In simple terms meditation is a sustained one pointed concentration upon a given object – but what are its benefits and how do they work?
The brain acts as an inter-face between our consciousness and the external world. As a general rule when we are awake and active the left hemisphere of our brain is the more active and dominant, but when we close our eyes the right hemisphere becomes more dominant. In meditation both hemispheres become equally involved – the activity created by meditation spreading like a wave (called a 'soliton') across both hemispheres. This activity is self-perpetuating and the changes it creates in the brain then affect the physiology of the entire body.
As we settle into a meditive mental state the brain slows down – starting from its normal Beta level of activity (12 or more cycles per second) it will slow down to an Alpha state (8 – 12 cycles per second), and then (in deep meditation) Theta state (4 – 8 cycles per second), and Delta state (4 or less cycles per second). In theta and delta states we access more of our central nervous system – of which it is thought we only utilise perhaps only 1% during normal, conscious, mental activity! At the same time it is experienced as a state of enhanced mental clarity that is also very restful and relaxing. Perception of time may appear to slow down. Outside of meditation, and hypnotic trancelike states, the deeper theta and delta states are normally only accessed in sleep.
Meditation also creates a unique metabolic state even lower than that occurring during sleep – oxygen consumption dropping by 10 – 20% compared to 8% ± during sleep. It also lowers blood lactate – a marker for stress and anxiety. Melatonin and serotonin secretion is increased by meditation whilst cortisol is decreased – so the production of 'calming / feel good' hormones is increased by meditation while the production of stress inducing hormones is diminished. Secretion of DHEA – the 'youth' hormone, is also increased: Meditating 45 year old males exhibiting approximately 23% more DHEA than non-meditators, and meditating females 47% ± more. The effects on the body are therefore to diminish stress, increase the facility for memory and concentration, preserve sexual function, and assist in the control of body weight. Meditation has also been shown to assist in sustaining optimal hearing, vision, and blood pressure. Long-term meditators experience 80% less heart disease and 50% less cancer than non-meditators, and also tend to have enhanced autoimmune function. Studies have also shown that it is very effective in reducing pain levels.
Those are just the practical benefits to be gained from the regular practice of meditation! Throughout mankind's history the 'real' purpose of meditation has been to attain a state of 'enlightenment'. The nature of enlightenment is difficult to explain - since it is experiential and outside the 'normal' day to day range of human experience. However, it can be said to involve a major shift in the way we experience 'reality'. This shift is accessed by quietening the normally constant activity of our minds – so that we experience life free from the usual filtering processes inherent in our mental activity. A key factor concerning 'enlightenment' is that it cannot be reached through the process of intellectual activity.
Note that there are many MEDITATION TECHNIQUES for achieving all of the above benefits – be they practical or spiritual.
A Dru Yoga and general YOGA MEDITATION class (covering several techniques) is offered on Sunday evenings from 5.30pm to 6.30pm.
The Shiva Process:
Is a meditative process of self enquiry intended to uplift and expand our awareness in daily life. Throughout our waking day we all go through various emotional states according to the experiences we are having. Those that are unpleasant can create degrees of stress and tension that restrict and contract our 'inner energy' - thereby disempowering us.
The Shiva Process investigates the relationships between our inner and outer worlds, our thoughts and feelings, and the expansion and contraction in our sense of being by examining their effect on 4 major chakras – or energy points, within the body. Created specifically to release the blocked or restricted subtle energy within us associated with stress and tension it explores these subtle and physical aspects of our being through the thoughts and feelings associated with them.
Through using the techniques of the Shiva Process (a combination of meditation and inter-active communication) it is possible to uncover unconscious patterns in behaviour that create disempowerment. The process assists the user to dissolve the inner obstacles that arise in all areas of our lives (relationships, work, health, and spirituality); and at the same time reveals empowering attitudes and feelings that open us up to greater life energy, strength, and love. It also directs the mind towards the true inner self.
The Shiva Process assists you to:
- Identify and ask empowering questions of yourself
- Uncover your true feelings
- Discover the reasons behind the blocks you experience
- Eliminate negative thought patterns
- Communicate with truth and compassion
- Build the inner confidence to achieve your personal goals