Are hypnosis and meditation the same thing? - South Eastern Therapy Clinic


Due to their similarities, you would certainly be forgiven for assuming that hypnosis and meditation are basically the same thing.

After all, they’re both relaxing and require focus and a quietening of the mind, right?

Well, yes and no. To explain this a little further, I will first begin by exploring what hypnosis is in a bit more depth.

When considering hypnosis, sometimes people will express the concern to me that they cannot be hypnotised. If we think of hypnosis as mind control – that you will end up on a stage clucking like a chicken (yep, I said it, the cliché), then this is certainly a reasonable concern or statement. Hell, you couldn’t get me to participate in a hypnosis stage show in heartbeat! Even if I wanted that experience, I daresay that I too could not be hypnotised by that definition either.

The problem with this definition of hypnosis is that it does not even begin to encompass the full spectrum of what hypnosis is and how it can be used and experienced. In order to understand the true meaning and potential of hypnosis, we need therefore to expand our understanding of what hypnosis actually is.

In order to do that, I’m going to make a few suggestions here.

From what we all know about hypnosis, you would likely agree that it is:

  • A heightened state of focus

  • An altered state of consciousness

  • A relaxed state within the body and mind

  • A degree of dissociation from the physical body or reality

So that takes us part of the way in understanding what hypnosis is.

However, you might say that this list is also an accurate description of meditation, right? Well, yes, however I believe that there is a difference and this difference can be partially identified by context.

Let’s look at how meditation can be described.

Mediation can be described as:

  • A heightened state of focus

  • An altered state of consciousness

  • A relaxed state within the body and mind

  • A degree of dissociation from the physical body or reality

  • A purposeful and deliberate act. The act of meditating.

Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. It’s all in that last statement – A purposeful and deliberate act.

Here in lies the difference. When you meditate, you do so wilfully and with intent. You might sit in a comfortable position and you might listen to music. You might choose to focus on an object, affirmation or concept, or even just focus on the sensations in the body.

All of these things can happen in hypnosis as well, but here is the clincher – none of these things needs to happen in order for you to be hypnotised. This is because the additional, yet often unrecognised element of an immersed state of hypnosis is the spontaneity of emotion.

Understanding the addition of emotion in to the hypnosis equation, can help to broaden our understanding of exactly what hypnosis is and how it can be experienced.

When you think about it, you may in fact discover that you are frequently hypnotising yourself in real life all day long. You may find that you are ticking all of the boxes of our definition of a state of hypnosis when you are:

  • Watching a movie. It has your full attention, to the point where you stop noticing other things going on around you.

  • The same thing can happen when you are reading a book.

  • Playing sport. It might be anything from tennis or cycling, to doing weights or a dance class. So long as you are in your ‘zone’ and the outside world just kind of drops away, then you are experiencing a state of hypnosis.

  • Cooking

  • Listening to or playing music

  • Being creative – painting, drawing, sculpting, whatever it may be.

And the list goes on.

So long as you are experiencing a heightened state of focus, your mind is clear and relaxed, you are somewhat dissociated from reality and time, and there is an emotional undercurrent to your experience – then you are in a state of hypnosis.

Think about it – how else could a professional weight lifter, lift 200kg over their head if their mind wasn’t clear and focused and they didn’t believe in themselves more than they believed in reality? They couldn’t do that if they were thinking about the argument that they had yesterday with their partner or what they were going to have for dinner – they need to be completely absorbed in the moment.

We’ve all heard the miracle stories of the mother who lifts a car off their child who has been run over, and this is the same principle. Driven by such strong emotion, the mother in that moment is catapulted out of what we know to be reality, and in to a state of hypnosis where she achieves the impossible.

Another example.

The musician who normally experiences stage fright, but who in the moment of their performance experiences all of their fears just dropping away. They are completely in the zone, hitting every note exactly spot on.

Once again, the list goes on.

If you resonated with any of the above statements or scenarios, it may be starting to become clear that you do in fact use hypnosis quite frequently to accomplish things which are positive and useful to you in your life.

This brings me to my next point – the other critical difference between hypnosis and meditation.

We generally accept that meditation is a good thing. It calms the mind and allows us the space and time to practice controlling the mind and thoughts. When done effectively, this can only be a good thing for your physical and mental health.

In contrast, hypnosis in and of itself is not a ‘good’ thing. Whilst of course the state of hypnosis can be used to help us achieve many helpful things, we can also use it to our detriment. Have you ever:

  • Experienced a heightened state of anxiety, or a panic attack?

  • Had a traumatic experience which has come back to you in the form of flashbacks?

  • Experienced a state of anger or rage which was disproportionate to the situation?

  • Fell in to a deep or long term depression which you couldn’t get yourself out of?

  • Thrown yourself off your ‘game’ when playing sport or performing

If you answered yes to any of these – and this is just the short list of ways that we can use our minds to negatively impact our perceptions – then you have been using a state of hypnosis to achieve it. When a person has an emotional reaction or response that is not grounded in their current reality, we know that they are stuck in an old neurological loop in the brain. This loop is telling them that there is something to be feared, angry or depressed about – they are literally hypnotising themselves in to this frame of mind.

This is not to say of course that people do not experience very real and legitimate problems with anxiety, depression, PTSD, rage, or any other number of disruptive emotional states. The experience for the person who is stuck in these emotional states is very real. What I am suggesting however, is that the problem is not one which is based in their world today – at not least long term. Rather, it is a perceptual problem where the mind is hypnotising itself to believe the worst possible case scenario in this very moment.

Whilst hypnosis shares many of the characteristics of meditation, it goes beyond the act of meditation. Hypnosis engages our emotions in a way that we don’t even need to try to hypnotise ourselves – it just happens naturally.

So this is where therapeutic hypnosis steps in.

Usually when a person decides to engage in a course of hypnotherapy, it is because they are finding that their mind is influencing their life in a negative way and they want to change that. Maybe it’s a negative habit, addiction or feeling. Maybe they’re finding themselves not performing their best in any number of ways.

Whatever the case, part of the problem is that they are currently hypnotising themselves in to creating and experiencing this negative outcome. What a person goes to see a hypnotherapist for is to learn how to use hypnosis so as they can train their mind to create a positive outcome. To see the problem in an entirely new and different way, and to gain emotional resolution to the issue at hand and find a way forward.

When under a state of hypnosis, the important thing to remember is that anything is possible. Whatever outcome you desire in your life, can be manifested and achieved within your mind within a state of hypnosis. Once the mind has been set to a new program, a new idea or a new way of seeing things – quickly it has to catch up to your new reality. This is what we call changing your perceptions – and your perceptions are after all, the foundation of your reality.

Depending on the issue, it may be that all you need is one session. Sometimes it may take a few sessions, or occasionally for deeper issues, it may be that you could benefit from ongoing support.

For anyone who feels that they need ongoing support to permanently change a particular perception or mindset, this does not necessarily mean that you need to attend ongoing sessions of therapy forever. It may simply mean that beyond your course of therapy, you would benefit from listening to daily or weekly sessions of hypnosis recordings which support you, keep you on track and guide you towards your desired outcome.

I have recently started selling hypnosis recordings online for this exact reason. Currently available for purchase are recordings for:

  • Relaxation

  • Weight management motivation

  • Emotional release

  • Deep sleep

You can find the online store underneath the services and packages tab. This list will continue to grow over time as well, so please let me know if there is a particular type of recording that you would like me to produce and make available.

I hope that this article has been able to open your mind to the potential that lies within the state of hypnosis and how it can be and how it is experienced in your life.

As always, if you have any questions or comments about any of this, please get in touch. Until next time,