Meditation is Weird

Posted: July 10, 2011 by writingsprint in postaday2011, postaweek2011, Weird, Writing, Yoga
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…but it’s pretty cool, too.

I’ve been taking a course on yoga, and today we had a lesson on the four types brain waves, and how they relate to the four levels of mind described in the Mandukya Upanishad. Brain waves are beta, alpha, theta, and delta, which correspond to conscious brain activity, subconscious activity, dreaming, and deep dreamless sleep. The Upanishad discusses the sound “Aum” and the states of waking, dreaming, sleeping, and the state of illumination or enlightenment.

As part of the lesson, our teacher, Wes, wanted to hook one of us up to a device called a Mind Mirror, which is basically an electroencephalograph tailored to analyze brain waves in the four levels I described. Since I’m the biggest ham in the group, I’ll try anything, and I have the shortest hair, I volunteered. The short hair was important because there are five electrodes that he had to connect to my head. The good news is there was no fire at the yoga studio tonight…

Wes started guiding me into a standard meditation. “Imagine that you’re outdoors, in a calm, peaceful place… explore this place and experience it…” Through most of this part my beta waves were high. I was excited and laughing at being the center of attention. Focus on breathing. Relax the face, and take deep breaths from the belly. That’s it. For the outdoor place, I tried a forest, a beach, and a tropical rain forest on for size. I settled on the forest. I saw a creek that I went for a swim in. I saw a wolf that was familiar to me. I tried to talk to it but it dove into the water and stayed away from me.

“Now imagine that you find a spiral staircase. Follow it down. It curves down, and around, deep underground, into darkness.”

I don’t know about you, but I was scared of the dark as a kid. I liked the idea of the spiral staircase, and going deep into the mind, but a spiral staircase going into the dark? No way. I imagined torches on the walls, and pretended that the big, marble, spiral staircase in the middle of the woods was a familiar place, even though I’d never been there before.

“We’ve starting to see some good alpha and theta brainwave activity here.” My breathing was deep and I was relaxed. My imagination was starting to move. I remembered the beta waves, and how I felt then. That was what it was like to be at work, when the pressure was on and I had to be alert. This was how it felt to be relaxed and loosen up, to let ideas flow. I breathed deeply and sank into the feeling.

You come to a hallway filled with doors

You come to a hallway filled with doors...

“You come to a hallway filled with doors. You walk down this hallway, passing door after door. These are places in your subconscious mind.”

SHIT! Nobody told me that I have this sneaky fear that there’s stuff in my subconscious mind that’s going to reach out and bite me.

“You turn to one of the doors. It’s familiar to you, and you recognize the color, or a word on the door.” Pause. “That’s a big jump in beta waves there.”

Yeah, no kidding! The fight or flight response was going ape in me. Breathe. Relax. This is a safe place. Whatever is behind this door, I can deal with.

“Open the door, and go inside.”

On the other side of the door is a science lab, a mad scientist’s science lab. There’s an examination bed in the middle of the room and a million different things that I can be poked, prodded, or otherwise examined and dissected with in all kinds ways. With the recognition that happens in dreams, I know this is a place where something bad happened to me. No one is here now, except me, and the lab hasn’t been used in decades.

“Explore the room, and make any changes that you wish to.”

All this crap has to go. I started moving things into the hallway to get rid of them. The examination table, the spotlights, the millions of tiny metal probes and instruments. Everything goes. The movers will haul it away to the dump tomorrow. I put a couch against the wall and hung up pictures of my family and friends.

You come to another door. It’s also familiar to you…

You come to another door. It’s also familiar to you…

“Leave the room, and walk back down the hallway…”

I felt better, and started playing with imagination mush.

“You come to another door. It’s also familiar to you…”

Yes. This is a safe place. It really is safe, unlike the lab.

“You recognize its color, and a sign or word on the door.”

The door flashes blue, then turns back to wood. Carved into a plaque on the door is a Chinese character. With the wordless understanding that comes in dreams, I know what it means. More on this later.

“Open the door, and go inside.”

I’m smiling. I know this is a safe place, this is where I should be right now, and something good will happen here. I open the door and see a reddish, living cloud inside the room. I think, warm, and go inside.

“Explore the room, and make any changes that you wish to.”

I fly around in the cloud. It shifts back and forth from cloud to jello, and I shift freely from flying to swimming. Breathing is easy. I see flashes of a walls of a cave. I’m exploring, and this is good, but there’s something here for me to learn. I need to see it.

golden lightIn class, we once did an exercise to help us feel life energy between our fingers — a ch’i ball. I imagined the same golden light that I did then, in crystal balls that I started hanging around the room. Other lights floated off my hands and hung in the air.

“Whoa! Look at that jump in theta waves!”

I hung up more lamps around the room. In a few moments, Wes brought me back out. This time I flew gently up the spiral staircase. He brought me back to the forest and had me sit down to meditate there, before coming all the way back up to reality.

I saw the wolf again

I saw the wolf again

I saw the wolf again. I smiled — it did too — and I decided to play with this image. I became a man-wolf, covered in fur and with a wolf’s head. I floated between being having a wolf’s head, and my own body, and my own head, and… it was still my own body, but for some reason it felt more wolfish. Maybe it was; I don’t remember.

“There’s another jump in theta! Did everybody see that one?”

We peeled the electrodes off my head, and I told everybody what happened during the meditation. It was a great class.

About the Chinese character: in reality I doubt I’ve ever seen it before. Thinking about it now, it looked kind of like a bridge, with a bar across the top, legs on the sides that poked over the bar, and a little waggle thing under the bar like that thing hanging down in the back of your throat, the uvula. With the bridging going on between my unconscious and conscious mind, now I’m not surprised. Voice, and the bridging of the heart and mind, are a big part of what I’m getting out of yoga, too.

As far as the wolf/man merge goes, on PBS, I saw a special once that talked about the sphinx. One thing that makes the sphinx unique is that, unlike most human-animal images of the time, the sphinx has a human head with an animal body, compared to the human body, animal head of previous images. It could symbolize the mind having benevolent rulership over our animal nature, or as I like to think of it, union with it. I thought it was very cool, which is why I went there with the image.

  1. […] a mix of dream theater and whatever is happening in the room. To go down that rabbit hole, check this […]


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