Is meditation like hypnosis?
Hypnosis is defined by The American Psychological association as “A state of consciousness involving focused attention and reduced peripheral awareness characterised by an enhanced capacity for response to suggestion” (Elkins, Barabasz, Council, & Spiegal, 2015).
In basic terms, it’s a way of communicating with the unconscious mind. Its a state in which you become less interested in what is going on around you (although you are very much aware of it) with an increased experience on what is going on for you, inside your mind. This opportunity allows you to alter and re-frame your mind-set due to the enhanced capacity for suggestion under hypnosis. This leads to a sense of empowerment for the individual as they are making the correct changes for them.
As a hypnotherapist it isn’t me that goes in to your mind, takes a peep and changes anything. It is only you that can do that! You are always in complete control of your mind, as hypnotherapists, we make suggestions based upon your experience, wishes and desires, whatever they may be?
When we look at meditation, this is another way for us as individuals to communicate with our unconscious mind and has been the daddy of communicating with our mind for over 2500 years. The more practised at this we become, the better able we are at communicating with the different layers of our unconscious mind (Facco, 2017).
So what about the connection between hypnosis and meditation? Hypnosis provides a great way to manage suffering and pain. When we consider the birth of Buddhism, Siddhartha Gautama, observed the pain and suffering in the world when he sought enlightenment through meditation and the banishment and permanent release from suffering.
The common aim for both meditation and hypnosis is, the reliving of suffering and pain through the mind and body connection. With each requiring focused attention, concentration and absorption (Facco, 2017). Although hypnosis is guided by the hypnotherapist, who provides the suggestions based upon their wants and needs. When an individual is starting out in meditation, many need guidance and support to achieve the right meditative state and indeed, many meditations practices are themselves “guided”.
Both hypnosis and meditation can lead to “having no thoughts”, “being one with everything” and “merging with pure light and energy” (Cardena, 2005). We know through brain imaging work which has taken place in meditation, which demonstrates that particular brain areas light up for an individual in a meditative state. We also know the same is true for individuals in hypnosis, where the constant activation of the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is observed. The ACC is a crucial area in the brain for pain perception, conflict monitoring, arousal attention, cognition (thinking), motivation and movement control and is activated in both meditation and hypnosis (Facco, 2017).
There is definitely an overlap in regards to both meditation and hypnosis, they are both ways at managing the mind and the mind body connection which reflects the plasticity of the mind. So what is plasticity? It’s a wonderful way of the brain being able to change according to what is going on both internally and externally. The way in which people recover from brain injuries, or the way in which we change our habits or the way in which our brain changes from child into adult. The brain can rewire itself as required, this is plasticity.
So, both meditation and hypnosis are about utilising the brains plasticity to reduce suffering and pain (whatever that looks like for us). Our brains are plastic, they change according to our environment both internally and externally. So ensure that you continue to give yourself the right messages, as your “plastic brain” is always listening and changing accordingly.
You just need to ensure that you are changing it in the right way!
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Meditation is one of the maintenance techniques discussed in our new control your anxiety forever e-Learning programme, check it out here.
Cardena, E. (2005). The phenomenology of deep hypnosis: Quiescent and physically active. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 37-59.
Elkins, G., Barabasz, A., Council, J., & Spiegal, D. (2015). Advancing research and practice: The revised APA Division 30 definition of hypnosis . American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, pp. 378-385.
Facco, E. (2017). Meditation and Hypnosis: Two sides of the same coin? International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 169-188.