One is supposed to sit quietly with eyes closed, breathing deeply, focusing on inhaling and exhaling and making an effort to detach oneself from worldly thoughts to attain tranquillity yet trying to stay in the present moment. There may be countless methods, practices and objectives, but the single most common reason for meditation is to find inner peace, to be with oneness and to bring order in one’s life.
Some meditate to overcome anxiety and fear; others do so in their search for joy and calmness. Whatever the reason, the art of meditation is now becoming more and more popular for treating terminal illnesses as well as to fight mental and psychological disorders.
In his book, Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind and Becoming Supernatural, Dr Joe Dispenza writes that from a scientific standpoint living in stress is living in survival. When we perceive a stressful circumstance that threatens us such that we are unable to predict or control the outcome, our primitive nervous system, called the sympathetic nervous system, turns on and the body mobilises a significant amount of energy in response to the stressor.
Physiologically, the body is automatically tapping into the resources it needs to deal with the current danger. The immune system initially dials up, then dials down, circulation moves out of our rational forebrain and is instead relayed to our hindbrain. Thus, we have less capacity to think creatively; rather we have to rely more on our instincts to react instantly. He believes that when we change our emotions, we can change the expression of our genes (turning some on and others off) because we are sending a new chemical signal to our DNA, which subsequently instructs our genes to make different proteins—up-regulating or down-regulating to make new building blocks that can change the structure and function of our bodies.
The vitality of meditation and its effects on those who practice it is important to understand how the body experiences different modes and phases of the brain wave frequencies while we are awake, asleep, meditating or merely daydreaming. When we are conscious and awake, we are in the beta range of brain-wave frequencies. Beta is measured in low, medium and high range frequencies. Low-range beta is a relaxed state wherein we do not perceive any threats from the outer world but are still aware of our bodies in space and time. This is a state in which we are reading, paying attention to a friend or a family member during a friendly conversation or listening to a lecture or a podcast. Mid-range beta is a slightly more aroused state, for example, when we are in a group of people introducing ourselves to everyone for the first time and are supposed to remember everyone’s name. It is a state when we are more vigilant, but not overly stressed or completely out of balance. In other words, mid-range beta may be considered as a good stress. High-range beta is the state when the hormones of stress are at their peak. These are the brain waves we display when we exhibit any of our survival emotions such as anger, alarm, agitation, suffering, grief, anxiety, frustration, and even depression. High-range beta can be more than three times higher than low-range beta and twice as high as mid-range beta.
While we spend most of our awake time in beta frequency, we also dip into alpha-frequency brain waves throughout the day. We display alpha brain waves when are relaxed, calm, creative, and even intuitive—a state when we are not thinking about analysing; instead we are in a state of trance, daydreaming or imagining. If beta brain waves indicate when we are focusing most of our attention on the outer world, the alpha brain waves indicate when we are paying more attention towards our inner world.
Theta-frequency takes over in that twilight stage when our mind is still awake, but our body is drifting off to sleep. This frequency is also associated with deep states of meditation. Delta- frequency brain waves usually come during sleep, especially restorative sleep. In this state we experience oneness, and a connection to everyone and everything in the universe. Gamma-frequency, known as the superconscious state, by Dr Dispenza, is the fifth and the last state. This high-frequency energy occurs when the brain is aroused from an internal event, for instance when our eyes are closed during meditation and we are looking within, rather than at an external event that is happening outside our body.
The main purpose of the simplest technique in meditation is to experience the gamma frequency state; detaching from the mundane of daily lives, quietening the outside noises, connecting ourselves through a calm and focused breathing and linking with our inner world.
Eithei Dogen, a 13th century Japanese poet and philosopher, encapsulated this in the following words: “Don’t dwell on thoughts of good or bad. Don’t desire to attain enlightenment. Let your thoughts come and go without getting involved in them or trying to suppress them. Think the unthinkable. In other words, think no-thinking. Meditation is not the way to enlightenment, nor is it the method of achieving anything at all. It is peace and blessedness itself. It is the actualisation of wisdom. The ultimate truth of oneness of all things”.
Therefore, it is never too late for spiritual awakening to happen in our lives as our thoughts serve as seeds to attract vibrations that subsequently manifest reality similar to how dust particles in the air gather gaseous water to become liquid water. It is important to realise that our mind has the power to shape reality and by fusing our intention with the right conditions we are able to manifest our thoughts. As Anthony deMello beautifully said, “the spiritual quest is a journey without distance. You travel from where you are right now to where you have always been. From ignorance to recognition.”
A mindful meditation has the power to bring meaning to our lives and the magic begins the moment we start practicing it…