Hypnosis and meditation: Vehicles of attention and suggestion

Michael Lifshitz, Amir Raz

Abstract


Although hypnosis and meditation represent distinct domains of practice, they appear to overlap in phenomenology, cognitive mechanisms, neural substrates, and potential therapeutic merits. Whereas numerous studies have documented the beneficial impact of these approaches, few have harnessed these distinctive phenomena together, either clinically or as a means of illuminating cognitive questions. This paper introduces the theme of the present issue and discusses the potential value of yoking empirical studies of hypnosis and meditation. The marriage of these seemingly disparate yet overlapping practices promises to improve our scientific understanding of each as well as unravel their underlying mechanisms. On the one hand, albeit largely overlooked by researchers studying meditation, the intimate relationship between attention and suggestion holds important implications for both theoretical models and therapeutic applications of contemplative practice. On the other hand, hypnosis and meditation serve as complementary vehicles for elucidating salient topics in cognitive neuroscience, including the neural underpinnings of perception and cognitive control, and the governing of deeply-ingrained processes. Binding these approaches to the science of attention and suggestion paves the road to a more nuanced appreciation of hypnosis and meditation while fostering novel therapeutic prospects and improving our understanding of consciousness and cognition.

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The Journal of Mind–Body Regulation