Utilizing the Phases of the Breathing Rhythm in Hypnosis

  • Beata Jencks


Skills in hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis can be improved by observing the breathing pattern. Moreover the appropriate breathing phases can be utilized to evoke and enhance special effects.

The normal breathing rhythm varies according to the demands of a situation, and the relaxed swinging of the diaphragm is inhibited by fear, fright, anxiety, concentration, and unhealthy breathing habits. The influence of the mind on the action of the diaphragm is also observed in the response to suggestions. The accepted suggestion of sleep produces a breathing rhythm similar to that during sleep. The accepted suggestion of exercise initiates faster, deeper breathing. Conversely, modifying the breathing rhythm purposely initiates intended changes in sensations, emotions, and actions.

In general, long, slow, deep exhalations bring about relaxation with the accompanying sensations of sinking, widening, opening up, and softening; the feelings of comfort, heaviness, warmth, and moisture; and the moods of patience and calmness. Inhalations evoke invigoration, tension, or levitation; and they are related to the feelings of lightness, coolness, and dryness, and to the moods of courage, determination, and exhilaration. The actions of the breathing phases are evoked by paying attention to them differentially. If the effect to be attained is “cool and moist,” suggestions can be superimposed during both inhalation and exhalation respectively. The repetition of suggestions in phase with the breathing rhythm has an additional hypnotic deepening effect.

From the experiences of the majority of the author’s students and patients, a table has been constructed which lists additional sensations, feelings, and images which are predominantly related to the respective breathing phases. Often the states experienced with inhalation are diametrically opposite to those experienced with exhalation, for instance: tension with inhalation, to relaxation with exhalation; or the feeling of warmth with exhalation, to the feeling of coolness with inhalation.

Suggestions made during the inappropriate breathing phase may counteract the suggested response. By coordinating repeated suggestions of deep relaxation with inhalation phases only, the author succeeded in arousing anxiety in experimental subjects.

Utilization of the breathing phases is especially indicated for subjects who are unwilling, or seem unable, to enter a hypnotic state.

Illustrative case histories are presented.


Salt Lake City Breathing Pattern Deep Breathing Miliary Tuberculosis Breathing Rhythm 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Beata Jencks
    • 1
  1. 1.MurrayUSA

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