Meditation is ancient, now neuroscience is uncovering the mysterious magic!
Of course, meditation has been around for THOUSANDS of years and most of us have some sort of awareness that its very good for us. In fact regular practise can strengthen areas of your brain responsible for memory, learning, attention and self-awareness. According to news medical, The earliest documented records that mentioned meditation involved Vedantism, which is a Hindu tradition in India, around 1500 BCE. However, historians believe that meditation was practiced before this time, as early as 3000 BCE.
I’d like to think as a species we’ve evolved a bit since then, be that for the better or for the worse I’m not sure. I remember someone I was interviewing on the podcast explained the term “de-evolution” to me; the idea that the technological age is advancing so fast, we as a species can’t possibly evolve at a speed that even comes close, hence we’ve entered an age of burnout where more people than not are living in a survival mode of exhaustion, over stimulation and reactivity – sound familiar? (I’ve so been there!)
With all our advances, both good and bad, the big difference now is, we have all these sophisticated tools like neuro-imaging, functional magnetic resonance imaging, brain mapping technology, and gene research, thus allowing scientists the unprecedented ability to measure the effects of meditation on the brain and brainwave patterns.
Stay with me….Like with any practise, the more you do it, the easier it becomes and the quicker you can get into it. The same goes for meditation, to the point where you can alter your brain waves to experience differing levels of consciousness – just slightly insanely cool or is it just me?
So, here’s the low down. Let’s start with BETA.
BETA brain waves, between 14 and 24 Hz corresponds to the monkey in your head, that “busy mind” that so many of inhabit most of the time. It’s generally of left brain dominance and is characterised with unbalanced, chaotic and fragmented thinking.
(This always gets me thinking about school, they teach us how to “think” but no one ever explains how to stop thinking which, turns out, is fundamental for our mental health and wellbeing)
ALPHA brain wave frequency ranges between 8 and 12 Hz. Alpha waves calm the nervous system, lower blood pressure and heart rate and are associated with the early stages of meditation. The more alpha waves a person can produce in ordinary states of consciousness, the easier it becomes to access a deep meditative state.
THETA brain waves is where we start to drift into dreamland. Ranging at a frequency of 3.5-7Hz this is a state where balanced brain activity actually increases, creating “inner images and visions”.
(It’s seems as though images from deep within our subconscious, which we usually blur out with our logical minds, are finally allowed to rise to the surface in this state, allowing guidance, insights and even a foreseeing of a significant event to appear. Many who have done great things in this world have often reported that their greatest ideas, insights and “inner guidance” came when they were still, silent and calm. When we’re stressed, our creativity depletes)
DELTA is associated with a more transcendent state thats ‘beyond the mind’. Ranging between 0.5-4Hz, this state is characterised with masters of meditation who are able to reach what in yoga we call “Samadhi”, the final stage of the eight limbed path of yoga. When the “I”, or anything associated with duality, “you and I”, “You and the device you’re reading this on”, dissolves into a universal consciousness. A oneness with all things, known as the subtlest meditative state possible.
(DELTA waves are also associated with the deep stage 3 of NREM sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep (SWS), and aid in characterizing the depth of sleep.)
If you’ve read this far….I’m guessing, like me, you totally geek out on this stuff, the spiritual meets the scientific, and the wonder of our minds. Us humans really are quite miraculous when you consider what our minds our capable of.
SO, if you haven’t given meditation or breath work a go yet, yes there is a difference which I will explain in next weeks newsletter, take a seat, straighten your spine, breathe gently in and out through your nose, and allow all of your awareness to focus on the in flow and out flow of your breath. Just sit with “what is” for a moment, and witness yourself breathing. If your mind wanders, which it will, gently come back to the breath.
Notice what you notice. Maybe sit there for 2 minutes. Then tomorrow, maybe 3 minutes. Just a few minutes a day will make a noticeable difference to your mental health and wellbeing.
Keep breathing friends and if you’d like to breathe WITH ME, join my weekly de-stress online breath work class each and every Monday at 18:00pm GMT time.
Just sign up to my newsletter to receive the info and the link!
Love Georgie x