The Difference Between Hypnosis and Meditation

Note: All content on this site is provided for informational and educational purposes only, and is not an alternative for qualified medical or mental health care. As Hypnotists, we are not qualified to diagnose or treat mental health disorders.

One of the most common questions I am asked by potential hypnosis clients is “what is the difference between hypnosis and meditation”, and honestly, it’s a difficult question to answer, because there is a lot of overlap.

It can help to first break down meditation into two broad styles:

Mindfulness meditation

This approach focuses more on noticing what is going on. It’s deliberately about awareness and acceptance, recognizing that so much of life is beyond our control, but that it’s generally better to be aware of the true nature of reality instead of being in denial.

Similarly, it’s important to learn not to react instinctively to things – we may have a primal urge to lash out in anger in specific situations, and mindfulness can help us connect to our “higher self” that can experience this anger without reacting.

Imagine, for example, that you’re currently feeling anxious. Mindfulness meditation would have you notice that you feel anxious, become aware of what that feels like in your body and what mind is saying about it, but not actually try to do anything about it. To try to relax, for example, would still be you reacting to the anxiety. In a sense, while in mindful meditation, the goal is often to see meditation as an end unto itself, not a means to any other end (even if there are a lot of great, scientifically-proven benefits that can come from meditating).

Guided or Directed Meditation

Guided meditation, meanwhile, is form of meditation actively tries to get you to a certain place.If you want to increase feelings of joy or compassion in your life, you might deliberately meditate about them. (Studies have shown that meditating on compassion can actually change your brain). Any meditation that includes an affirmation, or even a mantra, is probably trying to help you achieve a certain state.

If you’re feeling anxious and are trying to use meditation to relax, this could be thought of as a guided or directed meditation, a meditation as a means to an end.

Note that you might have guided meditations that help you practice mindfulness meditation too – the key here is that they’ll tell you what to focus on, but not invite you to feel a certain thing. The act of trying to cultivate a certain emotion, would not be a mindful act.

Hypnosis as Guidance for Growth

When it comes to hypnosis, or our modality of hypnosis assisted healing, we definitely err on the side of Guided Meditations. We deliberately invite you to feel certain positive feelings during the process, and to help you achieve certain emotional states.

This is both because it can be harder to achieve these states on your own than to simply notice what is going on in your body (mindfulness). So if you’re connecting with a hypnosis practitioner, the best use of our time together is to help you achieve mind-states and emotional states that you may not have realized you were capable of. Our goal to help you tap into new experiences, and for that we take the role of guides who direct through suggestion.

At the same time, we do incorporate several principles from mindfulness meditation as well. We strive to bring awareness to your body, and to accept what is currently happening in your body as a baseline, before we move to change anything. Acceptance of what is, is a huge step towards healing, and we support you in embracing life as it is, not as you want it to be, including any grief or disappointment that might come with that.

Differences between Hypnosis and Meditation

So if hypnosis is so similar to meditation, what is the difference?

There are few inherent differences between hypnotherapy and meditation. That said, hypnosis offers a range of creative techniques to help you enter the hypnotic state, and a hypnotist can work closely with you to really go deep into anything that might be holding you back. So whereas if you did a guided meditation around positive emotions on your own you might reach a certain point before you hit some sort of emotional block, a hypnotist practicing hypnosis assisted healing might help you quickly overcome that block (which could be a lot harder to do on your own)  and help you feel those same feelings more deeply in a shorter period of time.

Of course, the good news is, once you’ve achieved a certain state or practiced a technique with the guidance of a hypnotist, you can return it far more easily on your own. This is called self-hypnosis, and a good hypnotist will often devote some time in each session making sure that you know how to apply the same technique, such as rapid relaxation or achieve a certain positive “resource” state that you find supportive, more quickly and easily.

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