Calming the mind

Calming the mind

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The ancient tradition of yoga and meditation began in Indian prehistory as a system of mental, physical and spiritual exercises. In approximately 500BC the physician and sage Patanjali formalised this tradition into a science with four major and four lesser branches involving ethical restraint, self-discipline, mental focus, physical exercise and meditation. The entire system was used in an integrated fashion and directed at the attainment of a unique state of spontaneous, psychological integration. [1]

Although meditation is an ancient discipline, scientists have only recently developed tools sophisticated enough to see what goes on in your brain when you do it.

Even people meditating for the first time will register a decrease in beta waves, a sign that the cortex is not processing information as actively as usual. After their first 20-minute session, patients show a marked decrease in beta-wave activity, shown in bright colors, top.


Inside the Meditating Brain

Frontal lobe
This is the most highly evolved part of the brain, responsible for reasoning, planning, emotions and self-conscious awareness. During meditation, the frontal cortex tends to go offline.

Parietal lobe
This part of the brain processes sensory information about the surrounding world, orienting you in time and space. During meditation, activity in the parietal lobe slows down.

The gatekeeper for the senses, this organ focuses your attention by funneling some sensory data deeper into the brain and stopping other signals in their tracks. Meditation reduces the flow of incoming information to a trickle.

Reticular formation
As the brain’s sentry, this structure receives incoming stimuli and puts the brain on alert, ready to respond. Meditating dials back the arousal signal.

Brain activity during meditation

After training in meditation for eight weeks, subjects show a pronounced change in brain-wave patterns, shifting from the alpha waves of aroused, conscious thought to the theta waves that dominate the brain during periods of deep relaxation

Relaxation increases… Power of theta waves as a percentage of total EEG power

…conscious thought decreases Power of alpha waves as a percentage of total EEG power [2]

Aftanas et al. (2001) conducted a well designed study of EEG on novice and advanced Sahaja Yoga Meditation practitioners. During meditation substantial changes in mid-line alpha-theta power, rather than gamma power, distributed more or less symmetrically in the fronto-parietal parts of the brain, occurred in a pattern that was significantly repeatable from subject to subject. Most significantly these changes correlated significantly with the participants’ self-reported experience of mental silence and were more pronounced in the advanced meditators. Thus the mental silence state of Sahaja Yoga Meditation was associated with changes in central nervous system activity that are both reproducible and correlate with subjective experience of meditation. This adds further support to the idea that mental silence may be as much a biological phenomenon as it is a conceptual one. In other words, mental silence may even have a neurophysiology unique to that state of consciousness.

The benefits and experiences of Sahaja Yoga Meditation


Meditation and mental silence

Practitioners of Sahaja Yoga Meditation (SYM) consistently report that the state of mental silence is characteristically associated with other subjective phenomena such as a natural focusing of attention and a sense of wellbeing which somehow leads to improved physical health. A number of SYM practitioners do describe occasional transcendent experiences, with concomitant benefits to physical and mental health, that in many ways reflect traditional descriptions of mystical experiences and states such as Sahaja yogic tradition, as well as modern SYM practitioners ascribe these experiences to a unique, spontaneous and more or less involuntary psycho-physiological process that occurs during meditation. The process is said to involve a system of yogic energy centres (chakras), interconnecting channels (nadis) and activating energy (kundalini). Modern proponents of the yogic tradition put this “psychic anatomy” forward as a kind of psychosomatic theory of health. [3]

[1] Neki, J.S., “Sahaja: an Indian ideal of mental health”, Psychiatry, Vol. 38, No.
[2] Dr. Gregg Jacobs, Harvard Medical School, author of The Ancestral Mind.
[3] Dr Ramesh Manocha

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Ozge Ozkaya is from Turkey and he enjoys compiling articles for He loves playing soccer, watching movies and meditating whenever is possible. :-) He has been in the beautiful world of Sahaja Meditation since 2000.

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18 comment(s) so far, want to say something now?

  • Diana
    Sep 10, 2009
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    Thank you for this informative article. The demonstration is very nice!



  • kanagasanthosh
    Sep 19, 2009
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    Very good article, lot of information about the human brain. Thank you for the information. .



  • justme
    Feb 13, 2010
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    Doesn’t it surprise anyone reading this site that we are told that turning OFF information flow in our more highly evolved parts of the brain is good for us when supposedly our goal is to become more highly evolved?



  • Ozge
    Feb 13, 2010
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    Not turning off the information flow but to filter the good and the bad, the pure and the impure which is basically developing the discrimination power within. This is one of the qualities one can achieve through meditation. :-)



  • Meditation
    Apr 4, 2010
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    Science is slowly catching up to the idea of the healing effects of meditation. Unfortunately there are many advances needed before science can fully understand what meditation practitioners have known for thousands of years through their own self cultivation. Thank you for the article about the scientific research!



  • T
    Jul 19, 2011
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    I’m wondering if anyone has experience with using mediation for weight loss/eating disorders?



  • AboutMeditation
    May 16, 2012
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    Thank you for this informative article! Your diagram of the brain and what each area does during meditation was especially interesting.



  • James
    Jun 16, 2012
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    WOW! didn’t know how much went on while meditating! Great article! Thank you.


  • comment arrow

    This design is steller! You certainly know how to keep a reader entertained.
    Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own
    blog (well, almost…HaHa!) Fantastic job.

    I really enjoyed what you had to say, and more than that, how you presented it.
    Too cool!



  • eJ
    Feb 10, 2013
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    it is just amazing how beneficial meditating is for every single aspect of life. Everything everytime anywhere will be improved from practicing. It is so important for living your best life possible

    just keep practicing little by little and it will improve your life



  • Madge
    Apr 9, 2013
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    Good info. Lucky me I discovered your blog
    by accident (stumbleupon). I’ve saved it for later!



    Feb 14, 2014
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    Excellent article. I am going through some of these issues
    as well..


    Erwan Lesigne
    March 20th, 2014

    Dear Lasonya,

    we are glad to know that you enjoyed the article, keep reading and giving some feedback if you will,

    Warm regards,



  • Erwan Lesigne
    Mar 17, 2014
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    Dear Terrance,

    the site is now working good, you should be able to check it out without trouble now.

    Warm regards,



  • self help membership
    Apr 25, 2014
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    Hi just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the pictures aren’t loading correctly.

    I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in
    two different internet browsers and both show the same outcome.


    May 2nd, 2014

    Hi there,

    could you please give us the link(s) so that we may remedy to it ?

    Warm regards,



  • Rainy
    Aug 31, 2014
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    There was a question about weight loss potential. In the article it speaks to concomitant to improvements in mental and physical health. I’m new to meditation and already have an overall sense of feeling better about myself, my outlook on the world and the people whom I interact. This new attitude has lead me to eating healthier meals and exercising (aerobics & strength building). I’m sure if I continue it will lead to overall improvements in my physical health and weigh loss.


    September 4th, 2014

    Dear Rainy,

    you are absolutely right, when we are balanced inside, a new physical balance also appears and we start behaving in a different/new way.

    All the best,



  • bisnis online terpercaya
    Sep 14, 2014
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    thank you for his article. Greatly add to my knowledge about meditation.



    Nov 30, 2014
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    I’ve been surfing online more than three hours as of late, yet
    I by no means found any interesting article like yours. It is beautiful price sufficient for me.
    In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made excellent content material as you did, the net
    can be much more useful than ever before.



  • Tim
    Dec 12, 2014
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    Hello all thank you for your articles. For the last few years I have struggled with minor depression, insomnia and excessive alcohol intake. I feel somewhat not what I used to be, and am going to start meditating as I have a friend who has told me over the years about the benefits. I will start in 2 days and am looking forward to mental peace. Thanks for listening.


    December 13th, 2014

    Dear Tim,

    here is what you can start with

    Feel free to ask any questions you’d have,
    warm wishes,



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