An Introduction to Meditation

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Robert A. Dato, Ph.D., NCPsyA

Meditation has been studied scientifically for only the past half century, even though meditation has been practiced for thousands of years by many cultures. Research indicates that meditation decreases heart rate, blood pressure, anxiety, and depression—all key symptoms of stress. Meditation reduces the abuse of alcohol, cigarettes, and nonprescription drugs. Meditation increases relaxation, alertness, perceptual and creative ability, productivity, and performance in school and on the job. Meditation is quite successful in enhancing the effectiveness of coaching, counseling, psychotherapy, and psychoanalysis when practiced in conjunction with these developmental activities. Thus, it is not surprising that millions of people around the world practice meditation every day.

Meditation is easy to learn and practice. If you decide to devote a part of each day to meditation, it is recommended that you meditate early in the morning or late at night. Your meditation session should take about thirty minutes. If you decide to meditate indoors, go to an orderly and quiet room and close the door. Inform others that you will be mediating and request that you not be disturbed. Sit in a comfortable chair or on some cushions on the floor. If you decide to meditate outdoors, choose a safe and serene setting devoid of ambient activity. As you meditate, keep your body upright, relaxed, and still. Do not talk while you are meditating. If your body becomes uncomfortable, shift your position slightly. As soon as you begin, focus on the rate and depth of your breathing. During meditation, breathe slowly, deeply, and continuously. Establish an effortless breathing rhythm. Maintain this rhythm throughout your session. When your rhythm becomes slow and deep, shift your focus from breathing to perceiving. Perceive only. Do not think, move, or feel. As you meditate, the frequency of your brain waves will decrease as you enter a preconscious state. Conscious Beta waves (13-20 Hz) are transformed into preconscious Alpha waves (8-13 Hz).

Meditation permits you to explore your conscious, preconscious, and unconscious perceptions. Open Meditation permits you to explore your conscious and preconscious perceptions, whereas Closed Meditation permits you to explore your preconscious and your unconscious perceptions. It is suggested that you balance the practice of Open and Closed Meditation so that you are able to explore perceptions on all levels of awareness.

Open Meditation. Your eyes should remain open while engaged in Open Meditation. During Open Meditation, sequentially focus on the objects in your surroundings. Your conscious and your preconscious perceptions will integrate automatically. You will be creating new perceptions. Open Meditation is similar to the prolonged and intense state of concentration known as flow, and might be called disciplined daydreaming.

Closed Meditation. Your eyes should remain closed while engaged in Closed Meditation. During Closed Meditation, your unconscious perceptions will bubble up into your preconscious and will integrate automatically with the perceptions already there. As with Open Meditation, you will be creating new perceptions. Closed Meditation is equivalent to the hypnagogic states that you experience as you fall asleep at night or wake up in the morning.

The preconscious serves as the perfect staging area for the creation of new perceptions. Unlike the conscious mind, the preconscious mind is free of distractions, and unlike the unconscious mind, the preconscious mind is free from irrationality. The preconscious mind is both serene and rational. You will discover that the more you meditate, the more serene and rational you will become, for meditation is the royal road to the preconscious.

© 2002 Dr. Robert Dato, Dato Leadership Institute
All Rights Reserved.

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