Hypnosis and meditation are both trance states that result in similar brain wave patterns. Hypnosis uses the guidance of a therapist, whereas meditation is usually done independently.
Hypnosis is a trance-like state of heightened awareness. Everyone goes in and out of natural trances many times a day. If you’ve ever walked or driven somewhere whilst concentrating so deeply on something else that when you arrived, you couldn’t remember the actual process of driving or walking, then you’ll know what it is to be in a trance. Hypnosis is such a state brought about with the aid of a hypnotist or hypnotherapist.
Hypnotherapy is therapy conducted whilst the client is under Hypnosis. Hypnotherapy works by inducing a trance-like state within a client during which they are relaxed but fully aware of their surroundings and only concentrating on the hypnotherapist’s voice. It is different from sleep and closer to a relaxed state of wakefulness where breathing and heart-rate slows and brain-waves change. The client is alert, always exercises choice and control, and is empowered by accessing their own inner resources and healing ability rather than simply obeying a command. Once in a state of hypnosis, under the guidance of the hypnotherapist, the client is able to take control over any involuntary thoughts, behaviour or feelings taking place in the sub-conscious, thereby bringing about the changes they want, such as reducing unwanted behaviours or making changes they find hard to make.
As with all things, some people will enter a hypnotic trance more easily than others. But because trance is a natural state, anyone can be hypnotised providing a) they understand what is spoken to them, and b) they consent to the process. If you feel uncertain or insecure you should spend time with your hypnotherapist first to establish trust and rapport. This will make the process smoother and more comfortable and increase the likelihood of successful therapy.
Although the hypnotherapist is offering suggestions to the unconscious mind, the client will not accept a suggestion that they choose not to. In hypnotherapy, the client is not under the control of the hypnotherapist. Hypnosis is not something imposed on people, but something they do for themselves. A hypnotherapist simply serves as a facilitator to guide them.
Hypnotherapy is most effective when the client is highly motivated. This is why it is so important that you come to therapy because YOU want to, and not because someone else wants you to. As with any therapeutic modality some clients will experience great benefits and other less. But there is now ample scientific evidence that Hypnotherapy can be highly effective in treating many conditions ranging from chronic pain and depression to weight loss.
Meditation is also a state of heightened focus or awareness. It is a practice during which the mind’s mental activity may be slowed, and deep mental and physical relaxation may occur. The practice is simple but not easy. As with any newly learned skill, patience and persistence are necessary for lasting benefit.
Meditation taps into the innate potential for healing that we all have. It mobilizes and develops our ability for self-awareness and self-compassion as well as compassion for others, helping to improve self-esteem and providing a general feeling of relaxed well-being.
Mindfulness is the capacity to be completely present and attentive. A common definition used is “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally”.
Meditation is the formal practice that trains the brain to be focused and present. Meditation has been shown to help manage pain and anxiety, lessen mind-chatter and enhance the natural healing process of the body and mind.
Mindfulness is the moment to moment practice through the day that helps to maintain awareness of being present with all that occurs, good or bad, without judgement. This awareness is empowering and allows one to slow down and live one’s life fully, not just watch it speeding by.
By practicing non-judgment, we can learn to savour what is good in our lives and be more accepting of what isn’t. After all, judgment of a situation doesn’t change what it is. Mindfulness can open us up to the possibilities that exist in each moment of our lives, to experience the fullness and uniqueness of each moment. Practiced regularly, mindfulness can help us to work more productively and live more harmoniously.