Meditating is today’s new cure-all. Most rave about its benefits, some admit (somewhat reluctantly) that they’ve yet to master its techniques, and then there are some frazzled skeptics who probably should give it a try.
Productivity Ninjas have no doubt as to meditation’s benefits: “productivity and mindfulness go together like peanut butter and jelly”, writes Graham Allcott. But for those of us who are still figuring out if we’re meditating the “right way”, or meditating at all, is there any hope? Yes. And here’s why.
Theta waves and the science of meditation
Using technology like fMRI scans, scientists are beginning to truly understand what takes place in our brains when we meditate. It all has to do with four types of brain waves: alpha, beta, delta and theta. When we take even a few minutes to deliberately “calm our minds”, our brains stop processing information as actively as they normally do—there’s actually a decrease in beta waves. Beta waves are good, because in everyday life, it’s our beta waves that help us solve complex problems, think fast, be social, etc. But beta waves can be exhausting!
When we find a way to loosen the hold of the beta waves through meditation or any activity that gives our brains a rest, we actually strengthen the theta waves. These happen to be the brain waves that help us relax, reason and problem solve.
What is mediation and how do you do it?
Simply put, meditation is a kind of concentration training that help the mind calm down for a few minutes. It can be done one of two ways:
- By focusing on one thing at a time, for just a few minutes
- Being mindful of everything that’s going on around you—but not reacting.
So although there are classic ways to mediate, any method we use to manipulate brain waves in order to give our brains a rest is going to have a positive impact. And any of them, if done intentionally, can give you the same benefits: calm anxiety, leave you feeling refreshed, energized; even improve your physical health and wellness. For example:
• Sitting on a beach and watching the waves flow in and out, observing the beauty and breathing deeply.
• Going for a run with a headset and thinking about nothing except the beat of the music.
• Embracing the “Downton Abbey” lifestyle where the English viewed tea as the cure all for any crisis. Sit quietly, use a lovely china cup, and sip with style.
• Pursuing creative activities that zero your thinking into a single focus. Artists, for example, will tell you then when they are painting a picture, the house could burn down and they wouldn’t notice. Now that is clearing your mind!
Meditation comes with a warning
Productivity Ninjas are well acquainted with our lizard brain and its mission to keep us alert and aware of the dangers about it. This constant cycle of being anxious wears us down, mentally and physically. It’s why calming your brain through meditative activities is not easy. Regardless of the method you use, accept the fact that your brain is going to put up a fight (this is normal, it means you’re alive). But by training our minds to let go for 5, 10, or 20 minutes, we give our brains the break they deserve!
Now shut off your computer. Close your eyes for a moment or perhaps look out the window at the sky, or the trees, now take a deep breath…..ahh, calm at last.
By Beth Parker
Beth Parker is a Canadian author and ghostwriter engaged in a continual struggle to balance the needs of her business with the welcomed chaos of five children, a husband and various pets. She has a BA (English), University of Toronto, and an MA (Journalism). In her fictional spare time, she paints pictures.