Why to meditate?

Published on 18-07-2016

Inward contemplative practices retrain the mind, body, and brain to become present, instead of being stressed in anticipation of some future event you are obsessing about. Meditation also lifts the anchor of the body-mind out of the past and frees you from the emotions that keep you hooked to the same familiar life.

The object in meditation is to fall like a feather down from the building’s top, slowly and steadily. You first train yourself to let your body initially relax, but keep your mind focused. Once you begin to master the skill, the ultimate goal is to let your body fall asleep while your mind stays awake or active. 

Here is the progression. If waking consciousness is Beta (Beta brain waves) (from low to high, depending on your levels of stress), once you sit up straight to keep your spine erect, close your eyes, take a series of conscious breaths, and go inward, you will naturally switch from the sympathetic nervous system to the parasympathetic nervous system. You will change your physiology from the emergency protection system (fight/fright/flight) to the internal protection system for long-term building projects (growth and repair). As the body relaxes, your brain-wave patterns will naturally begin to move to Alpha (Alpha brain waves). 

If done properly, meditation will shift your brain to a more coherent and orderly wave pattern. You will go from focusing on the Big Three to becoming no body, no thing, and no time. Now you begin to feel connected, whole, and balanced; and you experience healthier, elevated emotions of trust, joy, and inspiration.

University of Wisconsin at Madison conducted a study on Buddhist monks. These “super-meditators” could go into a state of coherent brain waves well beyond what most of us are capable of. When they meditated on thoughts of loving-kindness and compassion, the coherence of the signal they were putting out was nearly off the charts.

Every morning during the study, they meditated while researchers monitored their brain-wave activity. After that, they were sent out onto the campus and into the town to do what they wished—visit museums, go to shops, or what have you. After they returned to the research center, they received brain scans again without first going back into meditation. Amazingly, despite not meditating throughout the day, and being subjected to the incoherent, chaotic signals that the external world exposes us all to, they maintained the same coherent brain pattern they had achieved in meditation.

Most of us, when faced with the profusion and confusion of stimuli that the external world produces, retreat into survival mode and manufacture the chemicals of stress. Those stress reactions are like disruptors that scramble the brain’s signals. Instead, our goal is to become more like those monks. If we can produce coherent signal patterns—those synchronous waves—every day, we’ll find that this coherence of signal manifests into something tangible. 

In time, if you can repeatedly create internal coherence like those monks did, you too may walk into the external environment and no longer suffer the self-limiting effects of its disruptive stimuli. And because of that, you won’t experience the knee-jerk reactions that formerly forced you to return to the old, familiar self that you are so eager to change.

By persisting with meditation and creating coherence within, you will not only remove a lot of the negative physical conditions that plague your body, but you can also progress toward that ideal self you’ve envisioned. Your inner coherence can counteract negative reactionary emotional states and allow you to unmemorize the behaviors, thoughts, and feelings that make them up. 

Once you’ve gotten to a neutral/empty state, it is far easier to apply a heightened one like compassion; it is easier to bring in pure joy or love or gratitude or any of the elevated emotional states. That’s true because those emotions are already profoundly coherent. And when you’ve moved through the meditative process and produce a brain-wave state that reflects this purity, then you will begin to overcome the body, the environment, and time, which once produced your self-limiting emotional states. They will no longer control you; instead, you will control them.