Altered States of Consciousness- Meditation & Hypnosis
How can you reach an altered state of consciousness without drugs? Meditation and hypnosis are two techniques that can promote a relaxed state of mind. Watch this video to learn the difference between the two and their possible effects.
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Sit in a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Breathe in. Breathe out. Soften your jaw. Relax your shoulders. Let all your tension and worries wash away.
A woman practicing meditation
Guided meditation is one way that you can learn to focus your attention. Another way that you can tune out the noise and concentrate your thoughts is by repeating a mantra or phrase. You can reach an altered state of consciousness through meditation and relaxation techniques.
When you focus your attention and increase awareness of your own physical and mental processes, it’s possible to ignore the distractions of the outside world. Meditation has been shown to have positive effects on its practitioners, including reduced stress levels and improved physical and mental health. Meditation leads to increased alpha and theta brainwaves , which are linked to relaxed states of mind.
Close your eyes. Slowly open them. Close your eyes again. Notice how good it feels to rest. Slowly open them. Close them again. Your eyelids feel heavy. Slowly open them. Close them again. Each time you open them, your eyelids feel heavier and heavier. You’re getting very sleepy.
If you’re open to the power of suggestion , you may be more easily put in an altered state through hypnosis than someone who’s less susceptible to conformity, obedience and suggestion. Under hypnosis, your perception and actions are influenced by the hypnotist’s suggestions.
Freud hypnotized his patients in an attempt to bring their unconscious desires to the surface. Hypnotherapy is sometimes used to treat phobias, drug addiction and overeating. It can even be used as an anesthetic if a hypnotist convinces the patient that they don’t feel pain.
Freud used hypnosis to treat his patients
Suggestion is the key concept for hypnosis. But hypnotists differ in how they believe the suggestions are processed. American psychiatrist Milton Erickson believed that hypnotists communicate with the unconscious mind , so he made suggestions that were indirect or metaphoric. Instead of commanding patients to stop smoking, Erickson would invite them to change by encouraging them that they could become non-smokers.
Psychologists Theodore Barber and Nicholas Spanos promoted more direct suggestions because they believed they were communicating with the conscious mind and that someone who was hypnotized was following suggestions because they were expected to.
Both meditation and hypnosis can lead to an altered state of consciousness. A relaxed and focused state can be achieved without drugs through guidance or suggestion. Hypnosis is often used to stop unhealthy behaviors, and meditation is used to increase awareness by focusing attention.
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