meditation, hypnosis, hypnotherapy, self hypnosis, guided, visualisation, imagination, therapy

Meditation vs Hypnosis

Meditation vs Hypnosis  *cue the ‘Rocky’ theme tune, trumpet fanfare… No, Stop it. There will be no unscheduled bout happening today.

“What’s the difference between meditation and hypnosis?”

Oh if I had a dollar for every time I have been asked this question. I lost count centuries ago. But it’s a fair question – none-the-less.

Meditation and hypnosis both require a focus of the mind – often (but not always) purposefully directed. I am skilled in using and administering hypnosis but less so with meditation, so the differences and explanations I mention here are my personal opinions. I welcome and encourage any meditative types to please comment if you feel I’ve missed anything.

Okay, I’m going to offer up two explanations. One very concise (for those with short attention spans – ps. I can help with that) and one a little more in-depth.

EXPLANATION ONE – the short version.

In hypnosis the focus is generally on the subconscious mind, and in understanding and reprogramming past negative learned thoughts, reactions and behaviours as well as teaching the subconscious how to ascertain a certain level of physiological control of the body.

In hypnosis you enter into very deep concentrative states, sometimes very rapidly, where you are able to replace bad habits and negative thought patterns from the past with positive, inspiring thought models for the future.

In hypnosis, the process is often administered (hopefully) by a skilled operator, especially in therapeutic interventions. This has led to the notion of being ‘mind controlled’ and has meant that hypnosis has attracted bad press which has placed a huge obstacle in the path of those trying to bring hypnosis and it’s therapeutic efficacy to the mainstream. However, ‘guided visualisation’ seem to be perfectly acceptable – as long as the word ‘hypnosis’ isn’t used.

In meditation the focus is on the present moment, your heart and your soul. The main focus of attention is on ‘here and now’. In the ‘now’ in meditation you are supposed to feel expanded and connected with one another and everything, in a state of calm peace. It is the flow of love, the giving and receiving of love that lies at the heart of meditation.

In meditation I have often heard of a more spiritual base of development, quite aside from religious prayer – where you decide what you need and you do all the talking to some higher entity. Meditation in a way detaches oneself from the heart and soul and allows them both to do all the talking while you listen quietly.

I hope that cleared things up… I’ll await those comments from the meditative bunch.


EXPLANATION TWO – the extended version

What is hypnosis?

Is hypnosis a ‘state of deep relaxation’? Perhaps – but not always so. Hypnosis can be relaxed (therapeutically speaking), but really it’s any state of mind that makes us more: dissociated, focussed and suggestible.

When people are experiencing a horribly traumatic experience, they become immediately and infinitely more suggestible. I’ve worked with people who were so traumatized that, even years later, they still respond to environmental ‘post-hypnotic suggestions’ (from less than a minute of traumatic experience) which take them right back to the original trauma.

For instance, a war-weary veteran whose heart pounds every time he hears a car backfiring, or a driver who feels anxious whenever she passes the corner where she had that accident. This is pure hypnotic phenomenon, but it’s not relaxation at all.

And what’s more, all emotions are, to a greater or lesser extent, hypnotic.

Emotional hypnosis

That’s right – emotion is hypnotic. Ever been in lust? Love? A rage? Think about how focussed and suggestible (and disassociated) you become in these states.

Anger is very hypnotic – it focusses our attention and makes us suggestible. And, of course, depression is a trance-like focus. All these states are hypnotic, which is why they are so amenable to hypnotic treatment.

Anyone who can make you more emotional will also be making you more suggestible. When cults (or politicians) want to influence people’s belief systems, they will try to raise the emotional pitch. And such charismatic people are naturally more hypnotic.

Really, all therapists use hypnosis to some degree (even if they are ignorant of this). If a counsellor asks you to direct your attention to a recent break-up or the pain of your childhood, they are encouraging disassociation from the here and now (which can be a feature of hypnotic trance). And the state of flow, or being ‘in the zone’, is also very focussing and therefore shares similarities with relaxed therapeutic hypnosis.

So my point is, hypnosis isn’t ‘just a state of relaxation’ as you might read on a million hypnotherapists’ advertising blurbs. It’s actually much more interesting than that.

Meditation v. hypnosis

Just like hypnosis, I can see how meditation may have great benefits, but similarly it could also have drawbacks if used unwisely. I’m thinking here of the case of the woman who meditated up to 12 hours a day and began to find she could no longer cope with some of life’s practicalities.

It’s not always a question of ‘more is better’; sometimes more is just more and may even be harmful. Taking a hundred painkillers is most certainly not better than taking one, some would argue that taking none is even better.

Hypnosis, used purposefully, will generally have a very specific psychological (and therefore behavioural) aim. We hypnotize people to help them engage in the kinds of thoughts, feelings, and actions that will stop them being depressed or drinking heavily or being traumatized or phobic. We use hypnosis to help them switch off pain or maximize their motivation in sports.

Meditation may have the effect of making us much calmer day-to-day, but may not be intentionally directed to stop someone smoking or to treat a specific phobia.

Likewise, clinical hypnosis isn’t generally used with the sole intention of helping someone achieve an ’empty’ mind or objective ‘mindfulness’.

So one difference between hypnosis and meditation is for what purpose they are used.

Ultimately, asking what the difference is between hypnosis and meditation is a little like asking what the difference is between alcohol and wine.

Meditation’ and ‘hypnosis’ are just words and could sometimes mean exactly the same thing. Some hypnotic states could be more like quiet meditative states, and I’m sure some people who meditate experience profoundly hypnotic imagery sometimes.

Hypnosis and meditation can both make you happier

I have seen the judicious use of hypnosis change lives by helping people rid themselves of unwanted patterns of thought and emotional chaos. And there is also some research that regular meditation or self-hypnosis can make us happier.

I use hypnosis to help people detach from destructive emotions and calmly begin to see wider and happier possibilities (for example – feeling calmer around spiders). One meditation technique, that of ‘mindfulness’, seeks the same result as the person meditating seeks to name his or her feelings whilst not disentangling themselves from them. In this way, meditation can help people.

Hypnosis used therapeutically will often focus on helping someone relax around memories of the past or prepare to feel better and act differently in the future. Meditation, as I understand it, is often an attempt to be absolutely in the present. But again, people in hypnosis will often report feeling totally focussed in the now.

So the question, “What is the difference between hypnosis and meditation?” is simple, but the answer is a little more in-depth.

I see great benefits from both modalities. If you have any views – please ‘enlighten’ me.

Richard Scott
Mindset Coach, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist

mental health, awareness, health, mental, hypnosis

It’s World Mental Health Awareness Day

“One in 4 people experience a mental health problem in the course of a year. And among the most common conditions are anxiety disorder and depression.”
Global Mental Health Foundation.

The aim of Mental Health Week and Mental Health Day is to promote social and emotional wellbeing to the community, encouraging people to maximise their health potential, enhancing the coping capacity of communities, families, individuals and increasing mental health recovery.

So, In line with World Mental Health Day, I’d like to share some information and tips to improving your own mental health.

Taking care of your mental health is your personal responsibility. If you ever want to live life to the fullest, be happy, and achieve all your dreams and goals, you must make sure to keep your mental and emotional health in their best condition.

“Only 18 per cent of Australians regularly seek support when stressed or feeling down, according to a new survey.”
Research commissioned by Mental Health Australia

Be honest with yourself now and ask yourself the following questions:

How often do you –

  • Make an effort to eat healthily
  • Make time to socialise with family or friends
  • Get a good night’s sleep
  • Exercise for at least 10 minutes at one time
  • Keep the consumption of alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs as limited as possible
  • Take the time to carefully plan and prioritise work and personal commitments
  • Listen to music while working or studying
  • Consciously ensure times without electronic devices
  • Participate in a club, society or sporting activity
  • Seek advice or support when feeling down or stressed

If you’re anything like the other 82% of Australians, chances are you answered ‘not enough as I’d like to’.

Here are some great ways to boost your mental health. Making them a habit is sure to benefit your well-being.

emotions, thoughts, feelings, behaviours, actionsBe open your feelings.

Learn to share your feelings to people you trust. Don’t feel embarrassed to confide in them and voice out your struggles.

These people may not have the answers to your problems, but they have the ears to listen and heart to empathise.

Sometimes all we need is a listening ear to feel better and have the courage to go through the toughest times in our life.

calmness, stress, anxiety, mental, health, outdoors, natureGo outdoors more often.

Don’t let yourself be confined in your desk. There are great things waiting for you outside.

Travel. In every place you visit, you are sure to learn something. Meet new people. Interact with others. Appreciate nature.

Studies show that green environments lift our mood and boost our sense of well-being. Enjoy the sun when it’s out.

A 2005 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that light exposure help reduce or prevent symptoms of anxiety by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain.

positive, mental, health, attitude, mindset,Keep a positive mindset.

It’s not every day that we feel good about ourselves and everything else around us.

We don’t have a full control of the happenings in life. There are days when the sun shines so bright. There are times when rain pours heavily.

However, we have control over our mind. We have control over our perspective. By keeping a positive mindset, we are strengthening our resilience against life’s difficulties.

There are many exercises that allow you to see the glass half full rather than half empty. They include hypnosis, mindfulness and meditation.

Mind-body techniques increase dopamine and serotonin levels, and boost feelings of happiness. Redirecting your focus from the negative to the positive things will help you stay grounded no matter how tough your day will be.

negative, thoughts, let, go, positiveStop the negative self-talk.

We all have a negative voice within. It’s the voice that tells us we can’t do something and discourages us to keep trying.

You can’t shut them out. Science tells us that we are hard-wired to think about negative things.

The best way to deal with negative self-talk is to acknowledge what they are saying, but do not be carried away with them.

Keep perspective. You are more than what your negative voice says you are.

Take care of your physical health.

physical, health, fitness, mental, health, stress, anxiety, positivityYour mind and body are two inseparable things. If one is weak, so is the other. So make sure you are keeping your health in check. By adopting a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly, and following a healthy diet, you can keep your body strong and healthy, which contributes to a stronger mental health.

If you’d like to take part in some Mental Health Awareness Events you can visit this website to see what’s on near you.
Mental Health Awareness Events

Talking rewires your brain

Psychotherapy, talking, therapyTalking as a therapy?

Those of you who have read, or follow, my blog may have guessed by now that I marvel at the results of hypnosis and frequently use it on my clients, however  Psychotherapy, known as talking therapy, is also an effective treatment for clinical depression and many other mental health issues.

For some clients who have heard negative portrayals about hypnosis (usually from the press) they choose to follow a psychotherapeutic approach to rehabilitation.

Contrary to popular belief, talk therapy is also a great tool for everyday individuals who are seeking to improve the quality of their life, overcome unwanted habits, and deal with stress effectively.

Below are some of the ways talk therapy can change our life.

You realise that you are not alone.

A lot of times, especially during difficult moments, we can’t help but feel alone. We may find it difficult to tell someone, especially a friend or family member, about what we are going through.

In this case, talking to a professional therapist is a great option. Psychotherapy has been shown to alter activity in the brain involving the regions that regulate executive control, fear, and self-referential thoughts or the ‘me-centred’ worry thoughts.

Even the physical symptoms are healed.

Stress, anxiety, phobia and many other mental health problems come with physical symptoms too. Psychological trauma can trigger physical symptoms, which can be mild or debilitating. Going to therapy can help those symptoms go away.

When our negative emotions are not expressed properly, our body reacts, and we start experiencing unexplained pains, fatigue feelings, sleep problems, and other forms of discomfort.

It’s a great venue to tackle problems.

It is hard to tackle an issue when you can’t even figure it out in the first place, particularly the reason why you are experiencing it in the first place.

Through talk therapy, a person becomes more aware of what is making them feel anxious, sad or angry. And consequently, learn how to manage these feelings or take action to alleviate the factors causing such.

It rewires your brain.

Many people rely on medications to curb mental health symptoms by altering the brain, but a large body of research suggests that talk therapy does the same. As mentioned earlier, psychotherapy alters the brain regions involved in emotional regulation, critical thinking, and self-referential thoughts.

It helps you deal with repressed emotions.

Some of us are haunted by unexpressed feelings and traumas and choose to repress, rather than confront them. It may seem counter-intuitive, but revisiting the events related to these unwanted feelings may be necessary in addressing the current mental health issues we have.

Learning how to deal with them is one of the great benefits of psychotherapy, which has a significant impact in improving the other areas of our life, from our work to our personal relationship.

It gives you a different perspective on other people.

Not only does therapy gives you a better understanding of yourself, it also clears and deepens your understanding of other people.

When we are caught up with negative thoughts and emotions, we find it easy to make negative assumptions about what other people think and how they behave that way. Without the mental clutter, it is a lot better to understand others.

The benefits of therapy last for longer.

The huge difference between psychotherapy and medication is that the benefits of the latter cease the moment you stop taking them. Psychotherapy, on the other hand, benefits the person even after the treatment is over.

As always, your thoughts and comments are most welcome.

Richard Scott