More About Mindfulness based Meditation
Benefits of Meditation
Stress reduction. Form of self-care. Increase balance. Potential of health improvement.
In mindfulness meditation through focusing on the breath, we basically give our highly intelligent bodies a chance to turn off the fight flight mode we find ourselves in so often. Fight flight is often caused by the stresses and strains of modern urban life. Meditation stimulates and regulates the autonomic nervous system and vagus nerve, the superhighway that connects our body and brain in a healthy way. After we have been meditating for a while, the body relaxes more deeply. Once relaxed, we give it a chance to slip into the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of our body that regulates restoration and renewal. When the parasympathetic nervous system is active, our heart rate variability increases. A higher HRV can lead to greater stress resiliency.
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Meditation is exercise for the brain. Reduce depression and anxiety. It leads to more awareness - this means more choice and thus control.
Research has shown that when meditating regularly (focused attention meditation), our two brain halves have a chance to regulate and synch up. This synching up is traditionally expressed in mysticism with this symbol ∞ . During this process, information and energy traverses back and forth from the left brain to the right brain through the narrow part (corpus callosum).
We benefit when this happens; the blood flow to the part of the brain that has connections to both the “emotional” limbic system and the “cognitive” prefrontal cortex, the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), increases for example. The ACC is engaged in emotional expression, mood regulation, impulse control and decision-making. As a result, it is possible to increase the function of the control networks in the ACC through meditation. This may result in improved emotion regulation outside of meditation, in day-to-day life.
Research has shown that after an 8-week mindfulness meditation course, the amygdala, the brain part active during fight flight response, can shrinks. The prefrontal cortex can become thicker. Our brains are altered.
When meditating, the brain starts generating alpha and theta waves which are different from beta waves. Beta waves are active during normal waking consciousness and are involved in conscious thought and logical thinking. Alpha waves bring creativity, a sense of comfort and peace and dominate the first layer of our subconscious mind. Theta waves are correlated with insight and intuition, a feeling of floating and increased motivation. Theta waves govern the part of our mind that lies between the conscious and the unconscious. Theta state is an almost trancelike mental state. As such, meditation can lead to feeling unstuck, a sense of freedom and being more in touch with what lies beneath waking consciousness: unconscious sensations and patterns.
In addition, research has shown that regular meditation increases the brain's capacity for self-awareness.
Beyond this lies a world where mindfulness meditation and training by HUMMING ends and the spiritual path begins. It is generally accepted that a serious lifelong meditation practice with sincere and humble commitment to the path engenders awareness of internal and external "stimuli", which are distinct from ordinary consciousness.
As a result of this overall process, we often have a sense of balance or awareness of life and its energy streams after a meditation session.
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Increases compassion, contentment and well-being.
The heart is the most powerful source of electromagnetic energy in the human body, producing the largest rhythmic electromagnetic field of any of the body’s organs. The magnetic field produced by the heart is over 100 times greater in strength than the field generated by the brain.
This field can be detected up to 3 feet away from the body, in all directions, using SQUID-based magnetometers.
We can therefore argue that the heart deserves our attention as an object of meditation. That which is so strong and so alive deserves our intentional focus.
The Heart after all marks the main location in our body where we experience love, joy, gratitude, loving kindness, tenderness, compassion and non-duality - all forms of awareness which give life rich meaning. The purpose of meditation on the Heart: so it may thrive. So we may share heart based qualities and awareness with the world more frequently.
On top of that, the biological heart has a network of ganglia, neurotransmitters, proteins and support cells, the same as those of the brain in the head. Because of this neural circuitry the heart has the capacity to learn, make decisions and remember. This could explain why working on heart-brain coherence, the unification of intentions-thoughts-emotions-soul/spirit, is such an important step towards feeling whole.
Compassion based meditation and loving kindness practices work with the energetic and spiritual Heart, allowing for heart-brain coherence to occur. This may lead to feeling unity within yourself and with the world.
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If you can bring earnestness to your meditation, you will find that happiness is something that will run through your life constantly.
~ Frederick Lenz ~