Meditation is an essential part of any effective personal development plan.
One of the primary benefits of meditation is to harness the ego. In doing so, we can connect to the spark of divinity that resides within each of us.
Let’s take a look at how the brain works and how to use various meditation techniques can help harness limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging behavior.
How The Brain Works
In the treatment of mental health disorders, self esteem issues, self sabotage or anxiety and stress, it is necessary to learn how our brain works.
One of the most important aspects of brain activity is the production of brain waves. The brain produces four basic brain wave patterns. Each are responsible for certain aspects of our behavior. Depending on our activities (work, reading, sleep, altered mental state) our brain waves patterns change accordingly.
Often, we intentionally try to change these brainwave patterns (consciously or unconsciously) in destructive ways such as: drug and alcohol abuse, compulsive sex or gambling. However, we can alter brain waves in constructive ways as well. Examples of these constructive outlets include meditation and physical exercise.
Take a look at the four basic brain wave pattern and how they affect us.
Waking consciousness usually consists of Beta waves. These cause feelings of anxiety, and frustration. They are the highest frequency. We spend most of our work day in the beta state.
Where our brains become fatigued from too much beta activity, we become burned out or depressed. When we become burned out, we engage in coping behavior to place our brain in a state that reduces beta activity. Coping behavior can be constructive or destructive:
- Physical Exercise
- Playing or listening to music
- Enjoying or creating art
- Going to sleep
- Abuse of drugs and alcohol
- Engaging in illegal or dangerous sexual activity
- Gambling or other compulsive behavior
Alpha waves are associated with learning ability and focus. When you read a book, study for a test or engage in any activity involving concentration, you are generating alpha waves. Meditation also produces alpha waves.
Theta waves are associated with dream sleep, and creativity.
Delta waves are associated with sleep, high cognitive ability, and great states of peace. It is also associated with deep mediation. But almost a life time to achieve. Practitioners must meditate six (6) hours a day, or more, to experience a few minutes of delta wave activity. Unfortunately, this is just not feasible for Westerners who live active and busy lives.
Benefits Of Meditation
The practice of meditation is derived from the description of reality that mystics have imparted to their students for millennia. Eastern mystics explained it as one universal, omnipotent, omnipresent energy that permeates the universe. Everything in the universe makes up this energy.
Quantum physicists confirm the existence of this energy now, so it is not the stuff of weird, drug induced hippies anymore. But mystics go further and state that this energy is:
CONSCIOUS OF ITSELF
Since it is omnipresent, omnipotent and conscious, this energy is happy, peaceful, blissful and content.
I call this force GOD. You may have another name and that is okay.
So, the teacher would teach that this one energy also permeates them an is, therefore, THEIR true nature as well. Furthermore, the reason that the average person fails to experience this feeling of bliss and contentment is that:
The mind, or our perception or reality, gets in the way.
Meditation, and other such practices, were developed as exercises to still the mind; and, to move it aside so that the practitioner can experience reality directly and connect with this energy that permeates the fabric of the universe. If we are successful, the practitioner will experience bliss and contentment.
The practice of meditation is essentially an exercise in altering the brain wave patterns produced by the brain. The brain functions on four different wave patterns defined as: beta, alpha, delta and theta. Each function has its own feeling and state of mind. When we meditate in gratitude, or with gratitude, we consciously connect to the Divine Source where everything in the Universe originates.
However, the important point to remember is that we are in a Beta state. We want to be in an Alpha and/or Delta state. Meditation is the tool to get us there.
Types Of Meditation Techniques
Simply speaking, to meditate, you focus on something, with the level of concentration that you would give to watching a theater performance or reading a good book.
It should not feel like a chore, but you should not be easily distracted either.
Here are four easy meditation techniques:
- Candle Meditation. This method involves staring at a lit candle while relaxing and breathing rhythmically. Each time your focus wanders from the candle (and it will – it is supposed to) you gently, and without judgment return your concentration to the candle.
- Breathing Meditation. This method involves focusing on the inhalation of your breath through your nose and the exhalation of your breath through your mouth. Again, if your concentration wanders, gently return to the rhythm of your breath.
- Recitation of a Mantra. This method involves the same breathing as above but includes the recitation of a mantra such as “Olmmm” as you exhale. Your focus is to remain on your breathing and the sound of this word.
- Recitation Of A Prayer. This method involves the same breathing exercise, but instead of reciting a mantra, you recite a short prayer. Again, your concentration remains on the prayer.
When I used to use traditional meditation, I preferred candle meditation because the candle danced about and held my attention more easily. Again, my concentration would wander constantly. You’ll constantly be fighting these meditation images, especially during at the beginning, but don’t. As you advance, when your mind wanders, it might be that you receive some valuable insight from your subconscious. In that case, recognize the extraneous thought, give it the appropriate attention, and return to the candle.
From a physiological standpoint, the act of focusing on the candle causes the electrical patterns in the brain to decelerate, but become more powerful. Your brain cannot handle this increased power. So, it creates new neural connections or new communication inside the brain.
The effect, both during and after the meditation, is that the practitioner experiences a “oneness” or “interconnectedness” of things rather than continuing to see things as being separate. This is because there is more and more communication between the two spheres of the brain.
During this process, the practitioner shifts from producing beta waves to more alpha waves.
This is what makes meditation a great stress buster and a healthy alternative to drugs and alcohol for relieving anxiety.
I would also argue that it is a better alternative to exercise as well because it creates permanent changes in the brain that allows the brain to permanently handle more and more stress.
Both sides of the brain work together (called “brain synchrony or brain synchronization”). The synapses begin to fire together in unison and the brain begins to balance. This is also what causes the practitioner to begin perceiving people and things in terms of how they are connected.
It also creates a sense of inner peace.
On a physiological level, different hormones and neurotransmitters are created in greater amounts and a few neurotransmitters, namely cortisol, long associated with stress (and weight gain) are decreased. That’s another reason why people become more peaceful when they meditate.
Problems With Traditional Meditation Techniques
The problem with traditional meditation is it takes many years to develop the skill of focusing the mind and getting to the point where really deep and substantial changes begin to happen.
Most people quit before they get to the point where they see a benefit.
We live in an “on-demand” society and no one wants to spend twenty years using traditional meditation in order to see measurable progress. But, you just can’t get great results with 20 minutes twice a day or an hour a day.
You will receive some health benefits, and have less stress; but, you will not see really substantial mental, emotional and spiritual changes that meditation is capable of providing unless you make the appropriate time and commitment.
Whenever you commence to master meditation, isn’t just interesting, but it’s also beneficial for use on your mind, body and soul.
Benefits of this training include lowered emotional tension, depression and anxiety; lower cholesterol and blood pressure; a reduction in free radicals; and elevated vigor, relaxation, creative imagination, happiness, recall and mental balance.
Lots of people resist meditating given that they feel it’s too troublesome to fully grasp. Despite its philosophical nature, the fundamentals are not so difficult for anyone with the desire to discover.
Below are a few paths you might take.
Meditation Is The Key To Making The Mind Still
“Meditation seriously isn’t a way of making the mind tranquil,” says Deepak Chopra. “It is a means of coming into the quiet that is certainly already there – buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks all the time.”
It’s almost against human nature to follow this exercise, since the mind ıs known for a propensity to perform in a hundred different directions just like a sugared-up toddler.
However, there are many different avenues which can steer any person down the route to seek peace and solitude within this disorderly world.
Using CDs For Guided Meditation
A CD can be a fantastic introduction to the practice of meditation.
A soothing voice will lead you through the practice of inhaling and exhaling rhythmically and being focused on the sound of your inhaling and exhaling plus the sensation of energy within you. The voice may take you on an inner path to a new place and induce deep peacefulness ..
In most ways, these CDs are similar to hypnotherapy. You’ll find different types of CDs being focused on mental health or physical health, mental attitude adjustments or conquering compulsion, and peace or cognizance.
Often deep sleep and relaxation CDs work when no other insomnia treatments have proved successful.
Binaural Beats For Guided Meditation
Binaural beat audio works by sending two slightly different frequencies to each ear through headphones.
For example, if the left ear is sent a tone with a frequency of 150 Hz, and the right ear is sent a tone with a frequency of 155 Hz, the brain attempts to process the two beats into one sound. The brain then perceives a pulsating sound (binaural beat) that represents the difference between the two tones (5 Hz).
The brain then produces brainwaves at the same level thereby forcing the brain to recreate brain (wave) states that are the same as those produced during meditation.
There are various software programs that use binaural beat technology to aid in meditation. You can find many of these online and in the ITunes App store. I no longer use binaural beat technology as I have been meditating for a number of years now. However, in the beginning, I used binaural beat CDs and it really helped to jump start my meditation practice.
Meditation Classes For The Serious Student
Meditation classes teaching a specific approach tend to be offered in many towns.
Using this method is perfect for beginners who don’t feel safe establishing their very own practice . A great number of classes are structured along religious lines, but members of any faith can sign up. Lots of people get involved with meditation through lessons in yoga instruction, which works on toning bodies, minds and souls through stretching, breathing, meditating and sometimes chanting.
Once you first get moving, it can certainly feel uplifting and comforting to have someone guiding you thru the correct routines so you can be more self-confident to try these skills in your own home later. It’s also possible to enjoy the feeling of solidarity of having a group while you seek your own personal enlightenment.
Only You can Decide The Best Form Of Meditation For You
Whether you choose to attend meditation classes or use binaural beat audio, meditation needs to be an essential part of your personal development plan. Your ego is constantly reiterating your limiting beliefs and negative self talk. Limiting beliefs and self sabotage inhibit your ability to achieve success with the law of attraction.
Meditation is the key to learning to quiet the ego and allow you to connect with the divinity that resides within you.