. Do this for several minutes until you see the deepening occur.
AS ASSESSMENT TOOL
By affirming the client’s goal and then having the client verbalize his/her subconscious reactions to this, you can gain a clear picture of the client’s resistance to change in just a few minutes.
As the pauses lengthen, in many cases, the client will experience a polarity shift, and sink into a deep meditative place where the suggestion is already being accepted by the subconscious mind. In cases like this, in just a few minutes, you have not only found and neutralized the client’s objections, but begun acceptance at the unconscious level.
IF A POLARITY SHIFT DOES NOT OCCUR
If the client stays negative in his/her responses throughout the entire process, then this is an indication that the problem is more deep seated. But you now have a clear picture of the client’s negative map of the world and limiting beliefs, and as a hypnotist you have a full toolbox of techniques to defuse the negatively charged thoughts that have been revealed to be present in the subconscious.
DURING DIRECT SUGGESTION
We end every session with some direct suggestion and ego strengthening. During this process, we will always use the same affirmation that we used during the assessment process, as the subconscious is already conditioned to be open and receptive to this idea, and now, with the negativity defused, the subconscious really LOVES hearing that suggestion again and again. When we do this during this portion of the session, we may either choose the progressive pause format for several minutes, if we want some more deepening, or we repeat the affirmation rapidly in a direct-drive format for a pre-deepened client.
This technique is very effective in groups. A good group suggestion is “When you think of the life you want, how do you feel?”
This technique lends itself well to custom recordings.
An example of this technique used for assessment, as the client verbalizes her negative map of the world, then experiences a release and polarity shift into positive receptivity, then slides into deep trance.
A female client has negative self-talk, anger and resentment about the time she has to invest in her family, and feels hopeless about her prospects for enjoying life. We ask “What would you say to yourself if this problem were solved?” The suggestion we negotiate with her, which seems absolutely unrealistic right now, is “I am enjoying life; life is good to me”
Hypnotist (H) “I’m going to put the music on. Close your eyes, and every time you hear the words “I am enjoying life; life is good to me”, let your reaction come up and verbalize how you feel about that to me.”
H: “I am enjoying life; life is good to me”
Client: ( C ) “No way.”
H: (10 seconds later) “I am enjoying life, life is good to me”
C: Life is terrible to me, no fun at all, it feels like everything is against me.”
H: (20 seconds later) “I am enjoying…”
C: “This seems totally hopeless.”
H: (30) “I am enjoying…”
C: “I have too many problems to enjoy life.”
H: (40) “I am enjoying…”
C: “My spouse is always upsetting me.”
H: (50) “I am enjoying…”
C: “I have so many negative feelings.”
H: (60) “I am enjoying…”
C: (big sigh) “I feel a little better.”
H: (70) “I am enjoying…”
C: “There ARE things I can enjoy.”
H: (80) “I am enjoying…”
C: (showing signs of trance) “Yes, I can”
H: (Could stop now that client has revealed negative beliefs and shifted polarity, but seeing some good deepening going on, is choosing to use this opportunity to embed the suggestion, so 90 seconds of pause later) “I am enjoying…”
C: (no response, in deep trance, face has softened, smiling)
H: (100) “I am enjoying C: (deepening nicely, looking blissed out)
H: (110) “I am enjoying…” C: (totally relaxed, looks very deep)
H: (120) “I am enjoying…” C: (client looks completely “gone”)
H: “Taking all the time you need, come back to present time, and when you’re ready, take a deep breath, open your eyes, and tell me how you feel.”
C: (Taking about a minute to come back, stretching and smiling) “Wow, I can’t believe how deep I went. I was getting all these memories of good times I had with my family, I just feel very loving towards them right now.”
H: “How did it feel as you went through that experience?”
C: “Wow, that seems like such a long time ago when we started, feels like an hour ago, I remember feeling negative, but I can’t even feel that feeling right now, everything just feels soft and peaceful, I feel so good. Thanks so much!”