Before I come to the differences, first of all the similarities:
Hypnosis and meditation use a special state of consciousness – the trance.Trance is an everyday phenomenon. Whenever you deal intensively with a topic, when you read a book and forget about everyday life, etc. you are in trance. If you are still able to perceive the many things that happen all around, the trance is rather easy. When you don’t notice anything around because your thoughts are so preoccupied, you’re in a little deeper trance.
Of course, it would be fatal to spend all day in trance.We would then not be fit for everyday use. For certain areas of application, however, trance offers an astonishing potential and can – properly used – create opportunities to which we would otherwise not have (controlled) access.
Meditation and hypnosis are the two central areas of application of this particular state of consciousness.
In colloquial terms, some (self-)hypnosis techniques are referred to as meditation or fantasy travel.Of course, not all meditations or fantasy journeys are hypnosis by a long way. A good example of linguistic ambiguity is autogenous training, which was originally invented as self-hypnosis technique (and supposedly called this at the very beginning).
Now to the differences:
Different brain activities can be measured in different states of consciousness (wakefulness, sleep, trance).With EEG, e.g. the frequency of brain currents can be measured.
Depending on whether we sleep, learn, meditate, think hard or listen to pleasant music, the brain produces different brain waves.
These brain waves are then divided into gamma waves, beta waves, alpha waves, theta waves, delta waves, depending on the state of consciousness.
Brain-wise, it is called trance (hypnosis or meditation) when beta waves (associated with wakefulness, clarity, mental activity), theta waves (these also occur more frequently in dream sleep) and due to the associated with many hypnosis techniques Relaxation is usually also increased alpha waves are measurable.
The combination of beta waves (i.e. brain waves associated with wakefulness) and at the same time increased theatrical activity (which otherwise only arises when dreaming) is therefore a measurable indication of trance.
Theta waves (dream sleep) have a bandwidth of 4 – 7 Hz (vibrations per second).
In meditation, the theta activity is more in the upper range (about 6 – 7 Hz), with hypnosis in the lower range (usually around 4 Hz) of this bandwidth.
Measurements show that some typical hypnosis phenomena (hiding pain, …) become more pronounced the more intense the theta activity compared to beta activity (which does not mean that particularly deep hypnotic trance is particularly low in all cases must be advantageous).
With PET measurement, one can then still see which areas of the brain are particularly active in hypnosis and will find that e.g. the visual center (occipitalllobe) works quite diligently, while many active other brain regions in the waking state are more likely to take a break.
Subjectively, one could also say:
Unlike meditation, hypnosis is a very concentrated condition.This means that all the attention is focused intensively on a concrete experience and this one experience is perceived intensively (but not always reminded afterwards). Therefore, in hypnosis you can also work well on a topic.
Meditation is a wonderful instrument for relaxation, regeneration, to establish good contact with oneself and the world (for many also a spiritual dimension of the world).In order to let go of everyday life, you can also take a time to meditate on breathing, on a flame … after that, however, it usually goes in the direction of “all-custody”.
Hypnosis is a dissociative instrument:
The concentration on a special experience, e.g. the activation of self-healing powers, which one considers e.g. as “healing light”, a healing substance, as an “inner force”, the bacteria / viruses etc.combat, leaves out doubts about the success completely. For the brain, the idea becomes reality and, as far as possible, the body reacts to it.
Even massive noises/ambient noise or even the most severe pain can be completely hidden in hypnosis.
The potential for trance depth in hypnosis would not be achievable for most meditators.
A yoga master once described it this way: trance in the form of meditation he has known and practiced for decades.But his first experience of hypnosis has allowed him to experience a depth of trance and an experience he had never experienced before (not worse, not better, but simply different).
Both meditation and hypnosis are trance states that can be infinitely enriching.However, they are used for different objectives.