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 mean more time between thoughts, which means more opportunity to skillfully choose which thoughts you invest.
Five Categories of Brain Waves: Why Meditation Works
1. Gamma State
In the Gamma state, the brain waves are at frequencies ranging from approximately 30–100 Hz. 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 mindstate of the prefrontal cortex. Brain wave frequencies in this state range from 13–30 Hz, and this is a state of the “working” or “thinking” mind—analytical, planning, assessing, and categorizing.
3. Alpha State
Brain waves in the Alpha state range from 9–13 Hz. 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 are 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 4–8 Hz 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 and more capacity for wholeness and complicated problem solving. The Theta state is associated with the Sixth Chakra (3rd eye), so in this state, we are able to practice visualization.
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.
- 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.
- Watch your breath. Simply notice your breath flowing in. Flowing out. Don’t try to change it in any way. Just notice.
- 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.
- Consistency is key. Try to do this breath meditation for ten to fifteen 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 number one tool I recommend to ALL my clients and students!
Please share with us:
- Which meditations work for you?
- Which meditations don’t work for you?
- What do you like and dislike about meditating?
- What do you have trouble with?
- Is there a meditation book, cd, teacher, or retreat that you recommend?
- Share your thoughts!
Elevating personal growth as a lifestyle, Ashley Turner, M.A., brings a fresh approach to yoga as a modern-day psychotherapist with a soulful bent on celebrating the body’s wisdom and inner spirit. Ashley is the co-author of Aroma Yoga®: Using Essential Oils in Yoga + Life and creator of four best-selling yoga DVDs. She leads monthly, weekend retreats at Montage in Laguna Beach, CA, as well as retreats and workshops around the globe. For more on her and her events, visit her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.