When it comes to enlightenment and personal development today, most spiritual teachings tend to put the cart before the horse. They approach changing one’s life on the level of the intellect—through changing one’s attitudes, trying to be present or mindful of the moment, trying to get beyond one’s ego, etc.
Changing your thinking does have positive benefits. However, the difficulty of this approach is that it does not inherently develop higher states of consciousness. Enlightenment is not a mood of being happy or being present. It is based on profound neurophysiological changes that allow the mind and body to live in a continuous state of complete integration—free from stress and strain.
We know stress is a major factor in many diseases. In fact, 80% of disease today is stress-related. If we are really stressed or unhappy we can try to mentally snap out of our depression, but even if we succeed in doing so we are not necessarily releasing the underlying stress that caused the sadness.
Meditation for Enlightenment
How does meditation change the physiology? Research on Transcendental Meditation specifically shows that when the mind settles down to a state of restful alertness—pure consciousness—the breath rate settles down too, as indicated by decreased oxygen consumption. This profound state of deep rest allows the body to eliminate accumulated stress and anxiety.
Research also shows increased brain wave coherence even from one’s very first meditation. As a result, one becomes naturally more present, fulfilled, happier, less bothered by the ups and downs of life. This is growing enlightenment—a physiological state of coherence, balance, and integration that can be scientifically measured.
Research on Meditation Techniques
There are striking differences in the physiological effects of various meditation techniques. Unfortunately, many journalists and teachers of meditation tend to lump all the extensive research on meditation into one body of generic research. For example, there are many different types of mindfulness meditation, but research has only been conducted on a few types of mindfulness meditation.
There are over 300 peer-reviewed studies on Transcendental Meditation that have been conducted in 120 independent research universities around the world. Transcendental Meditation is a simple, effortless, and natural mental technique that is systematically taught by certified teachers who have gone through 4 months of in-residence training. Therefore, it has been easier to conduct extensive research around the world on Transcendental Meditation, since the technique is taught in the exact same manner wherever one learns.
Finding the Right Meditation for You
When looking for a technique of meditation, it is worthwhile to investigate the relevant scientific research and make sure it relates to the technique you are learning. If you are contemplating a technique that just promotes positive thinking, know that for what it is—trying to change yourself through an intellectual approach that may not transform your physiology.
Most of all, make sure that the technique is easy and natural. After all, the reason you want to meditate in the first place is to feel happier and healthier in your life!!!
Please feel free to leave any questions and comments in the reply section below.
Health and Happiness!
Dr. Fred Travis – Higher States and TM