The Science of Meditation
For a few moments each day while we wake up, we're all in a deep meditative state. It occurs during those seconds when we're not quite awake, but not in a deep sleep anymore either. During this time, we're uniquely aware of ourselves and the world around us. Our sense of the world is slowed down enough to allow us to perceive energies that we may not be as tuned into otherwise. Maybe you've sensed someone during this state and opened your eyes slightly to see a loved one nearby or looking at you; or maybe someone or something has popped into your head during these moments. Maybe you've experienced more than that.
We can get to this altered state of consciousness by slowing down and lengthening our breathing. As we wake up, our brain waves shift from the Delta state (deep sleep) and pass through Theta, where this deep meditation occurs. However, we can also get to Theta from the other direction, from Beta and Alpha, as we relax and slow down, but not fall asleep. As we do this, our brain waves shift from the higher frequency Beta state (awake and alert) to Alpha (relaxed, calm) to the lower frequency Theta. The waves change appearance from active and busy with many peaks and valleys to calmer, smoother and more even keeled. In addition to deep meditation, the Theta state is also associated with visualizing and psychic experiences.
Everyone meditates. It's a natural state that we often reach in a mild form while we're awake without thinking about it, such as when we day-dream, but we can also practice and teach ourselves to reach that state whenever we want. A good way to start is to bring your awareness to your breath. Simply notice your breath, let your awareness be with it while you breathe in and out, and let your breathing do what it may. As you relax into that awareness and your breath calmly slows and lengthens, the brain follows. As you relax, breathe in for a few seconds and breath out for a few seconds. Do this a few times. If you find your inhales and exhales are uneven, keep breathing in a relaxed way until they balance. Let them get there naturally. As you feel comfortable, increase the time you take to breath in and out by a second or two in a balanced way that feels right for you.
As you practice meditating, it becomes a key to help open healing doors, especially when you meditate with the intention of being aware of high vibration qualities such as gratefulness, compassion, forgiveness or love. This state is reached during yoga and is used during many types of healing work, including shamanism. Monks who practice for years are able to reach this state and beyond during their waking life. Actually, monks and others will also go in the other direction during meditation to reach the Gamma state, a phase of intense brain activity, showing that some of their meditations are done not with the intention of slowing down, but with the intention of reaching hyper-awareness, focus and perception in a calm manner. Monks tested while meditating have shown Gamma state brain waves (not to be confused with Gamma rays - they're not turning into the Hulk) that are not only incredibly active, but are also uniquely in sync with various areas of the brain in what appears to be a state of multiple areas of the brain functioning at a high level simultaneously and in high frequency lockstep. They're processing vast amounts of information. Perhaps similar techniques were used by Albert Einstein. He would conduct what he called "thought experiments" where he would use visualization to learn and understand a subject. During one series of these experiments, he visualized himself being in a light beam to notice how it worked and brought his awareness to the aspects of it he wanted to understand. After conducting experiments like this for a while, he published four papers during the course of a year that later became knows as the "miracle year papers". The theories in his papers led to breakthroughs in our understanding of space, time, and matter; and led to the theory of relativity. These were papers that anyone would be content to write during a career, but he wrote in one year.
After regular meditation practice, brain activity rewires and changes, especially when the meditation is done with an intention. This can occur after practicing regularly for only several minutes a day. You don't need to become a monk or some other kind of guru and practice for hours a day to get results. This rewiring is especially helpful for health. A person can do various kinds of healings and spiritual work with the intention of healing and shifting energy, but the mind works with the spirit, and if the mind is rewired to help that healing, it will facilitate the process. This all starts with your awareness of your breath. We already meditate naturally every day and anyone can practice it regularly to get further benefits.