A common misconception about meditation is that all of its forms and techniques produce roughly the same results.
However, this is an overgeneralization. The mental procedures used by different traditions and schools of meditation are quite dissimilar. And recent scientific research has verified that these different ways of meditating activate different areas of our brain.
Three main types of “brain patterns of meditation”.
After all, it’s a matter of common sense: just like weightlifting, tennis and Pilates strengthen specific muscles and produce different overall effects on the body. Similarly, concentration on the light of a candle, the repetition of mantras or the impartial observation of its mental content induce changes in different areas of the brain.
In this case, how to find the one that suits you the most among the multitude of techniques available?
One way to do this is to follow the findings of neuroscience and distinguish three major types of meditation based on the brain waves they produce. We will examine the results of each practice below.
1time technique: Concentration meditation: focused attention.
Researchers have found that forms of meditation that involve focusing attention (whether it be a physical object, a word, or a concept) increase EEG beta and gamma wave activity. These rapid waves testify to an active and attentive state of consciousness. One study looked at a Tibetan Buddhist meditation technique, in which attention is paid to “loving kindness and compassion” toward other beings. Strong activity was seen in areas of the brain responsible for processing sensory information, emotions and attention.
2ᵉ technique: Observation of the mind meditation: open listening.
In many practices, such as mindfulness meditation and some forms of Zen, no concentration is present. Instead, the practitioner relies on “open tracking” of reality, in which they observe the content of their experience without judging it. There is no manipulation, just a pure and watchful presence. According to EEG measurements, this type of contemplative meditation increases slow wave theta activity, which reflects a relaxed state of mind.
3ᵉ technique: Meditation of transcendence: automatic self-transcendence.
According to scientific research, the practice of Transcendental Meditation is unique in many ways. The researchers created a third distinct category for this technique: automatic self-transcendence, because the mental process transcends itself and culminates in a mental experience of “unbinding.”
The activity of the thalamus – the area responsible for processing sensory information – decreases. The frontal areas of the brain, which are associated with higher executive functions and moral reasoning, become more active. EEG recordings show that alpha wave activity also increases, indicating relaxation and calm. What is even more interesting is that overall brain wave coherence increases during Transcendental Meditation.
Improved brain wave coherence.
The more coherent the brain, the better its parts can communicate with each other. The practice of TM (Transcendental Meditation) activates the whole brain and makes it function as a holistic unit. Coherence is particularly high among frontal alpha waves. Which is a common characteristic of people who report peak performance in business or sports.
Researchers interpret it as a “sign of a more efficient and performing style of brain functioning”.
Another special feature of the Transcendental Meditation technique is that there is no difference between the brain waves of experts and those of beginners. We master it quickly.
During a TM session, the brain waves of a person who meditated a few weeks ago resemble those of a person who has practiced for decades. A meditator immediately experiences infinity.
What then is the benefit obtained by continuing the practice, one may ask?
The effects of long TM practice are visible in activity patterns. Experienced meditators are better able to integrate infinity into daily dynamic action. This means that the TM technique is ideal for those who want to lead an active lifestyle.
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Meditation: which technique to choose for yourself?
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