Hypnosis And Meditation: The Difference And Why It Matters
Last week, I was excited to be invited again to deliver 3 workshops art Cardiff University as part of their Positive Heath and Environment Week (PHEW). I lead workshops on “The Life Coaching Experience” and “The Hypnotherapy Experience”. We had a lot of fun and it was encouraging to for professionals the opportunity to learn new skills, “destress” and see how quickly they could absorb some of the fundamental of self-hypnosis.
A question came up:
“Is hypnosis the same as meditation?”
So I thought it be helpful to examine some of the distinctions. I’m a fan of meditation and mindfulness techniques and they are related to hypnosis, if not distant cousins! But there are some significant differences.
The Fundamentals of Hypnosis
Hypnosis can be defined as the bypassing the critical factor of the conscious mind. One of the signs of hypnosis can be trance, and trance is the focused state where you are paying attention to one thing or set of things to the exclusion of all else – or with much less concentration to place elsewhere.
A good hypnotist will teach you self-hypnosis, so you have a skill for life to take away, and so you can participate in your sessions and help accelerate the results you wish to see in your life.
The first step is usually to learn to relax deeply, so you can have the experience of full body relaxation. As one of my mentors says, “hypnosis is not the same as deep relaxation,” but it is usually helpful to give you an experience of how quickly you can change states. So, in my workshops I tend to help you attain a deep level quickly and reliably, and show you how to deepen this by yourself. Later on, you learn approaches to deepen relaxation.
That’s the first step.
On the face of it, this might seem like meditation. Except that meditation is about focusing your mind on a mantra or breathing for the purpose of …well…having the discipline to focus on it and repeat the exercise enough to either continue doing it or end “mind chatter”.
I started meditation in 2014, and have used a variety of disciplines and traditions over the years. I think it can both hinder and help with hypnosis: it helps you learn to focus on breathing and your inner body, but inevitably what you learn from a tradition can become laid upon something fundamentally different like hypnosis: changing behaviours through influencing your subconscious mind.
With hypnosis, it is what happens next that is so powerful.
For example, in hypnosis, you can learn to switch your conscious mind off to a large degree, so you accept powerful new suggestions of change. You always choose to do this and do this on your own terms, in a clinical setting.
Imagine what it would be like to be able to give yourself suggestions to “exercise more”, “sleep better” or “Eat healthily”.
It is possible, but if only it was that simple. One of the reasons I teach self-hypnosis, am currently developing a course on it, and I wrote my latest book Fearless Fasting to teach self-hypnosis in more detail than you will find anywhere else, is because very few people can actually do this. Most CDs and books out there with a hypnotherapy recording are at best going to take you a light hypnotic state, which is next to useless for programming your inner mind.
Why Being Active Matters
You have to be an ACTIVE participant to get the most from hypnosis. And that quality of activity and participation involve understanding suggestions, the subconscious mind and how you can influence it. I spend a lot of time in Fearless Fasting teaching you how to align your conscious and subconscious mind because it is vital for your success.
If you just attended an introductory workshop, then you would see the similarity with yoga and meditation of focusing on breathing, body awareness and deep states of relaxation…but it is what you can do once you deepen that state. Remember, that we are not so much interested in your ability to do this as bypass the critical factor of your mind.
By the way, that’s the part of your conscious mind that says, “This is hard to do.” It is also the part that questions a new process where you are going beyond the conscious mind and developing trust in a wider intelligence inside you. Meditators also experience the same problems with their inner minds questioning, judging, analysing and trying to compare new experiences with something that probably doesn’t bear comparison!
You can completely bypass self-talk and get into a deeper state, that state of wonderful pure connection where you can influence yourself through suggestion. It is also a deeply healing state where you allow your body to become refreshed, as you stay open to the idea of…new ideas coming in…and being planted like seeds. Like seeds, they need watering!
Imagine this: you have a problem or habit you want to change, or something you want to achieve. You drop quickly and easily into a state. You then effortless are able to program your mind. You have a clear set of steps (a protocol) to follow. You notice positive changes showing up in your day to day life.
Now, stop for a minute.
What Can Hypnosis Do For You?
When I work with clients, this deep relaxation and bypassing the critical factor of the conscious mind is only the first step. I will then use a variety of tools to help:
- Remove anxiety and phobias through NLP and hypnotic regression
- Help install new patterns of positive behaviour through story and metaphor
- Help you remember and access times when you have done well and felt really good so these can show you in your day to day life
- Release the root cause of trauma
- Deal with conflicting parts inside
One of the reasons I took a long time over my book, apart from all the case studies and research, is it is the first book to show you how to align your conscious mind and subconscious to use hypnosis effectively to make changes. I focus on weight loss but you could use Fearless Fasting to make any changes you want because the process is the same:
- Condition yourself to deep relaxation (this is where the similarity to yoga and meditation begins and ends)
- Learn to drop into the deep state at will
- Condition this over a period of weeks
- After a couple of weeks, learn how to create and apply suggestions
- Learn how to apply the latest research on using your imagination and visualisation for overcoming obstacles
Hypnosis: The Power of Intent
A crucial difference between mediation and hypnosis is intent: in meditation the intent is either to have no intent or to learn the discipline of focusing!
In hypnosis, we always have a specific purpose and outcome (developing new behaviours, patterns of thinking and feeling).
Once we learn how to attain hypnosis reliably and comfortably, which a hypnotist can help you achieve starting with your first session, then we move on to programming your inner mind. This is somewhat at odds with some meditation traditions, which tend to prefer developing the “witness” or “observer”.
However, our outcome is to help you:
- Overcome a phobia
- Remove blocks to success
- Access more creativity
- Change a habit
- Get better results e.g. a great interview to increase likelihood of getting a new job – or doing your best in an exam
Although hypnosis and meditation share more historical origins if you go back far enough, hypnosis can always been used clinically.
It has a proven history for use with:
- Anaesthesia to be able to have dental work or operations without the need for anaesthetics
- Removing phobias and panic attacks
- Helping reduce the effects of tinnitus
Meditation does not aim to offer help in these areas.
Hypnotherapy: Hypnosis in Action
Hypnotherapy is the clinical application of hypnosis, and even the great Sigmund Freud was keen to be able to use hypnosis and could see its benefits. If you could use it to track and clear the originals of psychosomatic problems, then it would have huge benefit over “talking about” problems for years.
However, techniques back then were to slow and poorly developed. Today, we can effectively use regression techniques to remove the problems people are facing. It is a very exciting time to see how much progress a client can make in just a couple of sessions.
Hypnotherapy tends to be a short-term 5 or 10 session deal, sometimes more. Sometimes less. Meditation becomes a discipline for people. However, I personally love that aspect of meditation; it’s just being a parent, author, therapist, blogger and a gazillion other things I don’t have the time. But what I’ve done is take the spirit of that and in my self-hypnosis programs I show clients and fans how to get into that state, derive immense benefit from doing it for even a couple of minutes, and the give themselves suggestions in a way that makes them more likely to be accepted by their subconscious mind.
Yoga, meditation any of these things can have significant benefits. But when you are stuck with a very real fear, phobia or anxiety, you might want consider something that can move you forward with purpose.
Is it for everyone?
4 Reasons Hypnosis May Not Be For You
Why not? Well, for one thing, hypnosis ends excuses. You get face to face with the techniques and tools that will transform you and the question becomes “What next?”
Secondly, you learn to be more “accountable” than ever before and take full responsibility for yourself. Once you have made the changes and know the tools, there is no reason whatsoever to continue with old problems and not get on with your life.
Thirdly, you have to learn new skills and play your part. The hypnotherapist is showing you how to take control of your mind. This is a good thing, and it requires commitment and perseverance on your part.
Finally, you have to be willing to embrace and try something new, something that will a bit awkward at first. The best part is that you have failed with the old ways to making progress, so trying something radically different in approach is a mart this. Especially when you can talk to, ask questions or try out some products with the hypnotherapist, coach and author – for free!
It is true. You have nothing to lose by considering new options. You don’t want to rush in. But it is important not consider forever.
If you have read this far, and you have questions, use the contact form and drop me a line. Let me know what your problem and outcome is. I will read and respond to you. If it is helpful to others, your questions might even form part of a blog post. And sign up to get a free recording and so we can stay in touch. This is an area where the folk who get the most benefit and the most progress are often the ones who take the greatest amount of time to learn “What is hypnosis” and “What can it do for me?” Hypnosis is so much more than meditation, yet it can complement it wonderfully.
One last thought: I’ve seen clients who make massive progress with hypnosis. And often the most committed ones are doing whatever they can. They want to become more confident: they have their sessions, but they have already booked on a yoga class or a mindfulness class. They are joining a social group to try a new hobby and they are taking time to engage with friends on Facebook. They are already demonstrating to their subconscious mind that they are serious about change! It is a fantastic thing to see. Then hypnosis is something that gives them an edge that is…very powerful. It is also a smart thing to do.
A client recently came to see me with panic attacks. She had booked counselling , a mindfulness class and a singing workshop prior to coming. She had her plan in place. She was ready. She wanted to learn hypnosis. And she understood that it was different, powerful it that the power ultimately came in how she was willing to apply what she learned and how she was willing to use her mind. Her progress was next to miraculous: fears gone in some areas and reduced in others; ability to deal with tough personal circumstances and the opportunity for promotion started to appear.
Imagine what you could do if you fully had the skills to release past limitations and build great behavioural flexibility, new habits and a deeper sense of confidence. You have earned the right to a better life. So, if hypnosis sounds like it might help you, please get in contact. Don’t wait another 5 years, and look back thinking, “I wish I had acted sooner.” I’ll listen, and am happy to offer you feedback on what you could do and whether hypnosis might be right for you.Google+