Is It a Guided Meditation or Hypnosis?

One of my most enjoyable discoveries from when I took hypnosis training was in realizing that hypnotists often use guided meditations to help relax a client and help them reach that deeper connection necessary for changing subconscious programming.

I was happy about it because I had already been creating guided meditations for my REIKI students to help them shift into a higher-state for doing their best energy work and for receiving additional guidance on a client’s condition. I knew then that I could easily do this.

Another realization soon made was that there are many techniques for achieving the same goals throughout healing modalities, just as there are many roads taking you to the same destination. The only difference in the path or vehicle taken is in the intention behind the trip, and how active the vehicle occupants wish to be during their journey.

As a big believer in self-empowerment, I want to help people take command of their own lives and live from their own highest intentions, not from MY intentions or from anyone else’s intentions. It’s important for them to live their lives being the very people that they truly wish to be—fully alive, fully functioning, and fully enjoying life’s nuances that bring excitement and variety to each day.

Self-empowerment is important to everyone because self-empowerment means taking your own power back from whomever you’ve given it to or from wherever you’ve placed it. So when I do hypnosis, the occupants in the car are VERY actively participating in their journey. We don’t just make bathroom breaks along the way—we explore the local sights, sample the local cuisine, and create an “experience” that is remembered and affective for them, long after the session ends.

purple surf

My clients tell me where they’d like to go, set some parameters about what they would like to see/feel when they get there, and then leave it up to me to guide them on a personalized exploration/journey to their requested destination.

So whether along the way we do a guided meditation or whether it sure feels like one no matter what you call it, we get where they wish to go in a self-revelatory and self-determined way.

Depending on what we tell ourselves throughout the day, from when we first open our eyes until they close again for sleep, life itself becomes our guided meditation. That’s why it is so important to clarify our personal message to create the life that we choose.

One More Meditation for Your “Self-Help” Tool Box

I really do write and teach about other things than meditation, but so far I’ve been focused on providing some good, basic information on a variety of meditation techniques that can help improve the quality of people’s lives.

So before I switch subjects, I wanted to give you another meditation to sample. This is one of the easiest and perhaps one of the most powerful meditations you can ever learn: The “1, 2, 3, 4, Meditation.”

What could be simpler? 1,2,3,4

All you need to do is to slowly visualize and internally count to four on the in-breath and then again count to four on the exhalation. Really, …that’s all there is to it.

But the trick is that you need to intensely focus on each of those numbers—paint them with a purple paint brush (or blue, or green) behind your eyes as you bring each one into your conscious awareness. Then see each number slowly fade out as you paint the next number behind your eyes, etc.

  • Just close your eyes now, and really see the paintbrush tip up close—dipped in your favorite soothing color, …as you make the first stoke for the number “1.”
  • Then see the “1” fade away into darkness behind your eyes, ….and you then begin the initial stoke for the number “2,” with all the curves and that left-to-right line at the end.
  • Now see the “2” fade away into the darkness …..as you then start the brush-stroke behind your still-closed-eyes for the number “3.”
  • Easy to do, …so simple….you watch the number “3” now fade away into that silky darkness, …and you start that paintbrush in motion again for the number “4”—and paint it however YOU draw a “4.” It doesn’t have to look like this one shown.
  • Now, as the number “4” begins to fade away again into the darkness, you go back to the number “1” and keep repeating the 4-step process in your mind for every inhalation and every exhalation.

The rest is like walking and chewing gum at the same time. You count to four on the in-breath, and then count to four on the out-breath. IN: 1, 2, 3, 4,….OUT: 1, 2, 3, 4, …. IN: 1, 2, 3, 4,….OUT: 1, 2, 3, 4,… etc.

For every INHALATION, you mentally count to 4.  Then hold it, hold it, hold the breath in, …and then EXHALE while you do the same thing—visualizing the individual numbers being created 1, 2, 3, 4 and then dissolving each one away, until you reach the last one (“4”), where you pause on that exhalation for just a second or two, …and INHALE as you begin counting and drawing the 4 numbers again. Then hold the breath in for a couple seconds, and EXHALE to the same count and visualization of 1, 2, 3, 4. And just continue doing this for however long you meditate.

This meditation is so easy to learn, …so easy to do, ….and if you practice it enough to feel comfortable using it without having to work at it, it can become the critical tool that you have available for any emergency situation in the future. It can pull you back into focus when whatever is happening around you is creating havoc with your mind and body.

This meditation is SO powerful, that I call it “The Emergency Response Meditation.”

It is powerful because the slower you say and draw the numbers in your mind, the deeper and longer you breathe. You can actually control your breathing by simply putting all of your focus on slowing down the speed that you say and draw each of those numbers in your mind.

And while your mind is SO focused on the task you have given it—saying and drawing those numbers one-by-one, it releases itself from the external source that was distracting it, and returns back to your command to focus on those numbers as you intentionally slow them down in your mind to intentionally lengthen your breathing.

When you can control your mental focus and control your breathing in ANY situation, then you have control of your body and your mind. Interesting, eh? But when would this meditation be helpful?

Have you ever had an anxiety attack?

I hadn’t had one until many years ago I was driving solo through the Rockies, and suddenly at maximum altitude, my vehicle started to sputter like it was going to quit. There I was by myself and my mind began to do that “worst-case scenario” dance of possible calamities, etc. And pretty soon after that, the car wasn’t the only thing sputtering. I began to hyper-ventilate. Those shallow, quick breaths weren’t allowing my body to utilize the lesser-available oxygen high in the mountains to supply what my brain needed to function. I was in near panic—and it was totally self-created from that “worst-case, what-if?” thinking.

BUT, …my saving grace was that I already knew the “1, 2, 3, 4, Meditation,” and I began doing it for all I was worth. The more I focused on the numbers, the more my mind let go of the panic-thinking. The slower I managed to say/visualize the numbers, the longer my breathing became. You get the picture. I pulled myself out of a serious situation because I knew how to do the “1, 2, 3, 4, Meditation,” and I’ve used it in other high-stress situations since that time, because IT WORKS!

So if I could impress upon you the importance of any single meditation, it would be to learn this one. Once you have it in your repertoire of meditation techniques, you will never be at the mercy of your own wavering mind ever again.

Another Simple Meditation Using a Mantra

Mantra, is a Sanskrit term for “word.”

And basically, that’s what a mantra meditation entails—simply repeating a particular word or phrase over and over on every exhalation of breath. It would be similar to doing the basic Breath Meditation mentioned in the previous post, but instead of focusing solely on the breath moving in and out of your body, with every exhalation of a “Mantra Meditation,” you actually say-out-loud a chosen word.

This was the most effective type of meditation for me when I first started to meditate. I used a single-word mantra to help hold my concentration and help control my breathing.

Well, you might ask, if you wanted to learn a mantra meditation, what word should you use?

I’m not being facetious about this, but that IS a good question. There are some words that are more effective than others for mantra meditating.

Any single-syllable word has potential as a mantra: love, peace, one, etc. (Use a nice one! You ARE what you think, you know.)

om lotusAum or OM, is Sanskrit, and refers to the sound of the Universe, or the sound that brings pure consciousness into manifestation. It is an often-used mantra by devoted meditators because of two main reasons that I am aware of: One, is the intention behind saying it which implies a desire to unite and become one with the whole of universal consciousness; and Two, the actual sound of the word itself—the internal resonance that is created in your pallet and vocal box when the “Oooooo-Mmmmmm” or the “Ahhh-Oooo-Mmmm” vibrates in your throat and then the sound moves upward toward your nasal cavities.

From my personal explorations, I find that the “N” sounds (like “ONE”) or “M” sounds (like OM or AUM) are very effective for meditation because they give that added resonance in your head when you say it. Some sources, such as Barbara Brennen, cite that extra vibrational resonance in the nasal cavity area helps to stimulate the pineal gland, which is also the gland most associated with further developing 3rd-eye (psychic) abilities.

So, since the OM and AUM sounds are so popular with devoted meditators who often have amazing higher-consciousness experiences, I would guess that there is some validity to those claims.

But try it for yourself. Create exactly the same relaxing situation for yourself as you did with the Breath Meditation, and then with every exhalation, simply say the word that you wish to use for your mantra meditation, and really stretch it out when you say it. Make it extend through the entire out-breath. Then slowly intake a breath, ….center it in your abdomen, ….and again, ….exhale while saying the word.

Because of the sound aspect to meditating using a mantra, it lends itself to more private meditation sessions or group meditations for those who do use the same mantra. Or once you have become familiar with the word and the process, you may be able to simply say it in your mind and have similar calming effects.

Learning a Basic Meditation

Today’s world is definitely high-tech, high-energy, and high-stress. Our concentration is constantly pulled from one moment to the next by a myriad of external sources and communication devices. So finding a way to relax either during the day or at day’s end becomes extremely important to our own well-being, both physically and mentally.

No doubt about it: Wherever we are, we need a time-out.

Meditation can be that island of tranquility beckoning us to shore while treading water in this turbulent sea of over-stimulation. We can pull ourselves onto that calm, soothing, sandy beach of solitude and inner peace, and let those crashing waves of daily life just continue to move on by us. Yes, we can.

While that previous paragraph may be over-writing at its worst, the images produced in our brains while reading it are powerful and have lasting effects on our sub-conscious processing system. The use of images, auditory signals, and other sensing devices to help hold attention when the mind tends to wander, are key components to successfully meditating.

Let’s pretend that you have decided that you truly do want to start meditating but that you don’t know how to begin. I would say that one of the easiest and most basic meditations to start with is to simply follow your breath moving in and out of your body. In essence, all you need to do is to sit quietly, relax your body completely, and simply breathe.

In fact, a primary focusing agent commonly used in many meditations, is to focus on the breath itself moving in and out of our bodies. It is so simple. It can be done anywhere, at anytime that you have a few minutes, and most people around you are oblivious that you are even doing it, so you needn’t feel uncomfortable around others.

At the end of a long day, it can begin with the long, deep sigh as you walk through the door at home, and continue onto your meditation mat or chair in your secluded spot purposely created as your meditation haven—your “sandy-beach island amidst turbulent seas”—that allows you the time to simply drop all your concerns and cares, and breathe your aggravations away. It’s so easy to do.

Here is a sample meditation that is simple, effective, and was created by the University of New Hampshire for its students to learn how to use meditation to help ease their stress levels. It’s the basic breath meditation and guides you through the basics of doing one of the easiest and most effective meditations used by many. So find a quiet spot, get comfortable, and just breathe.

UNH Breath Meditation from youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7a-2NYUTCQ

UNH breath meditation

Promoting Healthy Bodies and Increasing Mental Clarity

Just by using one or two of the simple relaxation or guided meditations mentioned previously, you can soon realize how beneficial meditation is to your overall health and well-being. Clearing the mind, if only for 5-15 minutes at a time, can be totally refreshing allowing us to better navigate the rest of our busy days. Eliminating that incessant mind-chatter can be very calming and comforting.

So even if you only have 15-30 minutes to meditate, once or twice a day, meditation can soon transform your outlook on life and help you better handle the normal daily affairs.

It can be the solace after a difficult, patience-testing situation at work or at home; or it can be the healthy reward that we give ourselves for making it through any type of struggle. You might be amazed how much sharper your mind will become after meditating regularly for a couple weeks, and how much more tolerant or patient you can be with others—or even with yourself.

Positions for Meditation:

There are many effective poses for meditating depending on your flexibility and your location. For the relaxation meditations, lying flat on the floor or on a bed may be your most enticing pose, but the intention is to train your mind to focus and relax while still conscious—not asleep.

One can just as easily meditate sitting in a straight-backed chair with the feet flat on the floor, hands resting on your thighs, eyes closed and body straight—but relaxed. It’s better to do this in an “armless” chair so your shoulders can completely relax as well.

However, if you are flexible enough, you can sit cross-legged on the floor, back straight, eyes closed, hands resting across the knees—either upward or downward facing, with thumb and first finger touching.

lotus meditationIf you are a yoga-adept, you can easily adopt the traditional “lotus position” or the Zen pose shown in the picture.

Which Meditation Best Suites You?

Depending on the meditation technique used, and the intention for using the technique, one can reach a simple, calm inner state where the mind stills and the body relaxes. This basic intention for your meditation practice will provide a soothing, refreshing respite from the daily grind (brain waves move from Beta wakefulness, to Alpha resting state, and can even slip deeper into the Theta state of deep rest and inner peacefulness).

If you are focused on a more spiritual path, one can pursue true-self exploration with a disciplined practice of vipasanna (mindfulness meditation) or contemplative or gazing meditations, and reach deeper beyond Theta state to the Delta-communion state.

The choice is yours. Meditation can be that simple and that profound.

You may want to ask yourself some questions to help define your needs:

  • What is your desire or goal for your meditation practice? (stress reduction, relaxation, better health and mental clarity, techniques for mental and emotional reprogramming, feeling at peace or greater peace of mind, greater self-knowledge, greater spiritual connection, developing intuition, enhancing knowledge and achieving a wisdom state)
  • How much time are you willing to devote to your meditation practice? (5 minutes a day, 15 minutes a day, 15-30 minutes twice a day, etc.,—the longer you do it the more you gain because you can go deeper in consciousness exploration with increased time periods and more frequent sessions)
  • Do you have a quiet, secluded location for meditation—undisturbed by family or phones? (Pull the plug on noise-making devices, shut off the cell phone, or meditate when everyone else is asleep and the world is fairly still.)
  • Find a small area in the house, or be in a natural environment with nature sounds, but find a way to make your meditation location special and reverent for meditating, so that after practicing for a few days, your body naturally relaxes when you close your eyes and assume your meditative position.
  • If spiritual exploration is your desire, are you disciplined enough for daily practice to achieve that goal of transcending the ego-self to connect into the True and Universal Self? (It could take a few days or a few months or even a few years to reach the state of consciousness you desire.) But if that IS your desire, then DO IT.

Most importantly, enjoy your meditation practice. View it as a mini-vacation from the day’s stress. View it as a “reward” to yourself, not a necessary task that you dread. Exercising and meditating can be very similar in that respect: we know that we need to do it, but ….. and then we provide all those reasons not to—good or not.

So just give yourself some REALLY GOOD reasons to meditate, and then FIND THE TIME to improve your health and mental clarity. It’s worth it because YOU ARE worth it!

Exploring a Few Meditation Techniques

“Meditation” is a general term that describes many different techniques used to quiet the mind for a variety of purposes, many of which were described here in an earlier post.

In other words, there are different forms of meditation and many reasons to meditate. We will explore a few of those forms and describe how and why each form is used for the effect desired.dove and lotus

As you personally sample a few of these forms you can see for yourself how soothing and wonderfully refreshing a number of them can be.

Different Forms of Meditation for Different Purposes:

  • Soothing/Peace Inducing Meditations—for stress reduction and relaxation
  • Cleansing or Energy Gathering Meditations—used to clear the energy field around a person of negative energies and to increase the positive, loving energy entering the field to raise the vibration and strengthen the person
  • Vipassana Meditation—Mindfulness meditation – Introspective or contemplative purposes
  • Gazing Meditation—for focusing attention and shutting down mental chatter (the ultimate purpose of gazing is meant to learn the true “essence” of whatever becomes the object of your focused concentration)
  • Healing Meditation—for visualizing personal healing or for transformational journeys
  • Visualization Meditations—utilizes positive visualization techniques for specific purposes
  • Sound Meditations—utilizes sounds or soothing music to relax and shift the mind’s frequency to slower states of consciousness (from beta to alpha and lower)
  • Higher Vibration Meditations—for increasing peace and compassion within and throughout, or for transcending the physical plane while still on it
  • The “Emergency Response” Meditation—specialized meditation for stopping anxiety  attacks by using a more refined/ tighter focused version of the “1,2,3,4  meditation”
  • Walking Meditations—can be mind-clearing nature walks where one focuses on each footstep rising and falling, or perhaps walking a labyrinth in a reverent state of mind
  • Moving Meditations—like Yoga, Tai Chi or Chi Gong
  • Writing Meditations—clearing  the mind and free writing as thoughts arise
  • Guided Meditations—for both individuals or groups, may have different purposes. Can be used in relaxation, healing, or group centering and bonding situations.
  • Copyrighted  Meditation Techniques like Transcendental Meditation (TM) that uses a personalized mantra, or some other registered system specifically bonded or licensed to a group or individual; or Dr. Herbert Benson’s “Progressive  Muscle Relaxation Techniques”— These types of meditations may be highly effect when used under the strict control of the group licensing it, but they are not the only means of reaching a higher state of consciousness or the only vehicle for achieving muscle and mind relaxation.

The Intention of Meditation—Quieting the Mind

Why do we need to quiet the mind?green pink horizon

The mind is a processing center—continually inputting, analyzing, and directing body actions in reaction to the perceived degree of safety or threat around it.

Left to its meandering tendencies, the mind normally chatters non-stop about past incidences or interactions—rehashing memories and the emotions attached to them.

At the same time, the mind is constantly inputting stimuli of the present with all the distractions of every moment, while steering the actions of the body often functioning on auto-pilot.

The other direction the mind naturally leans toward is in the anticipation of a future happening, event, or interaction.

And sometimes the mind just tries to fill in the empty space of nothing happening around us, if we don’t keep ourselves active enough to stimulate it.

To better tame all of this chaotic mental activity, we use meditation as a tool to control the direction of our thought flow, allowing us to determine the time that we spend mentally processing past, present or future events.

But meditation can also be useful to assist us in our own personal quests, such as:

  • The search for mental clarity
  • The search for spiritual connectedness
  • The search for peace of mind and developing a sense of centeredness
  • The desire for a more calm and peaceful manner of living filled with deep inner satisfaction and joy
  • The desire to improve our health and well being
  • The desire to manifest a particular destiny

Using meditation in relation to these goals is being able to capture our attention and keep it focused on what WE desire, rather than on the multitude of subjects or distractions that the mind wishes to explore when the body is at rest.

Some authors refer to the mind’s incessant, senseless chatter as “the monkey mind” because it is constantly hopping here and there, swinging from one subject to the next, and rarely sitting still.

Depending on the purpose for meditating, a number of focusing agents can be used to quiet the mind.