Since I recently wrote about how to start a meditation practice, I thought many might appreciate some insight on how meditation can be different from hypnosis. I choose to look at meditation and hypnosis as virtually synonymous yet completely subjective terms. Hypnotic or meditative experiences are inevitably going to vary from person to person. However, the terms seem to be used in different contexts. So I though I might share my thoughts on how those contexts may define the terms. These are my own thoughts and definitions (inspired by MANY others’). As you may look at the subjects differently, I appreciate any insight you have to offer.
To start from as objective of a place as possible, as far as can be scientifically measured, hypnosis and meditation are virtually the same thing. As mentioned before in Meditation 101, meditation and hypnosis both occur in on a brain wave state known as “Theta,” which occurs right before sleep. Meditation and hypnosis are both shown to help treat physical pain, help you relax, center your mind, and control your thoughts and emotions. As far as what can be measured and scientifically proven, meditation is the same thing as hypnosis.
The differences that I am about to list are purely philosophical. I like to think of meditation as a state of mind and hypnosis as a process for your mind. Hypnosis is more about learning, and meditation is more about simply being. My friend Grace Smith says that hypnosis is “meditation with an objective.” When you sit in meditation, you find that trance state and begin to focus on balance, emptiness, and complete separation of self. Hypnosis utilizes that same process to redirect your unconscious and therefore your life so as to make quick change.
Transitioning into Self-Hypnosis.
Go into that meditative state of mind by focusing on your breath and relaxing your body, as discussed in Meditation 101. Imagine that you are in a special sanctuary. Your sanctuary can be some place in nature, a favorite travel destination, or even an imaginary world where you make all of the rules. Be sure that this is a safe place that you feel comfortable visiting over and over again in your mind. That way, your sanctuary may grow as your self-hypnosis practice does.
The sanctuary can be useful for focusing on what ever you’d like to get out of hypnosis. You can learn to use that space to learn to look at your problems differently or explore you imagination in a way that might help you. I use my sanctuary to come up with most of my blog posts. Your only limitation is your imagination.
I find it’s helpful to make the sanctuary as adaptable as possible. For example, within my sanctuary there is a beach where I can balance my emotions, a dojo where I can connect to my body, a movie theatre where I can engage with memories, and a library where I can leave important knowledge and information I learn. Use everything as a mnemonic device or something to anchor to a thought or emotion.
Engage your senses in every way possible with what you hope to accomplish. I like to start by completely separating my mind from my body. I make every limb feel heavier and more relaxed. Sometimes I even try to focus on an itch, and then relax that part of my body until the itch falls away. Then, when the time comes for you to focus on your goal, engage every sense and idea you can. If your goal is to feel motivated, remember a time in the past when you were motivated. How does motivation feel kinesthetically? How does it sound or look? You may be visual, auditory, or kinesthetic in the way you prefer to learn. Either way, connect to your objective with any sense you can. Sometimes you may not get visuals, but you connect to the experience emotionally or even intuitively. That is fine, as well.
If your brain is the world’s most powerful supercomputer, you’re going to have to rewrite its software all the time. That’s what hypnosis is for, but it doesn’t stop there. Use hypnosis to convince yourself that you are successful (be sure to have an idea about what success means to you), and watch your life change around you. Success is all a matter of perception, and your very perception of something will enable your reality to shift. However, with all the distractions we’re faced with on a daily basis, we often lose focus of whom we should be choosing to be. That’s why it’s important to keep your practice consistent.
Keep a trance journal. Before you go into trance, write what you hope to focus on. When you come out, reflect on your experience. It doesn’t have to be detailed (in fact it’s easier to start simple), but it will be a useful tool for tracking your improvement not only within your hypnosis practice, but also within your life. This practice will become more interesting and complex with time, but it’s important to remember to practice consistently. Nothing will feel more encouraging than being able to look back on what you have achieved through your practice. In doing so, you’ll be able to learn that you have what it takes to over-come any obstacle or to tackle any goal.