Human states of consciousness alter depending on the shift from the sleep mode to the wakefulness. Other instances of altered states of consciousness that some individuals can experience involve the hypnotic and meditative states that are commonly considered as very similar concepts. Both hypnosis and meditation constitute a diverse complex of psychosomatic techniques capable of controlling mind and body regulation. More specifically, hypnosis is a state of intense self-focus and attention, wherein external stimuli requires minimum focus. Meditation is the process of focusing on a single objective and aims at raising awareness of the moment. The main difference between these two concepts implies that hypnosis is applied for limited therapeutic goals, while meditation has more philosophical and existential implications.
Hypnosis and meditation are widely examined through the lens of history, phenomenology, and neuropsychology. Their commonalities include induction based on concentrated attention, the deliberate control of biologic-somatic activities and conscious or unconscious processes, and activation or deactivation of particular brain areas and circuits. Despite such common features, there are several major differences between the two concepts. During the hypnosis, specific suggestions, words, and touch are used for stimulating a trance state. The individual experiencing hypnotherapy has to enter a hypnotic state of concentrated and focused attention so that the suggestions will enter the subconscious mind. However, meditation is mainly based on using an individual’s own imagination to place the images in one’s subconscious and provoke the desired change under the gentle guidance of a narrator. The main emphasis is based on individual using the power of personal imagination. Within a hectic modern lifestyle, people engage in both altered states of consciousness to manage stress, improve sleep quality, treat mood and anxiety disorders, and impact the pain management process.