By Susanna Sweeney, MSC, MBACP, CHT
In this article, find out why hypnosis and meditation should both be part of your personal growth program if you want to boost your personal levels of success and find out how to combine both methods to your best advantage.
Some people believe that meditation and hypnosis are much the same thing.
To me, that's where the similarities between meditation and hypnosis stop.
The first info graphic in this article shows a table that describes differences between both methods in mental state, methods used, focus and outcomes. You can see that for every item listed, meditation and hypnosis differ.
Therefore, I will argue that the idea of meditation and hypnosis being 'much the same thing' is a misconception. I have written about this previously, in my article on hypnosis myths.
Often, the idea of meditation and hypnosis being so alike is championed by people who believe that hypnosis is a gimmick, that hypnosis does not constitute an actual brain state (see my article 'What is Hypnosis?' for clarification on this topic) and that the therapeutic uses of hypnosis could easily be replaced by other, more conservative treatments or methods, including medication, meditation or psychoanalysis.
As a practicing psychotherapist and clinical hypnotherapist for many years I have come to see that both meditation and hypnosis have their distinct uses and benefits. In other words, depending on what you are dealing with and depending on what you want to achieve, each method is useful for achieving certain means.
When you want to program yourself to achieve your highest potential and become successful in whatever way feels right for you in your particular situation, I recommend you use both methods. Further below, I will talk you through what each method does exactly, and how to best combine them for maximum benefit.
First, let's delve into the differences. It's important you understand how both methods differ, so that you can then understand how to best use them.
Based on my own experience of both methods I would also say that the respective states of hypnosis and meditation feel very different.
Because you have to sit upright to meditate, my muscles don't let go completely. Also, I find that, and in part this may be because I use a mantra based meditation technique, I find that my mind is quite active and seems to be working through any present concerns that I am dealing with or that I am preoccupied with in life. Afterwards, there is a lovely sense of calm and groundedness.
During hypnosis, personally, my body can let go much more, into a deep state of relaxation where my muscles will be lose and limp. Relaxing your mind is part of the hypnosis inductions I use and this part will cause me to come to a still place in myself sooner than I would during meditation- where I am very receptive to whatever I want to achieve or clear in this session.
This account is my own personal experience, of course, and this experience will likely differ for each individual. The point I want to make here is that the two states achieved by meditation versus hypnosis are not only designed for different purposes, but also feel very different and are not at all the same thing.
I suggest you try this out for yourself and see how the exact differences play out in your case. This will help you gain an understanding of each method's respective strengths.
Having made the point that there are more differences than similarities between hypnosis and meditation, I will now tear down my nice house of cards by bringing guided meditation into the equation.
You will most likely be familiar with this term. Commonly, a guided meditation is a voice recorded or directly facilitated session that will include relaxation followed by a guided inner journey.
Most guided meditations have desired outcomes such as to improve your sleep, to calm anxiety, to achieve forgiveness, to improve your focus or to put you in touch with your spirit guide. This goal orientation of guided meditations represents a certain amount of overlap with hypnotherapy.
Personally I would argue that advanced hypnotherapy techniques will always have an edge over guided meditations. They will induce deeper states of relaxation of both body and mind, and they will use a handful of subtle, gentle yet powerful tools to help you achieve your goal.
However, guided meditations have conquered a corner of the niche where people are reluctant to associate themselves with anything containing the word 'hypnosis'. To those, they provide a lovely relaxing experience combined with some suggestions or mental imagery that can help nurture the mind.
It is important to note, however, that guided meditations are not designed to help you clear your personal issues on a deep level, or in any lasting way. To clear your own issues and prepare for success, choose hypnotherapy.
But deep seated issues don't always present in this dramatic way. Many people are not even aware they are carrying subconscious issues and of course we are raised to believe that your conscious mind is the only realm that counts.
In this belief system it is easy to discount that there might be some other reality under the surface when we are just not feeling on top of things and life is going nowhere, or is not going the way we want.
You may not even be aware of these blocks, but they are operating behind the scenes to sabotage your efforts.
My advice to you is, don't minimize things. If you have a sense you could do better in life then trust your intuition. And then, help yourself by first clearing the subconscious deep seated stuff.
You don't have to be afraid of these blocks or issues either- everybody has them. Everybody. You may not have experienced any major trauma growing up and it's wonderful if you haven't. But even culturally, there is enough negative programming passed on by teachers, child minders, relations and so on that will have impacted self esteem and self belief somewhere at a young age.
This impact is very much worth clearing so that you can be free.
If you haven't done much personal work before of the type that delves into your subconscious, I recommend you definitely use regression hypnosis with an experienced practitioner as part of your program of hypnosis for success.
Regression work which can help you to upgrade the imprint of your past, would be very difficult to do with meditation. There is no guarantee that deep seated issues will heal with meditation, although by clearing your mind of mental clutter you may achieve some improvement. However, it is doubtful that using meditation alone, you would be able to uproot patterns anchored deeply in your subconscious mind.
Furthermore, if you haven't done much personal work before there is a chance that you can become overwhelmed or that you may feel lost and disoriented if you use meditation alone as a method for personal work.
This was certainly my experience in the early years of doing personal work. I would try to meditate but would find it impossible to sit still and would feel a lot of physical pain as soon as I'd close my eyes because my body was holding so much trauma. Other times, when meditating, I would feel an overwhelming sense of feeling totally lost and at sea which became so strong that I didn't find meditation useful.
In fact, I nearly re-traumatized myself by trying to rely on meditation for this work. The experiences I had were so disturbing that they put me off meditation for a long time to come.
Of course what was happening was simply that my own deep seated issues were trying to surface in order to be healed. But when those issues feel quite big you are so much better off doing this clearing and healing with a facilitator present who can guide you through the process.
This is where availing of hypnotherapy will cut out much frustration and struggle and make for a smooth healing journey- where in contrast, working with meditation alone, you can become quite stuck. With hypnotherapy you can laser target deep seated issues in order to clear them easily and effectively.
Don't take my word for the healing properties of hypnotherapy. Here is leading Stanford hypnosis researcher, Dr. David Spiegel, discussing the power of hypnosis.
For success programming, don't rely on either method on its own. Instead, use both methods parallel to each other. I recommend you clear any subconsciously held issues that are holding you back with hypnosis, and then improve your concentration and focus with meditation.
Using a gardening analogy, what you are doing with regression work is clearing the land of weeds and digging it. With suggestion hypnosis for success programming you are planting the seed, and with meditation you are making sure that those seeds are being nurtured optimally and that weeds don't take over the garden. Hypnosis and meditation work in perfect synchronicity when it comes to success programming.
In his top rated business podcast, Tim Ferris gets to the bottom of which psychological qualities, and habits shape the success of today's most successful people. One remarkable fact he produced is that approximately 90% of the top successful people use meditation as part of their daily self care practice.
Major companies such as Google and Facebook have started investing in meditation training for their employees. Some even make time during the work day for employees to meditate.
The reports of well known business people as per my info graphic attest to the many varied benefits of meditation used in a business and in a context of programming for success.
Where should you start when choosing the meditation method that is right for you?
There are hundreds if not thousands of different methods of meditation. Some use mantras, some use objects to focus on (Focused Attention Meditation), some advise you to avoid thought altogether, some focus on achieving particular qualities such as opening your heart (Heartfulness Meditation) or developing self compassion (Loving Kindness Meditation), others teach just to observe what you notice without trying to change anything (Mindfulness Meditation).
The traditional monastic methods will have people meditating for hours every day. Other methods such as 'Heartfulness' demand a time investment of an hour, twice a day.
Of course, you simply won't have the time to practice for that length of time. And, of course you must practice meditation daily if you want to benefit from it in the ways described above. Meditation does not produce lasting change. Meditation is like gardening- you must tend to your garden daily.
So, where does that leave you?
Thankfully there are meditation methods that lend themselves much better to modern life. These modern forms of meditation demand a time investment of no more than between five minutes and forty minutes a day, depending on the method.
The best known form of these super efficient modern meditation methods is Transcendental Meditation, or short, TM. TM is my personal choice of meditation method and I can attest to its benefits- which are also backed up by a trove of scientific research.
One of the biggest proponents of Transcendental Meditation is writer and film director David Lynch who has been practicing TM since the early 1970ies. He has benefitted from the method so much personally that he decided to set up a foundation to teach meditation to those who cannot afford to pay for the TM training. The David Lynch foundation is dedicated to teaching TM to children from economically weak backgrounds, to those suffering from the disturbing symptoms of post traumatic stress, such as army veterans and women subjected to domestic violence.
The best way to combine hypnosis and meditation to boost their success is to use each method for what it is best at: hypnosis for shifting your blocks and programming your mind for success, and meditation for clearing your mind of any mental struggle, for becoming calmer and more centered and for improving your concentration and focus.
Author and motivational speaker Tony Robbins recommends a 'power hour' as a daily morning ritual.
If you can make even a half an hour available, I suggest you definitely include self hypnosis and meditation. You might combine this with a work out, stretching exercises or yoga if you have the time.
To get the best from meditation, you will have to practice it daily. Thankfully, modern methods make meditation very accessible with a time commitment of between five and forty minutes a day.
I recommend you try out a few different methods and evaluate how they work for you, firstly in terms of fitting into your day, and secondly in terms of their desired effect.
The way I look at it is that ultimately, you will only keep up the practice if you are excited about the benefits from meditation, so make sure you pick the right method for you and don't rush this process of trial and error.
I recommend that your daily self hypnosis be focused on both your short term and long term goals. You can write your own auto suggestions for your daily sessions, or you can ask your hypnotherapist to write them for you. If you are writing your own auto suggestions, make sure you are following my instructions for writing them so that you are getting maximum benefit.
My daily morning ritual starts with 20 minutes of meditation. When the meditation is finished, I will practice 10 minutes of self hypnosis. I use the deeply relaxed state I will already be in at the end of the meditation, and I will deepen this with a brief hypnosis induction that will relax my mind which I will play on my MP3.
The content of the daily self hypnosis session consists of auto suggestions to focus my mind on my current goals and to remind myself of my overarching intentions. I will update these weekly , fortnightly or monthly, depending.
When I have the time, I will include ten to fifteen minutes of yoga, If, like me, you are a parent, and you have kids that you need to get fed and ready for school, this is difficult enough to organize. My personal goal is to be wide awake an hour before they get up. I'll be honest with you, depending on what is going on, it doesn't always work out like that.
Nurturing the body is as important as nurturing your mind. Therefore I will always follow meditation, self hypnosis and potentially yoga with a nutritious breakfast such as a green power drink followed by something like overnight oats, an oat based muesli or a fried egg accompanied by rye bread.
The important part here is that I choose foods that release their energy slowly over the course of a few hours rather than anything that would cause a spike in blood sugar.
I would have to say that the benefits of both methods in combination are so enormous that I could write an entire article or more on how this morning ritual has changed my life for the better.
In short, I feel inner peace and happiness 95% of the time now, I have been so much more solid when encountering difficult situations, my mind is clear and calm, there is no 'mental rubbish' clouding my vision, and I am razor sharp in my focus on my goals and intentions, moving further towards them step by step every day in a way that feels easy, full of joy and almost playful.
I wish the same for you, and I know you can do this. Start small, start anywhere. Then, build on your efforts. It will be easy to see the first benefits once you get started, and you will soon feel encouraged to do more.
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I have struggled with anxiety and self-confidence issues for as long as I can remember. I am an artist, therefore as creative person, I struggled with