Hypnotherapy Meditation

People often use the terms “self-hypnosis,” “guided imagery” and “meditation” interchangeably. All these techniques use the mind’s capacity to calm, focus, concentrate and control our body functions, thoughts and actions. However, while these concepts are similar, they don’t have the same meaning.

Learn the difference between self-hypnosis, guided imagery exercises and meditation techniques.

Self-Hypnosis

Self-hypnosis may help you reach a state of heightened focus and deep calm, making your mind more receptive to suggestions. During this hypnotic state, you can repeat a positive word or statement geared toward changing a specific behavior, thought or state of being. Because the mind is more receptive in this state, you’ll generally accept the statement as true.

When your self-hypnosis session ends, the statement remains imprinted on your mind, which may alter your perception about the specific event, emotions, behavior or condition you are targeting.

Guided Imagery Exercise

Guided imagery exercises utilize vivid mental images to promote a desired physical, emotional or psychological outcome. Also known as creative visualization, guided imagery is sometimes compared to focused daydreaming.

Some guided imagery exercises lead you to imagine relaxing scenes that promote tranquility and stress reduction. Other guided imagery exercises stimulate complex images of your desired response or outcome, such as overcoming a disease, losing weight, quitting smoking or feeling pain-free.

A facilitator’s voice can lead the guided imagery exercise or you may build the image yourself. Many athletes and actors use this technique to visualize perfect execution prior to performing.

Meditation Techniques

Just as sports exercise the body’s muscles, meditation techniques exercise the mind. Meditation trains the mind to concentrate and be mindful of the present. To build concentration during each session, you focus on your breath, object, sound, word, movement or mantra.

This level of focus can be more difficult than it sounds. Each time you lose focus, however, you learn another key meditation concept—forgiveness of the past and mindfulness of the present. Instead of getting frustrated or worrying that you may lose focus again, you learn to refocus on the present meditative practice.

The more you practice meditation techniques, the more naturally you’ll apply this type of concentration to your everyday life. You may develop a “beginner’s mind”—a mind that lives in the present moment. If you’re new to meditation techniques, try starting out with basic methods, such as concentrating on your breath. You can practice many of these meditation techniques wherever and whenever you need to calm your mind.

Resources

Mayo Clinic. (2008). Enhance healing through guided imagery. Retrieved August 31, 2010, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2008-mchi/4403.html

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (2010). What is complementary and alternative medicine?. Retrieved August 31, 2010, from http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/#natural

Rosenzweig, S. (2009). Mind-body techniques.Retrieved August 31, 2010, from http://www.merck.com/mmhe/sec25/ch302/ch302c.html

Salzberg, S. (n.d.). Glossary. Retrieved August 31, 2010, from http://www.sharonsalzberg.com/sharon/glossary/glossary.htm

Vorvick, L. (2009). Alternative medicine — Pain relief. Retrieved August 31, 2010, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002064.htm

Warren, C. (2002). Guided imagery / visualization uses with the cancer patron. Retrieved August 31, 2010, from http://www.selu.com/cancerlib/guidedimagery.html