Mindfulness meditation with hypnotherapy may boost highly stressed people
A modern therapy incorporating hypnosis with mindfulness has shown positive outcomes and could be a quicker, better way to relax out than conventional meditation. New stress treatment, integrating mindfulness with hypnotherapy, has demonstrated promising effects in a Baylor University pilot trial. Researchers at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, investigated the viability of an exercise dubbed “mindful hypnotherapy” as a calming strategy for highly stressed individuals.
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that involves focusing attention on present moment awareness. It can help people cope with stress but can require months of practice and training.
The intervention is called “mindful hypnotherapy.”
“Mindfulness is a type of meditation that involves focusing attention on present moment awareness. It can help people cope with stress, but can require months of practice and training,” said researcher Gary Elkins, Ph.D., director of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory at Baylor University. “Hypnosis also involves focusing attention, but it includes mental imagery, relaxation, and suggestions for symptom reduction.”
Hypnosis interventions are usually brief and have been used in the treatment of pain and symptoms in clinical practice. Head Physician Gary Elkins, Ph.D., Director of the Mind-Body Medicine Research Laboratory at Baylor University, suggests that this modern approach to managing anxiety and symptoms associated with elevated stress can be a valuable treatment choice for stress disorders. The basic principle of the research is that using hypnosis to accomplish the aim of mindfulness may have many benefits, Elkins said.
“Combining mindfulness and hypnotherapy in a single session is a novel intervention that may be equal to or better than existing treatments, with the advantage of being more time-effective, less daunting and easier to use,” he said. “This could be a valuable option for treating anxiety and stress reduction.”
As a brief intervention, mindfulness meditation may be broadly disseminated and is a revolutionary modern mind-body therapy, he added. This thesis is published in the International Journal of Clinical and Therapeutic Hypnosis. Given the promise that both meditation and hypnotherapy have been seen in ongoing research, no previous trials have examined the combination of mindfulness care with hypnosis.
Elkins noted that while self-awareness can be a successful therapy for depression and anxiety for certain patients, it is normally delivered in eight weekly sessions lasting two to three hours per week and requires full-day abstinence of eight or more hours. That length of time—more than 24 hours of therapy—may be a hardship for certain people in terms of expense and time. The study has also not proven that mindfulness-based therapies are reliably preferable to traditional cognitive behavioral therapy, he said.
The Baylor research team hired 42 people with self-reported high stress for the study of conscientious hypnotherapy. Half engaged in one-hour weekly individual workshops, which included hypnosis inductions and tips for greater knowledge. Participants were also given self-hypnosis audio recordings lasting about 20 minutes, each with tips for hypnotic induction, stimulation, and increased consciousness.
The second group did not take part in the intervention.
Intervention content based on present-day mindfulness, non-judgmental awareness of the five senses, non-judgmental awareness of thoughts and emotions, self-hypnosis respect for self and others, awareness of personal beliefs and purpose in life, and the shift to the long-term practice of conscientious hypnotherapy, Elkins stated.
At the conclusion of the study, the intervention group registered a substantial decrease in tension and a major rise in awareness. Most were very pleased with the number of hours, the simplicity of home practice, and the clarity of content, Elkins said. The average person exercised almost regularly, and total satisfaction with the experiment was 8.9 on a scale of 10.
In comparison, those who did not participate in the intervention reported no significant difference between pre-and post-study stress levels. With no known health risks presented by meditation and no special training or equipment required, the benefits of beginning a mindfulness practice are achievable to anyone with a desire to develop deeper states of relaxation and mental clarity.