While a myriad of self-help tools seem to spring up every day, meditation and self-hypnosis are the hands-down, app-worthy duo of the horde. However, due to their immense popularity and similarities, it’s easy to confuse the two.
What is Self-hypnosis?
Hypnosis, by definition, is “an artificially induced trance state resembling sleep, characterized by heightened susceptibility to suggestion.” Self-hypnosis is simply a way to grab the bull by the horns, so to speak, and use techniques and suggestions to induce yourself into a hypnotic state.
Self-hypnosis has seen a rise in recent years due to its accessibility; in the digital, instant download age, you don’t have to seek out a professional hypnotist to get the results you’re looking for. The “from the comfort of your own home” aspect is appealing and convenient.
What self-hypnosis is not is a cheap way to get a laugh; the days of entertainment-based hypnotherapy is dwindling in light of an increased interest in legitimate, therapeutic hypnosis.
How is Self-hypnosis Different from Meditation?
Self-hypnosis can be considered the more results-driven cousin to meditation. While the main goal of meditation is often general relaxation and ridding the mind of internal chatter, recovery.org notes that hypnosis always focuses on the resolution of a core issue. Whether you suffer from addiction, phobia, or pain, there’s bound to be a specific self-hypnosis session at your disposal.
The purpose of meditation is to get focused on the present moment. With self-hypnosis, the aim is to go deeper into a trance-like state. From there you become more open to suggestions which can help you make changes in any area of your life. There are some techniques that walk the line between meditation and hypnosis. Sound and light meditation is a technique wear a person dons special goggles that display flashes of light, and earbuds though which seemingly random noises are played. The result for the wearer is a trance-like state that has similarities to what a person practicing self-hypnosis or meditation experiences.
You still get to enjoy the feeling of calm and relaxation that meditation brings, and you still get the time you need to collect your thoughts and prepare your mind. But with self-hypnosis, you get more.
While different practitioners of hypnosis may have different variations of how to induce, and make use of, hypnosis, the technique is usually described as including three different stages.
A person begins relaxing — getting comfortable in a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for 20 minutes or so. You’ll close your eyes and breathe slowly and deeply. You start out with a specific objective in mind, or an intention. This can be anything from losing weight to getting more motivated.
Once you’re feeling relaxed, you can really start to focus on the issue. This happens during the change stage, where you use visualization to get even more relaxed. If there’s a problem you want to solve, you can visualize ways to do it. See it as a piece of paper that gets lifted up and blown away by a gust of wind. Or a large boulder that gets crumbled away into dust.
Finally, you’ll finish with the exit stage where you return to normal waking consciousness.
While a person can attempt hypnosis entirely on their own, practicing self-hypnosis with the help of a hypnotic recording targeting the person’s specific goal is the preferred method.
Pros and Cons
Just as there are those who “can’t be hypnotized” in a traditional sense, there are some people who simply can’t get into a good, self-hypnotic groove. Self-hypnosis is a form of teaching the mind and body specific ways to relax and achieve a goal, and it stands to reckon that not everyone is cut out for self-teaching. In this case, guided meditation or hypnosis under the watch and care of a hypnotherapist is best.
On the flip side, a definite pro of self-hypnosis is the self-empowerment that it gives the hypnotee. After all, we’re typically the ones that stand in the way of our own healing. Imagine how deep this healing can go if we put the power into our own hands. Again, this technique may work wonders for some, but may not be the most effective route for those who rely on external influences during trance work.