“Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak.”
– Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
Taming and training the mind is one of the most empowering things we can do to impact all aspects of life. It’s deceptively simple, it’s totally in, and it’s called meditation.
Meditation is crucial to cultivating peace and happiness, building self-esteem, improving communication, making wise choices, increasing clarity, creativity and productivity, heightening intuition, hearing our truth, letting go, and discovering our soul’s ethos.
By dictionary definition, "meditation" means to reflect upon, ponder, or contemplate. Yogis have been doing it for millennia, the Beatles popularized it in the late ‘60s, movie stars keep it hip, children are learning how in school, we’re doing it… Are you?
How does Meditation Work?
There are five major categories of brain waves. Meditation enables us to move from higher frequency brain waves to lower, and therefore calm the mind. Slower wavelengths = more time between thoughts = more opportunity to carefully choose which thoughts to invest in. Oh, and we’ve heard it’s the latest in anti-aging ;)
WTF with Brain Waves?
1. Gamma State – frequencies from 30-100Hz… Hyperactivity and active learning. Gamma state is the most opportune time to retain information. Overstimulation can lead to anxiety.
2. Beta State – frequencies from 13-30Hz… Where we function most of the time, associated with the alert mind-state of the prefrontal cortex, the working/thinking mind: analytical, planning, assessing and categorizing.
3. Alpha State – frequencies from 9-13Hz… We’re more calm, peaceful, anchored, reflective, lucid. This is after yoga, a walk in nature, a rockin sexual encounter or activity that relaxes the body and mind. The hemispheres of the brain are more balanced (neural integration).
4. Theta State – frequencies from 4-8Hz… We are able to begin meditation because the thinking mind transitions to the visual mind. We move toward a deeper state of awareness with stronger intuition, more capacity for wholeness and complicated problem solving. This state is associated with the 3rd Eye Chakra – visualization.
5. Delta State – frequencies from 1-3 Hz… Most of us reach this state during deep, dreamless sleep. Tibetan monks who’ve been meditating for lifetimes can achieve this in an alert phase. Om!
How to Catch a Wave
To begin transitioning into the Theta State – meditate/ponder/think about/focus on the breath. The breath and mind work together, so as the inhales and exhales lengthen, brain waves also slow down and calm.
1. Get comfy (see SoulEthos' Meditation Preparation). Relax your shoulders, straighten your spine, place hands mindfully in your lap, on your thighs, or at your sides, and gently close your eyes.
2. Breathe. Focus on the sensation of the breath flowing in and out of your nostrils, through your chest, deep into your belly. No need to do anything. Simply notice. And if you find yourself uncomfortable at anytime, change your position.
3. Mantra. Silently repeat, ”Inhale. Exhale.” As your mind wanders, bring it back to the breath. As your breaths begin to lengthen and fill your lungs, your belly, your entire body – your mind begins to calm. Consider counting the breaths, “Inhale… 2… 3… 4… Exhale… 2… 3… 4…”
4. Be consistent. Commit to this breath meditation for a few minutes first thing in the morning and/or just before bed. 2-3 minutes counts!
5. Practice. In this case, practice doesn’t need to make perfect – it’s always a practice – pressure off! As your practice continues, you may lengthen/alter/vary it – perhaps your breaths get longer or your mantra changes, your practice evolves from 2 minutes to 20…
In posts to come, we’ll offer variations on the breath, mantra, style of meditation – in hopes of finding one that resonates with you, fits into your life, elevates your energy and creativity, optimizes your sense of peace and self. Om on!