Although there are various definitions for meditation one of my favorite definitions is the quietness of mind, letting go of tempestuous and distracting thoughts and emotions, and for a time remaining focused internally. People who are intellectually inclined use meditation to clear their mind and to focus on just one thought, perhaps one about problem solving, or playing with a new idea. Those who are spiritually inclined use meditation for calming their mind, so they can focus all their energy and aspiration on the divine within. However, we are barely scratching the surface in defining meditation in such simple terms.
Meditation and Brainwaves
Scientifically speaking what meditation do is to alter our brainwaves. Different brainwave states are associated with distinct benefits and experiences. For example, when your mind is racing, stressed, unable to relax or be still, perhaps caught in emotional turmoil, arguing, hating, bitter, screaming, or confused, racing zillion miles a second, etc., you are probably plugged into a brainwave state at the beta or even gamma levels. Most of us live in our waking day to day lives at the beta level Even if we are generally a calm person we can still be at a beta level if we are unable to intellectually relax or take a mental break. If we feel we always need to be preoccupied with something we are probably living too much at the beta live, and in the long run this can potentially cause premature aging, stress, health problems, emotional issues, and so on. Healthy beta is okay. However, our brain can be too beta wired, which is not good.
Meditation assists to train the brain to be more synchronized and balanced. Sessions of regular meditation exercise help bring the brain from a gamma or beta level to a more relaxed alpha level, or even deeper to a theta level, and eventually in very deep, intense meditation you can reach the delta level. Delta is a very life-giving, rejuvenating state of mind, but few reach it often enough, not even when they sleep.
Following is a brief description of the beta, alpha, theta, and delta brainwave states:
Beta waves (13 to 40 Hz )
Beta is identified with active, busy or anxious thinking and active concentration.
Alpha waves (8 to 12 Hz )
When we begin to relax or begin to get drowsy, but are still awake and conscious, when we are day dreaming, we are at the alpha level.
Theta waves (4 to 8 Hz)
When we are asleep and have dreams, and experience rapid eye movement (REM), and have hallucinations, and even when we experience deep meditation, we are at the theta level. When we lucid dream (this is when you are conscious while you are dreaming) we are at the theta level.
Delta waves (0 to 4 Hz)
Delta waves are usually associated with deep, slow brain activity found in deep sleep. Delta waves are experienced predominantly in newborn infants, as well as in healthy adults in deep rejuvenating sleep, or in very deep states of brain enhancing, emotional cleansing, bodily renewing meditation.
The Meditation and Sleep Difference
By now you are probably thinking to yourself: "What is the point in meditating since I enter the alpha, theta, and sometimes delta levels every time I sleep? If I sleep through six to eight hours a night then am I not receiving the same benefits I'dreceive if I were doing six to eight hours of meditation a day for my entire life?"
The main point here is a deep, dreamless sleep at the delta level. Most people don't sleep profoundly enough to get the benefits of the rejuvenation effects of delta waves. Nevertheless, if you take even only a "power nap" for an hour or two and enter in an extensive dreamless sleep at the delta level at that time, when you wake up and come out of it, there is a new sense of life, energy, awareness, well-being in you. In a profound rejuvenating meditation state, you enter that same level, except that you are awake instead on unconscious. When you can enter that rejuvenating state of consciousness while remaining fully aware then you can carry over that state of mind in your day to day life and become the essence of who you are deep in your inner most being. It takes practice and daily trips to that recondite place within.
In a nutshell, meditation is the fourth state of consciousness that is unique because it consists of high awareness with very low mental or physiological function. Meditation is an awareness of our inner spirit, as well as closeness to our spirit. Everyone comes equipped with the capacity for this type of meditative restful awareness. Alas few ever reach it during normal sleep. However, daily meditation can help you sleep become deeper.
When reaching deep delta levels during sleep we feel so much refreshed and renewed when we wake up. When we fall into profound sleep, the ego disappears as does all out mental programming and brainwashed mindset, we are nearer to our pristine innocence. The closer we are to "home" so to speak the more recharged and healthy we are in our day to day life.
This clearly proves that the secret of attaining freshness and peace lies within, not outside. The goal of meditation is to become aware while you are passing through dream and deep sleep states of your mind, and remaining conscious when you are in your spirit so to speak. And then the ultimate goal is the carrying over of that awareness into your day to day life, maintaining it by intuitive existence. This is when the entire life change takes place of which religious rules of conduct and morals and ethical llife are all but cheap imitations of something that is natural and spontaneous due to the actual experience of "seeing God" in the depths of one's being. However, that is another subject.
Brainwave Entrainment is the Shortcut To Meditation
The main significance of this article relates to a shortcut method toget to that deep interior state where the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual benefits of meditation naturally follow. This is where "brainwave entrainment" is used.
What Is Brainwave Entrainment?
Brainwave entrainment is a scientifically proven leading edge in mind/brain technique. Professionals in the areas of psychology, neurology, medical health and self-help are beginning to utilize the power of brainwave entrainment in their work with patients and clients. Advances in the effectiveness of brainwave entrainment have been significant and gaining terrain.
Wikipedia defines brainwave entrainment this way:
"Brainwave synchronization or "brainwave entrainment," is any practice that aims to cause brainwave frequency to fall into step with a periodic stimulus having a frequency corresponding to the intended brain-state (for example, to induce sleep). It depends upon a "frequency following" response, a naturally occurring phenomenon where the human brain has a tendency to change its dominant EEG frequency towards the frequency of a dominant external stimulus. Such a stimulus may be aural, as in the case of binaural beats, monaural beats, and isochronic tones, or else visual, as with a dream-machine, a combination of the two with a mind machine, or even electromagnetic radiation."
Over past centuries and even today many people use different methods in an attempt to enter a deep state of meditation. Some people use breathing techniques. Some use chanting, others use dance, instruments, music, devotional exercises and so much more. All of these are different methods used for basically entraining the brain and lowering the brainwave frequencies to a state of mind at the alpha, theta or delta levels.
Furthermore, used by some for entering in intense states of meditation are brainwave mp3's or cd's. It has been scientifically documented that periods of regular brainwave entrainment bymeans of listening to cd's or mp3's embedded betas, monaural beats, or isochronic tones can lead to an increase in overall emotional calmness, relaxation, profound inner peace, intelligence, creativity, focus and mental clarity. Also, in improving memory, raising IQ and creating a rise in energy, and a reduction in stress levels. These are the same benefits one experiences during meditation.
All this info may sound complex in most cases. The fact is that you no more need to understand exactly how this process works. What you really need to know is that brainwave entrainment is highly effective and easily fits into your daily routine. Just 20 minutes to an hour per day listening to brainwave entrainment mp3's you begin to reap the benefits.