The Silva Method: What Is It and How Does It Work?

The Silva Method was created by Jose Silva in the 1950s. It’s a method of putting yourself into a relaxed frame of mind, and then using that relaxation for useful purposes like improving your self-image, finding solutions to problems, increasing your ability to accomplish goals, improving your relationships with others, and getting better grades at school.

The Silva Method is simple and straightforward. You simply close your eyes and take a deep breath. While you’re breathing out, you imagine seeing the number “3” in front of you. Then you do the same with "2" and "1." Read more about the process here.

That’s the basic Silva Method relaxation technique, although Jose Silva came up with many “deepening” techniques. Follow the link above to learn more about those.

Silva called the achievement of a relaxed frame of mind “going to your level.” He also called it an “alpha state” because when you relax, your brainwaves slow down and pulse at a certain frequency, known as “alpha brainwaves.” The Silva Method is a way to use this relaxed state to accomplish things.

The Silva Method contains a host of “formula-type techniques” you can use to solve problems and help you accomplish your goals. Here are seven of the key techniques:

1. The Workshop of the Mind. This is my favorite technique from the Silva Method. You create a workshop or laboratory in your imagination, complete with any tool you can imagine (literally), and it includes a giant screen on which to visualize things. Your workshop also comes equipped with a resident wise counselor of your choosing, for any advice you may need.

Once you create this workshop in your mind’s eye, you can use it for the rest of your life.

2. Dream programming. Dreams can be a good source of ideas and solutions to problems. The “Glass of Water technique” and “dream programming” are the two Silva techniques that can help you utilize this relatively ignored fountain of creativity.

These techniques of the Silva Method entail going to your level and giving yourself the suggestion that either you’ll have a dream that will give you an idea to solve a specific problem, or when you awaken in the morning and finish drinking a glass of water, an idea will pop into your head.

Many creative people get breakthrough ideas in their dreams. I just came across a reference to this in the book, Psycho-Cybernetics. “Mrs. Thomas A. Edison has said that each evening her husband would go over in his mind those things which he hoped to accomplish the next day,” wrote the author, Maxwell Maltz. Sometimes he would make a list of the jobs he wanted to do, and problems he hoped to solve.”

In the book, The Psychology of the Inventor, Joseph Rossman wrote, “When stumped by something, he [Edison] would stretch out in his Menlo workshop and, half-dozing, get an idea from his dream mind to help him around the difficulty.”

Maltz also wrote, “Kekule’s discovery of the secret of the benzine molecule during sleep, Otto Loewi’s Nobel Prize-winning discovery (that active chemicals are involved in the action of the nerves), and Robert Louis Stevenson’s ‘Brownies,’ which he said gave him all his plot ideas while sleeping, are all well known.”

Dreams can be a powerful source of creativity. Jose Silva simply created two formalized methods to harness some of the untapped potential of sleep.

3. Mirror of the mind. On your mental screen (in your mental workshop) visualize a specific problem you’re having or a situation you need to deal with, and visualize it in a mirror — see the image like a reflection of a mirror directly in front of you. The mirror has a blue frame.

Then move the mirror to your left, change the frame to white, and visualize your problem resolved. From that point on, whenever you think about your problem, only think of the “solution image” framed in white. This is one of the most useful techniques in the Silva Method. (Find out more about the direction to move the mirror.)

4. Three fingers technique. At your level, suggest to yourself that you’ll be able to quickly reach the alpha level by putting the thumb, index finger and middle finger of one hand together. This technique brings the power of the Silva Method into your wakeful activities.

The three fingers technique is useful for calming yourself when you feel stressed or upset, getting into in a good frame of mind to remember something, or helping you concentrate your attention when you need to focus.

5. Envisioning goals.
Imagine what it will be like when a specific goal is achieved. Envision it in detail. You can do it with something small, like a meeting you have tomorrow with your boss (imagining it turning out the way you want), you can imagine a big goal five years in the future, or anywhere in between. Envisioning goals is a central principle of the Silva Method. Read more about envisioning goals here.

6. Simple suggestion. You can use the Silva Method to give yourself “post-hypnotic suggestions.” This helps you program new behaviors and new thought-habits.

For example, let’s say I want to get into the habit of looking people in the eyes when I’m talking to them. I can go to my mental workshop and envision myself on the screen talking to various people while looking them in the eyes. And I can add the suggestion, “Whenever I talk to people, I look them in the eyes.”

Do not underestimate the power of simple suggestion — especially when your mind is relaxed (and therefore less critical and rejecting).

7. Cancel cancel. This is the Silva Method technique I use more often than any other. When you go to your level, one of the post-hypnotic suggestions you can give yourself is that when you hear a negative comment or a pessimistic point of view, you say “cancel cancel” to yourself, and when you do, the negativity will have no influence over you. It’s kind of like a mental cloak of protection.

For example, when I hear someone say, “Well that tends to happen as you get older,” I think to myself, “cancel cancel.” I don’t want to be influenced by such limiting or negative beliefs.

The Silva Method is simple and basic. There is nothing fancy about it. But it works. I’ve used it for 27 years and I still use it.

The Silva Method gives you tools to do mental work. And it gives you structure — mental structure — for mental achievements like improved self-esteem, more self-confidence, better memory, changing habits, clarifying goals, finding solutions to problems, etc.

Without tools and structure, it would be difficult to get anywhere doing mental work because the mind is like an infinite-possibilities multimedia machine. The structure and tools of the Silva Method make your mind actually useful instead of merely full of potential. It allows you to use more of the mind’s possibilities.

As if that weren’t enough, the Silva Method is a form of meditation, and has all the positive health benefits associated with other forms of meditation.

You can start going to your level right now. Follow these instructions. Simply go to your level and then bring yourself back out of it, or you can use one of the seven techniques while your mind is relaxed. Either way, when you’re done, you’ll feel refreshed and relaxed.

You can easily practice the Silva Method on your own without further instruction and achieve great results. If you’d like more training, the Silva Method Course is an excellent two-weekend class that trains you in all the techniques — the seven above and many more besides [click here to find courses in your area].

There are also some good books and audio programs you can use for training yourself in the Silva Method. I first learned the techniques in Jose Silva’s book, The Silva Mind Control Method and successfully used them for a long time. Then I took the two-weekend course. Since then I have used two audio programs, both of which are excellent: The Silva Method from Nightingale-Conant, and The Silva Method “Choose Success” Home Study Course, which is the most complete. The home study course is the closest thing you can get to the two-weekend training.

Many famous people have used the Silva Method. Dr. Wayne Dwyer, one of the most popular self-improvement authors in the world, said, "I have used the Silva Method for many years. It has helped me overcome illnesses and accidents and avoid surgery. I urge you to attend Mr. Silva's training sessions that are presented around the world."

Burt Goldman, "The American Monk," said: "We have all heard many times that anyone can control the direction and pattern of their lives if they just know how. In Silva, you will learn simple, practical and safe ways to bring about this control. The Silva Method consists of scientifically researched, tested, proven techniques which you receive in a step-by-step, learn-by-doing manner. You will see noticeable results quickly."

Dr. O. Carl Simonton, author of Getting Well Again, said, “The Silva Method gave me a tool to use in teaching the patient how to begin the interaction and how to become involved in his own health process. I would say that it is the most powerful single tool that I have to offer.”

Joe Girard, the top car and truck salesperson in the world and author of How to Sell Anything to Anybody said about Silva’s book, "I love it, fantastic, a much needed book to make you become the World's Greatest Anything."

"You can count on Silva Methods to skyrocket your sales,” said Mark Victor Hansen, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul. “This teaches how to sell your way through the top. Learn to enjoy success, achievement and all the benefits of the good life like time, money, and lifestyle freedom while selling yourself by Silva's ideas."

Another famous author, Shakti Gawain, wrote, "The most important technique I learned in the Silva Method was creative visualization...I found that it was amazingly effective."

Russell "Bucky" Dent was a young baseball player with the Chicago White Sox when he first learned the Silva Method in 1975, along with several of his Chicago White Sox teammates. In 1978, after joining the New York Yankees, his contributions were so great, when they won the World Series, they named him their Most Valuable Player (MVP). “The Silva Method helped me with my concentration, and it helped me to relax before the pressures of a game,” Dent said. He went on to become the manager of the Yankees.

Richard Bach was hopelessly stuck on a book he was writing until he discovered the Silva Method and used its techniques to find the inspiration to complete his book — the bestseller, Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

The Silva Method is simple and practical. Try it out and see what it can do for you. Start here: How to Relax Your Mind.

Adam Khan is the author of Slotralogy, Direct Your Mind, and co-author with Klassy Evans of What Difference Does It Make?: How the Sexes Differ and What You Can Do About It. Follow his podcast, The Adam Bomb.


  1. This is a wonderful summary! Love the straight to the point approach. :). Silvie Lai

  2. I just began with the initial 7 week process, and am trying the 3 finger technique and "screen monitor" technique. I already notice profound changes and coincidences. It makes sense. Too many people are stressed-out trying their best in the Beta state. -Gianine

  3. Thank you for sharing this knowledge. Regular contact with our higher consciousness leads to insight, peace, happiness and success. Practiced by everyone, it could also end war, ecological destruction and poverty. We all have a treasure within us, methods such as those you share here help us all access, develop and reap the rewards of this treasure. Blessings.

  4. What about someone like me who closes her eyes and sees nothing or can't see the number 3 or the number 2, etc. How do I awaken the visualization?

  5. You can pretend you are visualizing the number 3 or 2. You can get a vague idea of the number, and start there. With practice, you will get better at getting a clear image. It is a skill like any other. Most people don't have a clear image of what they're trying to imagine. They have a "sense" of it, and the image is not stable. That's perfectly okay and works just as well.