Scientists and doctors study meditation and recommend it. Meditation is now proven to be more than just a ‘warm and fuzzy’ feeling. It works. So there are many reasons why people begin to meditate. Some learn meditation to become more relaxed, for improvement in health, to reduce stress, for clearer thinking, to become more creative, to sleep better and to improve mental strength. There are physical, emotional and spiritual Benefits of Meditation. It’s safe, it’s simple and it’s free.
People who are not familiar with meditation may consider it to be prayer or worship, but this is far from the truth. Meditation can be described as concentrated awareness, so as you overcome distractions and focus your mind on something you are becoming aware; you are meditating when you maintain a continued state of awareness. There are a wide range of disciplines taught for bringing your attention on to some object or thought or awareness. In fact what happens in the process is that meditation moves your brainwaves into an alpha state. This is a relaxed state with a level of consciousness where you are still aware. In the alpha state learning and healing are promoted.
Brainwaves Brainwaves are electrical activity emanating from the brain. There are four categories of brainwaves as shown below: Beta (alert/working): 15 to 40 hertz, Alpha (relaxed/reflecting): 9 to 14 hertz, Theta (drowsy): 5 to 8 hertz, Delta (sleep/dreaming): 3 to 4 hertz, Delta (deep dreamless sleep): 1.5 to 3 hertz *Hertz = cycles per second.
In the alpha state your brainwaves run between 9 to 14 cycles per second or hertz, compared with your normal waking state beta: of 15 to 40 hertz. Deeper states of relaxation move through theta, delta to the deepest delta, which is a highly creative state of relaxation.
In fact you are meditating when you focus on birds singing, to the exclusion of all other thoughts, or staring into the fire, just focusing on that, or concentrating on your breath coming in and out, thinking of nothing else.
Traditionally Eastern cultures have practiced meditation for centuries as part of their spiritual teachings, and until recently, say the last 30 or 40 years, Westerners viewed meditation with a bit of suspicion. Now, the benefits are so well documented and experienced by so many that it has become common practice for many doctors and health practitioners to recommend meditation as part of their healing plan.
There are two basic techniques of meditating and the different practices fall in to either of these two categories, with some variations possible. In mindfulness meditation the meditator sits in a comfortable position and focuses his attention and awareness on an object or activity; such as a candle, breathing, a visualization or a mantra, keeping an open focus and awareness of the present moment as he does so. This method allows for free flowing and observing of his thoughts while using the focus as an ‘anchor’ he constantly brings his mind back to the focus, when he starts to wander off in to different thoughts.
With concentration meditation which is used by most spiritual and religious traditions, the meditator keeps his attention on a particular object like repetition of a prayer or a mantra to minimize distractions, and continually brings his mind back to the chosen object. Lawrence LeShan defined meditation in ‘How to Meditate’ as “doing one thing at a time with your whole being”.
In some traditions both mindful and concentration meditation are combined.
It is possible to practice meditation even while walking or doing simple repetitive tasks. It is in moments when your mind is clear that you get that ‘realization’, ‘inspiration’ or ‘BFO’ (blinding flash of the obvious). “AHA” you say, as something miraculously pops in to your head.
Learn How to Meditate You can attend sessions somewhere in your city, usually free, to learn how to meditate. There are many books and tapes to help you, most of them excellent aids. It is easy and simple to learn. There are many tools to help you move into a meditative state. The one I absolutely love is the Holosync audio tapes from Centrepointe (centerpointe.com) (I don’t lightly recommend products, but this advanced Neuro technology is light years ahead of anything else I have tried and read about. I use it daily).
When you practice meditation regularly you begin to liberate the energy in your mind and the quality of your consciousness will expand. You will become more relaxed and happy, experiencing a sense of control of your life. You tend to approach life in a much more peaceful manner, not stressing in ways you might have done previously. This is not just a generalized statement, but is now being proven by empirical research.
I maintain wholeheartedly that meditation is truly beneficial. Do try it.