The Difference Between Meditation and Hypnosis

This nuanced conceptual difference makes a very real difference to your intentional evolution

The Difference Between Meditation and Hypnosis

Consciousness is a weird experience. The contents of it change every moment, but the context - the grounding fact of being aware - is always the same.

Meditation asks us to unburden consciousness from our opinions, ideas, stories, and perspectives to welcome the world as it is right now. Hypnosis asks us to turn away from that direct experience of life so we may investigate the origin, nature, and direction of our inner monologues.

The two practices are radically different, but essentially the same.


While meditation and hypnosis are on opposite ends of the awareness spectrum, they're fundamentally the same trance-like state of mind that encounters life from first-principle, “this is here.” The content is the same (your altered state of consciousness), but their context is different (what we intend to do with what is).

Meditation zooms us into an experience of moment-to-moment awareness - nose to the phenomenological glass. Meditation gives the most direct and first-personal experience of being alive.

By directly experiencing life, we see our preferences for the fictions that they are in our minds, no matter how well reasoned. The sensations, fuelling our narratives turn from barriers to peace, to enablers of it (in the same way you no longer need training wheel after you learn to bike).

Hypnosis zooms us out of moment-to-moment awareness. By taking this step back from the direct interaction with the contents of daily life, we can relax out of the stream of experience, create space to observe and adjust our approaches to life.

Similarly, telescopes and microscopes are both tools for investigating reality from a different perspective on the spectrum, but they're still the same system! Given the first-personality this analogy tries to map, many of the nuances we'll cover won't fit the picture.

Get your own microscope for the soul by downloading these free hypnotic recordings.

the similarities

I've only spotted three, and they all fit the image of lenses zooming into or out of a subject.

Both spark a heightened lucidity in of consciousness;

Both leverage that lucidity to align our conscious and subconscious minds;

Both are different frequencies/interpretations/approaches/perspectives, per se, of the same moment of self-awareness.

But as there are obvious differences between microscopes and telescopes, despite their similarities, so are there differences between hypnosis and meditation.

I don't know if this is cognitive bias or some universal significance to the rule of three, but again, I've noticed a set of three:

their motivations

I'll start with the most significant difference: the intent behind the practice. Or why you'd choose to experience life this way.

Hypnosis has an obvious purpose: to rewire your subconscious mind. It's simple and straightforward - address what you don't like about your life so you can become the person you'd love to be.

On the other hand, we can only meditate for its own sake. Being present for any reason other than the present moment misses the mark. We may start meditating to improve ourselves, but an increased sense of awareness, productivity, creativity, happiness, and life satisfaction aren't the purposes of meditation; they're byproducts of it.

If you try to meditate for any reason other than to meditate, you're not meditating, you're trying to talk yourself out of arachnophobia, for example.

The optimal "why" for undertaking the practice is the difference. The fundamental difference between hypnosis and meditation is the attitude with which we practice.

Seeing this difference for yourself in the moment will improve your practice, just like knowing what you’re looking at through any scope will improve your observation.

their attitudes

This difference concerns the frame of mind from/with which you should approach the practices (in my humble opinion). Your attitude is a downstream effect of your motivations.

Meditation asks us to separate our analysis of life from our experience of life - to let the world be as it is without entertaining ideas of what it "should" be. Meditation requires an attitude of inquisitive neutrality, and that precludes desire and expectation. There's no room in the present moment for what isn't already right now.

Hypnosis is different - it's intentional and optimistic. Unlike meditation, which asks you to drop your definitions of good and bad, hypnosis encourages you to investigate the source of your desires, expectations, frustrations, and disappointments.

In this sense, hypnosis is the exact opposite of meditation, and this difference ought to inform how you practice both.

their practices

Their practices are what your awareness is doing while you sit in meditation or hypnosis, and this distinction here is more nuanced than the previous two.

Meditation requires us to disengage from our inner talk - our experience of ourselves and our lives - so we may encounter the world from a purely sensory perspective; how it feels to be here and now. When we sit outside to meditate, this looks like hearing the sound of wind rustling through leaves without engaging the instinct to label the happening, "the wind is rustling the leaves."

However, hypnosis requires us to disengage from the sensory world and focus explicitly on the instinct to label the universe! We close our eyes, set aside everything bothering us, and forget where we are to meet our identity's inner workings.

Meditation loosens/dampens/softens/forgets the self and universalizes our understanding and experience of all reality.

Hypnosis goes the other way, investigating the self. It's self-knowledge in the most immediate sense.

Whether or not you agree with me right now, investigate this distinction the next time you sit with your awareness, and let me know what happens - These ideas continuously evolve.

strolling into a state of flow, grace, peace, or any other name you could give it

If your life is like a car and this venture is like a mechanic, then hypnosis is like changing a flat tire, muffler, or oil, and meditation is like topping up the wiper fluid. Hypnosis gets all the parts in working order, while meditation maintains those functions.

Listening to these hypnotic tapes a few times a week (like ethically owning a mechanic) does the heavy lifting of:

Clearing out stagnant emotional filters from your subconscious;

Exercising the plasticity of ideas, images, and other mental dioramas of reality;

Making time to refine your self-image (which is different from thinking about an idea, and more efficient than repeating mantras to yourself.)

All those topics will have their own hypnotic companions. When they’re all published, packaged, and ready, they’ll cost money. But by getting on this ride early and starting with the first step towards inner peace, you’ll get every hypnotic tape and philosophical associate part of this venture absolutely free.

In another phase of this venture, you'll sculpt an idea of that desired state, and over time, it'll evolve into something incomprehensible to the present-day You.

Side note: I say "desire," but don't be alarmed, seasoned yogis, psychonauts, and philosophers. I don't mean a desire for pleasure. I refer to a preferred conception of self - of the person you would like to be. The process of becoming more compassionate, or more courageous, or generous, or insightful, or focused, or productive, requires a commitment to aligning your conscious desires with subconscious tendencies. And yes, it can hurt to look yourself in the eye for the first time in a long time.

That state will remain a mystery until you eventually experience yourself, with or without this strategy. I can't describe what that picture becomes down the road because strolling between total immersion in the present moment and having a sense of direction for every moment phenomenologically feels different from any possible understanding I can convey through rationale. Maybe one day virtual reality will change that, but in August 2020, I don't think I'm that gifted an artist.

As you continue creating your self, meditation slowly bridges this gap between what is and what I can express through words. Hypnosis dislodges stagnant identities from your subconscious, and the idle chatter typically stuck just below our waking awareness expels those hang-ups from your being while we relax and listen to the wind through the leaves.

The feeling of evolution begins when you can consistently allow your thoughts to come and go through your awareness without instinctually following them. But that's only Phase One of inner peace.

Once this system noticeably affects your daily life, you enter the stage of seeing the world without the context of "you." That's when the meditation turns into philosophizing and appreciating the differences between what could be, what can be, and what should be. It enables us to consciously approach every aspect of life while deepening the hypnotic practice as we continue living.

Meditation is the real backbone of inner peace - hypnosis is just a tool. But put together, your mechanic will become a pit crew.

what should you do with all this esoterica?


  1. Download these free hypnotic recordings and listen to them a few times;
  2. Start meditating as often as you can, and carry that awareness with you into daily life;
  3. Ask yourself some questions about the universe from any level - the personal, societal, or universal. Instead of thinking about your question, keep busy and let an understanding come to you.

Adjacent to esoterica, follow me on Twitter for snippets of ideas like these.

Go live your life the best you can. Maybe do something for someone other than yourself with no expectation, desire, or need for reciprocation.

And if you like what you just read, share it!

Paul Bokserman
Paul Bokserman
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Paul Bokserman

Life's long enough to cultivate inner peace and too short not to.

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