Meditation may need little introduction
This practice of ever-increasing popularity in our often turbulent and frenetic lives is a solace and provides the mind and body a respite to re-charge. It evokes increased mental clarity, lowers stress levels and leaves those that practice it regularly in a general state of improved wellbeing. I am a trained meditation teacher through the British school of meditation and have been practicing meditation for over 20 years.
Often stigmatized as a secular, new age or an ‘out there’ practice, it is in fact the contrary to this, accessible to all people of all religions, the only pre requisites are that you can breathe and you are prepared to put in the effort. Defined by Wikipedia as a practice where individuals use a technique to train attention and awareness to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm and stable state.
The journey into meditation is quite possibly the greatest journey you will ever take, the journey of self-cultivation and one that has no final destination. It doesn’t mean sitting cross legged and chanting with beads, but is rather a practice proved time and again by science to be beneficial in evoking the relaxation response and has been practiced by many walks of life for centuries. Now it seems as technology and life is moving at such a pace, this practice is more valuable than ever as we cope with stress, busy home and working life and the plethora of mental health condition labels.
Dr Hamilton talks about how regular focused breathing and meditation are good for our cardiovascular health, lowering the heart rate, blood pressure and adrenaline levels, it is also said that meditation can reduce serum cholesterol and lower density lipoprotein cholesterol reducing the risk of coronary heart disease. Meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system healthfully slowing down heart rate.
The science behind meditation
In 2011 Harvard professor Jon-Kabat Zinn collected evidence over 8 weeks noting conclusively that meditation notably lowered cortisol levels, resulting in lower stress levels and in turn showing those who regularly meditated are less endangered of heart attacks and stress related disease. So not only is meditation beneficial to our emotional or mental well-being but is in turn beneficial to our physical well-being.
Our brainwaves can be divided into four frequencies, while gamma state frequency resonating at 40-70Hz is the highest of frequencies, our most frequented state of awake, alertness is known as the beta state resonating at 14-30 Hz, while alpha state resonating at 9-13Hz is when we are relaxed and entering a meditative state, not focusing on that around us. EEG machines monitoring meditators show the slowing down of brain wave activity revealing that Theta waves which resonate at 4-8Hz are most prevalent particularly in the frontal and middle parts of the brain during a meditative state. Only delta state waves resonate at a lower frequency and these waves of 1-3hz are found in deep sleep or a coma state in adults or in young babies. This is the meditative state. The frontal cortex seems to go off-line while activity in the parietal lobe which is just behind the frontal lobe slows down its activity. This gives us an understanding that there is a marked difference from resting in the sleep state where delta waves are evident and theta where wakeful relaxation is cultivated through techniques showing marked changes in electrical activity in the brain while meditating. Evidence subsequently reveals that reaching theta states regularly has a positive effect on the rest of our lives.
More astoundingly, using MRI scans revealed the amygdala centre of the brain, known as the fight or flight centre actually shrunk after 8 weeks of meditation. This centre fluctuates in size according to fear and emotional anxiety. With modern machines we can truly see the hard facts showing the benefits of meditation on our brain. The Alzheimer Research and Therapy body have conducted their own research showing how meditation can help reduce the onset of age-related neurological diseases. With its positive effects on memory and attention in the frontal cortex of the brain the research is encouraging for a population that is living longer. Findings by the research has boldly claimed that risk factor reduction for Alzheimer’s disease could be up to 25 percent effectively reducing Alzheimer’s cases by up to 3 million per annum. They also claim that each neurological depressive symptom has the ability to raise the chances of dementia by up to 20 percent, therefore in turn it can be stated that introducing meditation and mindfulness as a regular practise has massive potential to reduce or stifle the onset of dementia and alzheimer’s.
As information and data piles up on the benefits of meditation in parallel with the increase in mental health problems and stress related diseases, it seems inevitable that meditation will become a primary preventative practise introduced to mainstream for long term health benefits.
What I offer
I am a trained meditation teacher and have been meditating for over 20 years. I offer guided meditation on many levels. Running beginner, intermediate and advanced classes, so whether you are new to meditation or would like to take your practise to another level I would love to hear from you to see how I can help. I also offer business, place of work and family at home sessions with discounts to block bookings as is often preferred by businesses who have noted the effects on productivity in employees.
You will not be expected to sit cross legged as I am often asked about and all are accepted. If you are suffering from diagnosed depression, bi polar, schizophrenia or epilepsy it is recommended that you consult your health practitioner before attending a class for their approval.
A 1 hour beginners class runs over 4 weeks and will normally consist of three guided meditations, ranging through breath meditation, visualization and loving kindness meditations. I will chat you through some of the basic health benefits of meditation.
An intermediate class also runs over 4 1 hour sessions and will look at developing a deeper meditation practise, looking at gratitude, body scans, heart meditation, mantra and introduce further meditations.
Advanced meditation classes will go deeper into meditation. They are limited to 8 students at a time. We will explore chakra meditation, energy and intention, deep visualization, chanting and using meditation to release blockages. These sessions can stir up emotions or raise ones perception to a new level and to be accepted on this course you will have needed to at least attend the intermediate sessions before signing up.
There is always time for feedback, contemplation and a cup of tea in these welcoming sessions.