Now more than ever it is important to take care of ourselves not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. One way to do this is through meditation. The practice of meditation is not just what you picture from seeing in Hollywood movies. There are many different types of meditation and they can look and sound different. Despite the differences, all meditations have many positive benefits. Common benefits include: reduces stress, reduces depression and anxiety, lengthens your attention span, improves sleep, helps control pain, and can decrease blood pressure. Research shows that meditation may also improve symptoms of stress-related conditions including: Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and Fibromyalgia. Meditation also enhances self-awareness. This helps you develop a better understanding of yourself and how you relate to those around you. It can teach you to recognize thoughts that may be harmful or self-defeating. This also helps reduce disorders such as depression and improves your overall mental health.
Studies show that meditating regularly can also help fight addictions. The mental discipline you can develop through meditation may help you break dependencies by increasing your self-control and awareness of triggers for addictive behaviours.
Did you know that meditation can also generate kindness? A type of meditation called “Metta” begins with developing kind thoughts and feelings towards yourself. Through practice, people learn to extend this kindness and forgiveness externally, first to friends and family, and then to strangers.
Watari’s Vietnamese & Asian Community Substance Misuse Counsellor Veronica, agrees that meditation is incredibly beneficial and can make you a happier and more compassionate person. She sees the many benefits of meditation through its relationship with brain waves.
“[Humans] only learn to function at one level of mind and it’s called: Beta (12-38 Hz). It’s problem solving, judgment and decision making.” But did you know that there are also different altered states we can access for our advantage? According to Veronica, these include:
- Alpha (8-12 Hz): relaxation, mental coordination, and creative visualization
- Theta (3-8Hz): extreme creativity, ideas, and even psychic abilities
- Delta (0.5-3Hz): during sleep. This is where all the fun and excitement happens because Delta waves shift reality
- Beta: associated with worry, stress, paranoia, fear, irritability, moodiness, anger, nervousness, depression, and anxiety. It can weaken our health and immune system.
- Alpha: Habits, fears, phobias begin to strip away (it’s a peaceful state)
- Theta: Insight, intuition, and inspiration. It feels like you are floating, dreamlike imagery, problem solving, and we feel more connect with others and nature.
- Delta: Renewal, healing, and rejuvenation. Deep, dreamless sleep, enter into spiritual world. It’s best for immune system function restoration and health. That’s why when people got into accident, doctors would put them in comma for the bodies to heal themselves.
- Gamma Waves (38 TO 42 HZ)
So how do you access the altered states of brain wave activity? It can be possible through meditation. One of the most famous studies on meditation was performed with Tibetan Buddhist monks and Celestine nuns. Both groups demonstrated the ability to produce gamma waves during meditation.
According to Veronica, Gamma brainwaves pass information rapidly and quietly. The mind has to be quiet to access gamma as they are the most subtly of the brainwave frequencies.
Gamma waves were dismissed as “spare brain noise” until researchers discovered it was highly active when in states of universal love, altruism, and the “higher virtues.” Although how it is generated remains a mystery, it is speculated that gamma rhythms modulate perception and consciousness, and that a greater presence of gamma relates to expanded consciousness and spiritual emergence.
The studies of the Tibetan Buddhist monks and Celestine nuns, showed a significant increase in brain activity in the left prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain associated with self-control, happiness, and compassion. IQ scores of people with high gamma wave activity are correspondingly high. It also showed reduced activity in the amygdala – the brain’s fight or flight center.
“This suggests that meditation can actually make you a happier and more compassionate person,” says Veronica.
Even if we are unable to access the altered states through our different brainwaves, meditation still has incredibly strong benefits. That’s why we are so grateful that through a partnership with The Lab of Meditation, Watari is able to participate in a meditation session every Thursday at 12pm via Zoom. For more information on how to join please email firstname.lastname@example.org.