Meditation, Hypnosis and Self-Hypnosis. Some thoughts by Peter Dennis

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Peter Dennis: Advisor, Confidant and Consulting Hypnotist. Author, Speaker and Podcaster

These are all states of awareness, as are the states of sleep and every-day, walking-around wakefulness. These three, however, share a number of similarities that sleep and wakefulness only display in certain instances, and usually not to the same extent:

  • Metabolism drops significantly.
  • Brain wave activity changes to alpha.
  • The body becomes deeply relaxed.
  • The senses become more heightened or alert.
  • Certain chemicals are released.
  • We become more receptive and more responsive to suggestion.

How do these states differ, one from the other?

  • Hypnosis is usually more active and most often involves an agenda, e.g. overcoming a fear, extinguishing a habit, loosing weight, improving athletic performance, etc.
  • Meditation is generally more passive and the individual usually meditates patiently, enjoying the experience and allowing the benefits to develop over time.

What is Self-Hypnosis and how does it fit in here?

  • First, as the name implies, the practitioner induces the altered state himself or herself.
  • To get to that state, the subject may use methods that are from the traditions of meditation or from the playbook of the hypnotist.
  • Once in that state, the person does his or her “work,” such as affirm a desired trait (e.g. self-confidence) or intend a condition (e.g. improved health).
  • In my opinion, self-hypnosis is not as effective as hypnosis for getting the “work” done because the person in the meditative state has diminished analytical ability and cannot effectively be both the subject and the therapist/facilitator at the same time. It’s still very beneficial but it’s much like trying to be the player and the coach when you are  the only one in the game.

In each of these states, as I indicated above, we become more receptive and more responsive to suggestion. How does that happen?

  • Real answer: We don’t fully know.
  • What seems to be happening, however, is that the unconscious part of the mind comes to the fore and the conscious portion drifts away, taking much of our analysis, evaluation, and judgement with it. The mind becomes very allowing.
  • This unconscious part of our mind is the greater part. It takes care of all the bodily functions that we are not conscious of, e.g. hormonal release, blood flow, immune system, etc.
  • As well, it knows more than we are consciously aware of (some say it knows everything), and it can remember and recall everything that has ever happened to us.
  • The unconscious mind seems to be much like a ten-year-old. It takes everything suggested to it literally and it cannot easily distinguish between imagination and reality. This is where the hypnotist or hypnotherapist can make suggestions that help people move from where they are to where they want to be, and sometimes, the speed with which this happens can be truly amazing.


In subsequent articles, I’ll delve into hypnosis a little more and explain some of its benefits and some of the interesting adventures it can facilitate.