Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Alpha State and Meditation
Since the invention of the electroencephalogram (EEG) in the beginning of 20th century, scientists have been able to measure the electrical activity of the brain. Our brain pulses and vibrates like everything in this Universe.
The brain pulse is measured like sound in cycles per second or Hertz. Brainwaves are categorized in 4 categories : Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta.
Your normal waking state, which is characterized by brain rhythms of 14 cycles per second and above,. In this state your mind activity is a veritable can of worms. The higher the brain activity becomes, the greater the stress factor.
A very relaxed state of mind, characterized by brain rhythms of between 8 and 13 cycles per second. In this state of mind you are relaxed, somewhere halfway between being fully awake and asleep. Dreaming and daydreaming occur in the alpha state.
Usually the state of sleep, when not dreaming. Characterized by brain rhythms of between 4 to 7 cycles per second. The theta level is also reached in very deep forms of meditation where consciousness becomes separate from mind and body.
Very deep sleep or coma, characterized by a brain rhythm of between below 4 cycles per second.
Among the above states alpha state is considered to be the most useful to worldly man. As one expert said, “However it is achieved, the therapeutic benefits are similar. When in the alpha state, one is lifted to a place inside where there is peace and order, where all is well and makes sense. When the human system is relaxed, the natural harmony in consciousness can take over, and the inner light can put things in place.”
Noted physiologists of USA, Dr. W. Penfield and Dr. H. H. Gasper have highlighted the interconnection of cosmic (thought) waves and human mind in their book on “Epilepsy and the Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain”. They have mentioned about the specific nature of the great brains of our times. As per their reports, Albert Einstein’s brain used to continuously emit alpha waves even when he was deeply engrossed in solving complicated problems of mathematics or was asleep…. It may be noted the alpha waves are emitted in a state of sharp alertness of the mind. Thus, despite being engaged in the work at hand, or in deep thinking, Einstein’s mind used to be always prepared and receptive to the cosmic signals of compatible ideospheres.”
Relaxation and meditation help us to enter alpha state effectively.
Here are two simple meditation techniques that you can learn and use right away:
Counting Breaths Meditation
This is simply a meditation to focus on the rhythm of your breath by counting your in and out breath. It is very easy to do, and at first your mind will start wandering around. Do not worry about it. It is quite natural. Just gently acknowledge that and shift your mind back into counting your breath again. With time, your mind will slow down and will stop wandering slowly.
1. Sit down, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing. Be aware of every breathing in and breathing out.
2. Do not try to control your breathing, or try to slow it down forcefully. Just breath automatically, freely and pay attention to the air passing through your nose, lungs and goes out again.
3. After a few breaths, start counting.
4. Breathing in, one.........breathing out ,two........breathing in, three........breathing out, four... breathing in, five..... breathing out, six
5. Should you find yourself thinking of something else instead of your breathing, just acknowledge it, and return to your breathing, and start counting again
6. Now notice the sensations of your breathing. The depth, the speed, see if your breathing becomes increasingly slower and quieter, if your breathing more and more goes to your stomach or your chest, if your body becomes more relaxed through your breathing, ...etc. Try to notice this as an outsider, without stopping from counting. If you cannot, then just go back to counting
7. Breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out, etc.
8. If at any time you notice any strange feelings in your body, like twinklings, or muscle reactions, just notice that, it is quite normal. Go back to your breathing
9. Once you got to 100, slowly return to normal, open your eyes, take in everything you see in the room, get up from the chair, stretch your muscles.
In this meditation, you will focus on a candle flame or lamp flame.
Turn off the lights, making sure that you still have some light entering the room, so you have the room in semi-dark. You will light a candle or lamp and position it at a level when you can look at the flame without any strains. Try not to think of the flame or the candle. Every time we wander away in our thoughts we return to the candle-flame without judging. Instead of a candle you can also choose an apple, a flower or any other object as your object of meditation.
1. Have the candle or lamp at eye level so you can see the flame easily
2. Sit down, close your eyes and concentrate on your breathing, just as in the first meditation technique mentioned above
3. Be aware of each breathing in and each breathing out.
4. After taking a few breaths, open your eyes and focus all your attention to the flame.
5. Breathe deeply and steadily and stare at the flame. Don't think about the candle, the flame, or anything else. If your mind wanders away, just return it gently to the flame.
6. Breathe deeply and steadily and stare at the flame.
7. Continue simply focusing on the candle or lamp for the period of time you had set apart for this meditation exercise.
8. You can now close your eyes and try to see the object at the inside of your eyelids.
9. Try to visualise the flame as long as you can, but don't strain yourself.
10. When the time is up (about 20 minutes is ideal), just take back your thoughts slowly to the environment around you, open your eyes, stretch your legs, and just be aware of the here and the now.