What meditation does for the mind has been the subject of numerous studies… and the results may just surprise you.
As a man thinks – so he becomes….
The Origins of Meditation:
As we weave though the cobwebs of history, researchers speculate that primitive hunter-gatherers discovered meditation and it’s altered state, while staring into the flames of their camp fire.
However, the earliest records we can find about meditation come from Indian scriptures called tantras that dates back 5000 years ago.
Buddha who was one of histories major proponents of meditation, made his mark about 500 BC, while Bhagavad Gita (Song of the Lord) was written 100 years later. It is a 700 verse Hindu scripture written in Sanskrit and comprising of poems that contains many key topics of spiritualism becoming a very important work in the Hindu religion.
In the 3rd century AD, Plotinus developed meditation techniques, which were not easily integrated into the Christian faith. Ultimately the church dismissed these meditation practices as being in league with the devil and its use was strictly forbidden.
Buddhism first came to Japan from Korea in the 5th century as part of a diplomatic mission. This included gifts such as images of Buddha and several volumes of his text – then in 1552 Buddhism was officially introduced into the country.
In Europe the practice went underground for several centuries, until the name “meditate” was coined in the 12th century. It comes from the Latin word meditatum which means though, reflection and study.
Throughout the middle ages the practice of meditation grew and developed into some religious traditions that we know today, used in the form of prayer that has been incorporated into the Hindu, Buddhist and Jewish faiths. They understood the benefits of what meditation does for the mind.
In 1927, Tibetan Book of the Dead was first published in English, which attracted significant interest from the western world. This book describes to readers where consciousness goes in the time between death and the next rebirth.
Since then meditation has only grown in popularity…and Siem Reap is a great place to soak up the positive energy. These ancient temple like many significant monuments around the world are built on lay lines, which are natural energy veins of the earth.
What Is Meditation?
Meditation is the art of quietening the mind and directing it in a meaningful way.
The practice of meditation is learning to bring your brainwaves down to 10 Hertz per second and entering an Alpha state of relaxation.
To experience the benefits of meditation, regular practice is necessary – and only requires a few minutes a day.
Meditation is like a seed that grows and flourishes and the more regularly you practice – the better you become.
How Meditation Effects The Brain:
Our brain is made up of millions of brain cells called neurons, which use electricity to communicate with each other. The combination of millions of neurons sending signals at once, produces a significant amount of electricity within the brain. This can be detected by using sensitive medical equipment such as a electroencephalogram (EEG).
The electrical activity of the brain is known as brain wave patterns because of its cyclic and wave-like nature.
In this modern world, most of us are producing Beta brainwaves that make us feel agitated, tense and stressed. The cycle range of Beta waves is between 12 Hz – 30 Hertz per minute.
Alpha waves are another range of brain waves that cycle between 8Hz – 12 Hz and generated from the right side of the brain or come in a synchronized pattern between the left and right hemispheres. The idea of meditation is to bring down our brainwaves down from a Beta state to an Alpha wave which sit in the 8 Hz – 12 Hz range.
However Alpha waves have one distinct trait that makes them stand out – they appear and disappear while going through the brain.
Sometimes Alpha waves are present – and sometimes they’re not. They usually disappear when we are asleep or experiencing heightened emotions such as fear and anger.
Alpha waves only appear when we are awake and relaxed – with this being the distinction among other brainwaves. The ideal frequency range of 10 Hz is believe to bridge the gap between our conscious thinking and subconscious mind.
People who have suppressed the production of Alpha waves and use mainly Beta waves, can develop anxiety disorders and other stress related symptoms. Aside from anxiety and stress, a lack of Alpha waves can also hamper how the body performs, which can lead to a weaker immune system.
According to some Neurosciences, the effects of decreasing the brain rhythm from Beta to Alpha waves, can actually change the levels of certain chemicals within our brain.
What meditation does for the mind has been shown that there are a number of physical benefits associated with meditation:-
- Lowers high blood pressure
- Decrease related pain associated with ulcers, insomnia and joint problems
- Improves the immune system
- Increases energy levels
The Psychological Effects Of Meditation:
The scientific evidence concluding the values of meditation continue to mount up – and it is like exercise for the brain.
Studies lead by Harvard Research at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that meditating regularly for only 8 weeks can significantly changed the grey matter of our brains – which is a major part of the central nervous system, associated with processing information.
This means by meditating regularly – we can actually change our brain structure and create different thought patterns for ourselves. The benefits of meditation also include:-
- Lowers lactic acid in the blood which reduces panic attacks
- Calms the mind
- Improves memory
- Gives a greater sense of connection and empathy
- Improves sense of self
- Increases concentration
- Better mental clarity
The Emotional Benefits Of Meditation:
Meditation daily can improve the symptoms of anxiety and depressions as well as a whole range of other conditions as John Hopkins research indicates.
Studies show that an Alpha state significantly increase endorphins, norepinephrine and dopamine within the brain. These naturally occurring chemicals are linked to feelings of expanded mental clarity, happiness and a clearer internal environment.
What meditation does for the mind… it is gives you a sense of well being and a calm disposition.
Other benefits include:-
- Creativity increases
- Intuition develops
- A sense of peace
- Increased empathy and a connection to something greater
- Reduced anxiety and depression
- Helps break unhealthy habits
HOW TO MEDITATE:
In this hectic world that we live in – we all need to relax our brain…and anyone can meditate with a bit of practice.
We can teach ourselves to change brainwaves by learning the art of meditation and relaxation techniques. This can also be enhanced by using binaural beats that can be found on YouTube.
Binaural beats effectively train and synchronize brainwaves to follow any specific relaxation pattern (see video below). This allows you to rapidly enter a state of relaxation and it works like a tuning fork on the cyclical waves of the brain.
The simplest definition of meditation is to clear one’s mind of any thoughts or intrusions. During the session – if your mind wonders, calmly return it back to the moment at hand and concentrate on your breathing.
There are many benefits as to what meditation does for the mind…and science and religion have both proven it is good for us.