Regular workouts, a good diet and plenty of are the foundations on which great bodies are built. Most amateur bodybuilders know and respect these principles. What is less well known, however, is the importance of using the
mind in the quest for the ultimate physique. Arnold Schwarzenegger was convinced that the power of his mind could help build muscle tissue. For example, when training his biceps he would visualize them filling a room. Many
people use self-hypnosis as a means of enlisting the mind's power.
Hypnotism has been used as a therapy - often disguised as magic or mysticism - for hundreds of years. Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815) caused great excitement in France with an unusual therapy called mesmerism. The philosophy of mesmerism was based on its founder's belief that the planets, by manipulating an invisible gas called animal magnetism, could influence the health of an individual. Mesmer's patients would sit in rows, in complete silence, holding hands. He would then pass through the rank and file, dressed in a silk robe, touching them with a magnetized wand. It was believed that the magnetic wand would cause animal magnetism to concentrate on the patient's wounds, thus healing them. The success of mesmerism, in fact, was due to an elaborate form of hypnotism and suggestion.
Mesmer was later ridiculed and branded a charlatan. He left France in disgrace. Hypnotism, however, was about to leave the realms of the occult.
Dr. James Braid in 1841 found an easier way to induce hypnosis. He would ask his patients to gaze at an object until their eyes grew tired. They would then fall into a sleep like state which he christened hypnotism. Braid found that hypnotism was different from natural sleep. He could speak to his subjects while they were in a state of hypnosis and still be understood. He also found that his subjects were unable, unless instructed otherwise, to hear anyone else speak, and were extremely susceptible to suggestion. Braid proved to the world that Mesmer's exotic methods were not needed to induce a state of altered consciousness. His work marked the beginning of hypnosis as we know it today.
The British Medical Association were informed of the success of hypnotism in dealing with paralysis, migraine and epilepsy. These findings led others to study hypnotism, and by 1890 it was being practised all over the civilized world.
The mind accepts suggestions readily under hypnosis. A knowledge of the nervous system is desirable to understand how this phenomenon occurs.
The nervous system in mammals is split into the central nervous system (c.n.s.) and the peripheral nervous system (p.n.s.). Both parts work in harmony but have their own functions. The c.n.s. analyzes sensory input and controls voluntary movements and the higher-order functions (thought, language and emotion). The p.n.s. is divided into the somatic and autonomic parts. The somatic part is made up of cranial and spinal nerves. The autonomic part deals with areas of our bodies which function automatically (heart, lungs etc.). Thinking of the c.n.s. as the conscious mind and the p.n.s. as the unconscious mind will make our task easier. The conscious mind is able to analyze information it receives and decide whether to accept or reject this information. The unconscious mind does not have this ability and, therefore, must accept the information it is given.
Under hypnosis - simply speaking - the conscious mind is distracted, allowing ideas to pass into the unconscious mind. At this stage of hypnosis the ability to cause reactions in the body is quite remarkable.
Biofeedback is one of the most fascinating aspects of hypnotism. It is used to teach people how to control their blood pressure, heart rate, muscle activity and even electrical brain activity.
Dr. Leslie Weatherhead, in the presence of a team of doctors in Leeds, England, proved that he could affect a subject's bodily performance by mere suggestion. The subject's temperature was raised as high as 104 degrees and lowered to 96 degrees at Dr. Weatherhead's command. The subject's heartbeat could be accelerated or retarded, and needles could be driven into any part of the subject's body with no sign of pain. It would be difficult, in light of these facts, to imagine any sportsman who would not benefit from hypnosis.
Self-hypnosis is safe, relaxing and completely free. Here is the most popular method of induction.
Make a tape of the suggestion script below. Leave about 10 minutes at the beginning of the tape in order to give yourself time to relax. The suggestion script is for those who would like to increase size and strength; however, you can and should alter it to suit your needs. If you can't make a tape it doesn't matter. Just read the script aloud three or four times before you begin self-hypnosis. When you are completely relaxed, the words will come back into your mind.
Go to a room where you will not be disturbed, loosen any tight clothing, and lie down in a comfortable position. Fix your gaze on something - the light bulb or a spot on the ceiling. Start breathing deeply from the bottom of your lungs (without straining yourself). You will know when you are breathing correctly because your navel, as opposed to your chest, will rise and fall. Imagining yourself breathing from your stomach will help. As you inhale, count to 6, pause, and exhale slowly. Tell yourself that your eyes are getting heavy, count to 10, and let them close.
Imagine a warm, pleasant sensation surrounding the balls of your feet. Allow this sensation to spread up and down your entire body. Let your mind roam to pleasant scenes in your imagination. Allow your senses to indulge in this scenery. For example, if you imagine yourself sitting in a garden, smell the flowers, feel the breeze, and listen to the birds singing. When you want to come out of hypnosis, count from 1 to 10, open your eyes, and slowly sit up.
Self-hypnosis is completely harmless. Remember that you are developing a new skill that will reward you generously. To get the most benefit from self-hypnosis it must be done regularly. Good luck.