When I was 13 or 14, I devised a nasty plan against hiccups. I called it my psychological method. It still works.

You only need two things: concentration and a couple of minutes. It’s basically playing a trick on yourself, it involves a little bit of acting (no fancy dress required though).

1. It begins with you waiting for the next hiccup and thinking of nothing else but the next hiccup. Try to stay calm and enjoy the quality of each second that passes with no hiccup. (Those who have experience in meditation may have better luck, although I had none when I was little. The presence of a friend nearby, of distracting sounds, parasitic thoughts like “What do I eat for dinner by the way?” or “It’s such a beautiful day” are not helpful. If you think of something else, even for a split second, a hiccup is likely to happen.)

2. When you are calm and focused, “in the zone”, you should stay in it – for let’s say a minute. Observe your breath, watch for any warning sign, wait for the hiccup intensely. (This could be it. Wait for the next hiccup for a couple of minutes or so and you might not need following step 3. You could just stopBut step 3 is what I did back then so I will you about step 3)

3. Step 3 is when you should grow slightly impatient, like “I’m waiting for you, hiccup, how come you’re not already happening?”. Expect it to happen! Now the bit of acting: while still calm and concentrated on the potential emergence of a hiccup, you want to provoke it, you try to help the hiccup, you may even want to mime a hiccup, have a couple of fake ones. After a minute of this theatre, you give up: the hiccup is gone.

The method is amusing. It has similarities with hypnosis or self hypnosis tricks. Also it’s fun way to put to the test some kind of zen ethics: the more you expect something, the less likely you will see it happening; the less you expect something, the more likely you will see it happening.

At around the same age, I had a theory about headaches. Thinking of nothing at all would cure any headache. That did not work very well because I had trouble thinking of nothing. With hindsight, “thinking of nothing at all” sounds like putting too much effort into it: too wilful, too much intention, too far from meditation. Too much intention can tense you up, not the best way to lose a headache. Today, I can’t cure all my headaches but often I do make them bearable by being aware of tensions in the neck, the forehead, the jaw, behind the eyes, etc. and trying to release them, as though my awareness of that particular spot would delicately massage it.


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