Hypnosis vs. Meditation
Imagine, sense and feel that...
you are walking out in the forest. It's a vibrant Autumn day,
the crimson and golden leaves rustle in the wind and glisten in the sun...
Most of us delight in the exquisite beauty of autumn as the precious hush of winter looms just around the corner. For everything there is a season, and this is the time of year when nature is both winding down and storing up.
We can wind down and counteract the effects of daily life stress through mindfulness practices such as meditation, hypnosis, qigong, yoga and more. Most of us rely upon a combination of these modalities and have our favorites. A common question I receive regarding hypnosis and meditation is...
"Are hypnosis and meditation the same?"
Physiologically, there is no difference between hypnosis and meditation. Studies using electroencephalograms (EEGs) track, evaluate and record the electrical activity in the brain in the form of brain wave patterns, and show that the brain wave changes are identical with hypnosis and meditation.
In both hypnosis and meditation, we're using techniques designed to clear the mind of extraneous mental chatter. We want to let that monkey mind take a nap! One of the ways we do this is by giving the mind something else to rest upon.
As you walk down that forest path you can smell the fresh cool air, and you revel
in the warm sensation of the sun on your face. With each number I count you move
further down that path, going deeper relaxed... 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1...
One exception to this idea of clearing the mind by filling it with something else is the Zen meditation practice of zazen. Zazen is the absence of thought altogether.
...let your mind be filled with nothingness...
For anyone who's tried it, you know that letting your mind be filled with "nothingness" is not as easy as it sounds! Yet, the pure clarity, intuition and peace that is accessed through that state is profound. Guided meditation, guided imagery and hypnosis imagery techniques can all offer the same benefits as zazen, yet it can be easier to give that monkey mind something else to do rather than stop thinking entirely. For anyone who's attempted to redirect the undesirable behavior of a puppy, a kitten or a child, you know exactly what I mean! Redirecting is effective.
Often what is called "guided meditation" is what we hypnotherapists call "healing imagery." Hypnosis techniques in general are designed to help with concentration, fixation, resting the mind on an object or sensation, etc, and as a result, hypnosis does help improve any type of meditation practice. Having any type of meditation practice can help a person be hypnotized as well.
Most meditation teachers attach spiritual philosophy to their practices. Such teachings include the right use of mind, right action, compassion, forgiveness and the power of love. Many of our well-researched, modern day "mindfulness" practices stem from ancient teachings and practices that have stood the test of time. In hypnotherapy we have a philosophy as well, and it is that...
Our superconscious level of awareness lies at the core of our being, and it constitutes our connection to Spirit* and our own true nature.**
When we traverse the superconscious, we experience beingness, unity consciousness,
and our innate, natural states of compassion,
forgiveness, wisdom, intuition, joy, peace and pure love.
The superconscious level of awareness, or superconscious mind, is accessible through hypnosis, meditation, deep prayer, chanting, etc. Awakening to our true nature is not a special state of consciousness - it is a human being's return to original essence. The experience of this, no matter how fleeting, can have a powerful, positive impact on life.
"So what are the differences between hypnosis and meditation?"
There are blocks to the superconscious state; blocks to us having a stable and integrated experience of our true essence. The residue of past experiences that the mind acquires functions like a distorted lens and prevents us from seeing things as they truly are. Many of those residues or blocks lie below our conscious level of awareness - we don't know they are there, or we don't know what they are. Yet, we can see that the picture is clouded by residues because we're not seeing and experiencing life as that joyful, calm, loving and peaceful person.
Hypnotherapy clears those blocks or old residues so you can consciously experience superconscious states. Hypnotherapy clears false or limiting self-thoughts or beliefs so you can experience less anxiousness or fear, etc, and more self-love, opening the doorway for true, universal love.
Now see, sense and feel those dark clouds lift and disappear completely...
You feel lighter and freer...
There's a growing confidence inside of you...
In short, hypnosis is meditation with a specific goal. More specifically, what distinguishes hypnosis or hypnotherapy from meditation is the content and the application. In hypnotherapy, we apply very specific content (carefully crafted language and imagery) to assist a person in reaching their goal. In medical support hypnotherapy, we apply specific healing imagery and instructions for the body to heal itself in a specific way. In all hypnotherapy, we apply specific content and clear blocks so a person can awaken to their true nature and feel more joy, love and happiness in their life.
"I can meditate on my own. Can I do hypnosis by myself?"
Yes. All hypnosis is self-hypnosis, whether another person is guiding you or not. Hypnotherapy sessions are short-term, goal-infused catalysts for positive change. I make it a goal of mine to teach all of my clients self-hypnosis methods so that they can continue to clear their own blocks and create positive changes on their own.
Another way to do self-hypnosis is to use self-hypnosis audios. They are similar to guided imagery or meditation, but they apply specific content to address specific goals. There is also the added benefit of being able to listen to them every day! These types of audios can be general audios designed to speak to a wide range of people, or they can be personalized and precise, which are especially powerful.
In whatever way you choose, may you reach beyond the trials of this dualistic world and into the delights of your superconscious, filling in the breaches of your understanding of your own beautiful essence.
May your heart be blessed with the sweet experience of your own true nature,
* There are many words for "God." Spirit is one of them. Other words Allah, Yahweh, Higher Power, Source, Prime Source, The Great Spirit, the Divine, the Beloved, the Atman, etc. Feel free to edit the statement using your own preferred language.
** Similarly, there are many words pointing to our "soul." True nature is one of them. Other words include essence, Higher Self, Greater Self, True Identity, divine nature, spirit, eternal self, etc. Feel free to edit the statement using your own preferred language.