Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Zen of An Empty Mind

The ability to achieve a mediative state has long been second nature. Like dropping a stone into a deep, quiet well. No need to pay attention to the breath, no chant, no posture but the chair. Awake and aware, but uninvolved in the thousand thoughts that usually crowd the moment.  

Maybe we make it too complicated. There’s no need for all the bells and chants and incense and such, though most of us like the comfort of ritual. But we need to be able to drop into a meditative state without the prompts if needed.   

Only One Head!
I had a funny meditative experience once. Before beginning a new medication which had a potential for producing seizures in those who are prone to such, I had to have an EEG to make sure I didn’t have undetected seizures. 

My appointment was for 7:45 am, an unholy time of day for someone who hates getting up early. Part way through the test the technician said, “I’m going to turn the lights off for 20 minutes. You can rest, but don’t go to sleep.” So I decided to meditate for those 20 minutes. 

When the results came back I had no propensity for seizures but the neurologist reading the EEG noted that I had increased levels of alpha and theta wave activity, and suggested my doctor ask me if I had a problem with alcohol. 

I told my doctor I’d been meditating during the EEG but she looked at me as if I’d just grown a second head. I don’t drink (at all) but I don’t think she ever believed I wasn’t a dedicated booze hound after that. She checked my liver enzymes each time she did blood work, and would say things like, "I can tell if you've been drinking by your liver enzymes." 

Of course meditation creates the same increase in alpha and theta wave activity in the brain as alcohol, but while the neurologist who read my EEG may have come across a drinker or two early in the day, she’d probably never come across a practiced Buddhist meditator at 8:00 am before.  


oklhdan said...

Meditation is a skill that has eluded be for some time. Every time I tried my brain would just go crazy with thoughts as if it felt threatened by the mere suggestion that it be still even for a moment. I feel inspired to give it yet another try and this time not give up so easily! You are an inspiration Deb!

Linda P. said...

I'm not good at meditation, either. My heart rate goes really, really low and my blood pressure goes up! I'm disappointed in myself! I'm trying YouTube classes in Qigong to see if that can take the place of meditation. I like it, but it's too soon to invest in signing up for the nearest class that accommodates those of us with mobility problems, more than an hour away.

Linda P. said...

I have to add an addendum to my original comment. You inspired me to try again, at least in a minor way. I have white coat syndrome, with my blood pressure zooming up every time I go to a doctor or dentist, despite it being normal otherwise. A lot of scary things have happened when I have been to the doctor--cancer, RA, trigeminal neuralgia. Although I was outwardly calm and not conscious of being scared, my body said otherwise. I found a self-desensitization practice online, combining a confrontation of what might be scary about a doctor's visit with periods of meditation, calming the mind. When I went to see the neurologist last week, my blood pressure was 122/74! I'm continuing the practice. I wanted you to know that you have an impact on others, even when it appears at first that your message has been rejected.

Deb said...

Hi Linda,
Thank you for coming back and letting me know it helped you. I'm so glad you gave it a second chance and found some   benefit. I have had lots of bad experiences at the doctor's as well and I tend to get into a panic waiting. I use counting up and counting down to calm my panic.

In daily practice I have the opposite problem. I have to be careful my BP doesn't drop too low during meditation so I      chant! Makes no difference what you chant, though I suppose chanting death metal lyrics wouldn't be very relaxing.     LOL Some  people chant 'Om Mani Padme Hum' which is supposed to invoke compassion, but you can chant anything which you find  relaxing and life-affirming. 
I'm so very happy you found meditation helped. It was so kind of you to let me know. :)

All the best!