If you have attended any of my yoga classes, you may have heard me speaking about hypnosis and how our brain works. It is truly fascinating learning about our brains and how we process information. Language is another hot topic of mine as it is so amazing how we interpret and draw meaning from our words, sounds, gestures and pitch. I have been studying and practicing hypnosis for many years and have been incorporating some pieces of that learning into my classes. The funny thing about that is not a single person ever remembers being put into "chicken pose"!
Every yoga teacher and studio will tell you all about the benefits of meditation. Carving out time to sit quietly and clear your mind really helps you to focus and manage stress and whatever else comes your way through the day. It takes time and practice to quiet the mind. We are never able to quiet it completely but we are able to learn how to ignore our thoughts for the moment and put less attention towards them. Breath-work goes hand in hand with meditation and itself is a major component of the learnings derived from yoga. Many online videos and recordings and apps are available to provide the practitioner with "guided" meditations. These are recordings by somebody with a smooth calm voice that will speak and describe a scene or a scenario that will lull you into a peaceful state. When you achieve a meditative state, your brain will emit theta brainwaves, which are associated with a relaxed state of mind.
With hypnosis, the subject quiets their mind, controls their breath, can have a guide that speaks with a smooth, calm voice and lulls them into a peaceful state and their brains also emit theta waves. So, wait... is hypnosis just meditation or is meditation a form of hypnosis? The answer is complicated as yes, they can be very similar and also not at all the same.
Have you ever been driving in your car, listening to music or thinking about something that happened earlier and then suddenly look up and realize that you are not where you are supposed to be? You missed your turn or have driven a completely different way than you had planned? You don't recall why you ended up where you are. This is an example of a naturally occurring trance state that happens way more often then you probably would have guessed. You didn't sit quietly and calm your breath or listen to a soothing voice to get into that state. It just happened. We naturally slip in and out of this state throughout the day. It is the same as the REM state we enter when sleeping.
It is often said that your brain has a conscious and a subconscious mind. The conscious mind is the one that you are aware of that you use to think and do active things. Your subconscious is MUCH more powerful than your conscious mind. It has to do a million things to keep you alive that you are not even aware of. Between these two controls is something we like to call a critical faculty. It is like the door between the conscious and unconscious. A hypnotist uses methods to push that critical faculty out of the way so that messages can be delivered directly to your subconscious. Once delivered, your subconscious will work on that information behind the scenes and usually drive you forward to a more positive path.
This same activity can be done through self-hypnosis where you don't need anybody putting you into a trance or delivering those messages to you once you are there. Self-hypnosis is similar to meditation but different. The largest difference is that with self-hypnosis, you are being very purposeful in your intent and your message to yourself. Not only can you be calm, reduce anxiety and find a peaceful state, but with hypnosis you can also change beliefs, habits, unlock resources, motivate yourself, attack problems and open reality tunnels to see things differently. You have to be ready for those changes to happen or else your mind simply will not accept the change request. You have to realize that a change must be made, it has to be made by you and it has to happen right now. If you are at that place, then self-hypnosis will help you to get to the other side and accept and enforce the changes that need to happen.
Both hypnosis and meditation are great tools and have great purpose. If you haven't started a regular meditation practice then that might be something to consider adding to your daily routine. Moments of peace and quiet are precious and are often elusive. Scheduling this time into your calendar will help to ensure that you do have time carved out for yourself and for your own pondering and reflection. If you are feeling challenged and are ready to make a positive change in your life and are looking for encouragement and reinforcement, dive deeper into self-hypnosis and see where that takes you. You can't go wrong with either of these amazing practices.