This meditation fact sheet contains information about several types of meditation, all slightly different, but still related.
- the ‘quiet meditation’ thinking about nothing
- Creative visualization — inner mental training
One of the first place to start if you want to live the life you’re like to live is to begin meditating. Meditation will directly impact on your parasympathetic nervous system, relaxing muscles and dilating blood vessels.
Ainslie Meares worked for 30 years as a psychiatrist and used meditation extensively in the treatment of psychosomatic and psychoneurotic illnesses.
He died in 1986, but his books are widely read and still readily available.
Here are some of what he had to say about meditation.
You may well ask: ‘What is the purpose of experiencing this meditative state for a few minutes each day?’ The answer is that it reduces the level of our anxiety.
The effects of meditation include inner peace, better interpersonal relationships, clearer thinking, increased work capacity, better sexual relationships due to less tension, absence of disturbing dreams, and smoother physical reactions often shown in better performances in sport.
The key to management of our stress lies in those moments when our brain runs quietly in a way that restores harmony and function.
There are quite different forms of meditation in which the brain functions in quite different ways.
In classical meditation as in yoga, in Zen Buddhism meditation and in the meditation practiced by the early Christian mystics, the thought processes of the mind are helped by will power concentrating on some object or spiritual concept. The mind is active, striving to attain and maintain this ideal.
In the meditation I would advise you to practise, there is no striving, no activity of the brain function, just quietness, a stillness of effortless tranquility.
This is not the tranquility of drowsy somnolence. The mind is clear but still.
For the type of meditation I advocate, we must start our meditation in some position of slight discomfort. Then we let our mind run quietly, with as little thought as possible, and we are soon no longer aware of any discomfort. This transcendence of slight discomfort is an essential feature of successful meditation.
It does not require long periods of meditation to obtain relief from stress. Ten minutes twice a day has produced dramatic relief in some hundreds of people who have consulted me professionally.
To get the full effect of meditation, it is important not to do it when too tired. The effect is greatest when we are alert and frisky.
How Meditation Works
The brain operates on a range of brain-wave patterns, measured in cycles per second.
When the brain is operating at the Alpha brain wave level and you are relaxed and calm, the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated; muscles relax, blood vessels dilate and you begin to achieve a more balanced state of health.
At the Alpha level we experience the state of deep relaxation which is very useful in managing the stress of becoming smoke free, by calming the body and re-establishing equilibrium within the nervous and endocrine systems.
You will have felt the Alpha state on waking up, when you are drifting from the Theta through to the Beta state.
Creative Visualisation — can you picture that?
The Alpha level can also be used as a powerful medium for tapping into your sub-conscious mind, where you can create and then affirm a powerful image of what it is you want from life; short, medium and long term.
In this case we want it to create a powerful movement toward being smoke free.
At the Alpha brain wave level you can begin to feed visualizations into the unconscious, the aim being to reprogram the unconscious so that it starts to work toward the achievement of your goal of being smoke free.
This means that the unconscious is working toward your objective of being smoke free, even while you are not!
To get into the Alpha state when you are awake, sit or lie comfortably, close your eyes, take a deep breath and as you breathe out count from 3 down to 1 and relax.
Imagine a large screen in front of your eyes and visualize on that screen a picture of yourself as a fit and healthy person, smoke free, living the lifestyle and doing all things a smoke free person does.
Visualize aspects of the major areas of your life and how you would like them to be.
Visualize yourself doing all the things you need to do to reach and then maintain the smoke free lifestyle.
To return from the Alpha state to the Beta state, count from 1 to 3. Before you begin counting affirm that ‘when I awake I will be feeling absolutely fantastic and in perfect health.’ Start counting. When your eyes are open, affirm that you are ‘wide awake, feeling absolutely fantastic and in perfect health.’
In the early part of this Century, in a Paris suburb, Emile Coue established an autosuggestion clinic. Coue became famous for an autosuggestion which he encouraged his patients to repeat out loud to themselves twenty times, twice each day. He described it as his general formula.
‘Day by day, in every way, I’m getting better and better.’
The success of his clinic in restoring people to good health was based on the premise that
- Every idea which exclusively occupies the mind is transformed into an actual physical or mental state.
- The efforts we make to conquer an idea by exerting conscious will only serve to make the idea more powerful
And healed they were.
The first patient he addressed was a frail, middle aged man with a bad case of nervous trouble. … Coue encouraged him with the promise of improvement. “You have been sowing bad seed in your unconscious; now you will have to sow good seed. The power by which you have produced these ill effects will in future produce equally good ones”.
The next patient was an excitable, overworked woman. When Coue inquired the nature of her trouble, she broke into a flood of complaint, describing each symptom with a voluble minuteness. “Madam,” he interrupted, “you think too much about your ailments, and in thinking of them you create fresh ones.”
Harry Brooks The Practice of Autosuggestion by the Method of Emile Coue,
George Allen and Unwin 1922
According to Brooks, ‘The unconscious, in its character of surveyor over our mental and physical functions, knows far better than the conscious the precise failings and weaknesses which have the greatest need of attention. The general formula supplies it (the unconscious) with a fund of healing, strengthening power, and leaves it to apply this at the points where the need is most urgent.’
You are encouraged to adopt Coue’s general formula and use it twice a day, preferably just on waking and just before going to sleep.