Meditation is getting more and more coverage for personal development, stress reduction, managing emotions and even for peak performance in business. The evidence base for how it works to actually change the brain has been established for a while now, but research and interest is continuing.
The US are leading the way in incorporating Meditation practices into the office environment. Google have a designated ‘Head of Mindfulness’ role, filled currently by Chade-Meng Tan, to help guide their personnel on their journeys to inner peace whilst helping them to show up for work and bring their most resourceful, dynamic and creative selves to the party.
As with lots of science, the growing evidence base in support of Meditation, is merely catching up with ancient wisdom. Meditation practices have been around for thousands of years, and in terms of the brain, physical health and emotional wellbeing, Meditation has always worked the same way.
Reason 1/ ………The Science What’s changed?
What has changed is that neuroscience researchers became interested in studying the effects of Meditation, and neural imaging technology became advanced enough to actually measure the changes in the brain. SO suddenly the ears of the rational science types ( a bit like me! ) were pricking up left right and centre, as Meditation made the transition from ‘New Age’ and ‘Woo Woo’ to a serious and credible intervention to help people change or ‘re-wire’ the human brain for success, improved emotional wellbeing and a deeper sense of contentment. Of course all of these outcomes have a huge impact on our overall health.
Reason 2/ ………Resolving Stress
The biggest ‘win’ if you are to put it in broad terms, is that Meditation is a highly effective ‘de-stressor’. Stress, as you probably know causes illness, and disease through creating an inflammatory and toxic environment at a cellular level. It’s pretty much impossible to remain sustainably well with a toxic physiological state which science calls the Allostatic Load. And on the other hand it is perfectly possible to remain in a state of vitality and wellness if these inner ‘toxic’ conditions for the cells of our body are transformed. Bruce Lipton PhD, Professor of Anatomy, researcher at Stanford University Medical Center, author of ‘The Biology of Belief’ and leader in the emerging science field of Epigenetics, left one of his teaching posts in the 1960’s when his research proved that the medical establishment had been getting it wrong. He discovered that it is the cellular environment, which creates either dis-ease or wellness in the human body, NOT the genes. He believes that stress, negative emotions and limiting beliefs create a toxic environment for cells and cause illness and dis-ease. This truth is all the more empowering for us as individuals, as we can play with the possibility that WE actually have a guiding hand in creating an optimal cellular environment – rather than believing we are passive ‘victims’ to the genetic round of cards we have been dealt!……We have a CHOICE. And Meditation is one of those practices which helps us make this choice through resolving stress.
The amygdala is the part of the brain which produces the Stress Response. Recent research by neuroscientist Dr Sarah Lazar, Assistant Professor in Psychology at Harvard Medical School, and associate researcher in Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, has shown that with regular meditation, the amygdala gets ‘turned down’ and shrinks, it gets quieter in a way which is consistent with decreased arousal and greater feelings of peace.
What’s interesting is that in the study the external life of the participants had not changed at all, it was simply their response to their external ‘stressors’ which changed. Reducing stress is not about changing your life, it is about changing your relationship to your life. Simple!
Reason 3/…….Thoughts ARE Allowed!!!
Contrary to popular misconception, Mind Calm Meditation does NOT require you to have to stop all your thoughts. Having thoughts does not mean you have failed. Granted there are many forms of meditation, and I will admit that from what I have heard from a bunch of experienced meditators, some forms are rather more ‘regimented’ than others in the practice of actually trying to stop thoughts. Mind Calm Meditation allows thoughts, emotions and sensations without trying to stop them. Peace or calm, which is often one of the desired outcomes from Meditation, is not about the absence of thoughts or emotions – rather it is experiencing ‘peace with thoughts and emotions’. Many people I have taught Mind Calm to had previously struggled to meditate, they felt frustrated or fidgety and experienced what seemed like millions of thoughts after attempting to ‘stop’ their thoughts. The good news is, you don’t have to!
Reason 4/……It prevents brain draining energy
Whilst thoughts are allowed, of course ‘stillness’ of mind is ultimately the point of learning Meditation. But what’s the point of stillness I hear you ask, and what’s so bad about having a busy mind in the first place, isn’t it just normal in today’s busy world?
Well, yes indeed it has become ‘normal’, but that’s not to say that it is helpful in any way. If we think of the brain as a electrical appliance ( it is constantly creating electrical brain wave activity after all ), we can explore what happens with the busy mind and how it affects the body. In our normal waking state we will be primarily in a Beta brainwave state, which is associated with a heightened state of alertness and focused concentration ranging from 12Hz to 40Hz. The higher up this frequency range we go, the busier our minds become and this leads to intrusive thoughts, over-thinking, stress and anxiety. Of course as if that is not unpleasant enough, it is also draining our brains and our bodily systems of precious energy, rather like having the electric heater on at the height of summer with all the windows open.
It’s fine to waste energy every now and again, but when this level of energy draining becomes routine, it depletes energy levels and we can feel physically and mentally fatigued, but that is still only half the story. The effects of that, mean that the active process of healing, which our body is designed to do perfectly well to keep us healthy and vital, becomes totally neglected. Our immune systems get bogged down and we get ill, and begin setting ourselves up for ‘dis-ease’ in the long term.
Meditation gets us into the lower brainwave states of Alpha and Theta. Alpha brainwaves are slower in frequency and represent a state of relaxed mental awareness or reflection. They are typically associated with contemplation, visualization, problem solving and accessing deeper levels of creativity. The Alpha brainwave state corresponds to frequencies ranging from 8 Hz to 12 Hz.
Theta brainwaves are even slower in frequency and represent a state of deep relaxation, enhanced creativity, stress relief, light sleep and dreaming. Theta brainwave states have been used in meditation for centuries. Research has proven thirty minutes a day of Theta meditation can dramatically improve a person’s overall health and wellbeing. Theta meditation has also been known to cause the need for less sleep. The Theta brainwave state corresponds to frequencies ranging from 4Hz to 8 Hz.
Reason 5/……It is the gateway to our ‘subconscious programming’ allowing us to make changes that stick!
All of our conditioning, our early programming, our limiting beliefs and our habits live in our subconscious minds. We don’t really have a gateway into our subconscious minds until we get down into a Theta brainwave state. This explains why some of you might have tried ‘positive thinking’ or affirmations whilst wide awake in a Beta wave state – often it doesn’t stick! Without a strategy which opens the gates to the subconscious programming and the home of our ‘life limiting beliefs’ ( Hypnotherapy, EFT /Tapping or Meditation ) we may find our attempts to install any new, positive programming a little futile. The odds are stacked against our efforts if we hold some opposing ‘beliefs’ deep in our ‘subconscious mind’. The subconscious mind is in charge, it is the MUCH larger and more powerful processing system compared to the ‘conscious mind’. The subconscious runs 95-99% of the show, and the conscious is always running about half a second behind, making a best guess as to what is actually going on ( and often making a logical and analytical ‘story’ to make rational sense of what might be going on, which does not reflect the deep, subconscious reality ).
When we adopt a regular Meditation practice, if it includes setting positive ‘intentions or affirmations’, we are doing so whilst in a lower brainwave state, with the subconscious mind as well as the conscious mind. This combined effect, coupled with the regularity of the new ‘idea’ or intention, can become infinitely more likely to manifest in our daily experience.
Mind Calm is the Meditation technique that I practice. I also teach it in Workshops and One to Ones.
I have personally found Mind Calm to be the easiest and most enjoyable technique. This has also been reflected back in client feedback and testimonials ( read these on my website pages listed below ). The easier and more enjoyable the technique, of course the longer we spend doing it to reap the wonderful rewards.
Mind Calm requires…..No jargon, no rituals, no strict rules, no uncomfortable sitting positions AND absolutely NO judgement as to where you’re at. Just a simple, easy to learn and fun way to enjoy more serenity and success in daily life.
Mind Calm Meditation provides practical techniques that allow you to let go of the constant chatter happening in your mind. In doing so, Mind Calm Meditation can help you:
- Worry less
- Sleep better
- Improve your Relationships
- Live more fully in the Present Moment
- Reach your Full Potential in your career
- Sharpen your Focus & Memory
- Flourish Creatively
- Feel more CALM
- Boost inner Confidence
- Experience deep Contentment & Satisfaction
Take a look at these pages of my website for all of the information you will need. Or book onto one of my UK Mind Calm Workshops which take place most Saturdays all over the country. One to One bespoke Mind Calm Coaching can also be arranged in London, Cheshire, or via Skype.