Why Meditation Works
The benefits of mediation are profound. Yogis have known this for centuries and scientists can now prove it. It is suggested that meditation is potentially the most effective way to harness the thought process, improving one’s sense of clarity, peace and happiness. Scientific research on mediation has proven that daily practice can improve cognitive functioning, creativity, energy, and heighten intuition. Likewise it has been proven to decrease blood pressure, the body’s pain response and stress hormone levels.
Learning how to teach the brain to focus attention is necessary to achieve peak performance in any endeavor. Mind strength is a very empowering tool that can affect and improve countless aspects of one’s life. Which brings us to why meditation works, it affects our brain waves.
Brain waves play a critical role in mediation. There are five categories of brain waves, each of which are associated with specific activities. What mediation essentially does is allow one to move from higher frequency brain waves to lower frequencies, activating different centers in the brain. Slower brain wavelengths equal more time between thoughts, allowing you the time to choose which thoughts you invest in and what actions you take.
5 Categories of Brain Waves:
Gamma State: (30-100 Hz) This is the highest frequency at which active learning and hyperactivity occurs. Gamma state is the optimal time for the brain to absorb and retain information. If overstimulated, it can lead to anxiety.
Beta State: (13-30 Hz) This state is where we function most each day. It is associated with the alert mind state of the brain’s prefrontal cortex. It is a state of a working or thinking mind. It involves everything from planning to analysis, assessment and categorizing.
Alpha State: (9-13 Hz) At this state the brain waves begin to slow down considerably, away from the thinking mind. In this state you will feel more peaceful, calm and grounded. You may often find yourself in an “alpha state” after a yoga class; this is because the activity helps to relax your body and mind. In this state you will experience a more lucid, reflective, somewhat diffused awareness. In alpha state the brain’s hemispheres are more balanced, known as neural integration.
Theta State: (4-8 Hz) Here you able to begin mediation. This state is where the thinking (verbal) mind transitions to the meditative (visual) mind. You begin to transition to a deeper state of awareness. This deeper state creates stronger intuition and a greater capacity for wholeness and complex problem solving.
Delta State: (1-3 Hz) Those who have been meditating for decades, such as Tibetan monks, can reach this state while in an alert, wakened awareness. However, most of us reach this final state during deep, dreamless sleep.
How to Meditate:
An easy mediation technique to transition from a Beta or Alpha state to a Theta state is to simply focus on your breath. Your breath and mind work together, so as your breath slows your brain waves will simultaneously slow down.
Begin by finding a non-distracting environment, free of noise and interruptions and sit somewhere that is comfortable with your shoulders relaxed and your spine tall. Place your hands on your knees or in your lap and close your eyes, being mindful to raise your gaze between your eyebrows (to your prefrontal cortex or 3rd eye).
Watch your breath. Become aware of your breath flowing in and out of your body. Breathe naturally, don’t try to change your breathing, simply notice it.
If you notice your mind starts to wander simply notice your thoughts come and go and continue to focus on your breath. With time you will notice that as your breath slows and lengthens your mind will become calmer, and eventually all thoughts will fade.
Make consistency your goal. It is suggested that the best time to meditate is first thing in the morning before your mind is bombarded with distractions or in the evening before you go to bed as your mind is beginning to naturally slow, preparing for sleep. Mediating at the same time, and in the same place, each day will train your mind to associate that time and place with mediation. Any stillness is helpful, however setting aside just 20 minutes a day to meditate is most effective, for both your body and mind. Try making a commitment to yourself to meditate each day for the next 30 days. In time you too can experience the many benefits of meditation.
Written by Jaye Geisler