You know it’s good for you, so why does meditation seem like such an effort? You wonder if you are getting it right, and your brain just won’t let you relax. You are constantly analysing and going through what you should be doing and what you are doing. I think it just might be time to look at meditation and try to demystify what it offers and how you can make the best use of it.
In meditation the idea is that you reach beyond your analytical and thinking mind. That might sound like a tall order but in actual fact it’s something that you may not realise you actually do every day.!
When you start a session of meditation it’s a good thing to concentrate on the fact that you are simply letting your body relax just as you would as you prepare to go to sleep at night. However, unlike when you sleep at night you will keep your mind active and wakeful. If you can move yourself further into this relaxed state then the door between your subconscious and conscious mind has opened.
The consciousness ladder
When your conscious mind is fully functioning and awake it is in a beta state.
In a high beta state the brain is highly aroused and in an overactive state. We often see this state in somebody who is in flight or fight mode.
Getting beyond the beta state you will encounter the first subconscious layer – called the alpha brain state. In this state, your breathing will slow down and the voices that are active within your mind will begin to die down. The further you can relax into this state, the more you will find yourself descending the ladder of consciousness into the next states, respectively called the theta and delta states.
To change the physiology of your brain and body you need to be totally relaxed and comfortable, in the same way as you are before you fall asleep at night.
The opposite can also be true, however. If you are finding it difficult to fall asleep at night it will usually be because your mind is working overtime, you’re thinking about all sorts of things like your job or your family, your state of health or something upsetting that occurred earlier that day or even future events that may not even take place! This type of very negative thinking will trigger chemicals in our brains that send a signal to our bodies to feel, on an emotional level. Once we allow those emotions like fear, frustration or anger to take over, our thoughts will follow the line of those emotions. Where this is allowed to happen continuously, our bodies will form an addiction to this particular emotional state, will become addicted to stress hormones and fix us into endless loops of negative feedback.
If this happens then instead of being able to sink deep into consciousness our brain waves will climb higher on the consciousness ladder entering the realms of high beta brain waves and allowing our analytical mind to become overactive.
Our meditation practice allows us to enter the subconscious and gives us access to the ability to alter programmes that we do not want.
You could liken your brain to an operating system. By accessing the brains operating system you can alter your behaviour habits and you also have the ability to remove emotional scars. If you are not attempting to change anything in this way, then you could simply open the pathways so that you could create something you and take advantage of previously unrecognised possibilities.
Mind wide awake – Body fast asleep
if you think about the action of going to sleep at night and waking up in the morning this is not something that we’ve had to teach ourselves, it’s something that we’ve been doing every day since we were born. It is these specific times, at the end and beginning of the day that the door to our subconscious mind will open naturally. As we lie in bed at night, melatonin, which is a night time neurotransmitter will move our brain waves from a beta state to an alpha state then from an alpha state to the theta state and then from a theta state to a delta state. With the dawning of a new day the neurotransmitter for daytime, serotonin reverses the process and our brain waves move from delta back through to beta.
When you close your eyes to meditate it is perfectly sensible to understand that we are changing the chemistry of the brain from serotonin to melatonin and in making that change the brain waves will follow. As we sit calmly and relaxed we can stop thought processes because the brain is processing less sensory details, naturally.
If we can facilitate transition into sleep for our bodies while we are still aware of the world within us then we will be in exactly the right state to begin creative or transformation of work. This is not as easy as it sounds because outside interference such as roadworks, a neighbour doing home improvements or the tempting aroma of bread baking in the kitchen can all act to keep us focused on the world outside rather than our inner world.
Just like any skill that you learn, being able to relax your body while you stay conscious is just another skill that you need to master. It is always worth persevering because it is when you get to the stage of having a completely relaxed body, while you are still conscious, that mystical and unknown things can happen.
If you can sense the enormous and vast space that surrounds you and become a completely neutral element within it, with no identity aware of nothing in your environment or the people that you know, all the things that you’re concerned about will no longer be able to command your attention. This is because you will no longer pick up any sensory information that is around you and that means that the hormones of stress can no longer effect you.
When you achieve this state you will be in what is called the ‘transcendental state’. This is not sleep and it’s not dreaming, rather it is an unknown realm, where you can access previously unimagined opportunities and experience things like spontaneous healing or even out of body experiences.
So the next time that you attempt your meditation keep in your mind that you already know how to do it. All you need to do is slow down the processes and really feel each stage as you reach it.
Know that everything that you want can be reached through meditation and that regular meditation sessions can be your window to a more successful and happier future.