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Meditation

What Is Meditation?

There are various types of meditation - prayer is probably the best known, but there is also TM (Transcendental Meditation), mindfulness meditation, and from the Eastern tradition, Zen meditation, Buddhist meditation, and Taoist meditation.

All these forms have one thing in common - they all focus on quietening the busy mind. The intention is not to remove stimulation but rather to direct your concentration to one healing element - a sound, a word, an image, or perhaps one's breath. When the mind is "filled" with the feeling of calm and peace, it cannot take off on its own and worry, stress, or get depressed.

Meditation can be broadly defined as any activity that keeps the attention pleasantly focused in the present moment. When the mind is calm and focused in the present, it is neither reacting to memories from the past nor being preoccupied with plans for the future, two major sources of chronic stress known to impact health.

Types of Meditation

All the meditation techniques can be grouped into two basic approaches, Concentrative meditation and Mindfulness meditation.

Concentrative meditation

Concentrative meditation focuses the attention on the breath, an image, or a sound (mantra), in order to still the mind and allow a greater awareness and clarity to emerge. This is like a zoom lens in a camera; we narrow our focus to a selected field.

The simplest form of concentrative meditation is to sit quietly and focus the attention on the breath. Yoga and meditation practitioners believe that there is a direct correlation between one's breath and one's state of the mind. For example, when a person is anxious, frightened, agitated, or distracted, the breath will tend to be shallow, rapid, and uneven. On the other hand, when the mind is calm, focused, and composed, the breath will tend to be slow, deep, and regular. Focusing the mind on the continuous rhythm of inhalation and exhalation provides a natural object of meditation As you focus your awareness on the breath, your mind becomes absorbed in the rhythm of inhalation and exhalation. As a result, your breathing will become slower and deeper, and the mind becomes more tranquil and aware.

Mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation , according to Dr. Borysenko, "involves opening the attention to become aware of the continuously passing parade of sensations and feelings, images, thoughts, sounds, smells, and so forth without becoming involved in thinking about them." The person sits quietly and simply witnesses whatever goes through the mind, not reacting or becoming involved with thoughts, memories, worries, or images. This helps to gain a more calm, clear, and non-reactive state of mind. Mindfulness meditation can be likened to a wide-angle lens. Instead of narrowing your sight to a selected field as in concentrative meditation, here you will be aware of the entire field.

Guided Imagery Meditation

Guided Imagery can be used as a form of Mindfulness Meditation for relaxation, stress relief and healing.Proponents of guided imagery contend that the imagination itself is a powerful healer that haslong been overlooked by Western medicine. Imagery can relieve pain, speed healing and help the body subdue hundreds of ailments, including depression, impotence, allergies and asthma.

The power of the mind to influence the body is impressive.
Although it isn't a panacea or "cure all", imagery can be helpful
in nearly 90 percent of the problems that people bring to the
attention of their health providers.

As humans beings, imagery is the most fundamental language
we possess. Everything we do our minds process through images.
When we recall an event from our past or childhood, we think of
pictures, images, sounds, pain or other visual events. It is
rarely ever remembered in words.

Images aren't necessarily limited to visual but can also be
sounds, tastes, smells or a combination of these sensations.
A certain smell, for example, may invoke either a pleasant or
a bad memory. The sound of a particular song may invoke pleasant
memories from the distant past.

Think of holding a fresh orange in your hand. Perhaps you
can feel its texture or see its bright orange skin. As you
slice it open, the juice squirts out of it. The orange's sweet
aroma is overwhelming. Finally, you stick it in your mouth, suck
on it and taste the sweet flavor as the juices roll over your tongue.

More than likely your body reacted in some way to that mental image. For example, you may have begun to salivate, or perhaps you might actually have experienced the sensation of the sweet taste.

This is a powerful aspect of imagery. Your thoughts alone can evoke
a powerful sensory response. Your body can produce hormones, enzymes
or neurotransmitter chemicals known as endorphins in response to these
thoughts. This is evidence that your thoughts can produce a positive or
negative influence on the body. Imagery is the biological connection
between the mind and body. As we will see, this is extremely
useful in mind body healing.

Imagery Can Be Negative Too

Unfortunately, many of the images that pop into our heads do more harm than good. In fact, the most common type of imagery is worry. Because when we worry, what we worry about exists only in our imaginations. "Worry" is not "real" in any sense. It is in our thoughts alone. This worry or anxiety can produce a detectable physiological response that can be harmful.

It is estimated that the average person has 10,000 thoughts flashing through their mind each day. At least half of those thoughts are negative, such as anxiety of meeting a deadline, the anxiety associated with an upcoming public speech, job or relationship concerns. If left unchecked, worry and other negative images can actually alter your physiology and make you more susceptible to a variety of ailments.

Your thoughts have an immediate and direct influence on the way you feel and behave. If you tend to focus on negative thoughts, you most likely are not a very happy person. If you think that your job is going to give you a headache, you probably will come home with a pounding headache every day. This is just another clear example of the power the mind exerts over the body.

Even phrases like "pain in the neck" or "a knot in my stomach" are illustrative of words that can actually generate a physiological response.

However, if you can learn to direct and control these images in your head, you can actually help your body heal itself. Your imagination is like a freight train. If left uncontrolled it can be dangerous and run you right down. But if you learn to use your imagination in a way that is purposeful and positive, it can be very powerful in getting you where you want to go, including to a better state of physical health.

Audio/Visual Mind Machines

Mind machines are tools for gently inducing a calm, centered,
and euphoric state. They produce psychedelic mandala like patterns
on the back of your eyelids and soothe your senses with drum like
sound pulses. Although immensely pleasurable and
entertaining, they are not toys.

What's a Mind Machine?

In the 1940's a researcher by the name of Gray Walter discovered that when a person was subjected to a light flashing at a certain frequency, their brain wave activity would fall in sync with the flashing of the lights. Since then a small body of research has been conducted on the subject and many devices have been developed to entrain brain waves.

Most of these devices include s mall lights mounted in a pair of eye glasses. These lights flash at given frequencies and are controlled by a small computer in the base unit. Today, most sound and light entrainment devices (SLEDs) also include a sound component This sound pulses at a given frequency and is usually binaural.

Binaural sound occurs when two distinct sine waves (pure tones) are played in each ear. For example, a person might hear a 440 hz tone in one ear and a 430 hz tone in the other ear; the ears will "hear" both tones but the brain (as shown by e.e.g.) will discern the difference between the tones, 10 hz (known as the binuaral beat effect).

Ten hertz happens to be the alpha frequency for brain
waves and is associated with relaxed states (light
meditation, etc.) and imagery SLEDs have also been
used to entrain beta, theta and even delta states as well.

The combined effects of having both the photic and the auditory portions of the brain stimulated in synchrony can be profound. SLEDs are currently being used by professional psychologist in their practices and by the general public for relaxation, stress management, Insomnia, mind expansion, accelerated learning and retention, breaking limiting beliefs, phobias, anxiety, sports training, promoting physical wellness, and most of all for fun. The possibilities are great and technology has been shown effective. However, the only way to truly appreciate the light sound experience is to try a mind machine for yourself.

Mind machines may be used for relaxation,
stresss relief and in some cases purely for entertainment.
The effects can be profound.

However, as noted, a Mind Machine is not a toy. Persons
subject to seizure disorders should NOT use a Mind Machine,
as the light frequencies can trigger seizure activity in much the same
way as a video game might. The stroboscopic effects of the lights
stimulate brain activity in ways that may prove to be undesirable in
some persons who experience migraine or "cluster" headaches, as these
may trigger these phenomenon.

Experience has shown that Mind Machines can be helpful in achieving a relaxed, meditative state of mind. They can be used on a regular basis for relaxation and stress reduction.

Persons interested in Mind Machines should do further research
and decide for themselves if this is something they might be
interested in. A number of inexpensive devices are available on
the market today. I am personally familiar with only a few, but have
noted a number of available systems on the commercial market.
Prices do seem to vary, so shop wisely.

The standard disclaimer still applies, however.

It is not recommended that an individual use a Mind Machine to treat any medical or psychological condition in favor of conventional medical assessment and treatment.

Persons who wear a pacemaker, or who suffer from migraine headaches or seizure disorders or have any form of visual photosensitivity should NOT consider the use of a mind machine as evidence suggests that they may be able to trigger seizure activity or migraine headaches.

 

 
 

 
 

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Updated Monday 6/5/2017 11:26PM Mountain Time