Hypnosis vs. Meditation: What’s The Difference?

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Difference between hypnosis and meditation

If there’s one thing we all strive for more of, it’s calmness, and if you’re someone who likes to experiment with different techniques to achieve calm, there’s no doubt you’ve tried hypnosis and meditation before. These two techniques have to do with altering your state of awareness, and although there are some similarities, they’re mostly different.

What’s the difference between meditation and hypnosis?

There are many explanations for both hypnosis and meditation which is where it gets complicated but one could argue that meditation is a way to reach hypnosis. As the hypnotic state is a calm, trance-like one, you could easily achieve this with meditation, though there are many types of meditation possible.

Many people try their hand at both meditation and hypnosis to gain a healthier and happier mind, but if you’re new to these techniques, you might want to know which is best. We’re here to find out their similarities and differences, giving you the best tool to achieve inner peace.

What Is Meditation?

Meditation is a mental practice that someone undertakes to clear their mind, create inner calm, and to improve their awareness. Within the realm of meditation, there are different types, usually labeled depending on their goal or how they’re performed, like mindfulness meditation or guided meditation.

During meditation, the individual works to clear their mind and focus on just one thing. The practice utilizes various breathing techniques to help one achieve this state of awareness and to allow the individual to become emotionally calm as well.

There are many reasons why someone might meditate, whether it’s just part of their daily practice and a way to clear their mind, or in an attempt to reduce stress or anxiety as it occurs. It can take months of practice to meditate correctly and people use this technique for different amounts of time each day depending on their goals and the type of practice they undertake.

What is Hypnosis?

Hypnosis is the process taken to transform your state of consciousness and awareness into a trance-like state. Usually, the technique is used by someone guiding you into a hypnotic state, but there are some methods of self-hypnosis available. Once hypnotized, you will have reduced peripheral awareness and more focused attention on a certain thing.

During hypnosis, someone is considered to be more open to suggestions, and it’s commonly used as part of other forms of therapy. Although the scientific research into hypnosis is still murky in areas, some people swear by it as a way to calm themselves, improve skills, break bad habits, and generally live a happier and healthier life.

Hypnosis is usually performed with an end goal in mind, and it often forms part of a larger therapeutic session. Hypnotherapy and hypnosis might be undertaken to assist with sleep or to get someone to quit smoking, and because you’re already in this calm state and more susceptible to suggestions, it’s believed that a trained therapist can target your subconscious to make reaching this goal easier.

How They Compare

If you’re new to these types of practices and are wondering whether hypnosis or meditation is the way to go, it can help to see how they compare. We’ve stacked up the similarities and differences between these two techniques so you can see what they’re all about.

Similarities between hypnosis and meditation

  • While hypnotized and during meditation, the individual will have a calm and focused state of mind. Once they are deep enough into their practice, it may even appear that someone is in a trance and could be hard to bring back to consciousness.
  • During hypnosis and meditation, minimal attention will be given to anything external. With enough experience, people are able to block out all external stimuli during meditation practice, and the same occurs when someone is in a state of hypnosis.
  • Meditation could be used as a way to achieve hypnosis in some cases, so the two practices are linked in this way. However, going into a meditative state will not always cause someone to be hypnotized.
  • Regular practice of mediation and hypnosis will make them more effective, and might even mean it’s easier to reach that state for the individual. There are plenty of great apps and resources available that teach both of these practices for those wanting to learn at home.

Differences between hypnosis and meditation

  • Although you can meditate towards an end goal, there’s no need to have a specific focus when doing this practice. Unlike hypnosis, where one usually becomes hypnotized for a purpose, like being guided towards quitting smoking or removing stress from their life.
  • Hypnosis is often used as a precursor to hypnotherapy as it makes the individual more open to suggestions and likely to take direction. Meditation is done as a standalone practice or could be incorporated into a yoga session, but isn’t usually a type of therapy.
  • There is a belief that true hypnosis isn’t possible to achieve by all people and only a small percentage of people will be able to reach this state. However, meditation is something that can be achieved by everyone if they’re willing to put in the time and effort to learn the practice.
  • Meditation is usually performed by the individual, except when they follow some form of guided meditation. Hypnosis is always lead by a therapist or trained professional, and sometimes can be accessed using apps and tapes that assist by guiding someone into hypnosis.
  • Attempting hypnosis should only ever be done with a trained professional because there are risks involved and some uncertainty about results. Meditation is completely safe and risk-free, provided you are doing it in a safe space where it’s okay to relax. 

Which One Will Work Best For Me?

As you can see, there’s a lot that hypnosis and meditation have in common, but ultimately, they’re two very different practices. While each of them can help you alter your state of awareness, how they achieve it is unique and just how far you take them will also differ.

Meditation is the best choice for someone looking for an everyday or infrequent practice that they can do to calm themselves down immediately, improve on mindfulness, or clear their mind. You can practice for as little as five minutes and still notice a difference, or take it further and spend hours a week mastering the technique.

With hypnosis, you’re usually undertaking this process to get somewhere else, whether it’s an end goal like quitting smoking or giving a hypnotherapist a better chance to access your subconscious. It’s not normally something you’d practice daily unless you were trying to reach a goal, even if it can bring you into a calm, trance-like state.

In terms of effectiveness, the jury is still out on hypnosis and it’s not yet been studied enough where anyone can say that it works definitively. However, meditation has been proven to have both mental and physical benefits, so there’s no need to guess where it’s having a positive impact or not.