A lot of people ask me: “Is there a difference between meditation and hypnosis?”.
Well, that depends on who you talk to. Some recent studies have highlighted significant, observable differences in brain wave and neural activity in both states.
For example, meditative states were shown in one study to result in high amplitudes of Alpha frequencies in frontal lobe positions while these appear in the central and temporal locations in subjects undergoing hypnosis. Additionally, hypnosis subjects appear to have significantly higher Theta wave activity.
Some researchers site methodological differences, pointing out that hypnosis is based on the suggestibility of the subject whereas meditation relies more on mindfulness skills.
Other studies highlight the similarities between the two states as does this one published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis in 2017. In it they state,
“The available data on the history, phenomenology, and neuropsychology of hypnosis and meditation show several common features, such as the following: (a) induction based on focused attention; (b) capability to reach an intentional control of both biologic-somatic activities and conscious-unconscious processes; (c) activation/deactivation of several brain areas and circuits (e.g., the default modality network and pain neuro-matrix) with a relevant overlapping between the two.“
What I’ve come to believe-through my own experience, observation, and study-is that the neurological differences between meditation and hypnosis, although interesting, are not as important as the practical applications of these two powerful states of learning, healing, and growth.
In the eastern Buddhist traditions, meditation has been one of the main prescriptions for alleviating human suffering for thousands of years. More recently (but still for several centuries), modern hypnosis and its predecessors have been applied to the same purpose.
In addition, both methods can be used to cultivate a deeper understanding of our true nature and help to enrich and give meaning to our lives.
In the end, it’s really just a matter of finding out what works best for you.