The Contrasting Role of Higher Order Awareness in Hypnosis and Meditation

Rebecca Semmens-Wheeler, Zoltan Dienes


Meditation and hypnosis might be regarded as involving similar processes and skills. For example, both meditation and hypnosis are associated with high levels of absorption and imaginative capacity, and both can be used for self-regulation. Research has also shown that meditation improves attentional functioning, and that hypnotic response can involve attentional strategies. However, we argue that hypnosis and mindfulness meditation are essentially different. Crucially, hypnotic experience results from a lack of awareness of mental states (specifically, of intentions); by contrast, mindfulness meditation aims to develop accurate meta-awareness. Hypnosis is a form of self deception; meditation a way of getting to know your mind. We discuss the empirical relation of both meditation and hypnosis to higher order awareness of mental states, and suggest further research.

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The Journal of Mind–Body Regulation