Over the past 20 years, researchers have demonstrated that a consistent practice of meditation can help with a whole host of concerns including cognitive skills, such as attention, reaction time, and memory; psychological/emotional difficulties, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD, as well as physical health concerns, such as pain management, sleep disorders, and migraine headaches. Despite this evidence, it remains a significant challenge for many individuals to maintain a consistent meditation practice.
Early meditators often complain that they do not know if they are “doing it right” or give up before realizing any significant benefits. I have frequently heard clients and students ask, “how is sitting here doing nothing supposed to help with my problem”, or “I tried to meditate, but could not get my mind to be quiet!” In response to these concerns, we have developed a system to clarify what meditation is (and isn’t) as well as powerful tools to assist the meditator in understanding and successfully maintaining a variety of meditative states. This methodology provides concrete information and brain-based science for the left brain and proven meditation practices for the right brain. This system provides tools, tips, and strategies to make learning meditation a more efficient and productive process. We think of it as Meditation for the 21st Century…
The most powerful tool used in the NeuroMeditation program involves combining meditation with EEG biofeedback (EEG NeuroMeditation). By tracking brainwave activity in specific regions of the brain, we can tell if the person is focused or relaxed. We can tell if the mind is wandering, if they are engaged in body-based emotional feelings, or if they have entered a space of internal quiet. By monitoring this activity and connecting it directly to the intent of the meditation, we can help meditators learn to quickly enter a desired state of consciousness and maintain this state for increasing periods of time.
One of the important lessons of the NeuroMeditation process involves the understanding that not all meditations are created equal. In an effort to clarify what is happening during meditation, we have defined 5 different styles of meditation based on the way attention is directed, the intention of the meditator, and which brainwaves and brain regions are involved.
The 5 styles of NeuroMeditation
Focus: voluntary control of attention and cognition. Good for improving focus, attention, executive functioning, and brain brightening.
Mindfulness: non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. Good for experiencing calm and distance from thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations. Ideal for stress and anxiety.
Open Heart: intentional activation of positive feeling states for self and others. This style helps to improve mood, become more empathic, loving, and kind.
Quiet Mind: spacious awareness. Ideal practice for learning to minimize internal self-talk and cultivating equanimity.
Deep States: Letting go, altered states of consciousness. Can be helpful in relaxing defense mechanisms and integrating subconscious material.
In the video below, you will see a demonstration of an EEG NeuroMeditation session during an Open Heart practice. During this practice, we are monitoring gamma activation in both the Anterior Cingulate and the Right Insula. When both of these brain regions show increased activation, this indicates that the meditator is focused (ACC) and activating a body-based emotional feeling (right Insula). Through the combination of feedback and meditation coaching, the meditator learns to recognize the desired internal state and to maintain that state for increasing periods of time.
Combining EEG Biofeedback with meditation has been very effective in helping to define and refine the meditation process, increasing motivation, interest, and impact for our clients and students. If you are interested in learning more about this work, please consider attending one of our upcoming EEG NeuroMeditation workshops:
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