Does Meditation Work?
Meditation is often marketed as anxiety relief. While classically the goal is to dissolve the ego, reduce stress, relax the mind and find inner peace is quite popular. Meditation is relaxation. It’s not about focusing one’s thoughts on one thing, but instead on becoming thoughtless. Meditation brings the brainwave pattern into an alpha state that promotes healing.
As with other styles, the more you put in, the more benefit you receive, even though, as Goleman says, even one session has proven to help people deal with stress.There are many forms of meditation, ranging in complexity from strict, regulated practices to general recommendations.
If practiced regularly, meditation is thought to help develop habitual, unconscious micro behaviors that can potentially produce widespread positive effects on physical and psychological functioning.Enjoy a refreshing few minutes of meditation each day. Dive deep into yourself and enrich your life.Simple meditation for 15 minutes twice a day has been shown to bring beneficial results.
How Meditation Healing Brain
A simple meditation to use to begin the transition from Beta or Alpha to the Theta State is to focus on the breath. The breath and mind work in tandem, so as breath begins to lengthen, brain waves begin to slow down.
1.Gamma State: (30 – 100Hz) This is the state of hyperactivity and active learning. Gamma state is the most opportune time to retain information. This is why educators often have audiences jumping up and down or dancing around — to increase the likelihood of permanent assimilation of information. If over stimulated, it can lead to anxiety.
2. Beta State: (13 – 30Hz) Where we function for most of the day, beta state is associated with the alert mind state of the prefrontal cortex. This is a state of the “working” or “thinking mind” — analytical, planning, assessing and categorizing.
3. Alpha State: (9 – 13Hz) Brain waves start to slow down out of thinking mind. We feel more calm, peaceful and grounded. We often find ourselves in an “alpha state” after a yoga class, a walk in the woods, a pleasurable sexual encounter or during any activity that helps relax the body and mind. We are lucid, reflective, have a slightly diffused awareness. The hemispheres of the brain are more balanced (neural integration).
4. Theta State: (4 – 8Hz) We are able to begin meditation. This is the point where the verbal/thinking mind transitions to the meditative/visual mind. We begin to move from the planning mind to a deeper state of awareness (often felt as drowsy), with stronger intuition, more capacity for wholeness and complicated problem solving. The theta state is associated visualization.
5. Delta State: (1-3 Hz) Tibetan monks that have been meditating for decades can reach this in an alert, wakened phase, but most of us reach this final state during deep, dreamless sleep.
Most theories are based on the assumption that meditation is a sophisticated form of relaxation involving a concept called the parasympathetic response. Psychological stress is associated with activation of the sympathetic component of the autonomic nervous system which, in its extreme, causes the ‘fight or flight response’. Meditation and any form of rest or relaxation acts to reduce sympathetic activation by reducing the release of catecholamines and other stress hormones such as cortisol, and promoting increased parasympathetic activity which in turn slows the heart rate and
improves the flow of blood to the viscera and away from the periphery.
Other Neurophysiological Effects
Other proponents claim that meditation involves unique neurophysiological effects; however, this remains to be proven. Research at the Meditation Research Program suggests the limbic system may be involved in Yoga Meditation since significant effects involving mood state have been consistently observed.
The most important issue that must be addressed in this field of research is to clearly define meditation and then subject that definition to scientific testing. Meditation is popularly perceived to be any activity in which the individual’s attention is primarily focused on a repetitious cognitive activity. This very broad definition is, in the opinion of the Meditation Research Program, the main cause for much of the inconsistent outcomes seen in meditation research.
If one closely examines the authentic tradition of meditation it is apparent that meditation is a discrete and well defined experience of a state called ‘thoughtless awareness’. This is a state in which the excessive and stress producing activity of the mind is neutralized without reducing alertness and effectiveness.
Authentic meditation enables one to focus on the ‘present moment’ rather than dwell on the unchangeable past or undetermined future. It is this state of equipoise that is said to be therapeutic both psychologically and physically and which fundamentally distinguishes meditation from simple relaxation, physical rest or sleep.
Four States of Human Awareness
The Indian scriptures describe the following four states of human awareness:
Jagruti : The waking state of consciousness
Swapna : The dreaming state of consciousness
Sushupti : The state of deep sleep in which the mind, the ego and the superego are still
Turya : The state of thoughtless awareness beyond the mind
The first three states of awareness are commonly experienced in our daily lives. The fourth state is the state of thoughtless awareness or nirvichara samadhi. This is the state in which the constant rising and falling of thoughts in the mind comes to an end. At first a gap begins to appear between the thoughts. As this gap grows the thoughts diminish and with the regular practice of meditation, the mind enters easily into thoughtless awareness. The attention becomes still like a lake without any ripples on it and a deep inner peace begins to dawn upon our awareness.
When there are no ripples on the water of a lake, its surface becomes almost invisible as it reflects the beauty of the landscape around it-the trees and the sky and clouds. In the same way, the still mind reflects the beauty of the creation and melts into the bliss and the peace of the divine.
In the state of thoughtless awareness we think neither of the past nor of the future. We are entirely in the present moment, in the state of being and do not waste the precious moments of life thinking about times that are finished forever or yet to come. We start to enjoy our Self, our spirit, our own inner beauty and the the beauty of creation. We start to enjoy being. We are able to enjoy the singing of birds and the scent of flowers at a much deeper level as we are no longer bombarded by the meaningless mental chatter that assails our awareness and pollutes our attention, distracting us from the simple joys of our existence.
Great saints of India such as Shri Adi Shankarcharya have described the wandering of the mind as the ocean of illusion. A constant wave of thoughts that cover the spirit and bring us confusion and misery.
Is it possible for humans to live in the present moment? Yes, it is, and most of us encounter living examples of it regularly.
meditation-vibration Observe closely the next small child you encounter. They have no worried lines on their faces, are almost always playing and enjoying themselves, and rarely complain about bills, jobs, chores, etc. If one happens to have an unpleasant experience it is quickly forgotten and life goes on. They are naturally balanced, living-in-the present, stress-free beings. Who has seen a toddler hold a grudge, worry about the next meal or even think about what they did yesterday or will do tomorrow? They are so focused on the present moment that they are entirely spontaneous, unpretentious and usually very happy. They are in a constant state of effortless meditation.
Living in the moment is not, however, a regression to immaturity. It is an evolutionary step in which we return to our childlike innocence and simplicity but in full awareness of ourselves, our place in society and our moral role and responsibility. Suffice to say for now that yoga meditation appears to offer a method by which each of us can tame the brainstorm, realize a state of peace and tranquility and begin to heal our body, mind and spirit