Hypnobabies – Hypnosis … or Guided Imagery … or Meditation?
by Kerry Tuschhoff, HCHI, CHt, CI
They can all induce extremely beneficial, deeply relaxing and calming states of mind, and yet, the way each one is achieved and the benefits of each can be very different. It is important for us to understand the differences between these three modalities since other childbirth hypnosis methods may use one, two, or all of them in various ways.
- Meditation – with most forms of meditation, the goal is to clear your mind and think of nothing, or maintain focus on a single word or concept and be physically still (usually sitting straight up).
- Guided Imagery is more visually oriented as the person is guided through a visual journey for a specific purpose (such as relaxation, health, performance, emotional health) using all the senses: imagined sight, smell, hearing, touch, taste.
- Hypnosis is suggestion oriented: hypnosis creates and utilizes deeper “trance states” as well as specific words and phrases to affect a positive outcome by re-training the inner mind.
To help us understand better:
During meditation, some people can enter a state of hypnosis, however it will usually be lighter, with no deepening techniques, and they stay in an alpha brainwave state. Then they focus on their mantra or clearing their mind.
Guided Imagery also creates a much lighter “trance state” than hypnosis, with positive affirmations, mental pictures and metaphors to help the person enter and maintain that state. In guided imagery, you can experience a visual journey with messages such as, “You are walking through beautiful, serene woods, on a path that leads you where you want to go…”
Guided Imagery is more free-flowing and depends on the person’s mind to understand the metaphors used. With guided imagery, you enjoy a light, relaxed state, then are directed to visualize a specific situation or circumstance in your mind, and then to allow the imagination to unfold a story. It’s much like having a dream in an awake state. When guided imagery is done well it is relaxing and highly effective for such concerns as emotional/mental issues and long-term healing. Hypnosis, however, deals primarily with behavior modification using specific instructions, suggestions, directions, deepening techniques and a focused goal for mind, body and/or emotions.
Hypnosis is best described as an altered state of consciousness, a changed or focused state of awareness, concentration and perception. It is simply a heightened sense of suggestibility that redirects the focus of both the conscious and sub-conscious minds. The deeper the state of hypnosis is, the more “open” the subconscious mind becomes, and the more accepting is it of new concepts. While in a state of hypnosis, the conscious mind relaxes and the attention of the sub-conscious mind is stimulated, which allows change; a sort of “software reprogramming”. During hypnosis the subconscious mind is in a state of focused concentration and receptivity; alert, accepting and digesting the specific suggestions that it hears, allowing changes in perception to occur from within. Hypnosis also produces a reduced resistance to change, and selective thought becomes more efficient.
According to hypnotherapist Dr. Tim Brunson of the International Hypnosis Research Institute,
“In general, guided imagery without the advantages of a deeply hypnotic process is a weaker alternative. The mind…and body…resist change. We see the effects of this when after New Year’s Day we still date checks with the previous year. Once any pattern, such as a habit, has been established, it naturally resists change. Therefore, although the ideas, concepts, and intentions presented during a guided imagery can be wonderful, unless a pattern’s resistance to change is eliminated, it will be less effective. When resistance is reduced, any suggestion given – provided that it is not contrary to the subject’s will, ethics, or morals – will be quickly accepted. Of course, suggestions can be given through the use of guided imagery, however, suggestions are much more quickly internalized and efficient in a deep state of hypnosis.”
How is Hypnobabies hypnosis different from meditation and guided imagery?
It is the depth and content that makes hypnosis different – Hypnobabies uses a very deep form of hypnosis that requires it to be learned in a completely supported position such as lying down or in a comfy chair/sofa where the mom’s head is fully supported, and all parts of her body can become 100% relaxed. Then, instead of clearing the mind or providing it with stories to follow along with, we *fill* the (inner) mind with hypnotic deepening techniques and specific, direct hypnosis suggestions for an easier pregnancy and birth. Practicing these during pregnancy literally re-trains your mental perceptions from the inside out, and that creates specific responses in the body during childbirth – via post-hypnotic suggestions. These will be used by our Hypno-mothers to create physical comfort, the deepest relaxation possible, and a calm, confident attitude. When learned, practiced and used as directed, most moms can enjoy a much easier and more comfortable childbirth experience!