Meditation Versus Hypnosis-What’s the Difference?

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Meditation Versus Hypnosis–How to Tell Them Apart

By Jocelin Higgins

Meditation has really gained in popularity these past few years. Have you noticed? More and more people are taking time in their day to meditate and it’s not just for Buddhists anymore. Hypnosis is gaining in practice also and is now being seen more of a healing and self-awareness tool than the stage show of yesteryear.  Meditation versus hypnosis, let’s take a look. How are they the same, how are they different?

A Little History: When Each Began

Both hypnosis and meditation have been around for quite some time. The practice of hypnosis dates back to the 1880’s when coined by the Scottish surgeon, James Braid; meditation on the other hand, began even earlier about 500 B.C. by Siddartha Gautama Buddha.

The Similarities of the Two

Let’s start with their similarities. Both of these practices are about getting into a state of relaxation. When you are either meditating or practicing self-hypnosis, you are training your mind to focus, relax and your breathing to go deeper. In the process, your brain waves begin to slow down. They go from a waking state of Beta down into Alpha, a mild trance and then into Theta, a much deeper state of consciousness where a person is able to gain insight and tap into a higher vibration.

Both meditation and self-hypnosis can get a person to these states and in either of them, you feel very present in the moment as well as relaxed and clear minded.

The Differences Between Them

The difference between these two relaxation and healing practices is about where your focus is and what is your intention. While the experiences are very similar in that your brain waves alter in both, each has specific purposes.

The purpose of meditation is to quiet the mind and gain mindfulness to let go of anger, fear, stress, pain and whatever else is bothering you. You may passively receive creative ideas to apply to your life or insights from within on how to approach a certain problem or situation. Thich Nhat Hanh stated it well, when he said, “Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”  You are finding emotional and spiritual health. This is from the book, The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation.

Hypnosis, whether it be self-hypnosis or guided hypnosis is more outcome driven.  While a person meditates day after day just for the sake of doing it, the purpose of hypnosis is to enter into the subconscious to heal the mind and heart by changing automatic responses.

It is to identify the reasons why people act in ways that they don’t want to and find a way to change these habits to more positive ones. It follows the presupposition that the basis of behavior is buried in the subconscious mind and it is unknown to the conscious mind, unless it is accessed through the use of hypnosis.  By becoming hypnotized, a subject can gain a better understanding of a problem and a trained hypnotherapist can reprogram the subconscious mind to respond in a different, healthier way.

Thus, a client will go into a hypnosis session with a specific issue or problem to address and a specific outcome to reach (examples: to give up smoking, let go of excess weight, learn how to deal with depression or suicidal thoughts) . With trust in the process, the client will have either made progress toward this goal or have reached it entirely. A wonderful book on the subject is called, Hypnotherapy: A Client-Centered Approach.

Gaining Spiritual and Emotional Health

As you can see, both meditation and hypnosis share a common experience of slowing the brain waves and shifting consciousness but differ in their purposes and expected outcomes.

Well, I hope this post was educational to you and helped clarify any confusion that you previously had between the two. Please feel free to post a comment below. I’d love to hear your insights as well.

Namaste. Happy breathing and much enjoyment in your altered states as you are finding spiritual and emotional health.

Works Cited

Grayson, Jenna. “Jenna Grayson The Difference Between Hypnosis and Meditation.” YouTube. YouTube, 23 July 2012. Web. 02 Feb. 2015.

“James Braid (surgeon).” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 02 Feb. 2015.

“Meditation.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Feb. 2015. Web. 30 Jan. 2015.

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10 thoughts on “Meditation Versus Hypnosis-What’s the Difference?

  1. tom

    Hi Jocelin,
    A very interesting post. I have never tried hypnosis, but I do meditate on a regular basis. I find meditation helps to keep me centered and at times gives me an answer to a question/problem that comes up in life. God Bless…Tom

  2. Hi Jocelin

    Great article and it was interesting to know the difference between both meditation and hypnosis.

    I would love to be able to meditate, because it is really good for your health and well being.

    Your site is so inviting!

    Olive

  3. Hi Jocelin- Interesting article and nicely presented. I follow Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings and am praying that he fully recovers from his recent health issue. The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation is a wonderful book and would be a tremendous guide for anyone beginning a meditation practice. Hypnosis is also a great tool for people looking for assistance with health issues. Well done!
    I would like to leave you with a consideration, as I also follow the teachings of Adyashanti and he states in regards to meditation:

    “True meditation has no direction or goal. It is pure wordless surrender, pure silent prayer. All methods aiming at achieving a certain state of mind are limited, impermanent, and conditioned. Fascination with states leads only to bondage and dependency. True meditation is abidance as primordial awareness.” -Adyashanti

    -Tom

  4. Hello Jocelin,

    I really appreciate this post for getting a better understanding of the brain wave activity. My brain wave activity is getting mighty tired, but I did want to drop into your site and see what gems you have created.

    Thanks for the willing provision of information and the insights.

    Linda

    • Linda,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to read the post! I’m so glad that you learned something new about our brain waves. If you want to try some great relaxation audio, click on the “meditate better: Brain Sync” box and it will take you to a recommended site full of helpful sound therapy.
      Cheers,
      Jocelin (:

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