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In your quest for bodily relaxation and mental freedom, you have probably gotten familiar with the terms hypnotherapy and guided meditation. These two have come under the spotlight in recent times, owing to their rather interesting modus operandi. If you have experienced both before, it is reasonable to be surprised by how similar they appear to be.
For example, both of them make extensive use of the Progressive Muscle Relaxation technique and involves considerable amounts of creative visualisations.
So, what really differentiates hypnotherapy from guided meditation?
Hypnotherapy, also referred to as clinical hypnotherapy or guided hypnosis, is generally described as a form of psychotherapy in which a patient is guided by an expert, into a deep state of relaxation. Hypnotherapy puts you in a trance-like state, during which the therapist helps you initiate a fluid process of recalibrating behavioural patterns and ways of reasoning, while ultimately achieving relaxation and mental freedom.
It is important to note that while hypnotherapy involves hypnosis, it is NOT similar to stage hypnosis or any other form of non-medical hypnosis. In hypnotherapy, you’re in complete control of your mind, and no one can make you take any actions against your will.
Also, because you’re in control, you will retain memories of everything that occurs in your hypnotic state.
For over a hundred years, hypnotherapy has proven to be effective in facilitating the treatment of a wide range of physical and mental conditions. Such medical conditions include but are not limited to, the following:
A basic hypnotherapy session starts with you telling your therapist about your issues and the goals you wish to achieve by the end of the session. You will both work together to arrive at a treatment plan containing the thoughts and suggestions that will be planted into your subconscious mind. Through a series of guided relaxation and intense concentration processes, the hypnotherapist will help you achieve your hypnotic or trance-like state.
At this point, you’re so focused on a specific object or thought that you temporarily block out every other thing around you. This also leaves you highly suggestible, and your hypnotherapist takes this opportunity to plant the planned suggestions using a calm, assertive voice.
Guided meditation is, in plain terms, is the process by which an individual—or a group of individuals—achieve a level of mental calm and stability, with the guidance of a trained practitioner. There are several ways through which guidance can be administered. It can be delivered by the expert in person, in written text, sound recording, or video, and incorporates music, verbal instructions, or a combination of both.
Guided meditation has been proven to be effective in speeding up the treatment of a number of medical conditions. It can be used as a means of achieving the following:
The process of guided meditation is quite straightforward. It involves an individual or a group, being led by an expert. The participants can choose to have the expert in person, or they can also choose to be guided through other means such as audio, video, or written text.
It begins with the guide instructing you to relax specific muscles of your body while sitting or lying down.
After the relaxation phase, you will be guided through a series of visualizations. As you go deeper, your mind becomes clearer and more open to positive suggestions. At this point, the calm voice of your guide walks your mind through an inner journey designed to improve specific aspects of your life. Whatever you hope to achieve through, this is the point where it all happens.
A full guided meditation session can be as short as five minutes or as long as one hour, depending on your purpose and arrangements with your instructor.
Having gotten to this point, you should have some understanding of the similarities shared by guided meditation and hypnotherapy. However, there are some specific features that put the two in different lanes.
Firstly, a form of hypnotherapy called analytical hypnotherapy is used to uncover the root cause of certain conditions. Conversely, guided meditation has no analytical functions, especially when it is being administered to a group. What’s more, it is usually one-directional, and most times, the only voice in the room is the voice of the instructor. Thus, there is minimal interaction between the participants and the instructor. Hypnotherapy has a more personal touch to it since the expert is focused more on one client at a particular time, giving more opportunity for some interaction.
Guided meditation incorporates the use of structured scripts containing generic sets of meditative instructions. This is because the instructor aims to serve a wide range of audiences. On the other hand, a hypnotherapy session involves minimal scripting. This is because the expert is usually forced to suit the client’s constantly changing needs.
Hypnotherapy places a strong emphasis on the therapist’s ability to induce hypnotic states while inserting mental pictures and harnessing the power of positive suggestions to bring about change.
On the other hand, guided meditation places more emphasis on your ability to plant visualizations into your subconscious mind in order to achieve the change you want. You only have the instructor’s voice to guide you. In cases such as self-hypnosis, however, one is able to create mental visualizations without an external influencer.
While Hypnotherapy and Guided Meditation can work separately to achieve specific goals, both can work together for more robust, effective, and well-defined results. Indeed, hypnotherapy is more focused on specific goals such as curing phobias and breaking addictions, while guided meditation focuses on more general goals such as a clear mind and a complete state of relaxation.
Regardless, a combination of the two has proven to be beneficial in the following ways:
Both hypnotherapy and guided meditation are effective in attaining healthy physical and mental conditions. Through understanding what their differences are, it should be easier for you to choose which would better suit you. However, it is always wise to visit a professional for detailed guidance on what to choose, based on your needs, to ensure the best results.