Meditation, or stilling and focusing the mind, has many benefits for our physical and mental health. It reverses the physiological effects of stress and allows us to feel calmer, centred and relaxed. In our busy lives, full of technological overload, all this is very helpful to our long-term well-being. In all aspects of life, and especially in business, we also need to be able to think clearly, even under stress, and make quick, effective decisions. We need to have insight and, at times, strategic foresight. We require the relationship skills to be both a team player and a visionary leader of both ourselves, and others. And we need the interaction capabilities to be able to get along with, and communicate to, many different types of people. So how can meditation help with all of these essential skills for life?Let’s go back and look at how our brains actually function during meditation to answer this question.
Our brains are electrical in nature. The neurons in our brain are continually producing electrical impulses that occur in patterns called brain wave frequencies. Like sound, these frequencies are measured in Hertz or cycles per second. There are five brain wave frequencies which correlate with different states of consciousness. Let’s look at each of them:
- Beta (13 – 38 Hz) This is our predominant frequency when we are fully awake and alert and engaged in a cognitive task in the outside world. Reading this blog you are in a Beta state. When we are ‘thinking’, or in a continual stream of unconscious thought, our brains are omitting Beta brain wave frequencies. We are in a high Beta state when we are stressed, worried or experiencing any negative emotion. Our thoughts are very fast and we are a long way from thinking effectively and decision making is hard. This state can also take a lot of our mental energy.
- Alpha (8 – 12Hz) In the Alpha state, we are entering a relaxed and slightly-meditative state. When we are mindful, ‘in the now’, and in the zone we are in Alpha. The most beneficial thing for those in business is that the Alpha state is associated with optimum performance. I used to coach national and international sports competitors. I used to teach them how to enter the Alpha state to produce their personal best and perform consistently both in and out of competition.
As we relax further, our brain wave frequency slows and we are able to access the wealth of our creative and inspired ideas, and we have clarity of thought and focus. It is in the Alpha state that we have our so-called ‘brain waves’ that can lead us in a new business direction or solve any personal issue. Also, we are able to absorb and retain large amounts of information so it is the perfect place for learning. And from here, we experience positive, stable and balanced emotions and our fears, worries and concerns just seem less significant. Having spent time in the Alpha state, we experience greater physical, mental and emotional health and we experience less stress. In short, the more time you spend with your brain waves around 10 Hz, the better the quality of your life! And, just closing your eyes and taking a few conscious deep breaths and being present will take you into an Alpha state – it is that simple!
- Theta (4 – 8Hz) In the Theta state, we are in a deep state of meditation and with access to a vaster mind than our own as well as to our unconscious. Here though, we can move towards the awake-asleep border. It feels almost as if we are floating, dreamy, unaware of the outside world. It is very peaceful and harmonious. In this state, we can receive incredible flashes of insight and profound intuitive wisdom and foresight; often hidden extra-sensory skills are stimulated and we somehow ‘just know’ things. On leaving this state, we feel much more connected to others, and, as a result, able to communicate with far greater flexibility and understanding. And, we feel inspired, motivated and full of passion and pass that aliveness on to others.
- Delta (0 – 3Hz) This is the state of very deep, silent meditation where we have a sense of detached awareness. When asleep, it is our time of dreamless sleep. Here our sense of empathy is stimulated and we experience profound healing, regeneration and rejuvenation for our body, mind and spirit. This is said to be a very beneficial, restorative state to be in either during meditation or during sleep.
- Gamma (38 – 42Hz) Gamma waves are associated with advanced meditators such as Tibetan monks who spend a lot of time in meditation. These are the fastest brain waves; they come from a very quiet mind and relate to simultaneous processing in different brain areas. They are associated with universal love, altruism and very expanded states of consciousness.
I believe these are the reasons why meditation is an essential tool for us to use in all aspects of our lives. As we train our minds to enter the Alpha state regularly during our working day, by taking three or four conscious deep breaths, we are in the right mental shape to take effective and intuitive decisions. More importantly, if during a longer meditation practice, we relax our minds sufficiently to enter the Theta state, we can reap the benefits of feeling greater connection with others which helps us be better team players and charismatic leaders. In the Theta state our thoughts can reduce to 10 – 15 per minute, or less, which gives us generous amounts of refreshing mental silence from which to gain great wisdom and foresight. And, we will leave that quiet place with a strong sense of being inspired, motivated and passionate for our work.
In this mental silence too, we gain awareness of our Magnificent Self and all the wonderful qualities that it exudes. Here, we are able to feel its power, its strength and its benevolent qualities, all of which we can extend outward to others.
All of this takes commitment and practice because we are so used to functioning predominantly in our Beta state. So, next time you think you are too busy, too stressed or too tired to do a meditation practice, remember the many benefits that you are missing!