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Hypnosis VS Meditation | What's The Difference?

Hypnosis VS Meditation

What is the difference?

Hypnosis and meditation are popular practices all around the world but few know what exactly are they and the difference between them. That’s what we are going to discuss here so let’s dive in.

Generally, Both, hypnosis and meditation are used to improve your mood and help you achieve your goals, it may be weight loss, smoking cessation, managing your pain, and many more as we will discuss later. They depend on imagining positive actions that make you feel happy or watching your body to imagine and feel what happens inside it. This eventually will release your tension and make you feel better than before.

What is going on inside our brains during hypnosis and meditation?

The brain has two cerebral hemispheres, right and left. The left cerebral hemisphere is linked to our conscious mind and the rational part of ourselves. It works verbally when we talk and tends to be more dominant in our normal waking state. While the right one is linked to the unconscious mind, emotional, and creative part of ourselves. It works during imagination and tends to be more dominant when we relax or become deeply involved in some activities.

According to this study, scientists found that there is an association between our feelings during the imagination and similar brain regions. When you imagine something such as color, sound, physical activity, or pain, similar brain regions are activated as when you experience it in reality. This is exactly what happens inside your brain while you are under hypnosis or meditation. If you are anxious or depressed, your therapist can direct your imagination to feel calm by re-experiencing some positive activities and giving you positive suggestions to enhance your mood.


What is hypnosis?

It is a trance-like state during which you experience high inner concentration, attention, and suggestibility to help you improve your mood. Simply, it is like daydreaming or imagining yourself as one of the characters of your favorite book or story.

In movies and TV shows, always present hypnosis as a way to control people’s thoughts and behaviors but this is a misconception. They deceive people just for show by asking someone to act like a chick, wondering and dancing in a comic way. They portrayed hypnosis as a magical tool to discover someone's secrets. During hypnosis, you are aware of everything and you don’t lose control over your behaviors. No one can make you do something against your desire.

What are the benefits of hypnosis?

Hypnosis is considered as a complementary therapy, meaning to be used with the main treatments to help in treating the following cases:

  • Irritable- bowel syndrome
  • Reduce the pain experienced during burn-wound debridement and childbirth as well
  • Treating depression and certain sleep disorders
  • Help in weight reduction, smoking - cessation, asthma, and preparation for surgery
  • Enuresis in children (the inability to control urination)
  • Help reduce the fear of cancer treatment in children in addition to nausea and vomiting as side effects of chemotherapy
  • Alleviate anxiety in patients suffering from severe dental phobia
  • Relieve symptoms of hot flashes associated with menopause
  • Management of chronic pain
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

What are the types of hypnosis?

You can try hypnosis through one of these ways:

  1. Guided hypnosis: Guided means using some tools that help you reach a hypnotic state. It could be mobile apps or recordings or online websites
  2. Hypnotherapy: it is a hypnosis session that is practiced by a psychiatrist to treat some disorders such as anxiety and depression
  3. Self-hypnosis: here you are going to induce hypnosis by yourself without using a guide

How to practice hypnosis?

It is better if you practice hypnosis with a certified hypnotist as he/she has the better experience that makes you able to reach your goals.

Your hypnotist will prepare you through several stages- that will be discussed later- to reach the deep hypnotic state which is a state of relaxation and a lack of inhibitions. During a hypnotic state, your hypnotist will give you suggestions and you will react to them. For example, if the hypnotist suggests that you are eating ice-cream, you may feel a cool sensation inside your mouth. Again, you are aware and the hypnotist can not obligate you to do something you do not want to.

Usually, the hypnotist starts the session with a stage called (hypnotic induction). There are many ways to do it but one of the famous techniques is Braid's "eye-fixation" technique developed by James Braid who is a significant pioneer of hypnotherapy. In a nutshell, your therapist will hold a bright object above your forehead and you have to fix your eyes on it while keeping your mind riveted on the idea of that bright object until closing your eyes involuntarily then your hypnotist will start giving you suggestions.

What are the stages you will experience during hypnosis?

1. Focus attention: your therapist is going to absorb your attention to easily follow his/her instructions using his/her voice tone, physiology, and prestige to engage you

2. Bypass your Critical Faculty: The critical faculty is when you judge something or ask yourself if this is true or not and wonder if hypnosis really works!!

your therapist will help you reduce your resistance to hypnotic trance and respond to him/her on an unconscious level. This makes you more receptive to hypnotic suggestions and metaphors

3. Activation of your Unconscious Response:

the unconscious response is a sign that you are in a hypnotic state at which you make it without your conscious awareness such as saliva production when you imagine sucking a lemon

4. Leading your Unconscious to the Desired Outcome:

here your therapist will use hypnotic suggestions and metaphors. Suggestions are in the form of commands while metaphors are stories. Both help you overcome your problems and reach your goal.

There is another classification of the stages by using electroencephalograph measures:

1. Beta stage: it is your waking consciousness and measures 14-50 Hz. You are aware, alert, and your critical conscious mind is activated

2. Alpha stage: your brainwave frequency drops and measures 7.5-14Hz. Here your conscious mind becomes less active so you are very receptive to the suggestions your therapist gives you.

3. Theta stage: It measures 4-7.5Hz. you are more relaxed than before to a degree that you may miss some of the therapist’s words

4. Delta stage: it is the deepest stage of hypnosis that measures 0.5-4Hz. During this period, you are not aware of your therapist’s words and you think you fall asleep however the suggestions are being accepted

What are the side effects of hypnosis?

Despite being safe, Researchers found that hypnosis could result in these side effects

  1. Formation of false memories and inability to recall events more accurately
  2. Temporary intrusive imagery, restlessness, dizziness, confusion, anxiety, and headache
  3. According to a study from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, when they surveyed some clinicians who used hypnosis, they found that their patients reported intrusive thoughts (15%) and fear of losing control (9%). Fewer than 4% reported muscle cramps, inappropriate sexual arousal, and dissociation, and only a few patients fell asleep

Is hypnosis safe for anyone?

Anyone can try hypnosis but researchers advised that people with some psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and delusions shouldn’t undergo hypnosis and also for people who use drugs and alcohol as it may not be safe. 

How far is hypnosis effective?

Hypnosis has been found to be a successful therapy that helped a lot of patients in managing their conditions. Here are some studies that proved hypnosis efficacy:

  1. Weight loss:
    According to this study, they found that people who used hypnosis along with cognitive behavioral therapy lost more weight than people who used cognitive behavioral therapy alone
  2. Smoking cessation:

A study of patients hospitalized for cardiac and pulmonary ailments found that smokers who used hypnosis to quit smoking doubled their chances of success. Another study concluded that hypnosis had a 20 to 35 percent success rate as a tool for quitting smoking.


Do all people have the same susceptibility to hypnosis?

No, it differs from one person to another. People who are easily absorbed in fantasies are highly susceptible to hypnosis and children as well. About 10-15% of people are very responsive to hypnosis as mentioned in this study.


What is meditation?

It is one of the stress-relieving techniques that has been practiced for thousands of years in which you focus on something – internal such as your breath or external such as a flame- and observe your thoughts without judgment till clearing your mind and feel calm or inner peace. 

What are the benefits of meditation?

Many people around the world meditate for religious reasons but scientists discovered a lot of health benefits from meditating such as:

  • Reducing the severity and duration of acute respiratory infection illness
  • Help in smoking cessation
  • Reducing anxiety symptoms
  • Help to treat chronic low back pain
  • Promote psychological well- being and decrease stress
  • Enhance the immunity
  • Reducing irritable bowel syndrome symptoms
  • Lowering high blood pressure
  • Treating chronic insomnia
  • Decreasing chronic pain
  • Decreasing of neurogenic inflammation
  • Alleviating specific menopausal symptoms
  • Reducing CVD risk

What are the types of meditation?

There are many different types of meditation and choosing which one to practice depends on your comfort, you have to try them all and decide which one suits you.

1. Mindfulness meditation: here you will focus on an object and observe your thoughts without involving yourself in them, just let them go

2. Spiritual meditation: This type resembles a prayer. You will be silent and try to focus deeply seeking a connection with God or the universe. You may use some essential oils with a pleasant fragrance to help you such as cedar, sandalwood, and sage

3. Focused meditation: you focus on any external object or any of your five senses and try not to let your mind wander. Simply, think of nothing or don’t think at all and give your mind a break.

4. movement meditation: you are going to practice meditation while walking, gardening, qigong, or any motion.

5. Mantra meditation: here you meditate while repeating a mantra. A mantra is a word or phrase that makes you focus well. It could be any word you like such as peace for example.

6. Transcendental Meditation: it is the same as mantra meditation but more customizable

7. Body scan meditation (progressive relaxation): your focus here will be on your body such as slowly tightening and relaxing one muscle group

8. Loving-kindness meditation: this is suitable for people who feel angry. It aims to increase their compassion and kindness.

9. Visualization meditation: this will decrease your tension and depression through imagining positive scenes or images or events.

How does meditation work?

Scientists suggest that meditation works by making some changes in our brain waves’ frequency. There are 5 major types of brain waves:

  1. Delta waves (0.5-3 Hz) which are highly prominent during the deep sleep state

  2. Theta waves (3-8 Hz) that represent a state of sleepiness

  3. Alpha waves (8-13 Hz) that represent resting and quiet state of brain

  4. Beta waves (13-40 HZ) that are a representation of active brain involved in cognition and thinking task

  5. Gamma waves (40-100 Hz) that are usually found in a deep meditative state of mind

During meditation, your brain shows increased frontal theta and alpha activity along with decreased levels of anxiety and stress in addition to extensive changes in gamma wave frequency. Scientists also found a significant increase in alpha and theta wave activity after 20 minutes of practice.

How far is meditation effective?

  1. Anxiety

             Meditation has been shown to have a beneficial effect on anxiety symptoms in generalized anxiety disorder compared with Stress Management Education according to this study.

  1. Insomnia

Researchers at The University of Southern California, Los Angeles found that meditation showed significant improvement in sleeping disorders in addition to depression and fatigue compared with a sleep hygiene education

  1. Blood pressure
    A study at the School of Medicine, Spain in 2019 stated that participants who meditate had a lower blood pressure than participants who attended health education talks as they were less judgmental and less stressed.

What are the side effects of meditation?

Meditation side effects are rare and studies are limited but there is a study published in 2017 that stated that meditation could have some adverse effects such as paranoia, sadness, anger, fear, and being antisocial.



How to practice meditation?

You can meditate anywhere, at home or outside. There are a lot of meditation classes to join but because of covid-19 and quarantine, you can meditate at home through some mobile apps that will guide you. It is better to choose a quiet place to avoid any distractions to focus well. Start with a short session, it may be 10 or 15 minutes in order not to get bored.


So, now you may ask yourself what is the difference between hypnosis and meditation?!!

There are many similarities between them but at the same time, they are different.

The hypnotist VS meditation guide

During hypnosis, you are focusing on the hypnotist’s voice and his suggestions, these suggestions are going to direct your imagination and thoughts to encourage you to lose weight, quit smoking, etc.

While during meditation you are focusing on yourself- breath, feet, hands- to feel them till reaching the meditative state and the meditation guide is just giving you instructions on where to focus.

The hypnotic state VS meditative state

While you are under the hypnotic state, you are aware of everything, listening to the hypnotist’s suggestions that give you solutions to resolve your problem directly.

But, the meditative state will make you feel peace and calm with a clear mind. This will release your tension and depression to affect your overall health positively.


Hypnosis and meditation are very effective techniques that make you reach inner peace. Every day, you face many situations that make you feel angry and stressed so trying hypnosis or meditation will resolve this problem. If you want to reach a specific target such as losing some pounds or quitting smoking or treating anxiety, go for hypnosis. If you want to free your mind from the daily stress and overthinking, go for meditation. You can practice both through many certified and licensed practitioners or you can hypnotize or meditate yourself by using different mobile apps and online websites. Overall, give them a chance and you won’t regret it.



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