Why is a hypnotherapist preaching about meditation?
My last few blog posts have been about meditation. In September I will be holding beginner’s meditation classes. But as a hypnotist why am I preaching meditation? Moreover, are meditation and hypnosis the same?
Simply, I view them as the same state of mind. Used differently, hypnosis and meditation have subtle differences, which I will continue to explain. Above all my experience of hypnosis gives me a good ability to meditate and encourage others to do the same.
Similarities between hypnosis and meditation
Hypnosis and meditation use techniques to control the regulation of the mind and body. To achieve the state of mind required for both hypnosis and meditation there is an induction based on focused attention. When the mind is in a meditative or hypnotic state the user has the capability to be in control of their body and mind. There is a change in the activity of the brain. Science has shown this change to be similar for meditative states and hypnotic states. Within the two modalities there are different techniques and intents that give different brain patterns. The overlapping of the two is relevant enough to suggest that meditation and hypnosis are “two sides of the same coin”. (Facco, 2017)
Now outdated, the dictionary definition of hypnosis gives the impression that hypnosis leaves the user out of control and without free will. As a result, in 1993 the American Psychological Association started to create a scientific definition. Currently this is,
“A state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterized by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion.” (Division 30, 2020)
This suggests that both hypnosis and meditation achieve a state of focused attention and absorption which generates an increase in the self-control of the user.
Difference between hypnosis and meditation
Hypnosis is generally used for therapeutic purposes whilst Eastern meditation has a more philosophical and existential use. However, tn Western societies meditation is becoming popular as a wellbeing tool. With the intention of reducing anxiety and stress in our fast-paced World. Regular meditative practice gives a moment of calm when everything else is buzzing around. Meditation is traditionally used to climb the ladder of self-development, transcending the ego. Buddhists seek enlightenment. Hypnosis, when not on a stage, enables change.
As hypnosis is more often used as a therapeutic tool it comes with a ‘guide’ – the hypnotist. The hypnotist uses suggestions in a therapeutic way to achieve a goal. Beginners of meditation will benefit from a guide also but through regular practise will start using the technique alone. When a guided meditation the goal is more likely to revolve around acceptance and letting go. The two states of mind are almost identical, and a hypnosis session often results in the same state of mind. A regular user of hypnosis will have experience enough to use it alone. At this point the similarities between meditation and hypnosis become so intertwined the difference is merely in the intent.
There is little research into the similarities and differences between meditation and hypnosis. One study has compared Śamatha meditation, Vipaśyanā meditation, hypnotic relaxation, and hypnotic absorption. Śamatha meditation focuses on calming the body, this can be through counting breaths. There is a focusing on a concept rather than reality. The purpose of vipaśyanā meditation is insight or clearing the mind. There is a focus on the physical reality with attention on one or more aspects of the mental or physical experience in the moment, always without judgement.
The study shows correlations between the four different practices and the activity in the brain. Concluding that
“Hypnosis and meditation belong to two different worlds, and their differences may reflect cultural factors, that is, definitions, aims, indications, and managing, rather than intrinsic, incompatible differences: One has to wonder whether they are really different “things” or, rather, they are different ways of managing the same essential, remarkable abilities of the human mind, misunderstood and prejudicially refused for centuries by Western rationalistic and mechanistic perspective.” (Facco, 2017)
The final sentence of the same study is a powerful way for me to conclude this blog post.
“If meditation and hypnosis involve a complex and powerful plastic mind activity, their differences may be more cultural than neuropsychological in nature: If this is the case, relevant aspects of meditation and its philosophical implications, once recognized, might be implemented in the world of hypnosis.” (Facco, 2017)
I challenge myself and my thoughts regularly. Therefore, in my work I seek exploration. Always questioning why? And whether you have made a true inquiry into the self or given a society generated answer. I believe that I can step away from the implications of society on our culture and implement the devotion into exploration of the inner world that Eastern philosophies have conducted over the past 2000 years.
Beginner’s Meditation classes booking now
Gary Elkins. (2020) Contemplative Practices and Hypnosis: Emerging Perspectives and Future Directions. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis 68:2, pages 139-143.
About Division 30. (2020). Retrieved 28 July 2020, from https://www.apadivisions.org/division-30/about#:~:text=Definition%20and%20Description%20of%20Hypnosis&text=Hypnosis%3A%20A%20state%20of%20consciousness,procedure%20designed%20to%20induce%20hypnosis.
Facco, Enrico. (2017). Meditation and Hypnosis: Two Sides of the Same Coin?. The International journal of clinical and experimental hypnosis. 65. 169-188. 10.1080/00207144.2017.1276361.