The word “meditation” does not always have a positive effect on the person: often one has the idea of a seated person who does not think about anything. In reality, meditation is not something that is done, but something that takes place. Sometimes the expression “meditating on something” is used as a synonym for “thinking of something”. It is actually about quieting the mind by experiencing silence. You can use concentration or visualization techniques, but the aim is always the same: to calm down. It doesn’t matter where you meditate. You can meditate sitting under a tree in the lotus position, recite prayers. You can practice it while knitting, chopping wood, getting lost in the eyes of a new born and much more. So, lets learn more about what is Meditation and how does it affects our brains?
There are different types of meditation:
- Creative or moving meditation: when you perform a movement in a repetitive or creative way. Examples: creating a mandala, walking, sewing, doing 108 sun salutations and much more.
- Meditation with concentration: when the mind focuses on a visualization or a mantra in order to cancel the typical distractions of the mind in motion.
- Analytical meditation: where you decide on a subject, a question or a topic for reflection. At first the mind may wander scattered, but by practicing meditation exercises with concentration, one can learn to stay focused on the subject. Often a question may be Who am I? What is the purpose of my life? And so on.
- Mindful Meditation: It is about always keeping your mind present at the moment you are experiencing. You learn to pay attention to the present moment, whether it is a conversation, eating, walking or what happens in the mind during meditation
- Meditation of the heart: focused on compassion and the heart chakra to remove emotional trauma, negative energies to open up to others and to practice forgiveness.
But what exactly happens during brain meditation?
Science has always loved experimentation on meditation and the results come from the many researches carried out over the years by the most prestigious institutes in the world.
Stopping brain waves is nearly impossible. If even during sleep the brain produces slow waves, how do you “stop” the mind during the waking hours? It is not done! Meditation does not mean “not thinking”, but rather concentrating, letting go of what is outside, noises, smells and any sensation deriving from the senses, experiencing a state of silence and peace where the mind is calm and silent.
The brain has 5 types of waves:
- Gamma Waves: the moment when the brain is in full swing, learning and incorporating new information. If stimulated too much it leads to anxiety.
- Beta waves: the normal waking state, where consciousness is active and the brain produces thoughts and analyzes.
- Waves Alpha: The Alpha stage is about moments of calm and quiet. After or during a relaxing and relieving activity. Typical of the moment after a Yoga class or a love performance.
- Theta waves: typical moment when you do not remember the last kilometers traveled by car, in this stage you move more deeply in the consciousness. Guided visualizations often lead to this stage which is also the stage of dreams, out-of-body experiences, meditation, and creation and creativity.
- Delta Waves: When brain waves reach sleep frequency it signals dreams. Deep sleep. Experienced meditators can reach this stage during meditation.
In practice, meditation calms the brain waves to restore stillness and concentration and the change and benefits remain even beyond the time of meditation. The more one meditates, the more one remains in this more calm stage.
A first step may be to move to the Theta stage with, for example, a visualization technique. Focusing on the breath by slowing it down means starting to slow down the brain waves. Indeed, there is a close connection between our brain and breath. Focusing on the breath or the recitation of a mantra helps the senses to relax and withdraw from what is happening on the outside and a stage of calm is reached. Starting with just 5 minutes of meditation a day means taking care of yourself and slowing down the chaotic life of this millennium that, willingly or otherwise, affects us all.
The effects of meditation on our brain seem to be infinite, both physically and mentally, here are just a few that you may not have known:
- Working so deeply on attention and concentration helps to develop the ability to focus on what you are doing at the present moment, being able to perform the daily activities of life, study and work with greater efficiency in less time.
- Slowing down the Gamma waves decreases anxiety, in practice, the more you meditate the more you are calm
- Working on concentration and calm helps to leave room for creativity
- Especially heart-centered meditation has positive effects on emotional life by healing from past traumas by learning to forgive yourself and others
- Meditation develops short and long term memory
- Just as anxiety is reduced, stress is also defeated
- Helps release physical tension and pain
- Helps with insomnia
- It improves the performance of both sides of the brain
- Improves the performance of the nervous system
- Increase energy in the body
- Develop intuition
Meditation improves overall body health as well as helps you get rid of stress, have more energy, mental clarity and focus.