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Meditation with an edge

We have all either heard or experienced the benefits of meditation. It is well known for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and wellbeing.

A report based on data from the 2017 US National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) found that the use of meditation in adults has tripled between 2012 and 2017.

Meditation is an ancient practice with a long history, originating in the spiritual traditions. More recent studies have shown that the practice can change the structure and improve the function of the brain in as little as eight weeks.

Hypnosis has also been practised in various forms for thousands of years by many cultures, including Druid, Celtic and Egyptian. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, hypnosis (or “mesmerism”) was seen more as a sideshow curiosity than a valid medical treatment. However, hypnosis has since been proven very effective in achieving a broad range of outcomes, including anxiety reduction, sleep improvement, pain reduction, lowering blood pressure, helping asthma, and improving bad habits, to name a few.

Just like meditation, hypnosis involves a focused state of awareness. Just like in a guided meditation, in hypnosis, suggestions are given to produce various effects (such as relaxation, focusing, etc.), but unlike a lot of the guided meditations out there, trained hypnotherapists are very purposeful and strategic about the suggestions they give.

Hypnosis therefore could be viewed as the “super-food” version of meditation. Well-trained hypnotherapists learn how to formulate the most effective suggestions and induce the most appropriate state of focused attention to achieve the outcomes they desire. For example, studies show that the use of positive suggestions (“you are getting more relaxed”) are more effective than negative ones (“let go of tension”). Other techniques, such as “building a response set” and “pacing and leading” are specialized techniques to lead the brain into rapid state of focused awareness.

Whereas the various traditions of meditation all have their desired target (such as mindfulness, relaxation, loving kindness) a fairly standard set of suggestions to produce these effects, hypnosis can be used as a vehicle to suggest pretty much any desirable skill or quality you could imagine – improving self-esteem and confidence, relationships, problem-solving, courage, positive habits, self-awareness, pain relief and impulse control… to name just a few.

This is because people in hypnosis process information differently and are able to access abilities they otherwise don’t know how to elicit. Contrary to how hypnosis is sometimes portrayed in movies or on television, you don’t lose control over your behavior while under hypnosis. Also, you generally remain aware of and remember what happens during hypnosis and you have choice over which suggestions you adopt and which suggestions you ignore. As such, hypnosis is not something imposed on people but something they do for themselves. A hypnotherapist simply serves as a facilitator to guide them.

People report that after hypnosis, previously difficult tasks felt easy and effortless. It is this phenomenon known as “automaticity” that gives hypnosis the reputation it has of being “magical”. When compared to meditation, people report that it was “easier” and “more effortless” to get into a relaxed and focused state and, depending on the purpose of the session, they will report benefits that extend beyond those of meditation.

Both meditation and hypnosis are helpful in managing our busy modern lives. Both meditation and hypnosis have great benefits in stress reduction, improved concentration and wellbeing. However, hypnosis can be viewed as meditation “with an edge” as it is often an easier state for people to enter and, with a skillful practitioner, can produce benefits that extend far beyond those usually achieved with meditation. If you’d like to try hypnosis, come and check out our hypno-meditation sessions in your lunch break.

Gemma Cribb is the founder of Equilibrium Collective.

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“Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain