The brain is the control centre for your entire being. It is the bridge between the higher realms and your physical experiences. It is the process centre to all of your thoughts, emotions, actions and bodily functions.
The average human brain contains some 20 billion neurons linked up to more than 10 000 synaptic connections!
A synaptic connection is the junction where a neuron passes an electrical current (light) to another neuron -it is the brain’s way of communicating information. The greater and the more varied the number of synaptic connections, the more coherent the two (2) brain hemispheres function together and exchange information with superior efficiency.
In order to keep a malleable and expansive brain, it is imperative to exercise it as we would exercise the body to keep in good condition. Meditation, contemplation, being captivated in a creative endeavour and mindfulness are wonderful ways of keeping the brain vibrant and healthy. Meditation, and varying forms of respite and elation, induce alternate states of awareness, forming new pathways and neural networks.
The practice of “meditation increases electrical fluctuations in the brain, changing the neural structure and pushing the brain to reorganize itself at a more complex level of functioning.” Bill Harris (Thresholds of the Mind)
Also, during meditation, you gain access to that mystical place of infinite possibilities where quantum leaps of perceptions are born -what Oprah calls those ah ha! moments.
In the last decades, a considerable amount of scientific study has been done on meditation and an increasing amount of data has been recorded about the effects of practicing meditation. It is no longer considered an occult concept. We now have proof that a regular meditation practice connects us to our true essence and expands awareness, fostering increased well-being and evolved capabilities such as foresighted problem solving, heightened creativity and even spontaneous healing.
Combining synaptic connections (pace and form at which the electrical current rushes through) creates oscillations / frequency waves (PDF). The slower the wave frequency, the deeper the meditative state you’re in.
The Beta wave frequency is the most rapid and is associated with normal waking hours and critical thinking. Quicker frequency beta waves are mostly associated with anxiety and trigger a cascade of stress hormones. Riding these quicker frequency waves activates the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) and increases stress and dis-ease.
Slower frequencies produce the Alpha wave pattern currency. Alpha waves are associated with deep relaxation where theparasympathetic nervous system is activated and in which the brain secretes “melatonin,” a chemical responsible for quick learning and memory retention. The Alpha frequency is the state between sleep and waking.
Slower still is the Theta brainwave frequency; the dreaming state. In this environment, the brain is very receptive to stimuli. It is also the frequency at which new brain pathways form, bridging increased synapses.
And the slowest of all wave is the Delta wave frequency, known to trigger the release of large quantities of healing and growth hormones. The Delta frequency is also considered the gateway to the subconscious realms.
The Gamma wave state is the fastest brainwave frequency but with the most coherent amplitude. This blissful state is associated with transcendental experiences and feelings of oneness with all that is.
A common misconception about meditation is that it is necessary to sit for several hours a day and practice diligently for many years before achieving results when in fact; just 15 minutes of meditation a day will greatly improve your overall state of well-being.
I have experienced, however, that the blissful feeling of meditation leaves me wanting more! It’s also important not to get too constrained with a meditation style or position. When I started, I would only meditate lying down and I would only do it for however long I felt like and sometimes, that was just for a few minutes a day. It’s imperative that you practice with what brings you joy, and nothing else.
Try out meditation styles and imaginative endeavours that resonate with you and become more open-minded -literally.