I am asked many times what is the difference between meditation and Neuro Patterning. Meditation is a very old system that goes back 2,000 years and exists in many cultures and it comes in many forms and has actual physical effects on the brain. The Dali Llama has really spurred on research into meditation and it has allowed us to observe the effects on the brain.
There are many different types of meditation coming out of the various different traditions:
- The Buddhist tradition
- Zen Meditation
- Vipassana Meditation
- Mindful Meditation
- Loving Kindness Meditation
- The Hindu tradition (Verdic and Yogis)
- Mantra Meditation (OM Meditation)
- Transcendental Meditation (TM)
- Yoga Meditations
- The Taoist tradition
- Emptiness Meditation
- Breathing meditation
- Qigong (Chi kung)
This is not a complete list of the different types but it covers at least the major traditions.
This technique is more modern and invented by Randall Ausenhus and it takes advantage of the brain's susceptibility to suggestions when in a specific state. Using the voice with a specific cadence and pitch and music, the brain is put into Theta and Alpha state. It is during this state new behaviour patterns are "installed" or rather suggested to the unconscious mind in order to get a quick behaviour change. Meditation in most of the forms develops wisdom and insight into the mind and the root cause for behaviour and affects happiness over the long term, Neuro Patterning creates a great shift in behaviour and harnesses the power of the unconscious mind, which can handle over 1,000 things at the same time, whereas the conscious mind can handle only 5-8.
Meditation and Neuro Patterning are complementary techniques that I use as part of my daily routine, they do not replace each other, I could not do without meditation or Neuro Patterning. My favourite recording are the Emotional Release series, I use it before I meditate and it has an amazing effect.
The Physiological Effect of Meditation
Let us now examine some of the real benefits that we gain from Meditation. The latest research coming out of neuroscience has shown that the neural pathways in the brain are not static but constantly change as we learn new things and develop new behavioural patterns. Let us examine some of the changes in the brain from Meditation.
Slows Loss Of Brain Mass In Aging
Meditation is kind of like a form of mental training for your brain, as the process of clearing your mind and focusing on a single concept activates and engages many different regions.
People that meditate consistently for many years are effectively exercising the brain, just like the other muscles in the body.
Studies have found that this “exercise” over a period of several decades led the practitioners to slow the loss of grey matter density, compared to people who did not meditate.
Decreases Worry And Boosts Mood
A study by researchers at Yale University found that consistent mindfulness meditation—which involves introspection and honestly evaluating yourself and your actions--decreased activity in the Default Mode Network of the brain, which is the area responsible for your mind wandering.
This area is also associated with worrying and focusing on your past and future, so by decreasing activity in this area meditation allows you to focus more on the present and achieve a greater level of overall happiness.
Thickens The Hippocampus
Meditation can also thicken the cortical folds in the hippocampus, which is the area responsible for your ability to learn and remember things. The thickening that takes place allows the brain to better perform these actions, which leads to an increase in your memory and mental retention.
Decreased Volume In The Amygdala
The amygdala is the area that controls fear and anxiety, releasing a hormone called cortisol that affects the way your body acts during times of stress. Meditation helps you to let go of these negative feelings by addressing the current situations that trigger them, which leads to less activity in the area and thus a decrease in volume and size.
Reduces Stress Hormones
With a smaller and less active amygdala, the brain is less prone to releasing the harmful hormones in response to stressful situations. One Harvard study tracked the size of the amygdala with participants practicing meditation for eight weeks, and found that as the volume of the area decreased, so did reports of feeling stressed.
Lowers Anxiety Reaction
Similarly, meditation helps to weaken the part of the brain that leads to feeling anxious. The focus on introspection and self-awareness through meditation helps you to overcome the initial inclination to feel uneasy about different areas of your life, which enables other areas of your brain to take over and trigger more confident actions and positive feelings.
Reduces Feelings Of Depression
One study from researchers at Johns Hopkins tracked the effects of meditation on patients suffering from depression, comparing it to the effectiveness of taking antidepressant medication. The results found that meditation was just as effective as medicine, likely due to the fact that
meditation helps to break the links between the rational part of the brain and the amygdala. Meditation also trains the brain to stand up to negative thoughts and fears, rather than relent and indulge in worrying about the past or future.
The Default Mode Network of the brain is also responsible for the mind wandering to different thoughts and topics, such as with daydreaming. It’s also tied into your ability to focus on a single subject, in that it can lead to you getting distracted while trying to think.
Meditation helps decrease the activity in this area of the brain, and thus trains you to concentrate on the tasks in front of you rather than letting your consciousness shift to something else.
Alters The Lateral Prefrontal Cortex
The lateral prefrontal cortex is one of the parts of the brain that regulates your emotions, and that deals with your emotional responses to different situations. Meditation engages this area of the brain and increases the thickness of its folds, which allows you to better separate your emotional responses and learned habits from the rational part of your brain so that you can better assess the correct action in emotional situations.