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Our brains are wired differently from each other - no two brains are alike. However, similarities in brainwaves remain on point. Let us look at meditation and brainwaves from a layman’s perspective.
While examining the cerebral cortex of varied subjects during meditation, researchers in psychology and neuroscience were uniform in their thesis. The conclusion – there are four stages of brainwave activities. Beta waves - the brain is alert. The second - delta waves occur while we are asleep. The extremes between the two are theta and alpha waves.
A Simple Explanation
During meditation, intentional thinking should not be the focus. This is the theta stage when a person is relaxed and awake. During meditation, alleviating stress is the objective. As you meditate and distance yourself from negative emotions, your thought process changes. At this stage, the brain is not working but resting. You should not confuse this with delta brainwaves.
A beginner in meditation may find it difficult to concentrate. S/he may require directive meditation where her/his brainwaves will shift between theta and beta.
The Brain’s Response During Meditation
The frontal and mid part of the brain is active during a meditative session. There is no special technique to the methodology, but breathing patterns should not be erratic. Mental calm during meditation is expected.
Signals are sent to the lower part of the brain. At this point of the session, you will be in a heightened sense of peace and tranquility. During the session, while the brainwaves are working, the breathing technique must be followed. As you inhale and exhale without concentrating on the breathing, there is a shift towards a noticeable theta brainwave.
Note: a relaxed mind is not necessarily a meditative mind but physical relaxation on the other hand does have a place in meditation.
Thoughts and Imagery
The posterior part of the brain uses the alpha waves – this is a wakeful rest. During this stage of meditation, the person should not concentrate on particular thoughts or images.
The mind at the time of meditation is not devoid of intentional thoughts or imagery. You may flit across thoughts and images. Once you find your inner core and experience deep relaxation the theta brainwave occurs.
During a session, you may have a nagging thought deal with it but do not stress over the thought. A troubling thought that keeps recurring sets the alpha brain waves to clinically wander.
Do not confuse this formula of meditation with Yoga Nidra, there is a fine line.
Meditation to the Rescue
The brain as a whole is subject to wear and tear which is exhausting. Many people find themselves extremely stressed out because of anguish, irregular sleep patterns, lifestyle choices, addictions, and a host of other reasons. The brain connects the dots of varied experiences that occurred during the day or the past and puts things into perspective. You may shift from alpha, beta, theta, and delta.
As you meditate, your brainwaves are not nullified. You brainwaves do not work overtime like so in the beta stage.
Meditation has become quite popular across cultures. Doctors advise patients to try the method. It gives the brain a rest and the body as well primarily because of the correlation between the two.
During directive and non-directive meditation, the brainwaves keep working, you can also reach a beta stage.
A Theta Experience
Studies have proven that a non-directive approach is a much better meditative technique to calm the brainwaves. It does not cause undue stress to the brain. As you go through this meditative stage the brainwaves are at theta - spontaneous wandering is erased and peace takes over. Practice makes the theta and alpha brainwaves work to your benefit.