Meditation – why do it?

The practice of Meditation is nothing new – its as has been around in recorded history for thousands of years. It is practiced today by thousands of people all over the global.

But it actual dates all the way back to ancient times. Indian artifacts have proven a form of meditation called, “Tantra,”, dating back over 5000 years.

Researchers even suggest that primitive hunting and gatherers may have been the ones to discover meditation and its many different states of consciousness while gazing into the flames of their fires.

The Buddha of course is known as one of the biggest meditation icons and he has been around since 500 B.C..  and some of the most popularly used forms today are the Buddhist and Hindu-based Easter-style meditation.

But the popularity in West started in the mid-20th century when researchers in the 60’s and 70s, started to learn about the medical benefits as they began testing the effects of mediation.

In its simplest form Meditation is a practice that helps people achieve balance both

Mentally
Physically
Emotionally

The best things in life are free and this certainly is one of the best ones – you can practice this in the comfort of your own home or  become involved in a local meditation group, in time you can even do this on the train as you commute.  No matter how you choose to incorporate meditation into your life you will be sure to discover benefits.

Meditation helps to lower your heart rate and blood pressure by slowing down your breathing which lowers the amount of oxygen needed for the body. The thought process allows the mind and muscles to gently relax. We all know relaxation is beneficial to health yet we all know that you cannot just switch a switch and relax.

It is said if you are too busy to mediate for 10 mins a day then you should be mediating for 20. But in all honestly even 2 mins will bring benefit – if you start with a tiny habit and consistently achieve it – it will grow.

 

There are different ways to meditate

There are a couple that are the usual focus for scientific research though.

These are focused-attention, or mindful meditation, which is where you focus on one specific thing—it could be your breathing, a sensation in your body or a particular object outside of you. The point of this type of meditation is to focus strongly on one point and continually bring your attention back to that focal point when it wanders.
The other type of meditation that’s often used in research is open-monitoring meditation. This is where you pay attention to all of the things happening around you— you simply notice everything without reacting.

If you are here for spiritual awakening and growth – I recommend that you use both these techniques – the mindful mediation for your own health and relaxation in the mornings and the open mediation for spirit contact in the evenings. (I actually discovered this via my guide when I started to mediate for health reasons years ago) And it is how I practice today. Be mindful that spiritual awakening is there to help others – and you help others more by helping yourself first.

 

So what Happens in Your Brain When You Meditate?

This is where things get really interesting. Using MRI scans, scientists have developed a more thorough understanding of what’s taking place in our brains when we meditate. At a basic level we stop thinking – we stop processing information.

We actual start to show a decrease in beta waves, which is how they can tell a brain is processing information and these can be seen on an MRI scan. Even if you have never tried mediation before and you think you have failed – after a single 20-minute meditation session you brain will have slowed down and the MRI scan would show this.

In the image below you can see how the beta waves (shown in bright colors on the left) are dramatically reduced during meditation (on the right).

brain
So what is happening.

Frontal lobe
This is the most highly evolved part of the brain, responsible for reasoning, planning, emotions and self-conscious awareness. During meditation, the frontal cortex switches off.

Parietal lobe
This part of the brain processes sensory information about the surrounding world, orienting you in time and space. During meditation, activity in this lobe slows down.

Thalamus
The gatekeeper for the senses, this organ focuses your attention by funneling some sensory data deeper into the brain and stopping other signals in their tracks. Meditation reduces the flow of incoming information to a trickle.

Reticular formation
As the brain’s sentry, this structure receives incoming stimuli and puts the brain on alert, ready to respond. Meditating dials back the arousal signal.

 

The real interesting thing is that over time when you mediate daily there comes a point where your brain continues in this state even when you are awake and going about your daily business – call it inner peace if you wish – but getting to this state takes time – but it’s a beautiful place to be in.

 

For the more technical minded out there

The more we meditate, the less anxiety we have, this is because we are loosening the connections of particular neural pathways.

What happens without meditation is that theses sections of our brain that’s sometimes called the Me Center (ie the medial prefrontal cortex – the part that processes information relating to ourselves and our experiences) get tight.

Normally the neural pathways from the bodily sensation and fear centers of the brain to the Me Center are really strong. For example when you experience a scary or upsetting sensation, it triggers a strong reaction in your Me Center, making you feel scared and under attack.

When we meditate, we weaken this neural connection. This means that we don’t react as strongly to sensations that might have once lit up our Me Centers. As we weaken this connection, we simultaneously strengthen the connection between what’s known as our Assessment Center (the part of our brains known for reasoning) and our bodily sensation and fear centers. So when we experience scary or upsetting sensations, we can more easily look at them rationally.

For example, when you experience pain, rather than becoming anxious and assuming it means something is wrong with you, you can watch the pain rise and fall without becoming ensnared in a story about what it might mean.
So – why is mediation important to gifted people – apart from the health benefits of course.

From a science point of view
Research on meditation has shown that empathy and compassion are higher in those who practice meditation regularly. One experiment showed participants images of other people that were either good, bad or neutral in what they called “compassion meditation.” The participants were able to focus their attention and reduce their emotional reactions to these images, even when they weren’t in a meditative state.

They also experienced more compassion for others when shown disturbing images.

Part of this comes from activity in the amygdala—the part of the brain that processes emotional stimuli. During meditation, this part of the brain normally shows decreased activity, but in this experiment it was exceptionally responsive when participants were shown images of people.

Another study in 2008 found that people who meditated regularly had stronger activation levels in their temporal parietal junctures (a part of the brain tied to empathy) when they heard the sounds of people suffering, than those who didn’t meditate.
From a spiritual point of view
We all know the brain has 2 sides and many lobes, but spiritual contact comes from our consciousness and switching these parts of the brain off – if you are gifted you will be aware of something going on around you already – you may have seen spirit , felt or heard them. But the more aware you become the clearer this contact will be.

As I have said before its about balance and I recommend the use of both techniques – the mindful one for you to learnt to feel you and gain the health benefits and the open minded technique in order for you to open the channel and be more aware of that which is naturally around you.

 

Blessing Tee xx

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