Your mind is a powerful tool that can assist in changing your thought patterns, your energy levels and your future. There are four main brain waves, Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta. The Beta wave is the fastest and is the wave used when one is conscious and alert. The Alpha wave is used when you are at rest, and is a slower wave. It is the bridge between your conscious and unconscious mind. The even slower Theta wave is used when we are dreaming and is a very creative brain wave. And lastly, there is the Delta wave, the slowest wave of all and is used for the deepest of sleep. (The fifth wave, Gamma, is not fully understood.) Meditation, as a practice, teaches us how to use our Alpha wave.
The Alpha brain wave is the wave commonly used in hypnotic suggestion. The subconscious mind has no "censor" to say "Oh that's a silly suggestion!" If you are in your Alpha state, (especially before falling asleep), you can give yourself all kinds of positive affirmations to help you succeed, improve health, conquer bad habits and boost your creativity among many things. It is a useful tool that you can use whenever you need, once you know how to do it. Meditation, more popular in India and Eastern cultures than in America, access this state of mind regularly instead of using drugs or alcohol to de-stress.
Inner calm makes you more effective as a person and more able to enjoy life. Meditation can reduce blood pressure, improve the body's ability to heal, increase focus and energy, and reduce anxiety. In other words, it can work wonders. Tests conducted by Dr. Davidson, director of the Laboratory for Affective Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin, did research using MRI and advanced EEG analysis to find that the most active parts of the brain during emotional distress, (anger or fear) – and this turned out to be the amygdala and the right prefrontal cortex of the brain. By contrast, people with an active left prefrontal brain cortex had a more upbeat attitude, were more enthusiastic and had more energized moods. By studying Buddhist monks who excelled at controlling brain activity through meditation, Dr. Davidson was able to conclude that one's basic emotional set point can be changed through meditation practice. *
In teaching yourself how to de-stress naturally, it is important to relax your body first, so then your mind will slow down. I do this by lying down. Many proponents of meditation will teach that you can't meditate unless you are sitting. They claim that if you lay down, you will end up falling asleep and this is considered counter-productive. But I always meditate lying down and it works great for me. I feel it is the easiest way for a beginner to learn. But to relax the mind, you first need to learn to relax your body …
1) Lie down in a quiet and dim room and close your eyes. Turn off your cell phone for the next hour and close the door so you are not interrupted. In relaxing your body first, start with your feet by tensing the foot muscles and then releasing the tension so that you can feel the difference. Then work up your body with the same technique. Tense your calves and then your knees and then release them. Tense your thighs, stomach, chest, hands, arms, shoulders, neck and finally your scalp muscles. Tense all your muscles and then release them so you really start to get familiar with how it feels when your muscles are fully relaxed. By the time you get up to your head area you should be starting to feel the difference. The last muscle you want to relax is your tongue. This is very important. It is often a muscle that is overlooked and if your tongue is tensed against your teeth it is like you are ready to speak or engage in a conversation. This means you are still not completely relaxed. Lift the tip of your tongue up slightly towards the roof of the mouth, so the back of your tongue goes down. Repeat this exercise 2 or 3 times as necessary to finally get your body to unwind. Breathing is also a very important part of the relaxation process too. Often we cannot fall asleep at night because our breathing is too rapid and shallow. This is an adrenalin response to stress and is automatic. To help yourself relax, become conscious of your breathing and slow it down. Take a deep breath and count to 8 as you slowly release it. Then inhale to a count of 8. The key to deep breathing is to exhale completely. The more carbon dioxide you breathe out, the more oxygen you can breathe in. The mineral magnesium also helps us to relax. Most people have a magnesium deficiency, so boosting your diet with natural magnesium will help you to relax more easily too.
2) The next step is to calm your mind now that your body is relaxed. Your mind is still quite alert and thinking of 100 different things. The mind is very undisciplined and jumps from one thought to another so quickly we hardly even notice what many of our thoughts really are. The eventual goal is to clear your mind and think of nothing, but that is difficult for a beginner. If someone tells you not to think of a pink elephant, then of course, that is going to be what pops into your mind. The goal is not to fight thoughts once they enter your head, but rather, just gently set them aside and go back to clearing your mind again.This is a discipline that will become easier with practice. Many people find it helpful to think of a beautiful calming place they can go to relax, like a private island or secret hide away. Keep focusing on this place if it helps. If the pink elephant pops back into your head, just calmly put it aside and go back to your private paradise.
3) The last step is to verbally or mentally repeat the word "aum" or "om". This sound vibrates at the same rate as the alpha brain wave and will help you to reach the proper state of mind faster. Almost all prayer or mantras use the "ahh" sound for this reason. As this relaxation exercise gets easier, you will be able to do it more quickly. You will be able slip into an alpha state and then progress to the deeper theta brain wave rapidly, where one can experience profound states of mental alertness, clarity and creativity. Euphoria and periods of illumination can also be achieved. Experiencing the spaces between the thoughts can bring illumination. Whatever the problem is that is bothering you, can be resolved by meditating first, successfully clearing your mind and then learning to release the problem. This is not something you can forcefully achieve. Meditation is an exercise in learning to release things and it comes with practice. You can become empowered, more intelligent and self-disciplined through practicing this technique. I like to give myself positive suggestions as I fall asleep, or ask a question to a pressing problem. Theta brain waves (creativity) are especially strong first thing in the morning. When this happens, I always make a point of writing my impressions down. The morning hours are very lucid, much like remembering a dream, and it is important to write things you remember while they are still fresh in your mind. A lot of people think that mediation will yield immediate results, but it takes time to accomplish proficiency. Anything worthwhile takes time and practice. Don't be discouraged it you don't get results right away. If you want to create long-term, lasting changes in your life, you need to learn to discipline your "worry" mind. Then you can send the positive messages you want to your subconscious mind, and get the amazing results you ultimately desire.