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How + Why Meditation Works

Ashley Turner
  • On September 15, 2014
  • http://ashleyturner.org/blog/

Meditation is one of the most crucial aspects to cultivate more peace and happiness in life. As a yoga and meditation teacher, it is the first thing I recommend to all my students and clients to build self-esteem and intuition, hear their truth, make skillful choices, improve communication, increase creativity and productivity and let go.

Meditation enables us to move from higher frequency to lower frequency brain waves and calm the mind. There are five major categories of brain waves, each corresponding to different activities we do.

5 Categories of Brain Waves: Why Meditation Works
1. Gamma State – In the Gamma state, the brain waves are at frequencies ranging from approximately 30 – 100Hz. This is the state of hyperactivity in the brain and active learning. Gamma state is the most opportune time to retain information. This is why Tony Robbins and other educators have audiences jumping up and down or dancing around – to increase the likelihood of permanent assimilation of information and lasting change in one’s “state”.

2. Beta State – The Beta state, which is where we function for most of the day, is associated with the alert state of the prefrontal cortex. Brain wave frequencies in this state range from 13 – 30Hz and this is a state of the working or thinking mind: analytical, planning, assessing and categorizing.

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3. Alpha State – Brain waves in the Alpha state range from 9 – 13Hz. This is the state where brain waves start to slow down out of thinking mind. We become more calm, peaceful and anchored. We often find ourselves in an “alpha state” after a thorough yoga class, a walk in the woods, a pleasurable sexual encounter or during any activity that helps relax the body and mind. We are lucid, reflective, have a slightly diffused awareness and at peace. The hemispheres of the brain are more balanced (neural integration).

4. Theta State – When brain waves range from 4 – 8Hz in the Theta state, we are able to begin meditation. This is the point where the verbal/thinking mind transitions to the meditative/visual mind. We begin to move from the planning mind to a deeper state of awareness (often felt as drowsy), with stronger intuition, more capacity for wholeness and complicated problem solving. The Theta state is associated with the 6th Chakra (3rd eye), so in this state we are able to practice visualization.

5. Delta State – The final state is the Delta state, where brain waves range from 1 – 3 Hz. Tibetan monks that have been meditating for decades can reach this in an alert, wakened phase but most of us reach this final state during deep, dreamless sleep.

A Simple Meditation: How to Meditate

A simple meditation to use to begin the transition from Beta or Alpha to the Theta State is to focus on the breath. The breath and mind work in tandem, so as breath begins to lengthen, brain waves begin to calm and slow down.

1.To begin the meditation, sit comfortably in your chair with your shoulders relaxed and spine tall. Place your hands mindfully on your lap, close your eyes and as much as possible eliminate any stimulus that may distract you.

2.Watch your breath. Simply notice your breath flowing in. Flowing out. Don’t try to change it in any way. Just notice.

3.Silently repeat the mantra: “Breathing In. Breathing Out.” As your mind begins to wander, draw it back to your breath. Notice that as your breath begins to lengthen and fill your body, your mind begins to calm.

4.Consistency is Key. Try to do this breath meditation for 10 – 15 minutes first thing in the morning and/or at night. Be consistent with your meditation practice, particularly if it is difficult to sit still as you begin. Shorter meditation sessions on a regular basis are more productive than long sessions every few weeks.

Yoga is meditation in motion, so much like the introduction to yoga I teach in my Yoga for Stress Relief & Flexibility DVD, matching the awareness of breath with the movement of yoga can also bring the body and mind to a meditative state.

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