Meditation and European Ayurveda®: mindful serenityMeditation and European Ayurveda®: mindful serenity

Meditation: the path to mindfulness

EUROPEAN AYURVEDA® and meditation: centre of serenity

Meditation is about becoming centred, aware, relaxed and present in the now – and requires regular practice.

Meditation may have become detached from its ritual and spiritual context, but people still strive to train their attention and awareness in order to become present in the here and now. Inner peace, serenity, joy, focus, resolve – all are attributes that are associated with strength and fortitude. And each of these attributes resides within our inner selves. The change we seek can only ensue with practice: just as we would build, relax, stretch and train a muscle, the mind can also be subject to training. Meditation is the key that unlocks the door to determining our own state of mind. By learning to be in command of our mind, emotions and thoughts, we learn to exercise control over ourselves. We become aware.

The essence of meditation is a more intense and conscious experience of life at all times – not just when we happen to direct our focus on it. Serene mindfulness is a way of life.

Meditation is a form of consciousness training that helps us to anchor calm mindfulness in our being, to make it a state that becomes and remains intrinsic to our being without the need for conscious action.

The prerequisites for meditation are deep relaxation and calm thoughts. To achieve these, we need to focus our attention on a single thought, movement or perception. This could be a physical sensation, music, a fragrance or a mental image. The focus helps us to disregard troubling ruminations or thoughts, allowing the mind to come to rest.

There have been numerous scientific studies on the effects of regular meditation: how does it affect us, our health and our general wellbeing?
According to these studies, meditation exercises reduce the concentration of stress hormones in the blood, alter the vibrational range of brainwaves, activate the autonomic nervous system, and slow down the metabolism, resulting in a reduced heart rate, deeper and more regular breathing, and increased electrical skin resistance, which is something that decreases with stress. Regular meditation also promotes sleep as well as regulating blood pressure and cholesterol levels. As well as being very helpful in reducing stress and anxiety, meditation encourages self-reflection and a mindful attitude towards our own body.

With regular practice, we can achieve this state of relaxed presence in our daily lives, thereby enhancing our ability to deal with stress. Many athletes meditate as part of their mental training to improve their performance.

Physical effects of meditation

  • Reduces stress.
  • Reduces incidence of anxiety and panic attacks.
  • Lowers high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
  • Stabilises the autonomic nervous system.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Inhibits nicotine and alcohol consumption as well as substance abuse.
  • Improves sleep quality.
  • Delays the biological ageing process.
  • Increases life expectancy.
  • Relieves chronic pain.
  • Is helpful in cases of exhaustion and burnout.
  • Relieves heart symptoms caused by anxiety.
  • Relieves tension headaches and migraines.
  • Helps with indigestion and irritable bowel.
  • Relieves rheumatism.
  • Supports fibromyalgia therapies.
  • Relieves asthma.
  • Relieves the symptoms of tinnitus and sudden hearing loss.
  • Improves depressive mood.

Emotional and mental effects of meditation

  • Promotes mental and emotional health.
  • Relieves tension, strengthens willpower and boosts joie de vivre.
  • Enhances creativity and intelligence.
  • Improves memory, the ability to learn, mental flexibility and problem-solving skills.
  • Trains the brain, stimulating further development.
  • Meditation also affects the quality of our work: we feel more fulfilled, more present, and work more efficiently. We become better team players.
  • Helps with concentration issues.
  • Helpful in overcoming psychological problems and trauma.
  • Improves our reactions to stress.
  • Boosts emotional stability and positive thinking.
  • Promotes mindfulness and patience.
  • Encourages concentration, intuition and body awareness.
  • Slows down the ageing process.

Mood is affected by our brainwaves: patterns of electrical activity located in the cerebral cortex. Each of these electro-chemical nerve cell signals creates a tiny electromagnetic field with a frequency of between one and 40 vibrations per second, in certain cases even over 100. Depending on the vibration spectrum, these waves are divided into delta, theta, alpha and beta waves. The Hertz unit quantifies the measured processes (communication between the nerve cells) per second.

Hence, if we make a conscious effort to change our brain waves, we can also change our mood or state of mind. Simply closing our eyes while meditating or practising Yoga creates a change in our brain wave frequency which leads to relaxation.

Four types of brainwaves:

1 – 3 Hz: Delta waves

These high amplitude brainwaves are associated with deep sleep. Delta waves increase the production of two anti-ageing hormones, DHEA and melatonin. The waves facilitate quick healing and trigger the production of growth hormones.

4 – 7 Hz: Theta waves

Theta waves occur when we are asleep, in a trance or during deep meditation. Theta waves provide a positive mental state and encourage creativity. They improve your problem-solving skills and increase your memory. The waves improve your focus and keep you calm and balanced.

Interestingly, these are predominantly measured in children under twelve.

8 – 12 Hz: Alpha waves

This type of wave is characteristic of a relaxed brain, especially during the stage between sleep and wakefulness. We can create alpha waves by closing our eyes, but as soon as we open our eyes again, they are replaced by beta waves (Berger effect). The alpha state is often referred to as the key to our potential.

13 – above 100 Hz: Beta waves 

Beta waves are associated with waking, tense or alarm-ready states of mind. The typical frequency spectrum lies between 13 and 30 Hz. The higher the proportion of beta waves, the greater the release of stress hormones. From relaxed, outward attention (12 – 15 Hz) to fear or stress (18 – 35 Hz) to peak physical and mental performance (gamma, 35 Hz to 100 Hz), this frequency range encompasses a huge spectrum of active states.

The image we have of meditation …

… does not necessarily correspond to reality, as meditation can take many forms and doesn’t have to mean sitting immobile in the lotus position for hours – although, obviously, it can. In fact, everyday activities such as household chores and exercising in nature can be experienced as meditation. Meditation does not follow a specific pattern, but there are methods and approaches that can help you improve your focus.

An overview of meditation at the Mandira:

As well as sitting or lying down, we can also meditate standing up, walking or even dancing. A walking meditation takes us on a step-by-step journey to ourselves. It offers a wonderful way of starting the day consciously, positively, attentively and in relationship with others.
The 14-muscle dance has its roots in kinesiology. This special sequence of movements brings flow and balance into our meridian system. We change and stimulate our energy system and activate our detoxification organs with the assistance of our muscles, each of which is connected to a meridian and its associated organ. A closing meditation for inner, mental and emotional cleansing rounds off the holistic effect. The 14-muscle dance is perfect for an energised and cleansed start to the day.

Loving ourselves means accepting ourselves fully and unconditionally. An essential component of life, self-love can be learnt by anyone. This form of meditation helps us to perceive ourselves with loving eyes, develop a healthy relationship with ourselves and recognise the strength within.

Heart meditations help us deal with:

  • Burnout and stress.
  • Partnership problems.
  • Fear and loneliness.
  • Guilt, self-loathing and inferiority.
  • Our longing for the beloved, secret self.
  • Assist in our search for deeper mysteries.
This guided meditation invites us to open ourselves to healing and peace in an important relationship. With the help of meditation, we can learn about the meaning of a relationship, let go of our conscious or unconscious expectations, and thereby bring about freedom and peace to ourselves and the other person. This meditation also offers an opportunity for single people to build the foundations for new, loving relationships.

The year’s cycle meditations refer to the year’s specific qualities as they change with the seasons, and the cycles of the sun and moon. The subjects of these meditations reflect the seasons:

Spring
Detoxification and cleansing, new beginnings, planning and implementing new beginnings; emotions: anger and rage.

Summer
Fire, creativity, development of potential, the fullness of life.

Autumn
Retreat inward, letting go, grief, farewell.

Winter
Insight, inner strength, inner light, depth, fear, the unconscious.

The image we have of meditation …

… does not necessarily correspond to reality, as meditation can take many forms and doesn’t have to mean sitting immobile in the lotus position for hours – although, obviously, it can. In fact, everyday activities such as household chores and exercising in nature can be experienced as meditation. Meditation does not follow a specific pattern, but there are methods and approaches that can help you improve your focus.

An overview of meditation at the Mandira:

As well as sitting or lying down, we can also meditate standing up, walking or even dancing. A walking meditation takes us on a step-by-step journey to ourselves. It offers a wonderful way of starting the day consciously, positively, attentively and in relationship with others.
The 14-muscle dance has its roots in kinesiology. This special sequence of movements brings flow and balance into our meridian system. We change and stimulate our energy system and activate our detoxification organs with the assistance of our muscles, each of which is connected to a meridian and its associated organ. A closing meditation for inner, mental and emotional cleansing rounds off the holistic effect. The 14-muscle dance is perfect for an energised and cleansed start to the day.

Loving ourselves means accepting ourselves fully and unconditionally. An essential component of life, self-love can be learnt by anyone. This form of meditation helps us to perceive ourselves with loving eyes, develop a healthy relationship with ourselves and recognise the strength within.

Heart meditations help us deal with:

  • Burnout and stress.
  • Partnership problems.
  • Fear and loneliness.
  • Guilt, self-loathing and inferiority.
  • Our longing for the beloved, secret self.
  • Assist in our search for deeper mysteries.
This guided meditation invites us to open ourselves to healing and peace in an important relationship. With the help of meditation, we can learn about the meaning of a relationship, let go of our conscious or unconscious expectations, and thereby bring about freedom and peace to ourselves and the other person. This meditation also offers an opportunity for single people to build the foundations for new, loving relationships.

The year’s cycle meditations refer to the year’s specific qualities as they change with the seasons, and the cycles of the sun and moon. The subjects of these meditations reflect the seasons:

Spring
Detoxification and cleansing, new beginnings, planning and implementing new beginnings; emotions: anger and rage.

Summer
Fire, creativity, development of potential, the fullness of life.

Autumn
Retreat inward, letting go, grief, farewell.

Winter
Insight, inner strength, inner light, depth, fear, the unconscious.