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Visualization and Hypnosis
Publish date: Jun 29, 2009
Summary: Is visualization more than just positive thinking?
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Visualization, a common spiritual practice in Eastern, Protestant, and Catholic religious circles, is more than just conjuring up thoughts and pictures. In fact, guided visualization is hypnosis.
Psychologist Michael Yapko explains:
Many times therapists aren’t even aware that they’re doing hypnosis. They’re doing what they call guided imagery [which is visualization] or guided meditation, which are all very mainstream hypnotic techniques.i
Despite the dangers involved, Christian leaders are encouraging their followers to experience visualization. Paul Yonggi Cho, leader of the world's largest church in South Korea, wrote a book called The Fourth Dimension. In his book, he tells of Robert Schuller's endorsement of the practice. Schuller said, "I discovered the reality of that dynamic dimension in prayer that comes through visualizing...Don't try to understand it. Just start to enjoy it! It's true. It works. I tried it."ii
Schuller also taught this:
You don't know what power you have within you...You make the world into anything you choose. Yes, you can make your world into whatever you want it to be.iii
Move into mighty moods of meditation. Draw energy from centers of sacred solitude, serenity, and silence...Find yourself coming alive in the garden of prayer called meditation...Yes, the "New Agers" have grabbed hold of meditation...Hey, Christian! Hear me! Let's not give up the glorious, God-given gift of meditation by turning it over to those outside our faith.iv
Biblical versus New Age Visualization
Schuller is right: the New Age movement does involve meditation. He is also right in saying that there is a godly, God-given meditation taught in the Bible. However, Schuller's definition of meditation is not Biblical. Rather, he supports a form of New Age visualization that serves to propagate Satan's twin lies to humanity, that is, that we are gods and that we are immortal. Schuller says this:
It is important to remember that meditation in any form is the
harnessing, by human means, of God's divine laws...We are endowed with
a great many powers and forces that we do not yet fully
The most effective mantras employ the "M" sound. You can get the feel of it by repeating the words, "I am, I am," many times over...Transcendental Meditation or TM...is not a religion nor is it necessarily anti-Christian."v
Nineteenth-century New Age pioneer Godfre Ray King gives a similar definition:
True visualization is God's attribute and Power of Sight—acting in the mind of man. When one consciously pictures in his mind a desire he wishes fulfilled—he is using one of the most powerful means of bringing it into his visible, tangible experience.vi
If visualization is unBiblical meditation, then what is Biblical meditation?
When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the
I will meditate also of all thy work, and talk of thy doings...
Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word (Psalm 63:6, 77:12, 119:148).
The word "meditate" as used in Scripture is שׂיח, which means to ponder, converse, commune, pray, and speak with. Visualization through repetitive mantras or hyponosis is not Biblical meditation because it does not involve conscious thought or response.
True meditation is Word-based. When we study Scripture, using our full minds and hearts to process the information, applying it to our lives and relationship with God, we start to become more like Him.
Meditation and prayer means talking with God as a friend, not just chanting at Him. If God really is our Father and our Friend, does He need to hypotize us in order for us to know Him better? No. The true love God has for us draws us to Him, and allows us to communicate with Him.
Visualization, or hypnosis, is becoming as popular in sports circles as in religious ones.
Hypnosis, by design, by passes the frontal lobe as it helps the subject enter a trance-like state.
Hypnotism is a popular method for dealing with things ranging from common bad habits to emotionally devastating childhood trauma.
Hypnotism appears to perpetuate current depression or set the stage for future depression, by decreasing overall frontal lobe activity and by upsetting the balance between the right and left frontal lobes.
i. Martin and Deidre Bobgan quoting Michael Harner in Hypnosis: Medical, Scientific, or Occultic (Santa Barbara, CA: EastGate Publishers, 2001), p. 82.
ii. Paul Yonggi Cho, The Fourth Dimension (Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1979): ix-x.
iii. (Possibility Thinking: Goals, Amway Corporation cassette tape)
iv. Schuller: Prayer: My Soul's Adventure with God, he says: (pp. 141, 151)
v. Peace of Mind Through Possibility Thinking, pp. 131-32)
This article is adapted from Truth Matters by Professor Walter J. Veith, an international speaker who has studied Biblical issues in-depth in his quest for truth. His popular series Genesis Conflict brings the debate between Creation and evolution to a new climax as he dissects the arguments with a scientific eye. His highly-acclaimed series Total Onslaught sheds light on the state of the world today as we move to a one-world government and an anticipated apocalypse.