Many people who have experienced meditation before hypnosis are initially surprised by how similar they seem. In this article, I will help you understand how hypnosis and meditation differ and how they are the same.
Comparing Hypnosis to Meditation
Both disciplines share many, almost identical, techniques, such as breathing and visualization exercises. For instance, the Progressive Muscle Relaxation technique is frequently used in both disciplines. This is where the subject focuses on one part of the body relaxing, before methodically moving down or up to the next part. Creative visualizations, such as imagining you are strolling past a quiet lake, are also used in both hypnosis and meditation. So what is the difference?
Meditation is commonly described as the absence of all thought. Practitioners aim to have a still mind, free from conscious thought. If any conscious thoughts in words enter your mind, you must find a way of making them disappear. Often repeating mantras or focusing on something such as breathing or specific images can help accomplish this. You can find lots of resources online to know how to perform mindfulness meditation.
Hypnotherapy is aimed at a specific therapeutic outcome. This might be weight loss, quitting smoking, removing phobias, etc. At the beginning of a hypnotherapy session, the hypnotherapist may employ some meditation-like techniques in order to quiet down the conscious part of the mind. Once the chattering conscious mind is still, they are then most able to give the subconscious part of the mind pre-agreed therapeutic suggestions.
So both a hypnosis session and a meditation session might lead you to a relaxing guided visualization on a calming tranquil beach, but a hypnosis session will then use this state of mind to suggest a therapeutic change to the subconscious mind. The meditator will receive their benefit purely from the stillness of mind and the relaxation they experience.
Making Hypnosis Work For You
After the meditation-like stage, a good hypnotherapist will use imagery and metaphor in order to best communicate with the subconscious mind, to facilitate effective change. It is the subconscious part of the mind that is responsible for how we act; our personal drives and habits are initiated from here.
That is why you can tell a friend or family member as many times as you like that smoking is bad for them, though see little change in their habits. Although they may listen, and agree, they do not give up the habit. This is because you only got through to their conscious mind, not their subconscious. So although they may agree with you consciously in words, their subconscious has not received the message and will therefore continue to crave the cigarette or any other vice.
The same thing can be said for phobias. You can explain to someone how harmless a small spider is and it may be blindingly obvious to the person with the fear that they are harmless, on a conscious level that is. However, their unconscious mind will still trigger reactions of fear, sometimes quite severely, simply because it has not received the appropriate message. Hypnotherapy is a means by which you can pass these messages to the subconscious mind effectively.
Ultimately, don’t be fooled into thinking that hypnosis is, therefore, superior because it adds another level to the act of meditation. Great insight can be gained by simply having a quiet, still, mind. Many artistic and scientific creations have been made while in meditative states.
Perhaps the most famous example is where Archimedes was in a bath, relaxing when he suddenly leaps from the bath shouting “Eureka, I‘ve found it!” What occurred is that he made a mathematical discovery without consciously trying. The answer just popped into his mind because he was pleasantly and calmly relaxed. Many musicians, from classical to contemporary, have also reported whole pieces of music just popping into their minds when they were relaxing, or even sleeping. The mind, just like the body, works better when allowed adequate rest. Meditation is an excellent way to give the mind a break so that it can work more efficiently.
Hypnosis and meditation can both be used for effective personal growth and development You may simply need to decide which word sits most comfortably with you. If meditation is a more palatable word for you, then meditate. However, if you need more guidance, or the thought of the word meditation brings up fearful thoughts of you sitting in the lotus position for hours upon end, then maybe hypnosis is the better option for you.
I would, however, encourage anyone with an interest in one of these disciplines to at least try both. You may just open up a whole new world of possibilities for yourself, and allow yourself to draw from a greater fountain for your spiritual and physical wellbeing.
About the Author
Jon Rhodes is a clinical hypnotherapist from the UK and a former professional musician. He became qualified as a clinical hypnotherapist from the London College Of Clinical Hypnotherapy.