Updated: Aug 6, 2020
As a Hypnotherapist, a lot of people are curious what the difference is between meditation and hypnosis. It's important to understand that although they may have overlapping benefits, there are specific benefits of both.
Let's dive deeper, shall we?
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an easy practice to bring into the day. It's creating a mental habit of being present in your current experience and how you're processing it. Mindfulness can be exercised in whatever you're doing: driving, eating, exercising, working, doing chores. Because this is a brain exercise, it teaches you how to become more aware of your thoughts and emotions.
Because our subconscious mind is so predominant in our daily life, it's theorized to take up 88% of our minds, and if our imaginations run wild for too long we can end up in "zombie mode" as I like to call it. So by bringing in a mindfulness practice we are building up our conscious mind by using all of our 5 senses (sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell.) For example, this can be tasting & chewing your food slower, allowing each taste to form. Taking in the colors of what you're eating. Smelling the smells of what you're eating. This also allows your body to process and you become full faster. (HOT TIP: Thanking your food and water is also a great way to bring simple gratitude into the day.)
To anyone who tends to live in the past or the future, I highly recommend a mindfulness practice. It's a great self-care tool to help with your mental health balance. I also recommend it to anyone who feels they're lacking creativity in art or hobbies. Sometimes, just experiencing the present moment can be so satisfying. Since the brain is just another muscle, this is another tool to create mental strength in your pre-frontal cortex.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is basically the strength training of brain health. Want to release anxiety, form a clearer mind, and connect to your self better? Meditation can do all that and more. Although it has roots in spirituality, recent neuroscience has discovered that it can physically reshape your brain and even has the potential to stunt Alzheimer's. The best spaces to practice are without disturbances, allowing anything around you to be white noise. I used to meditate in my car during lunch break when I found my home life to be too noisy. One form of meditation is mindful meditation, but there are many different types of meditations to practice.
Meditation, in addition to mindfulness, is a tool to help you become more aware of your thoughts. There is no need to turn off your thoughts, you are simply allowing your thoughts to pass by. I like to tell my clients to imagine that their thoughts our the leaves, and their breathe is the wind blowing them away as they ebb and flow. We don't have to be so hard on ourselves for having thoughts, it's a natural state of mind and being. The more you practice, the more you notice you're having thoughts, so then you can release them and not engage with them.
There are so many different types of meditations. My favorite app is Insight Timer for free guided meditations, where you listen to someone and perhaps music guide you through an experience. Focusing on breath, body scan, repeating mantras, visual imagery, energy clearing, binaural beats are some of my favorites. There are unlimited ways to practice, and it's a great way for anyone to release anxiety, fatigue or pain. If you are new to meditation, try starting out with just 1 minute. Then move your way up day by day, moving to 3, 5, 7, 10 and so on. You will find it easier and easier to train by starting smaller and working your way up (similar to strength training.)
Meditation has taught us to remember that we are not our thoughts and that we don't have to believe all of our thoughts either. It allows the brain to respond vs. react to anything that may be triggering. It's another fantastic tool to utilize for our brain health and just general quality of life. Which is why I like to think of it as strength training for the brain.
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a naturally occurring state of mind when your imagination is active. This can happen while reading, watching tv, engaged in conversation with friends, in the early morning or late night hours. My favorite example is driving to work and forgetting how you got there because your conscious mind was thinking about something else and your subconscious was doing all the work!
This is what hypnotherapy deals with. The subconscious mind. You can compare hypnotherapy as the cross-fit of mental strength training. Allowing a talented Hypnotherapist you vibe with to guide you in setting out what you wish to change by relaxing the conscious mind into a theta brain wave state and then creating different neural pathways. The first step is realizing what you'd like to grow in, and we'll utilize hypnosis based on your right or left brain suggestibility together.
The American Psychological Association describes Hypnotherapy as “suggestion is used to evoke changes in sensation, perception, cognition, emotion, or control over motor behavior.”
It's in this hypnotic brainwave state when our mind is the most receptive to both positive and negative influences from the people and world around us, including the news we watch or the music we listen to. Our minds are like sponges, soaking in information we are exposed to that we internalize some of that information as our truth. Especially if we don't have good quality sleep, nutrition, or a regular practice of clearing our mind clutter.
Hypnotherapy and meditation are similar because they both involve entering into an altered state of consciousness. Both follow a similar structure: find a comfortable and quiet spot to sit with your spine straight or lie down, close your eyes, focus on your breath, and then open your eyes when you are done.
However, Hypnotherapy is catered to who you are, how you learn, and how you take in information. It focuses on right and left brain dominance in both suggestibility and sexuality. It really hones in and focuses exactly on what you are working towards to change, or a personal goal you'd like to reach. It's the CrossFit of mental conditioning, helping to transform unwanted thoughts, perceptions, habits, beliefs, and emotions. Allowing you to build pathways of love, happiness, and peace in your brain.
Which one is right for you?
Mindfulness, Meditation, and Hypnotherapy are three separate, but great tools to have to transform your mind, body, and spirit. Mindfulness helps you become more aware, meditation allows you to control your emotions, and hypnotherapy can truly help you to transform your life. And just as stretching and strengthening is necessary for our bodies muscles, it's very comparable to allow these practices to shift and change your mind as well. Allow yourself to experience your own expansion through these beautiful holistic tools.