The differences between hypnosis, meditation and mind altering drugs may seem obvious, but they aren’t.
Humans have used drugs and alcohol throughout recorded history. It seems we have always sought ways to alter our mind. Archaeologist have discovered that the Oracles at ancient Delphi used mood altering drugs during their rituals. The architecture of Gothic cathedrals and Gregorian chants are mood altering. It is not by chance that churches, temples and shrines are designed the way they are. It’s calculated to make an impact on your psyche.
Historically, meditation was first practiced by Eastern religions as a way to know God or the ultimate truth. The proper use of meditation leads to trance states very similar to the Alpha, Theta and Delta states measured in brain wave activity. Certain brain wave activity corresponds to altered states of awareness. In other words, our mental state can be measured by brain wave activity. Some substances have this same effect. Many cultures and religions use them to alter their psychic state.
Why do we seek this altered state of mind? No doubt the practice goes back into misty pre-history, probably around the time someone asked, ”Why am I’m here and what happens when I die?” There is one thing all mind altering substances and meditative practices have in common-they ease pain. Whether it’s physical, mental, emotional or even spiritual pain, we have learned that certain practices assuage our angst.
The hypnotic state or trance is similar to that of the meditative and some drug induced states, but with a difference. Hypnotherapy is the application of tested techniques which uses the hypnotic state to ease pain and improve performance. For example, we wouldn’t practice Zen meditation for the express purpose of quitting cigarettes or improving a golf swing. Nor would you go to a Hypnotherapist to find God in your life. But in both cases, both outcomes are possible. Albeit in a roundabout way.
The point is that the state of mind achieved by meditation, hypnosis and some chemicals are virtually the same when using brain wave activity as the measuring stick. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not questioning the validity of the religious experience whether obtained by meditation or by an act of faith. We’re discussing something different here.
Hypnosis as practiced by a certified hypnotherapists is aimed at tapping into the subconscious to fix the problems of everyday life. To this purpose our field has developed a special language and methods proven to have specific beneficial effects. The words, tone and construction of a hypnotherapist induction are not random. Those methods have been tested and proved effective at putting a client into controlled trance states very similar to meditation. The difference between a Hypnotherapist and a Zen practitioner is what we do with that state once we get our client into it.
We have developed special scripts using precise language and word patterns that impact the subconscious in specific ways. We have learned for example that the subconcious does not respond to negative constructions. Instead it recognizes positive affirmations. This fact is central to our field. The difference between, “You won’t smoke another cigarette” and ” You are a non smoker” may seem minor, but to the subconscious it is night and day. One is rejected and the other works.
Personally, I find this fact intriguing. I coach little league baseball and soccer and have noticed the profound beneficial effect of positive reinforcement and statements over negative ones. But that is another story.
If you’re seeking truth, spiritual enlightenment and closeness to God, then by all means meditate, go to church, synagogue or your mosque or to travel to Mexico for peyote. I believe they are all paths to same destination. While I do acknowledge that most religions claim they possess the exclusive route to God, we cannot ignore the manifold ways to get there. I’ll leave the religious debate to others.
If on the other hand, you want to quit smoking, overcome fear of flying, public speaking or improve your golf swing, then call a certified hypnotherapist. They may not save your soul, but they can certainly help you improve your daily life or survive another day watching the Dow Jones.
Please feel free to contact me for a free consultation. I’ve been helping folks for many years through hypnotherapy and general life coaching.