As a long time practitioner of both mediation and self-hypnosis, questions people often ask me are, “What’s better, meditation or self-hypnosis? Are meditation and hypnosis just two different terms for the same thing or are they completely different?”
Maybe you are wondering the same thing.
There are no cut and dry answer to these questions. If you read my books, Modern Mindfulness and Mindful Mastery, you’ll find that there are many types of meditation. Some can be quite similar to self-hypnosis, while others are certainly not. The bottom line is, used properly and consistently, both are effective tools.
Let’s take a quick look at both of them.
Meditation or Self-Hypnosis?
What comes to mind when you hear the word meditation? Do you visualize a yogi or monk sitting quietly in solitude? Do you imagine sitting in a lotus position for hours at a time?
How about when you consider self-hypnosis? Maybe you think of a psychologist helping a patient work through past trauma. If you’re like many people, you visualize a stage hypnotist from a high school assembly that made some of your fellow students cluck like chickens. Perhaps you’ve visited a hypnotherapist in your community.
No matter your experience, the question may not be mediation or hypnosis. The real question is what is the situation are you going to apply it to?
Consider these differences between self-hypnosis and meditation:
1. What its Purpose?
While you might meditate with a very specific outcome in mind, usually meditation has a more general outcome in mind. This goal is usually about understanding the how your mind works, in other words understanding how it doesn’t like to stay in one place, but rather, like a monkey, jump from place to place.
Meditation, especially mindful meditation can help you tame your monkey mind. This will help you reduce the occurrence and influence of random thoughts.
Self-hypnosis is more purposeful. Think of it as a technology you can use to work on particular life issues. For example, a person who wants to quit smoking or become more a more confident public speaker. Self-hypnosis is used to help you become more open to positive suggestions or affirmations to help you through a particular situation or issue.
Self-hypnosis, and its cousin, NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming, are tools used to overcome phobias. change your attitude about wealth, or to develop good eating and exercise habits.
A great use of self-hypnosis is to find creative solutions for specific problems. For example, finding a solution to a complex life dilemma, such as a relationship issue.
So as you can see, it’s not mediation or self-hypnosis, but rather, what’s your purpose?
2. Where is Your Attention?
Most meditation focuses on a fixed point or object. For example, focusing on your breath, a spot on the wall, or a mantra that you repeat.
What you’re doing is attempting to keep your attention on one single focal point. As your thoughts stray, as they always do, your objective is to return your attention to the focal point. This provides insight into how your mind works and helps to develop your focus.
In comparison, self-hypnosis frequently involves following a story, such as confidently going through a social situation. What you’re doing in the situation, your positive experiences, are the objective of your focus. The experience you go through IS the benefit.
Here’s why you would use self-hypnosis. If you imagine doing well in a social situation before going through it, it is much more likely you will be able to navigate it successfully. Athletes also use self-hypnosis to imagine themselves successfully competing.
Self-hypnosis helps you to change your normal perception and perspective. When you change your perspective, you experience things differently and in ways that might not be available to you in everyday life. This can change your results.
So again, it’s not meditation or self-hypnosis but where are you trying to put your attention?
3. Is it Guided or Non-Guided?
You can experience meditation by yourself or guided by someone else. For example, some yoga classes include guided meditation to wind the class down.
By definition, self-hypnosis is non-guided because you are doing it to yourself. However, many people use hypnosis audio recordings in their self-hypnosis sessions. So whether or not this is guided is up for debate.
Going to a live hypnotherapist certainly is not self-hypnosis. The hypnotherapist guides you, with your permission, through a scenario that helps you achieve your desired outcome.
If you’d like help with either, you can use audio recordings. With a little research, you can find many audio programs that can help you with your meditation or self-hypnosis practices. When purchasing these remember, buyer beware. The quality of these recordings varies tremendously.
Meditation or Self-hypnosis – Both can Bring You Benefits
There are literally hundreds of studies on meditation and self-hypnosis. A study at the Mayo Clinic found that meditation can be used to quiet your mind, enhance your ability to focus, and decrease the tendency to ruminate about your past. People from all over the world have been using meditation for thousands of years and, when practice regularly, is very effective.
Self-hypnosis can be used like a surgical tool for dealing with challenges in your life. The American Psychological Association has found that self-hypnosis can be used as a to increase confidence, lose weight, quit smoking, or get over your fear of heights
Again, it’s not a matter of what’s best, mediation or self-hypnosis, but rather what you want to achieve. For some people, both can be very effective. Others find that weeks or months are required to see any real benefits from either of them.
So if you want to try practicing meditation or self-hypnosis you may need to give it a few months. Give yourself a timeframe and then measure your results and proceed appropriately.
While self-hypnosis and meditation are not the same things, they are certainly related. There are many types of meditation; some are more similar to self-hypnosis than other types of meditation. My suggestion is using them both and find what works for your situation.
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