So you’ve been meditating for a while and find that it’s a great way to reduce stress, focus on mental clarity, and increase mindfulness and awareness in everyday life… all while reaping positive health benefits such as neurological health, cardiovascular health, and improved immune function. You have progressed past your app’s meditation practice for beginners introductory section and are now ready to advance your meditation to the next level. Just like with art and wine, the more knowledgeable you become, the more enjoyable and effective your experience becomes.
Meditation is a critical part of our being at Magi. With this post, we will show you four scientifically proven techniques that we ourselves practice, to supplement your meditation practice by involving your body and senses:
1) Incorporation of Light
2) Incorporation of Sound
3) Rhythmic Breathing
4) Meditation Enhancing Herbs
Following any one of these techniques (or multiple in combination) is sure to help even experienced meditators advance their practice!
For daytime meditators, studies have shown that exposure to blue light accelerates the relaxation process after stress 3x faster than with white light . But did you know that how fast a light flickers also affects brain cell functioning and gene expression?
When a light is powered by a DC (direct current) power source, such as a battery, it does not flicker as electricity is flowing constantly to the light. When a light is powered by an AC (alternating current) power source, such as when plugged into an electrical socket, it flickers on and off at the utility frequency. The human eye usually perceives that the light is on continuously since the flicker is so fast: 60 times per second (i.e. 60 Hz) in the USA and 50 times per second (i.e. 50 Hz) in the EU.
Research coming from Professor Li-Huei Tsai’s neuroscience lab at MIT demonstrated in 2016 that it is possible to induce brainwave oscillations in mammalian brains at a targeted frequency simply by exposing a non-invasive light-flicker at the desired frequency (e.g. with a strobe light). While this study induced gamma oscillations in rodent brains at 40Hz, incorporating a strobe light in the 8-12Hz frequency can enhance your brain’s alpha waves that are characteristic of deep meditation.
A variety of electronic devices exist to help you incorporate light therapy with meditation, but cheaper options exist such as strobe lights, phone apps, and even YouTube videos that play flickering light at set frequencies. If using a strobe light, make sure to keep your eyes closed during meditation – your optic nerves will still sense the flickering light from behind your eyelids.
There are many ways to cultivate meditation by using sound to focus the mind. You can generate sound internally, such as by repeating a word or sound during meditation, or externally, such as by playing sound or music as a backdrop.
Mantra meditation, also known as Dhikr (or Zikr / Zekr) in Sufi tradition, originated in the early Vedic period during the time that the influence of Iranian culture and Zoroastrianism had begun to spread to India. A mantra is a sacred sound, syllable, or words with religious and spiritual significance, which you direct your focus to while speaking or uttering during meditation. The most well-known mantra is the word “Om”, believed to be the first sound which originated on earth, and vibrations when uttered that promote calmness.
Singing bowl and gong are instruments used in Buddhist meditations that produce distinct and loud, but soothing sounds with a notable and lasting vibration. The sounds provide an auditory object of focus that help to clear the mind during meditation.
Another type of sound that is meant to be used as ambient noise rather than an object of focus in meditation is binaural audio. Binaural audio is sound that is heard in each ear separately and can be used to entrain the brain into different states. When the left ear listens to a sound frequency of 200 Hz and the right ear listens to a sound frequency of 210 Hz, for example, the brain will start to oscillate at 10 Hz (alpha frequency). This is because the brain tries to “match” the two different frequencies by creating a new waveform that is the sum of the two individual waves . There are a variety of apps, playlists, and YouTube videos that play binaural audio to help you achieve a deeper state of meditation. To get the most out of binaural audio, it is best to use headphones so that each ear can hear only the sound intended for it.
Rhythmic Breathing helps connect your body’s emotions with your breath, bringing a calming sensation to your heart and brain, and enabling focus. Your heart, lungs, and brain are intertwined in the function of your body’s autonomic nervous system (e.g. heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, digestion). Your brain regulates your heart and lungs via the brain stem’s connection with the spinal cord, and your heart and lungs in turn modulate your brain via activity of the vagus nerve .
When your heart rate is erratic, such as under times of stress , your heart signals a “fight or flight” message to your brain that amplifies lower-level emotional & survival processing at the expense of higher level cognitive functions – literally impairing your brain’s ability to think clearly . In contrast, when your heart rate follows a more stable pattern, your heart sends signals reinforcing focus and calm to your brain – a term called psychophysiological coherence.
Breathwork is core to Buddhist meditative practices such as Vipassana and Anapanasati, and rhythmic breathing is a simple, scientifically proven way to bring coherence to your heart’s rhythm .
To do rhythmic breathing, close your eyes, focus your attention on your heart, and breathe deeply and slowly, following a rhythmic pattern such as:
– Inhale for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds; repeat
– Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 1 second, exhale for 4 seconds, hold for 1 second; repeat
– Inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 1 second, exhale for 6 seconds, hold for 1 second; repeat
As you inhale, imagine that you are inhaling positive energy into your heart. As you exhale, imagine that you are releasing any negative energy or thoughts.
Expert tip – as a combination of internal/external sound and rhythmic breathing meditation, try wearing earplugs and sitting in a silent room during meditation to amplify the sound of your own heartbeat. Rather than following a rhythmic breath pattern by counting seconds, count your own heartbeats. Focus on the internal echo of your own heartbeat, and feel the vibration of your aorta with every pulse. Make your own heartbeat the object of auditory focus and an internal metronome for your rhythmic breathing pattern.
A quick google search for “how to improve meditation” will result in all kinds of supplements marketed to help improve your meditation practice, and many of them work quite well. Some of these supplements include omega-3 fatty acids, L-theanine, and Bacopa monnieri.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that are important for cognitive health and brain function. They can help improve memory, focus, and concentration. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fish oil supplements or cod liver oil supplements, or are often extracted from plant sources such as flaxseed, hemp seed, and chia seeds. There is a large body of scientific research supporting the brain-boosting benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids , although supplementation with Omega-3 fatty acids is unlikely to provide any noticeable benefit for meditation practice.
L-theanine is an amino acid that is found in tea that promotes relaxation and is believed to be the reason why the caffeine in green tea doesn’t make you feel jittery as compared to coffee. L-theanine can be helpful in meditation because it helps to calm the mind and prevents overstimulation . Meditation supplements have been shown to enhance meditation by increasing alpha brain waves .
Bacopa monnieri is a plant that has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It has been shown to improve mental clarity, memory, and focus . Similar to Omega-3 fatty acids, supplementation with bacopa has cognitive benefits, but does not provide perceptive effects and is unlikely to amplify meditation practice.
Our team of neuroscientists and pharmacologists at Magi created the most effective meditation supplement to enhance meditation that amplifies both your brain health and meditation practice. Magi Deep Meditation Supplement is formulated from the extracts of the ancestral plant Espand, which has been used for thousands of years to amplify the inner spiritual journey of meditation. We selected a precision dose of extracts that have been shown to possess protective and restorative neurological health benefits , and when taken in our proprietary Ruminate(R) formulation, provides a lightly perceptive feeling of calmness and openness that helps you unfocus your mind for open awareness meditation. Our meditation supplement allows you to stay focused while not actively thinking, instead observing the flow of thoughts passing, and most interestingly tapping your mind into the collective unconsciousness! Feel your own presence within the expanse of nature and the universe, observing the flow of thoughts, originated by your conscious mind or the broader consciousness!
Supplements come in all shapes and forms, including light and sound. Just as supplementation is for your mental and spiritual bodies as well as your physical body, nutrition is for all of your senses including sight, sound, and smell (which we will talk about at a later date). We created Magi to bring you the ancestral wisdom of the our Zoroastrian, Sufi and Buddhist ancestors, for whom meditation was a multisensorial activity, involving:
– sight, using an open fire as the object of attention
– sound, through ritual chanting of a Mantra or Zikr phrase
– scent, through the burning of incense from Espand
If you’re looking for a way to level up your meditation practice, consider trying the intricate techniques described in this post, on their own and in concert. Please let us know how these techniques worked for you, specially if you tried Stard Deep Meditation Supplements.
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