I’ve recently started meditating, and indeed it’s a very relaxing process. Once I’ve started talking about it, some people have wondered why I might do both meditation and self-hypnosis, or what the difference is between meditating and being hypnotized. What is the difference between a guided meditation and hypnosis?
The primary characteristic of hypnosis is that your experience and especially your auditory channels are being directed externally. You are taking input from an “other” that is outside of you, and the entire universe gets narrowed down to the sound of their voice and the things they are having you experience.
Meditation on the other hand is very internally directed. Some people meditate on specific ideas in which case the process is to concentrate on the idea so fully that the other-than-conscious can come up with an answer, and that answer will just pop into the mind. This process is very similar to self-hypnosis.
Other people meditate with the purpose of becoming “blank” and peaceful. Clearly this is very different from hypnosis where the objective isn’t to become blank but to actually have things occur – and what you’re aiming for is more to become *receptive*. Perhaps meditation also involves becoming receptive to the energies around you and accepting them and allowing them to pass freely.
For my purposes, I consider a guided meditation to be the same thing as hypnosis. It simply has a different connotation and people go into it with a different framework. But just because we call it a different name doesn’t mean that it’s not hypnosis.
I have personally been to several new-age meditation sessions where the intent certainly seemed to be to get you into a drowsy trance state before beginning anything – and yet the people certainly seemed to be unaware they were doing hypnosis.
My definition of hypnosis is establishing selective focus and suspending critical thought. I would add onto there that it is “other-directed.” If you change it to internally directed, it becomes meditation. When we meditate we go into a trance state with a certain set of filters and guidelines – frameworks in which we can interpret the experience. We have selective focus and suspension of critical thought. The only thing next is to put in an external guide and you would have full-blown hypnosis.