Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

What’s the Difference Between Hypnosis and Meditation?

Hypnosis and meditation involve changing the mindset in different ways.

Key points

  • Hypnosis can be defined as a state of focused attention in which people can be more responsive to suggestion.
  • Meditation can be defined as the use of a technique to train attention and awareness, resulting in mental clarity and calm.
  • If hypnosis is used to achieve mental clarity and calm, there is a clear overlap between the two forms of mind-training.
Greg Rakozy/Unsplash
Source: Greg Rakozy/Unsplash

Both hypnosis and meditation involve changing the mindset. However, the path to achieving this change is different.

Hypnosis can be defined as a state of focused attention in which people can be more responsive to suggestion.

Meditation can be defined as the use of a technique to train attention and awareness with the purpose of achieving mental clarity, calm, and stability. There are many forms of meditation including mindfulness, loving-kindness, and mantra meditation.

Thus, if hypnosis is used for the purpose of achieving mental clarity and calm, there is a clear overlap between the two forms of mind-training.

The two mental practices can diverge significantly in that therapy with hypnosis often directly focuses on relief of physical discomfort and disease, enhancement of academic or athletic performance, or gaining of insight, while meditation largely focuses on being in the moment.

Ironically, even though meditation was introduced to the western world at a later date than hypnosis, there are many more medical studies of meditation, perhaps because it does not carry the misconception-based baggage of hypnosis.

The studies of meditation show the power of the mind-body connection. Subjects who have meditated for two months show a change in their physical brain structure as seen on magnetic resonance brain scans (Hölzel, 2011).

For children, I have found hypnosis to be more practical, as its effective application can require only a few minutes a day initially. After a few weeks of practice with hypnosis, children can learn to achieve a relaxation response nearly instantaneously, whenever they feel stressed (Anbar, 2021). On the other hand, effective meditation may require 10 to 30 minutes of daily or twice daily practice indefinitely.

I have borrowed elements of meditation techniques and taught my patients how to integrate these into therapy with hypnosis. For example, patients can enter a hypnotic state by focusing on their breathing, as they exhale and inhale, for a few moments. This is similar to the use of breathing in mindfulness meditation. I have taught some of my patients who are struggling with an unpleasant individual in their lives to use loving-kindness thoughts towards that individual, as a way of improving the relationship.

Take-Home Message

Since the mind and body are integrated, experiences that change that dynamic can have a profound effect on both the mind and body. Mind-body techniques such as hypnosis and meditation provide us with ways of enhancing our self-control.

Copyright Ran D. Anbar

References

Anbar, Ran D. 2021. “Changing Children’s Lives with Hypnosis: A Journey to the Center.” Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Hölzel, Britta K., James Carmody, Mark Vangel, Christina Congleton, Sita M. Yerramsetti,Tim Gard,and Sara W. Lazar. 2011. “Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain gray matter density.” Psychiatry Research. 191 (1): 36–43.

advertisement