Nashville has been referred to as the “Belt-buckle of the Bible Belt.” With as many Christians and different denominations as are present in this town, I often run into people whose faith is very important to them. Since Nashville is a growing and increasingly more diverse town, it’s no surprise that I meet people whose faith manifests in a variety of ways. Now I believe self-hypnosis and meditation to be an increasingly more essential health practice. I want everyone in Nashville to know that these practices can bless their lives in a wonderful variety of ways, even if that means that I have to tell every single person myself. In the process of talking to so many people, I meet a few Christians who are under the impression that hypnosis conflicts with their beliefs. Since I was a Bible major in undergrad, I was intellectually attracted to the idea of making a case for hypnosis and Christianity working quite well together.
Before I go any further, I believe a disclaimer is merited: I don’t care what you believe. The goal of this blog post is not to change your beliefs but to challenge the both of us intellectually. If you are unable to handle contrasting opinions from both sides of the spectrum, you might as well not continue reading. I’m not going to pretend to not be biased about my perspective since I am a professional hypnotherapist. However, I understand that hypnosis and meditation are foreign and thus uncomfortable concepts to some, just as Christianity may be to others. It is not my intention to disrespect anyone’s beliefs, nor do I desire to cause polarity between the two subjects. On the contrary, I’d like to bring the ideologies together.
Some Christians’ Case Against Hypnosis
I truthfully believe that in order to be able to make a case for an opinion, you should be able to make a decent argument for its opposition. How would you truly know where you stand on an issue if you haven’t examined it from multiple angles? For that reason, I have compiled what I believe to be the strongest arguments there are in opposition to hypnosis, and these arguments will be the angle from which I make my case: that hypnosis and Christianity may in fact complement each other. I’ll be pulling from the Bible, arguments I’ve heard from others, and my study of psychology and hypnosis to make my points.
Argument 1: I shouldn’t put my mind in another person’s control.
This is one of the most common arguments for a Christian against hypnosis, and unfortunately, it only shows how little the person understands about hypnosis. First of all, everyone is can be manipulated, and you are given what I would consider hypnotic suggestions all the time. When you break it down, hypnosis is really just about attention and suggestion. When you watch a commercial and you get excited about a product or something the ad is saying to you, you enter into a mild hypnotic state. The marketing industry spends billions of dollars a year researching the best ways to appeal to your mind. So here’s how I like to put it: You’re already hypnotized, you might as well have a say in that process.
Secondly, despite the fact that you mind is constantly being over-loaded with hypnotic suggestions, you are responsible what comes into you mind, and no one else. Colossians 3:2 says to “Set your mind on things above.” If that’s a verse that you’d like to take seriously, I recommend hypnosis. Jesus himself understood that negativity and evil started from within. In Matthew 5 He discusses Hebrew laws and how the first offence of these Laws is always in your mind. Wouldn’t it stand to reason that if you had an exercise that enabled you to be more intentional about your thoughts Jesus would want you to partake of it?
You have heard the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court…
Matthew 5:21-22 NASB
Argument 2: It puts the focus on me not Jesus.
I have been confronted with the notion that meditation or hypnosis glorifies the self above the Trinity. I might argue that we have been given hypnosis as a tool, and all tools may be used for good or bad. Even scripture has been used to justify horrible things. However, when I read
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:17 NASB
what I understand is that the goal is to find a way to do everything in your life to Jesus’ glory. I know I’m biased, but if you aren’t able to find a means to use hypnosis to the glory of God, that’s the due your lack of creativity not do to the nature of the tool of hypnosis.
Sometimes, hypnosis can be such a powerful tool that people misunderstand it as something supernatural. The reality is, hypnosis is simply a more effective means of communication that is as natural as the sunrise. You enter into a trancelike state multiple times a day, and your unconscious is always working and learning in ways that will never cease to transcend your perception of self. Why would God give us this tool without wanting us to be able to utilize it for His glory? Philippians 3:16 NASB says, “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Meditation is a beautiful tool for doing just that.
Finally, I know everyone isn’t comfortable with this, but hypnosis can be the perfect space to embrace the presence of your Lord. For example, often when some clients are trying to over-come traumatic experiences, they may feel more equipped to handle reliving a memory if they have a strong and loving presence with them telling them it’s all going to be ok. I would understand if you were uncomfortable with the suggestion that the Lord speaks to you during hypnosis, so I would never insist that you interpret your experience as prophecy. However, if Christ does live in you, maybe that could be a wonderful way to experience His presence.
Argument 3: I am more susceptible to evil.
I cannot deny that there is a dark side to hypnosis. It has been taken to extremes as horrible as brainwashing, sure. However, the extreme to which we are all hypnotized is truly out of control. The way that the media, politicians, marketers, and even some religious leaders abuse hypnotic techniques to manipulate the masses is disgusting. As I’ve mentioned, the marketing industry spends billions of dollars a year doing research on the best ways to appeal to you so you will buy the right products. They learn what colors will make you happy or hungry and what sounds will make you feel like a kid again all to get an unconscious response out of you and sway your free will. In the same way, politicians are constantly polling the masses for every little bit of information they may need to win your votes.
The good news is that we have been given the ability to guard ourselves against temptation. In fact, we have been instructed to take control of our thoughts.
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
I Peter 1:13 NASB
The truth is hypnosis, self-hypnosis, trance, conscious, unconscious, etc., they’re all just ideas. Ideas that could be used for good or bad like many things. The Bible may not mention them because they hadn’t defined the experiences in such a way at that point in history. Further, I might suggest that some people might be afraid to experience hypnosis because they may fear that the may have to face the potential for darkness that lies in each of us. Either way, I don’t expect to sway anyone, and I fully understand that hypnosis isn’t for everyone. However, I will suggest that it is belittling of God’s potential to work in your heart to suggest that hypnosis is a tool for evil.