- NeuroMeditation helps you match your brain to your ideal style of meditation
- Meditation can cause harm, so make sure you are practicing the right style with appropriate support if needed
Meditation has been around for thousands of years, and you have probably been told to try it at some point. There is a dark side to meditation that is not generally talked about, though. You could be doing it wrong, or even be causing harm to yourself. Just like working at the gym, if you don’t have the proper technique, and you have not gone through the appropriate assessment, the way you work out can not only be ineffective, but cause major problems.
Enter NeuroMeditation. With advances in neuroscience, and the ability to properly assess one’s needs, trained professionals are able to correctly identify what style of meditation someone should practice while also monitoring their brainwaves to make sure they are doing it properly. Let’s review the four primary styles of meditation, and some pros and cons of practicing each one.
1. Focus Meditation
Focus. This is probably the most common style of meditation, and as the name suggests, the goal is to keep your attention solely on one event or object. Breathing is often used as the anchor in this style of meditation, but you could also use a candle, tree, or the feeling of the cushion underneath you. This style of meditation helps to wake up the frontal lobe while ideally relaxing the parietal lobe. Therefore, it helps improve attention and concentration while allowing your sensory areas (aka body) to relax. So how could this be harmful? Well, if you have trauma or PTSD, focusing on your body can feel unsafe. Therefore, it is very important to move slowly and practice the technique with a qualified professional.
2. Mindfulness Meditation
Mindfulness. Although this word is often used to describe a large array of meditation practices, in this context it used very specifically. It is a non-judgmental awareness and monitoring style of attention. Body scanning or meditating on sensory awareness (i.e. sound, taste, vision, etc.) are common mindfulness practices. This style of meditation slows down the frontal lobe. It allows your attention to wander a bit which can be helpful for stress and anxiety, but for people that have difficulty with attention or might have OCD, slowing your frontal lobe can cause more problems. Additionally, those with trauma could feel uncomfortable scanning their body.
3. Open Heart Meditation
Open Heart. This style of meditation is also known as Metta or Loving Kindness. It is a wonderful practice that often uses imagery of the heart chakra or offering loving prayers to people in your life. It generally speeds up the left frontal lobe and is associated with increasing compassion and love which helps with depression, grief, and empathy. If you are prone to anxiety though, speeding up your frontal lobe can make that worse. Additionally, you could experience very strong emotions when practicing open heart meditation, so it is important to have a way to process those feelings with a professional especially if you have depression or another mood disorder.
4. Quiet Mind Meditation
Quiet Mind. When people think of a monk meditating, they probably imagine their mind is totally clear, and perhaps you envision them feeling a sense of boundarylessness. That is a quiet mind practice. This style of meditation focuses on non-attachment of thoughts or experience, and it is commonly practiced in Zen and Transcendental meditation styles. It can help with pain management, sleep, and in some cases personality disorders. It is generally associated with a slowing of the parietal lobe. This slow brainwave activity allows the body to relax, but it can also cause slower processing. So if you have a learning disability or slow processing speed, you would want to be cautious. Additionally, having an out of body experience is common with this style of meditation, so if you have schizophrenia or might dissociate, you want to be very careful with quiet mind meditations.
Identifying which meditation practice is the best match for you depends on the state of your mind and what goals you have. The proper assessment should include at the very least a thorough evaluation of your health history and what you want to achieve through meditation. Additionally, a brain map (or qEEG) can help match your brainwave patterns to the appropriate meditation style. Once you have identified the style, you can then seek out a NeuroMeditation expert who can monitor your brainwaves during meditation and help coach you. Not all meditation styles are created equal. With modern advances in neuroscience, we can now help people identify how they should be practicing meditation, and we can watch their brains to make sure they are doing it properly. Just like a personal trainer in the gym, it helps to have guidance and support to avoid injury and get the best results possible. Happy meditating!