Albert Einstein once said, “you can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it” - and he was, of course, right!
In our daily routine we are constantly drawn away from the spirit and out into the mad, hectic world of position and possessions. Our mind soon begins to create issues and challenges; everything can quickly become distorted and foggy. And when your mind feels foggy, everything takes more time and seems more difficult.
Meditation can change our brain waves from Beta to Alpha. Alpha brain waves are considered to be “relaxed” brain waves, with a slower rhythm of around 8-12 Hz (cycles per second). When our brains are producing Alpha waves, this promotes the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that resides in both the brain and the gut, helping to modulate mood, sleep, sexuality, aggression and anger. More serotonin can help us to feel more calm and peaceful - and to clear that brain fog!
Research shows that most children have a dominant alpha rhythm, but as we get older, we become more bogged down in the trappings of day to day life. Adults tend to fall prey to stresses that just don’t affect children and so we tend to move away from the Alpha brainwave pattern - and with the drop in Alpha waves, our serotonin levels also drop. Meditation can help to increase Alpha brain wave activity and therefore increase serotonin levels.
Meditation is one of those things where you might find it hard to see what the fuss is all about - until you actually begin your journey and establish a practise.
There is no short cut to creating that established practise though - it’s one of the few things in our modern lives that can’t be “hacked.” It can be hard to accept and commit to that, with so many other things vying for your time and attention. But if you can commit and stick to a regular meditation practise you can increase your Alpha brain waves on an ongoing basis.
When we say that meditation has all of these benefits, it’s not just people saying “oh, I feel more relaxed” - scientific studies have shown that an increase in Alpha brain waves and subsequent increase in serotonin can dramatically improve not just our moods but our general cognitive abilities such as problem solving. It is worth noting that the most widely-used antidepressants these days are known as SSRIs - selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They prevent our bodies from getting rid of what little serotonin there is floating around. It makes sense therefore that an increase in alpha brain waves can help to ward off the blues by increasing serotonin levels.
So how does one get into a rhythm and find that time for meditation? There are two fundamental things you can do that will help to create that lasting habit of meditation practise. The first is to ritualise it. Make meditation a part of your daily ritual, the same as cleaning your teeth or making your bed. You don’t leave the bedroom in the morning thinking, “oh, I’ll fit in making the bed sometime today” - because you know if you did that, you would be going to bed tonight in an unmade bed. It’s the same with meditation: you need to make it your routine to get out of bed, pop to the loo, put on your comfy clothes and sit down to meditate - without even thinking about doing anything else. Make it so that you won’t feel comfortable walking out of the door until it’s done.
It helps to think of meditation as like bathing - it cleanses the mind and the heart.
If you didn’t clean your teeth for a week, they would be furry and nasty - the mind is really no different. The daily accumulation of mental toxins need cleansing, otherwise the mind can easily become dull and irrational. And a dull and irrational mind does not rest well, even if you’re really tired! When we meditate, our brains produce alpha brain waves. These alpha waves allow our brains to produce more serotonin, and an increase in serotonin can help with depression, anxiety, and better sleep.
The second thing you need to do is to create a habit. Research says that if you do something for 21 days it will create a habit. I always recommend to all of my new Primordial Sound Meditation graduates that if they are serious about meditation and keen to reap the benefits, they should commit to the initial 21 days of meditation; if they miss a day, they need to begin again at day 1. That might sound awfully strict, but I want my graduates to get all the amazing benefits meditation has to offer, and I know it can be all too easy to give up unless a real habit is formed. Once you get into the habit of meditation, your brain will regularly produce increased amounts of serotonin, which can then serve to improve the quality of your sleep.
Even if following another type of practise, the rule of ritualising and creating a habit will help you to keep it up. Make a promise to yourself and learn to meditate! You won’t regret it I promise!
For more information on meditation and how to work it into your next spa retreat, contact our wellness consultants on 020 7843 3597 or submit your enquire here.
*This is a guest blog post by Anandi - The Sleep Guru.