Hypnosis and Meditation
Good for you?
The connection between Hypnosis and meditation is sometimes questioned. Are they the same? How are they different? What are the benefits of the regular practice of meditation beyond any “spiritual” benefits we might subjectively experience? Any objective proof? Would hypnosis offer the same benefits?
I had a teacher once, Dr. Stephen Wolinsky, who not only had studied directly with Milton Erickson back in the day, but he had also gone to India and lived in an ashram there for several years where he meditated every day and lived the life of a spiritual seeker.
When he returned to the US he expressed the opinion that the mental/emotional state that the Indian meditators were seeking, a state they called “Samahdi,” and the state that Milton Erickson referred to as a “therapeutic trance,” were one and the same state. Dr. Wolinsky calls it a “No-Trance Trance” because the person is awake to the present moment.
This is a subject I could go on and on about, but for today’s post I’m just going to focus and the health implications of this. Plenty of research has shown that meditation can lower blood pressure, improve mood, counter stress and benefit your mental and emotional health. Recently a study has shown that meditation can actually affect your genes… turning beneficial ones on and turning harmful ones off.
The researchers analyzed the genes of 26 volunteers who had never meditated and then taught them a 10-20 minutes meditation routine. Eight weeks later, after the volunteers had meditated twice a day for that period, the researchers found that the practice had activated genes that make cells more efficient at metabolizing energy and that protect telomeres, the caps at the end of chromosomes that help protect DNA from damage caused by aging. It also appeared to deactivate genes related to chronic inflammation, a risk factor for many diseases including heart disease and cancer.
The author of the study was Dr. Herbert Benson, who wrote the book “The Relaxation Response.” It was that book and some procedures outlined in it, that inspired my and my colleagues at Columbia-Presbyterian’s Department of Complementary Medicine to create what we called the “Relaxation Response Technique” method of self hypnosis.
When Dr. Oz and others formed that department we shied away from using the term “Hypnosis” because so many people had a preconceived notion — invariably false — of what that meant. Therefore, the term “Relaxation Response Technique” was much more acceptable as a term. Just a different name for the same thing.
I am proposing, therefore, that like meditation, methods of self hypnosis can as profitably be practiced on a daily basis to simply promote good health-— both physically and psychologically.
Milton Erickson once said that people “become patients because they are out of rapport with their own unconscious minds.” I believe that regular use of altered states like trance, promotes greater rapport between the conscious and the other-than-conscious minds and therefore greater mental health.
So whether you use classic meditation techniques, self hypnosis techniques (a couple of which are presented elsewhere on this website), yoga, dance, music or other natural methods of inducing this focused, “No-Trance trance,” you’ll find the benefits very rewarding.