Meditation is a training in awareness that helps people develop a healthy sense of perspective. The goal of meditation is not to turn off emotions, but to allow a person to observe them without judgment, so he or she can understand them better. Meditation is also a powerful relaxation technique that can be learned easily and practiced alone.
Hypnotherapy or hypnosis, on the other hand, is not a trick or a performance. It is a technique used by therapists to put a person in a state where they are susceptible to suggestion. This form of therapy helps people cope with negative emotions and feelings of stress and anxiety. It also helps them get rid of bad habits.
Self-hypnosis is a kind of meditation that involves a person making the suggestion himself instead of listening to a therapist. But like hypnotherapy, self-hypnosis makes use of the trance state to encourage growth and healing. The trance state is a state of relaxation that entails a person's full attention and focus.
Many clinical studies have reported the effectiveness of these techniques in helping people deal with many life challenges. In addition, hypnotherapy has gained more success than traditional therapies like psychotherapy and counseling. This is due to its ability to influence both the conscious and subconscious mind.
The impact of meditation and self-hypnosis is not limited to mental health. They can also improve physical health. After all, a healthy mind means a healthy body, and being healthy overall makes a person feel better, function better, and be better. Here are various benefits associated with meditation and self-hypnosis that have been proven by science. (h/t to PsychologyToday.com)
According to a study published in Psychosomatic Medicine, practicing mindfulness meditation even for a short period of time can affect brain and immune function. Researchers reported significant increases in left-sided anterior activation in people who underwent an eight-week training program in mindfulness meditation. Left-sided anterior activation is associated with positive emotions. Mindfulness meditation also increased the participants' antibody titers, suggesting that this technique also enhances immunity. Meditation is also said to decrease pain and inflammation.
As mentioned previously, meditation can increase positive emotion. It can also reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. One study revealed that an eight-week course in mindfulness-based stress reduction can decrease rumination -- the tendency to think repetitively -- in people with lifetime mood disorders. Another study published in the International Journal of Stress Management described how a similar program effectively reduced stress and increased quality of life and self-compassion in health care professionals.
Practicing meditation or self-hypnosis also increases social connection and emotional intelligence. The results of a field experiment showed that doing loving-kindness meditation improved mindfulness, strengthened purpose in life, and even decreased symptoms of illness in people. These, in turn, increased their life satisfaction and reduced depressive symptoms. Researchers believe that this kind of mediation is an effective intervention strategy for inducing positive emotions and increasing compassion, both of which enable people to build better relationships with others.
In a randomized, controlled trial, researchers examined the effects of compassion cultivation training -- a program that integrates meditation techniques, interactive discussions, lectures, and real-world exercises -- and found that it increases mindfulness and happiness and decreases worry and emotional suppression. Studies also show that people who practice exercises that promote greater body awareness, such as mindfulness meditation, show greater emotional response coherence than those who don't. Emotional response coherence is defined as the coordination or association of a person’s experiential, behavioral, and physiological responses as the emotion unfolds over time. (Related: Meditation changes the way your brain processes emotions.)
Meditation or self-hypnosis can produce positive changes in the brain. A study published in the journal Neurolmage reported significantly larger gray matter volumes in people who practice meditation. These changes were seen in their right orbitofrontal cortex, right thalamus, left interior temporal gyrus, and right hippocampus. The orbitofrontal and hippocampal regions are associated with emotional regulation and response control. According to the researchers, these larger volumes in important regions contribute to meditators' singular ability and habits to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability, and engage in mindful behavior.