Mind and Body
The day is fast approaching (In fact, it may be here already, just a matter of it becoming commonplace.) when neurological stimulation or neural connectivity modifications applied to the brain will instantly produce an altered state of consciousness by opening access to the higher, holistic functions of the mind; vice versa, the mind will be able to freely channel spiritual energy for the instantaneous experience of restored wholeness (healing) of the body and the regeneration of body parts (the case for spiritual healing) during an altered or heightened state of spiritual consciousness.
We see this being crudely accomplished today (albeit not without side-effects) in the medical use of anti-depressant drugs that alter moods and emotional states by chemically modifying the neurotransmitter activity between and among neurons or brain cells. Of course, there have always been the visionary or hallucinatory substances and drugs used in shamanic practice to access transcendent states of consciousness and subtler, more fluid dimensions of the mind.
The so-called “miracles” performed by some mystics, saints and spiritual adepts clearly demonstrate the mind’s ability and power to manifest things. We refer to the phenomenon as the ability to materialize form instantly out of thin air, or, metaphysically speaking, the power of “mind over matter.” How wonderful if we could understand the processes behind such phenomena. Abundant healing of various types and degrees would become commonplace in our life experience and in the world.
Living in the 21st century, we are blessed with a rapidly increasing scientific knowledge of the physical world and the ever-widening deep explorations in other dimensions of the mind and of the spirit. By virtue of the global awakening that is emerging in the world, we are learning more and more that we are spirit beings functioning through a mind that has a body. We are making inroads to the higher realization that the body, and the material universe for that matter, is nothing more than mind formed — that the mind and the body are really a continuum of individual and collective experiences in awareness.
We are living at the brink of transformational discoveries that will forever change how we shall see and know ourselves. So, buckle up your seat belts as we settle down in the greatest adventure yet of humanity. You’re in for an astounding voyage into the infinite depths of the mind and the spirit.
Brain Engagement (Brain Entrainment)
In terms of a decidedly spiritual application, brainwave entrainment is already being used to induce and deepen meditative states of mind, aside from effecting relaxation or heightened mental focus and alertness. I prefer to use the phrase “brain engagement” to convey the idea of volitionally inducing the brain into a desired state of mind and engaging it there, rather than passively entraining the brain.
You will find that a number of classical music pieces, e.g., Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” 1st Movement, or Massenet’s “Meditation,” and New Age music pieces, for example (music videos below):
“Serenity” from the CD album Liquid Mind V by Chuck Wild . . .
. . . “Awakening Stars” by New Age artist Herb Ernst and . . .
. . . “Song of the Inner Child” also by Herb Ernst . . .
. . . and liturgical or sacred chant, notably Gregorian, Russian Orthodox, and Tibetan Buddhist, can have an entrainment effect on the brain and the mind. These types of music are conducive and most beneficial to a contemplation practice. (NOTE: When listening to brain entrainment audio or music, the use of headphones or earphones is recommended for maximum effectiveness.)
Here are some introductory videos on the subject of brain entrainment from the makers of the Brain Evolution System product, one of the better ones available in the brain entrainment market. They offer a free audio sample download of their product at their site.
Relaxation, Sleep and Meditation
In our ordinary awake and busy state of mind where the brain is constantly subjected to sensory stimuli and actively engages in stress-generating awareness or intense concentration, the brain produces beta brainwaves. When we enter into a relaxed state of mind or when we engage in daydreaming or similar mental activities, the brain switches to alpha brainwave mode, which is the preferred pattern for clear thinking and intellectual problem solving. The Silva Method uses an efficient technique for learning how to “trigger” the alpha state quickly in the brain.
The video below explains how alpha brainwave entrainment works in the brain. Although the video refers to the alpha state as “meditation,” remember that the alpha state is only a state of deep relaxation, which is the starting point in preparing for meditation. In other words, alpha entrainment is only a preparatory phase to actual meditation, by which the mind begins to disengage from everyday human awareness; it is really more of a “centering” or “grounding” practice.
Once the eyelids are lowered and the eyes are closed shut while functioning in the active waking state of beta mode, the brain starts switching automatically from beta to alpha brainwave mode. This causes the body to begin relaxing into deeper states of mental and bodily relaxation. Should a tired brain or an exhausted body become too relaxed or when we settle down during bedtime or for a nap, we begin drowsing off to sleep as the brain switches from the alpha state to the theta brainwave state of light sleep.
As sleep progresses, the brain eventually crosses over into a state of deep sleep where delta brainwave patterns are produced. During much of our sleep time at night, the brain will fluctuate between the theta and the delta modes until we rouse from sleep, during which the brain leaves the theta-delta state and re-enters the alpha state of refreshed wakefulness.
Here is a table summary of the four principal brainwave modality patterns:
Below are examples of audio-visual brainwave entrainment for relaxation or centering. They are composed and produced by musician Paul Collier. You can visit him at YouTube for more samples of his artistry, or purchase his music at Amazon.com.
Theta brainwaves are considered extremely relaxing and restorative brainwave activity that is commonly associated with sleep and dreaming, and the deeper meditation states beyond the initial alpha brainwave state of “disengaging from everyday awareness.” When you consciously access the alpha brainwave state of mental relaxation, you are just one step away from entering the theta state.
Theta brainwaves kick in automatically once we are asleep. Theta waves are associated with the subconscious mind and are usually produced in the right hemisphere of the brain (the intuitive mind) — as opposed to beta brainwaves of the active waking state which are produced in the left hemisphere associated with the thinking or intellect mind. Theta is the brainwave pattern that is dominant in deeply relaxed, dream sleep. For purposes of meditation, however, the mind has to develop the skill of maintaining conscious awareness (not falling asleep and losing conscious awareness) even while the brain is in theta mode and, as one goes ever deeper in meditative stages, also during the delta brainwave pattern of deep sleep.
What’s great about the theta brainwave state is the fact that it allows you to connect with your “subconscious mind” where all experiences, long-term memories, natural creativity, and inspiration are accessed; where buried powerful negative emotions and conditionings are released and dissolved; and where your spiritual connection to the “supraconscious,” “superconscious” or “unconscious” levels of mind (accessible in delta mode) is realized. Theta and delta brainwaves are extremely helpful for healing the body and the mind. This is the reason why sleep can be such a refreshing experience and a restorative state. Both brainwaves are modalities of the right brain hemisphere associated with the intuitive mind, and they dispose us to the natural healing energy flow from the divine mind of the Spirit within.
In the following video, you will hear the testimony of someone who has successfully tapped into the greater potential of the brain (and correspondingly the higher aspects of the mind) by means of actively and variously applying brain entrainment principles and processes in his life.
The application and integration of brain engagement techniques into one’s spiritual practice can yield tremendous advantage and benefits in terms of:
- Efficiently disengaging the mind from everyday human awareness as an effective preparation for meditation;
- Facilitating the process of contemplative meditation;
- Sustaining and deepening meditation states;
- Clarifying one’s mental atmosphere;
- Helping instill and maintain spiritual equilibrium; and
- Ultimately experiencing spiritual healings and enlightenment.
I can personally attest to this from first-hand experience in my own journey and in those of others with whom I share the methodology through our classes and group meditation experience.
Here are some deep meditative theta brainwave pieces you can use for your contemplation practice. I highly recommend them for background music while doing contemplative meditation. The result is excellent “brain engagement” leading to meditation.
The Brain-Mind Connection
(Vilayanur Ramachandran: A journey to the center of your mind)
Mysticism says that the human brain (as with the rest of the human body) is actually mind formed. This is the basis of the connection between the two. By implication, one can directly impact the other and vice versa. Assuming this were so, consider the possibility of accelerated psycho-spiritual growth and mental enhancement by directly affecting the brain for the specific purpose. Can we have effortless, instant deep meditation? Better yet, can we have instant and permanent spiritual enlightenment?
In the next segment of our discussions (the next page), we shall take a closer look at what neuroscience is telling us about the human brain and how it functions in shaping our perception of reality.