Parallels between “Mindfulness” and Hypnosis

Excerpts from the book, Hakomi Method of Mindfulness Based Body Psychotherapy by Ron Kurtz (a Buddhist) ( Near the end of this paper comments are given pointing out that mindfulness is a state of hypnosis.

The Use of Mindfulness

  1. Mindfulness is undefended consciousness. It has been defined (by Nayanaponika) as “the clear and single-minded awareness of what actually happens to us and in us at the successive moments of perception.”
  2. It’s a skill; it improves with practice. It is a traditional form of meditation, especially for beginners.
  3. It is a traditional method of self-study.
  4. In mindfulness, there is no intention to control what happens next. It is a deliberate relinquishing of control. That’s why the first focus in traditional practice is often on the breath. To pay attention to the breath and not control it is more difficult than one might imagine, especially when we think about how little attention we ordinarily pay to breath and how well it works outside of our conscious control. Mindfulness is a way to practice surrendering. It’s a deliberate vulnerability, a chosen sensitivity.
  5. In mindfulness, one attempts to calm the mind, to silence thoughts.
  6. One focuses inward on the flow of one’s experience.
  7. In Hakomi, we use it in small doses (30 seconds to a minute).
  8. We use it especially in the evocation of experiences.
  9. One of the effects of practicing mindfulness is the gaining of perspective and distance on one’s own internal world, as if one had stepped back and seen a larger canvas than before. One discovers how one habitually meets the world. (Page 4)

Mindfulness is a way of noticing the moment-to-moment flow of ones experience. With practice, one begins to realize how experiences are put together. Mindfulness is a calm state of mind, in which attention is focused on present experience, noticing it without controlling anything but the noticing. In this state, one simply follows the changing contents of the mind without the intention to control what happens. It is a kind of voluntary vulnerability. For us, the important thing is that mindfulness offers the possibility that core beliefs can be made conscious. Advanced meditators can stay in mindfulness for extended periods of time, several hours or more, and in doing so can reach states of mind where silence and peace pervade ones whole being. That level of mindfulness takes years of practice. (Page 67)

There are three essential parts of the set-up. The first is: (1) you have to describe the experiment clearly to the client. You have to give the client clear instructions. You say something like, “I would like to do an experiment where…blah, blah, blah. If it’s going to be a probe, you might say something like, “In this experiment, you’ll become mindful and when you’re ready, give me a signal and I’ll make a statement and we’ll notice what happens. Okay?” It helps clients relax a little when they have an idea about what the experiment is going to be like. You don’t tell them what your statement is going to be—though you could and I have. But, you give them a clear idea of what’s expected of them and what you’re going to do. After that, (2) you get permission. “Is that okay to do?” And track for whether it really seems alright to the client. Clients may say okay when they’re really not okay with it. And if you get clear, sincere permission, then (3) you
ask for and wait for mindfulness. You have to track for when the client actually gets into a mindful state. You say, “Give me a nod, when you’re ready!” Then you watch for the signs and wait for the nod. The signs are: one, the client becomes very still and two, his or her eyelids flutter up and down over closed eyes. This movement of the eyelids is almost always an accurate sign that the client is in mindfulness. I use it all the time.

Of course, mindfulness is a radical shift in the way we pay attention. If you’re working with a new client, you may have to teach him or her about what mindfulness is and you may have to help them get into it the first time. (Page 124)

Another special thing that happens when you do experiments is many people experience a state of consciousness that we can call a ‘child state.’ When the client goes into that state, you can hear a change in the voice, the voice sounds younger the client’s use of words and sentence structure is more childlike. The client’s face also looks younger. These are emotional memories that were created when the client was a child. Somehow, as they arise and flood the system, they bring with them a sense of the child who had the original experiences. When the child appears, you want to contact it. Name the transition. (‘It looks like you feel younger.’). This childlike state is a very fruitful state to work with. The client is, in a sense, innocent and open, ready to be helped by an adult. I like to engage a client’s adult self in the process of working with her child. I want the adult to help me understand what’s going on with the child. I want to help the client’s adult self engage with her child in a nourishing way, more nourishing than the child experienced in her formative relationships. (Page 23)

The last step is providing the missing experience, giving nourishment and supporting the client’s process of integration and insight. Clients will show external signs of the thinking and insight that’s happening. Little movements of the head and very small indications of surprise and understanding show that the client is integrating the new experience. The therapist only has to wait and be attentive. Understanding comes spontaneously after the nourishment of a missing experience is felt. The first phase of this—because it will continue for days, maybe, or weeks—takes only ten or fifteen minutes. After which, the client gives some indication that he’s complete. Maybe by opening her eyes and looking around, indicating that he’s back in the world. At that point, the session is over and completes naturally. (Page 24)

“The entire Hakomi method falls apart without mindfulness. Hakomi is the method of evoked experience in mindfulness. No mindfulness; no Hakomi.” Ron Kurtz in “The Hakomi Principles” (page 2) (

The Bynum Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility

Levels of Hypnoidal Trance

  1. No Objective Change
  2. Relaxation
  3. Fluttering of Eyelids
  4. Closing of Eyes
  5. Complete Physical Relaxation

Hypnosis is bypassing the critical faculty of the conscious mind in order to establish selective thinking within the subconscious mind. It is the ultimate means of heightening motivation by programming your subconscious mind to work in cooperation with your conscious desires.
Clinical Hypnosis Institute

Hypnotherapy – Happens when a person wants to make a change in personality, habits, or to change and alter his life. I work with subjects (patients) and remove old programs such as fears, habits, phobias, etc. Once this is accomplished I install new Programs of positive and permanent changes. Hypnotherapy is the removal of old Programs and installing the new.

For most people Hypnosis is a mid-Alpha range activity and although you are definitely in Hypnosis you remain fully conscious of everything that is going on. Hypnosis is simply a matter of setting aside the conscious mind, to one degree or another, and selectively focusing one’s attention on either a particular point or a whole range of experiences. Because of the hypersuggestibility inherent in the Alpha and Theta levels, positive programming is extremely effective in helping to create positive change.


The mindfulness of Hakomi is a state of hypnosis. This is a science that God forbids us to use. If we use this science we are giving Satan permission to control “both the mind that is given up to be controlled by another and the mind that controls”.

“To advocate the science of mind cure is opening a door through which Satan will enter to take possession of mind and heart. Satan controls both the mind that is given up to be controlled by another and the mind that controls.”–Lt 130, 1901. (HC 109.)

“While it is believed that one human mind so wonderfully affects another, Satan, who is ready to press every advantage, insinuates himself and works on the right hand and on the left. And while those who are devoted to these sciences laud them to the heavens because of the great and good works which they affirm are wrought by them, they little know what a power for evil they are cherishing; but it is a power which will yet work with all signs and lying wonders–with all deceivableness of unrighteousness. Mark the influence of these sciences, dear reader, for the conflict between Christ and Satan is not yet ended….” {2MCP 711.3}

“In dealing with the science of mind cure, you have been eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which God has forbidden you to touch. It is now high time for you to begin to look to Jesus, and by beholding His character become changed into the divine likeness. Cut away from yourselves everything that savors of hypnotism, the science by which satanic agencies work.”–Letter 20, 1902 (2SM, p. 350).

“I told him that the Lord had shown me in vision that mesmerism was from the devil, from the bottomless pit, and that it would soon go there, with those who continued to use it.” {2MCP 719.4}

The name New Thought was taken in the 1890s, generally replacing such names as Mind Cure and Mental Science.

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, the father of New Thought, learned of mesmerism and became an expert mesmerist. Quimby came to question accepted theories of what was happening in mesmerism and eventually developed his own system of spiritual healing, in which the emphasis was on the action of God, rather than merely the influence of one human mind on another. Quimby believed that he had rediscovered the healing method of Jesus.

“The mind cure is one of the most dangerous deceptions which can be practiced upon any individual.” 2MCP 706

Edwin A. Noyes M.D., MPH