quieting your noisy mind
February 24, 2012

Your Brain on Meditation

If you have never tried to quiet your mind with meditation then you are in for a surprise: your mind is a very noisy place. Brain waves are the electrical movements in our brain, and they always happen, even when we sleep. However, the frequency range of our brain waves fluctuates. Most of us during our waking moments have fast moving beta waves coursing through our brains.  To slow down our thoughts, many western doctors are turning to the East and are encouraging the practice of meditation for their patients. Why? There have been various scientific studies that prove regularly practicing meditation has many therapeutic effects including stress reduction. High levels of stress are directly correlated to depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental health issues.

From a brain wave perspective the goal of meditation is to move the brain waves from beta into a more relaxed frequency like alpha or even theta. Alpha waves are detected when we are awake but involved in a relaxed state, for example while practicing yoga or meditating. Theta waves are a deeper form of relaxation that happen during deep meditations as well as right before we fall to sleep or upon waking.

Recently, researchers set out to examine the difference between a brain in a stage of relaxation versus the brain of a person meditating. Researchers analyzed the brain waves of people who actively practiced Acem meditation for 9 – 14 years and who had also gone on a three-week meditation retreat in the past five years. Acem meditation is a “non-directive” meditation where practitioners focus on a multisyllabic word that they repeat mentally.  While hooked up to an EEG that monitored their brain waves, participants were told to either meditate for 20 minutes or relax for 20 minutes without practicing meditation. The researchers found that both the theta and alpha brainwaves increased during meditation. This means is that learning to meditate actually helps your brain access alpha and theta waves, which ultimately means that your brain may benefit more from learning to meditate.

The heart of the matter is stress reduction. Dr. Herbert Benson is a pioneer in the practice of mind/body medicine is a cardiologist and founder of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine.  As a cardiologist he realized that stress and anxiety was taking a physical toll on people with heart disease. He proved scientifically that lowering blood pressure really was a state of mind. He has since developed methods to teach patients to learn how to elicit the “relaxation response” which includes mediation.

If you are interested in using meditation to help manage your stress there are various free guided meditation podcasts available online including Meditation Oasis and My Thought Coach.

Comments

  1. John Tyler says:

    Being the second slowest frequency of brainwave, theta waves induces a deeper sense of relaxation, like a tad short of a deep sleep. This is associated with deeper concentration and “communication” of the subconscious mind. Having pointed these, there are disciplines like thetahealing which promotes integration of theta waves that enables greater learning and self-healing. Thetahealing also contributes a greater form of relaxation, therefore alleviates depresson.

  2. obus says:

    I am just two weeks into a three week Acem meditation retreat mentioned above. Here we have very long meditation periodes, four 28 hours and one 50 hours where you stay in your room all time, and just meditate, sleep and do yoga.
    http://acem.com/

  3. JonHearty says:

    Most of us in the West know little about the value and importance of meditation. Many people seldom experience no-mind, and instead become accustomed to the constant buzzing of our brains. You can’t appreciate the mind without also appreciating the state of no-mind. The simple acts of stillness and silence are incredibly difficult to experience. Who would thinking doing nothing would be so hard, yet so life-changing? An interesting paradox…

  4. GuzmaGiovannone says:

    Jiddu Krishnamurti telling a joke… “There are three monks, who had been sitting in deep meditation for many years amidst the Himalayan snow peaks, never speaking a word, in utter silence. One morning, one of the three suddenly speaks up and says, ‘What a lovely morning this is.’ And he falls silent again. Five years of silence pass, when all at once the second monk speaks up and says, ‘But we could do with some rain.’ There is silence among them for another five years, when suddenly the third monk says, ‘Why can’t you two stop chattering?” http://www.katinkahesselink.net/kr/jokes.html http://seaunaluzparaustedmismo.blogspot.com/

  5. mikkelson says:

    Try Transcendental Medditation (which Dr. Benson modeled his technique on). TM has hundreds of studies that show its technique to be the most effective technique (and better than Dr. Benson’s faux TM technique)–of all comparable methods–for all kinds of health improvement issues.

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  7. bvdnsjkf9 says:

    Try Transcendental Medditation (which Dr. Benson modeled his technique on). TM has hundreds of studies that show its technique to be the most effective technique (and better than Dr. Benson’s faux TM technique)–of all comparable methods–for all kinds of health improvement issues.
    Read more at FYI Living: http://tempfyiliving.com.php53-7.dfw1-1.websitetestlink.com/mental-health/anxiety/your-brain-on-meditation/#ixzz1nj4JLnNP

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  10. 001faren says:

    This is also considered to be an important tool in both practices.  In <a href=”http://yoursoulsguide.com/”>Meditation</a>this can often be accomplished by repeating a mantra.  The ancient spiritualists have stated that the person who truly understands and meditates on Om, as the breath of life in the mouth, is said to be capable of obtaining all wishes by singing.  Emotion wraps around sound and breath, drawing them together as one entity.  Words become as the entity created through marriage.  We live in a world enlivened and suppressed by emotion.

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  15. Youngerlook says:

    i have never done mediation but after reading this post i will definitely try these mediations may be they can help me in reducing stress.

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Anxiety, Mind

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