When I think of meditation, a part of my mind conjures up images of kaftan-wearing hippies sitting cross-legged, fingers making little “o”s in the air, chanting “om”. Another part of my mind says “BORING!!” Which is odd, given that I’ve been enjoying meditating for many years and been interested in altered states of consciousness my whole life! I guess my default images are a testament to how the practice of meditation has generally been regarded in our society.
As a child of eleven or so I borrowed library books on hypnosis (which I tried out on my little sister; according to one book, as a sleep-talker she made a good subject). At fifteen I would sit cross-legged in my bedroom facing the wall, chanting “nam eh oh oh ren geh key oh” (I got the words from an article in teen magazine “Just Seventeen”) – this was maybe the closest I’ve ever come to the stereotype; my mother and siblings still giggle about it. But object of ridicule or not, it worked for me – I would focus on my latest crush being at the pub that night, and there he would be! 😉
In my twenties I briefly toyed with “watching the breath” as recommended by a Buddhist friend in Spain – that one was NOT for me! – before I discovered the joy of guided meditation, beginning with Shakti Gawain’s classic Creative Visualisation (on cassette!).
It wasn’t until I trained in neuro-linguistic programming and hypnosis, in my mid-thirties, that I began to understand the science behind these altered states. When we meditate, our brains are flooded with theta and alpha brainwaves, precipitating a state of profound body and mind relaxation in which the parts of of brain responsible for creativity, clarity, memory, insight and calm are stimulated. (See Resources below for a fuller explanation of the science.)
Meditation is now a key part of my life, all the more so since we’ve been a homeschooling, and my family accept my daily 15 minute mini-retreats as part of who I am. In fact my children have been known to tactfully suggest “why don’t you go and meditate, mummy” when things are a little fraught 😀 I sometimes think they see meditation as a “Mummy reboot” button. They’re probably spot on!
At the moment I love Esther and Jerry Hicks’ Abraham meditations CD, which contains four 15 minute meditations focusing on general wellbeing, financial wellbeing, physical wellbeing and relationships respectively. I just pop in my earphones, breathe, and let the soothing words and music wash over me – bliss!
Brainsync produce both guided meditations and music only products, available on CD or as MP3s. Kelly Howell has a deliciously soothing voice, and the music is specially created to induce beneficial brainwave states. I’ve enjoyed using Brainsync recordings for a long time.
This short article explains more of the science.