Meditation – Looking For Clarity

Have you tried meditation? Are you a seasoned practitioner?

In an attempt to achieve a level of clarity, I have tried a few different meditation techniques. Several have been concentrative, where I would focus on one item or thought. Another has been non-concentrative, where I simply worked to empty my mind of any thought. One of my favourite approaches to meditation is a Tibetan Buddhist mantra technique. Most of the time, I meditate just before falling asleep at night.

Recently, I had felt that serious measures were now required in order for me to reach a much higher level of awareness and was on my way to the five day meditation retreat in the mountains. Surely, being in a meditative state for five days would provide some clarity, hints or suggestions about where to go from here.

In doing some reading, I had discovered that there were five categories of brainwaves, ranging from the least active to the most active. These brain waves are categorized as beta, alpha, theta, delta and gamma. My goal was to achieve a gamma state which would result in my brainwaves moving at the rate of 40 cycles per second or above.

Research had shown that flashes of insight, intuition and understanding were associated with gamma brainwave activity. Experiments with Tibetan Buddhist meditation practitioners indicated that monks who meditated for thousands of hours over many decades showed a dramatic increase in their brain’s gamma wave activity.

Dr. Herbert Benson of the Harvard Medical School studied the effects of meditation on the metabolism of Tibetan Buddhist Monks. With respect to oxygen consumption, he reported that the monks decreased their metabolism upwards of 64%. This was the largest decrease of consumption of oxygen ever recorded. Benson developed something called the “relaxation response,” which he described as “a physiological state opposite to stress.” His work showed how meditation decreased a body’s metabolism, breathing rate, heart rate, and blood pressure. Benson used meditation to treat patients with anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heartbeat irregularities, excessive anger, insomnia, and even infertility.

Other research that was conducted by neuroscientist Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin, showed how Tibetan Buddhist Monks who had meditated for many years experienced extremely large increases of gamma waves. In 2004, the Wall Street Journal reported that “Davidson’s work demonstrated that activity in the left prefrontal cortex (the seat of positive emotions) swamped activity in the right prefrontal (site of negative emotions and anxiety). This was something never before seen from purely mental activity.”

All this research was extremely hopeful. With sufficient concentration, I could see how humans might completely reshape their brains and thought processes.