Meditation is a powerful tool with many useful purposes to help us to control, and sometimes turn off, the incessant background chatter that many of us experience on a constant basis in our minds. This then gives us respite from all of our daily stressors, and gives us the ability to control and focus our thoughts. Further, by turning off some people aim to reach ‘higher levels of consciousness’ which can help them to better understand their own minds and their bodies.
For those who find this last part quite a daunting thought and are maybe sceptical about how it can work, it is actually a very simple process that achieves this whereby you manage to shut down certain areas of your brain through not using them. These include the areas that register where your body is in the space around you, the passage of time and the interpretation of images and data and normally these only close down when we sleep. By shutting them off while we are awake however we manage to experience a whole range of sensations such as existence without clearly defined ‘edges’ where we begin which can create a feeling of ‘oneness’. This shows us how the world is only the way it is because that is how our brain interprets it and is at both a fascinating and very placating experience.
For beginners trying to achieve this state or something similar there are a few things you can do to move towards this level of calm and disconnection. Firstly, once you have taken up your relaxed position somewhere quiet, ensure that you relax your muscles completely. This will help you to disconnect from your body as you will not be exerting any force on any of the muscles. Tense each muscle including the small supporting muscles in your feet, hands and face and allow yourself to completely relax. There are some visualisation techniques that can help with this, one being to imagine a pleasant colour in your mind such as a nice light blue and to have it starting in your head or abdomen and then to imagine it spreading throughout your entire body and relaxing and calming each part of you as it does. Another is to imagine yourself gently sinking through the floor, or being covered by a soft blanket made from silk.
Once you have done this you should feel completely relaxed. Concentrate on a single point in your mind and then visualise yourself expanding to get as large as the entire room, and then to grow out of it, dispersing as you do until you have no boundaries.