Meditation vs. Hypnosis – What’s the difference?

meditation vs hypnosisOne of the common questions I get, particularly from meditators is “What’s the difference between hypnosis and meditation?” They also sometimes ask, “Can’t I just meditate my way to health?”

Here’s my answer – “Well, of course you can meditate! You can meditate any time you like for as long as you like! Has that fixed the problem you’re struggling with?”

Let’s look at history briefly. Meditation has been around for thousands of years, thousands! Hypnosis, as we currently know it, came on the scene in the late 1800’s as far as we know.

Here’s how the dictionary (Mirriam-Webster) defines meditation:

Definition of meditate. intransitive verb. 1 : to engage in contemplation or reflection He meditated long and hard before announcing his decision. 2 : to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.

And Hypnosis is defined as “1: trancelike state that resembles sleep but is induced by a person whose suggestions are readily accepted by the subject.  2any of various conditions that resemble sleep
Milton Erickson is considered one of the modern (as in this century) fathers of hypnosis. He defined hypnosis as, “a state of consciousness — not unconsciousness or sleep — a state of consciousness or awareness in which there is a marked receptiveness to ideas and understandings and an increased willingness to respond either positively or negatively to those ideas.”

So are they related?

Somewhat. You move into the same brain wave states in meditation and hypnosis which is Alpha or Theta brain wave states. You can sometimes go down to Delta even, which is the deepest brain wave state. Both techniques can enable someone to achieve a deep state of relaxation and an increase in their ability to focus or concentrate or gain insight.

But meditation is more about being mindful. It’s a practice that you do over and over again which helps change your brain, calm your mind, reduce anxiety and has all kinds of documented benefits with as little as 8-12 weeks of daily meditation.

Hypnosis is goal-oriented. We also use relaxation to slow down the brain waves and quiet the mind. When that happens, we’re able to make changes more easily in the brain and mind (and heart and soul!). The focusing of our minds allows us to be more receptive to hypnotic suggestions which are always made with your benefit and with your goals in mind. It is in this hypnotic, trance state that you can reprogram subconscious beliefs and behaviors that are getting in your way of changing your conscious behavior. All kinds of areas of the brain activate under hypnosis. I did a brief summary of them in this blog post: Pain Reduction with Hypnosis – Is it Real?

Another way they’re related

If you meditate regularly, you can often more easily go right into a hypnotic trance. You can generally do it faster than someone who never meditates or never does any kind of focused activity.  It’s not a guarantee, but just an observation.

Yeah, but does Hypnosis work?

People often think that hypnosis will only work if they “believe” in it or say something like, “I don’t think it will work.” A very well-known hypnotherapist, Steve Andreas, said, “I don’t care if you think it will work. I don’t do faith healing. I do scientific things and things that will work.”

And the key question is, “If it DID work, will that be ok with you?”

Dr. Liz - Hypnosis for IBS

Although my office is in Broward county and the Fort Lauderdale / South Florida area, I work with people all over the world. To see if we’re a good fit to work together, schedule your free consultation at 954-309-9071 or using the link below.

Yours in health,
Dr. Liz

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