Meditating is so difficult when you’re just starting out. It also doesn’t help that most of us have thoughts that run a million miles per hour.
If you’re anything like me, traditional meditation seems to go something like this:
*begins to focus on deep breathing*
“ok close them”
*more deep breathing*
“Am I even breathing properly?”
*opens eyes again and adjusts sitting position*
*another deep breath*
“What am I going to make for dinner?”
It also doesn’t help that I live downtown, sirens are constantly blaring, and my neighbours have decided to get together for the 5th time this week and blow smoke into my apartment.
*stares off into a distance* The ultimate challenge.
The good news is, is that there are many different ways of meditating.
The 3 techniques that I have been practicing have been super helpful for me, and my hopes with writing this, is that it can help you as well.
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Binaural beats are an imaginary tone that is created in the brain when it’s exposed to 2 different frequencies at the same time. When you’re presented with this audio stimulus, your brainwave activity changes.
So, when we listen to a tone of 410hz in our left ear, and then 400hz in our right, our brains imagines a third frequency pulsing at 10hz. Our brainwave then syncs up to whatever frequency has been made up.
And the cool thing is, is that there are five main patterns of brain waves, which each bring you a different state of consciousness:
Gamma — 40hz and above
The highest frequency you can achieve. Buddhist monks are able to induce gamma waves through meditation. This frequency brings about high levels of info processing, freedom from distractability, and increased compassion. Many say they are brought into a spiritual experience of ecstasy and oneness.
Beta — 12hz – 40hz
Typically dominates the “normal” waking state and also dominates those who are anxious, agitated, or afraid. These brain waves are usually engaged during problem solving, judgment, and decision making.
Alpha — 8hz – 12hz
These brain waves are seen during physical and mental relaxation. We usually reach this frequency when we are present in the moment. This is a great state to reach as it helps you recover from stressful thoughts, sadness, and any other emotional hurdles you may have experienced throughout your day.
Theta — 4hz – 8hz
Theta occurs when you are daydreaming and right before you drift off to sleep. Outside world senses are withdrawn and focus becomes inward. Theta waves are connected to us exposing unconscious or suppressed parts of our psyche.
Delta — 0hz – 4hz
Delta brain waves are the lowest frequency you can achieve. This occurs during dreamless, deep, restorative sleep. This state is very important as it allows the body to rest and repair.
Essentially, whichever brain wave pattern you reach, your thoughts will naturally shift their speed and intensity.
I love listening to binaural beats later in the evening as it begins to calm me down for a good night’s rest. It’s best to listen to them with headphones and for a minimum of 15 minutes. And of course, don’t use binaural beats during things that require your full attention, such as driving.
Floating/Sensory Deprivation Tanks
Floating has really been quite the life-changing experience for me and it’s a practice that I recommend to everyone.
If you’re not familiar with what floating is, it’s essentially the only experience you’ll have in your lifetime where you are completely isolated from any distractions and the only thing you’ll be aware of is your thoughts. Like a brain in a container. Sounds terrifying and completely out of your comfort zone, doesn’t it? Well, that’s why it’s important.
Sensory deprivation tanks are exactly as the name implies. You are deprived of all environmental stimulation — Temperature, touch, light, gravity, and sound. So it’s just you and you, baby.
It’s a large tank filled with water and huge amounts of Epsom salts. The salt keeps you afloat, leaving you weightless. The water is maintained at skin temperature, leaving you completely unaware of where your body and the water begins and ends.
The tank is also light and sound proof — Completely dark and completely silent.
Being stripped of all of these sensory inputs enables you to reach deep levels of meditation that would normally take years of practice to achieve.
Sensory deprivation tanks have been scientifically proven to:
– Alleviate stress (both mental + physical)
– Decrease production of stress hormones (such as cortisol)
– Place you into a state of deep relaxation
– Provide neck + back pain relief
– To hold the mind in theta state (read above)
Heads up: If you’re a chronic worrier, it’ll probably take more than one float to completely relax. Keep trying until your mind eases up. You won’t regret it.
Adult Colouring Books
This technique is probably the least intense out of the 3, but it has still been very effective for me. I tend to just go into a trance-like state and completely forget about everything that’s going on around me.
My favourite thing to do is go on the balcony with a cup of tea and just zone out, as I focus on colouring in every detail.
Stress-relief colouring books could also be really beneficial for anybody who gets into their head way too much during wait times. These wait times could be lunch period, long rides home on public transportation, doctor office visits, and anywhere else that you may begin to overthink and get anxious. It’s a great way to use up your free time to replace your negative thoughts with positive ones and center in on the now.
Colouring books shift your focus from unpleasant feelings such as anxiety, sadness, and anger, and instead help you concentrate on your colour choices, preciseness, and balance of your page.
It’s a simple act that’s both therapeutic and relaxing.
If you’re a little bolder or have a lot of things you want to get off your chest, there are also colouring books that are filled with an array of different swear words, which I just find absolutely hilarious.
What do you do to unwind? Will you be adding any of these techniques to your regimen?