mind stuff

HOW & WHY MEDITATION WORKS?

I started meditation about 4 years ago. I committed to the Headspace app intro, 10 minutes for 10 days, and I immediately felt the affects of slowing down the mind. I loved it! The first 10 days were a real eye opener but I know for some clients and friends it has been a tough hurdle to overcome.

Over the past 4 years I have tried to be disciplined and meditate everyday but haven't always succeeded. The last 2 years I have been particularly diligent and I more or less meditate daily and have slowly increased the time I meditate. Some days it flybys and other days it's a real slog. In London, in my flat, I am slightly guilty of ticking meditation off my list but when doing meditation in nature it's a whole new experience. Regardless of where you are, who you are, how happy you are, the benefits of meditation are tenfold. 

I wanted to share this article by Ashley Tuner on the How & Why Meditation Works. 


HOW & WHY MEDITATION WORKS by Ashley Turner 

Meditation is one of the most crucial aspects to cultivate more peace and happiness in life. It is literally the first thing I recommend to all my students and clients to build self- esteem and intuition, hear your truth, make wise, skillful choices, improve communication, increase creativity and productivity and let go.

We can be in one of two states - either the mind is running us or we are running our mind.

My mentor, Dr. Ron Alexander, speaks of MIND STRENGTH and the changes that can occur as we begin the process of training the mind. Mind strength is one of the most empowering tools we can employ to impact and improve all aspects of life.

Here's the breakdown of how meditation works.

There are five major categories of brain waves, each corresponding to different activities we do. Meditation enables us to move from higher frequency brain waves to lower frequency and calm the mind.

Slower wavelengths = more time between thoughts = more opportunity to skillfully choose which thoughts you invest in.

5 Categories of Brain Waves: Why Meditation Works

1. Gamma State - In the Gamma state, the brain waves are at frequencies ranging from approximately 30 – 100Hz. This is the state of hyperactivity in the brain and active learning. Gamma state is the most opportune time to retain information. This is why Tony Robbins and other educators have audiences jumping up and down or dancing around - to increase the likelihood of permanent assimilation of information and lasting change in one's "state".

If overstimulated, it can lead to anxiety.

2. Beta State - The Beta state, which is where we function for most of the day, is associated with the alert mind state of the prefrontal cortex. Brain wave frequencies in this state range from 13 – 30Hz and this is a state of the "working" or 'thinking mind': analytical, planning, assessing and categorising.

3. Alpha State - Brain waves in the Alpha state range from 9 – 13Hz. This is the state where brain waves start to slow down out of thinking mind. We become more calm, peaceful and anchored. We often find ourselves in an "alpha state" after a thorough yoga class, a walk in the woods, a pleasurable sexual encounter or during any activity that helps relax the body and mind. We are lucid, reflective, have a slightly diffused awareness and at peace. This is often accompanied by an inner and/or outer glow - sometimes felt as "spacey". The hemispheres of the brain are more balanced (neural integration).

4. Theta State - When brain waves range from 4 – 8Hz in the Theta state, we are able to begin meditation. This is the point where the verbal/thinking mind transitions to the meditative/visual mind. We begin to move from the planning mind to a deeper state of awareness (often felt as drowsy), with stronger intuition, more capacity for wholeness and complicated problem solving. The Theta state is associated with the 6th Chakra (3rd eye), so in this state we are able to practice visualisation.

5. Delta State - The final state is the Delta state, where brain waves range from 1 – 3 Hz. Tibetan monks that have been meditating for decades can reach this in an alert, wakened phase but most of us reach this final state during deep, dreamless sleep.

A Simple Meditation: How to Meditate

A simple meditation to use to begin the transition from Beta or Alpha to the Theta State is to focus on the breath. The breath and mind work in tandem, so as breath begins to lengthen, brain waves begin to calm and slow down.

1. To begin the meditation, sit comfortably in your chair with your shoulders relaxed and spine tall. Place your hands mindfully on your lap, close your eyes and as much as possible eliminate any stimulus that may distract you.

2. Watch your breath. Simply notice your breath flowing in. Flowing out. Don't try to change it in any way. Just notice.

3. Silently repeat the mantra: "Breathing In. Breathing Out." As your mind begins to wander, draw it back to your breath. Notice that as your breath begins to lengthen and fill your body, your mind begins to calm.

4. Consistency is Key. Try to do this breath meditation for 10 – 15 minutes first thing in the morning and/or at night. Be consistent with your meditation practice, particularly if it is difficult to sit still as you begin. Shorter meditation sessions on a regular basis are more productive than long sessions every few weeks.

Meditation is the #1 Tool I recommend to ALL my clients + students!

PATIENCE

 

|| PATIENCE ||

We could all do with a little bit more patience in our lives. Modern society has not moulded us to be patient. With everything at a tap of a finger, now more than ever, we need to practice being patient not just for our own sanity, but for our nearest and dearest too. I have been working with being more patient over the last few weeks and it’s such a relief when you give yourself permission to relax and let go. 

Some of the smallest things can be SO grating whether it’s standing in the queue at Sainsbury’s, getting on public transport, walking behind a very slow person on a busy pavement, being patient when your family winds you up, or being patient with ourselves in reaching goals. It’s often the closest people to us who are on the receiving end of our impatience and being a little bit more patient will transform our relationships with others and our own internal relationship. 

I did a 10 day meditation recently with Headspace focusing on patience, which has really helped me manage and recognise when I’m being unnecessarily impatient. It’s such a relief to be able to let go of that feeling and to continue with whatever you’re doing without frowning, or tensing up in the body. 

The meditation trains you to recognise and note to yourself when your mind is wondering off on a tangent as ‘thinking’. By recognising that we’re thinking we become more aware of the patterns of our mind. When you’re feeling impatient, practice noting to yourself that what you’re feeling is just ‘impatience’, and then let it go (appreciate at times this is easier said then done). When our mind is boggled with negative thoughts its very easy to let it spiral. If we can become aware of when we’re spiralling and note that then it’s easier to let go and move on from the feeling. It takes practice but it really works and it feels so good to realise that you don’t have to be so tense. 

My favourite saying at the moment is ‘life is your own creation’, and if we want to be impatient we can be and if we choose to let go a little more, we can…..with practice. Half the time my thoughts get the better of me, but the other half my practice comes into action. 

If you’re out and about it’s pretty hard to drop to the floor and do yoga. But if you’ve had a long and stressful day, and you want some chill stretch time at home, I find the below poses soothing and calming. 

 
 

RAG DOLL 

So simple and easy. Bend the knees and allow the torso to drape over the legs. The feet are hip distance apart, make sure the weight is spread evenly in the feet, and the knees track over the second toe. Either grab opposite elbows or let the arms dangle. Release the neck and allow the weight of the head to encourage the torso to lengthen as the hips lift. Option to interlace the hands behind the back. It’s a little bit more intense but a nice shoulder opener. 

HAPPY BABY (Ananda Balasana) 

In happy baby allow the lower back kiss the mat and at the same time the neck and shoulders to be soft. If holding the outside edges of the feet causes tension in the neck and shoulders, or the lower back to raise off the mat, then hold the ankles or further down the legs. Alternatively bring the knees wide and into the chest, placing your hands on top of the knees. Close the eyes breath and let go. 

BADDHA KONASANA Restorative 

Make a diamond shape with your legs and place the souls of your feet together. Your feet should be about half a metre or more from you pelvis. Bring your head towards your feet and round your back. Either place your hands either side of your feet, or grab your toes and gently draw yourself towards your feet. This pose is also great with a bolster so you can rest your head. Either place the bolster between your legs at an angle between your forehead and against the floor. 

SETU BADDHA KONASANA 

Come to lying on your back, place the souls of your feet together, and let the knees fall out wide. For a slight chest opener you can place your arms above your head and grab opposite elbows. Alternatively place the right hand on the belly and left hand on the heart. If you start to feel discomfort in the hip flexors lengthen your legs, or place the souls of the feet on the ground and bend your knees.