By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
Practicing meditation and affirmations are two of the most powerful ways to change lives, but research suggests that they are even more effective when used together. In 2004, neuroscientists used brain scans to show that meditation can actually change the way the mind works. The study compared two groups of people during meditation – inexperienced college students and Buddhist monks with over 10,000 hours of practice. All of the participants were asked to generate a feeling of compassion toward the universe while meditating.
Results showed that the monks underwent an increase in the production of gamma waves, in levels up to 30 times that of the other participants. The left prefrontal cortex – the seat of positive emotions – lit up with activity, swamping the activity of the right frontal cortex – the seat of negative emotions. Surprisingly, the brains of the monks had been trained through meditation to respond with compassion when they saw suffering. This means that the mind can actually be trained to respond in certain ways, just as the body can be trained to do Yoga or Qigong.
How Meditation and Affirmations Work Together
• The conscious mind, or the logical, thinking part of the brain, does tasks, such as solving math problems or reading maps. It represents the moments when the brain waves are in a beta state or wide awake. This is the time when the mind is focused, tense, alert, or worried; and it can hold no more than six or seven pieces of information at one time.
• The subconscious mind is the part of the brain that makes associations and determines reactions. It contains fear, wishes, worry, habits, and personality traits. The conscious mind, in a waking state, does not easily allow access to the subconscious. For affirmations to be effective, they must bypass the conscious mind and enter the subconscious mind.
• The subconscious is most susceptible to suggestions when relaxed, or just before falling asleep, or waking up – the alpha and theta brainwave states. Because it cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy, the subconscious can be successfully re-programmed with affirmations and visualizations at these times.
In addition to visualization, and traditional styles of meditation, music with binaural beats is sometimes used to induce alpha brainwaves. Inquire with local Yoga teachers about the amount of time they address meditation in a typical class. Some Yoga studios have specific meditation classes. Some audio recordings even contain subliminal affirmations. However, regardless of the style or place chosen, everyone can benefit from practicing meditation and affirmations.
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