You’ve probably heard of neurofeedback: the measurement of brainwaves. In case you haven’t, it’s what I’m having done today. And as I walk into Unlimited Mind’s neurofeedback suite I notice it isn’t cold like a hospital or a doctor’s office. It’s nice. Warm.
Even the electrode is comfortable as she places it on my skin. I came here this afternoon to measure my brainwaves, specifically during meditation. I’m not anxious at all, just extremely curious to see the results. Eva has placed an electrode on either side of my head, and one at the back. She is also placing a sensor on my right earlobe.
Today will be the first of a series of neurofeedback sessions, during which I will attempt to develop my meditation. To gauge my progress I will have my subjective experience of course, personal proof that my meditation is improving.
In addition to that, I will also have actual graphs of my brainwaves, as measured during the neurofeedback sessions. I’ll be able to see which brainwaves (alpha, beta, or theta) become active and when, and which brainwaves decrease activity during my meditation.
At this moment, I’m sitting comfortably in a recliner; a monitor screen is on a stand in front of me. On the screen, a geometric shape that looks a lot like a star tetrahedron is spinning (picture two triangles or pyramids combining to form a star, which is spinning).
I’m watching the purple star on the screen and notice that it rotates at varying speeds. Eva, the technologist, is telling me that the goal of this particular exercise is to keep the spinning shape as close to the screen as possible (it has a tendency to get smaller, further away, if you become distracted). She also says that if the star does happen to move away, I’m supposed to cause it to come back–using my mind–by shifting my attention and producing different brainwaves (alpha and theta, rather than beta).
In essence, if I maintain a relaxed yet aware state of mind, the star will remain close; the second I become distracted–either by an external stimulus or by a random thought running through my mind–the star will zoom rapidly away.
In meditation, the goal is to shift your attention away from physical reality and expand your awareness, to see things around you as they really are–absolutely interconnected. Now the problem is that in our daily life, out in the world, we are very busy; our attention is constantly split; it remains fragmented throughout the entire day, from the moment we open our eyes to the moment we fall asleep. Most of us are so completely conditioned, programmed, that we don’t feel productive if we’re not actively multitasking.
When you walk–walk. When you eat–eat. A Buddhist teaching that is very useful here. When we focus only on doing the task in front of us fully, we connect to the deeper reality. When we split our minds into many different tasks, we are in effect, disconnecting from the deeper reality and immersing ourselves in superficial, physical reality.
It’s fairly obvious to me that multitasking equals stress. Multitasking narrows your attention; constricts it. It does the exact opposite of what meditation does, which is to expand your awareness. During meditation, you are in a kind of sleeping wakefulness. Your Body is in a state like sleep. But your consciousness is fully aware and alert. When you are able to sustain this mental state, the brain functions at a certain frequency, producing more alpha and theta waves, depending on the depth of the meditation.
My idea for this Meditation and Neurofeedback series of articles is to follow the progress of my meditation practice over seven weeks, measuring brainwaves at each meditation. I will write a series of articles about what I experience during the meditation and will include some of my brainwave patterns recorded during the meditation sessions.
Hopefully this will show which brainwaves I produce now during meditation and how they transform as my meditation progresses.
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