Meditation is touted as one of today’s “cure-all” techniques. Most rave about the benefits, some admit (reluctantly) they’ve yet to master the techniques and there are some frazzled skeptics who probably should give it a try.
But for those of you who may be tripped up on figuring out how to mediate or if meditation is indeed a good fit let’s take a quick look at the “science”.
Theta waves and the science of meditation
Using technology like fMRI scans, scientists are beginning to truly understand what takes place in our brains when we meditate. It has to do with the four types of brain waves, delta, theta, alpha, and beta. Beta waves serve us well in everyday life – it’s our beta waves that help us solve complex problems, think fast, be social, etc. But, beta waves are exhausting!
When we take even a few minutes to deliberately “calm our minds”, our brains stop processing information as actively as they normally do—there’s actually a decrease in beta waves.
Additionally, when we find a way to loosen the hold of the beta waves through meditation or any activity that gives our brains a rest, we actually strengthen the theta waves which happen to be the brain waves that help us relax, reason and problem solve. So it’s a win/win!
What is mediation and how do you do it?
Simply put, meditation is a kind of concentration training that helps the mind calm down for a few minutes and can be done one of two ways:
- By focusing on one specific thing for a few minutes, or
- Being mindful of everything that’s going on around you—but not reacting.
Although there are classic ways to mediate, any (healthy) method you choose to manipulate brain waves in order to give your brain a rest will have a positive impact. And any of them, when done intentionally will provide you benefits: calm anxiety, leave you feeling refreshed, energized; even improve your physical health and wellness.
- Close your eyes and think back to a brilliant moment you enjoyed outdoors; bring to mind what you heard, felt, smelled, touched and yes, even tasted!
- Sit on a beach and watch the waves roll in and out, observing the beauty and breathing deeply.
- Going for a run with a headset and focusing on the beat of the music.
- Embracing the “Downton Abbey” lifestyle where the English viewed tea as the cure all for any crisis. Sit quietly, use a lovely china cup, breathe deeply and deliberately engage your 5 senses. What do you smell? What do you feel? Hear? See and of course taste. Sip with style.
- Pursuing creative activities that zero your thinking toward a single focus. Artists, when fully engaged in their work may remark the house could burn down and they wouldn’t notice. Now that is clearing your mind! What do you enjoy that could cultivate that degree of focus?
Meditation comes with a warning
Productivity Ninjas are well acquainted with our lizard brain and its mission to keep us alert, and aware of the dangers about it. This constant cycle of being anxious wears us down, mentally and physically. It’s why calming your brain through meditative activities is not easy. Regardless of the method you use, accept the fact that your brain is going to put up a fight (this is normal, it means you’re alive). But by training our minds to let go for 5, 10, 20 minutes, we give our brains the huge break they well deserve!
Now shut off your computer. Close your eyes for a moment or perhaps look out the window at the sky, or the trees, now breathe deeply ahhhhh, calm at last.