Healing with Sleep Hypnosis

Hypnosis – Facts and Myths

hypnotized Womam

What is Sleep Hypnosis

How Does Hypnosis Work

One of the most frequent questions I am asked concerning healing with sleep hypnosis is what is sleep hypnosis anyway? The answer is a little bit involved because in order to understand how it works you need an understanding of what it is.

I initially learned about sleep hypnosis online and the best resources available are anything written by a hypnotherapist and hypnotherapy websites.  Without actually participating in various guided meditation and hypnosis sessions and entering the trance-state, though, it was difficult to fully grasp what is involved (other than the obvious of going to sleep with sleep-hypnosis).

A more important question to me was not “how” it works, but does self-hypnosis work?    I am not interested in spending hours educating myself about something if it has no value,  and if it isn’t going to solve my problem I don’t want to spend any more time with it.  I have spent more time educating myself on hypnosis since that time than most anything else. Because it does work.

First, a hypnotherapist is an Alternative Healthcare Professional who has completed a course in hypnotherapy.  Many licensed medical professionals use hypnosis as part of their practices.

The hypnotist relies on thinking and memory processes to help with controlling the body’s responses to circumstances of everyday life and living such as love, anger, pain and discomfort, happiness and sadness, fear and worry, as examples.

Hypnotherapists are unregulated in most of the United States but certain states do require licensing or at least registration.  There are several “hypnosis agency” type of websites but none are government regulated and, at most, those who practice hypnosis are encouraged to join as members for credibility toward a business practice.  In Queensland, Australia, hypnotherapy was regulated until 2002.

To find the most generic, reliable and non-technical answers I selected a hypnotherapist who has over 420,000 YouTube subscribers and over 80 million views of his guided meditations and hypnosis videos.  With over 125 videos posted on his YouTube channel, many of which have been viewed millions of times,  I began participating in his videotaped sessions on a regular basis.  I have found his level of knowledge on the subject to be compelling and credible.

Sleep Hypnosis by Pexels

One of my favorite sessions (highly effective for me) and obviously very popular with others with 7,585,060 views as is Guided Meditation for Detachment from Overthinking (Anxiety, OCD, Depression).

Michael Sealey is from Queensland, Australia.  He is a groomed Australian actor who graduated from The University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Drama in 1995.  He is also a martial artist.

Much of his knowledge about hypnosis and the subconscious and conscious minds and how they relate, is contained in his recorded sessions, but this is his explanation of what hypnosis is and how it works:

“Hypnosis is a completely natural state of often deeply felt relaxation and focused attention where positive suggestions can be more easily accepted by our subconscious minds. Imagine a fantastic and tranquil state of daydreaming, and that is very close to hypnosis!

Hypnosis can bring us improved self-control, clearer and empowered behavioral choices, and allow us to listen to our best inner resources. Many people experience a deep sense of calmness and serenity during hypnotic meditation and are often pleasantly surprised to see the ongoing, life enhancing results.

All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. The power for positive change resides within your own mind.  If you choose to accept the suggestions presented, you can rest comfortably knowing that you are the one safely in control of your own positive results.

Deep trance hypnosis is used with guided relaxation for improving your subconscious mind power, boosting your natural memory recall ability, sharpening your study focus, and increasing your motivation for learning and information assimilation.

Take some time to improve your memory, study, focus, concentration, learning ability, or as you prepare for exams.  Improve your mind power and your own abilities of self-mind control to harness all of the resources of your natural intelligence. – Michael Sealey.

Michael uses “positive voice suggestions often accompanied with calm images, background sounds and meditation music to allow you your very best state of relaxation, inner change to remove negative blocks, and to create self-guided healing therapy with techniques from the fields of hypnotherapy, modern psychotherapy, trance work, guided relaxation, NLP, cognitive behavioural psychology, mindfulness meditation, and ASMR.”

As with all hypnosis, it is recommended for “repeated and regular listening as it will help compound positive suggestions and/or your own positive results.”

Although you can listen to his videos on YouTube at no cost, he has MP3 downloads available (my preference).  He doesn’t appear to promote his sessions for much profit as you can obtain 78 sessions for $0.99 each and many of the sessions are over one hour in length.  Visit the  All Things Meditation & Wellness Emporium, Guided Meditation/Hypnosis section.


The Trance – An Altered State of Consciousness

 

A trance is any state of consciousness or awareness other than the usual form of consciousness, or best explained as an altered state of consciousness.  A state of trance can occur withDaydreamerout effort and it is possible that it can occur involuntarily.

The term is usually associated with prayer,  flow (being fully focused or immersed), meditation and hypnosis.  It can also be described as a state of elevated or hyper suggestibility.   The trance state of consciousness is generally the most beneficial state for hypnosis.

The trance state of consciousness is generally the most beneficial state for hypnosis. An example of a trance state is daydreaming.  It is the state of mind you enter into during hypnosis and is an advanced form of relaxation. You reach a trance state as you slip through various stages of decreased brain frequencies which are virtually the same as the stages of sleep (and the stages of awakening in the reverse order).


Myths Surrounding Hypnosis

 

If you were to perform a random survey relating to hypnotism and what it is, the consensus would likely relate to a Las Vegas style stage sleep hypnosis sideshow that goes something like this:

An experienced performer/hypnotist calls someone from the audience to participate in the act.  This person has already been interviewed and selected based on specific personality traits.
Watches for Hypnosis

After pulling a shiny pocket watch from his vest he begins to swing it back and forth and his subject appears to fall asleep. The hypnotist provides instructions (or “suggestions”) to walk around the stage and cluck like a chicken, along with several other preposterous and silly imitations to amuse his audience.

This type of performance has prevented people from seeking hypnotherapy which is legitimate, healthy and beneficial to the mind, body, and spirit. Most have never witnessed anyone hypnotized other than in movies, and it certainly is a mysterious and magical subject, but what has science revealed about hypnosis vs. what we don’t yet understand)?

I have even heard references to the occult and demons.

According to the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis,  common myths about hypnosis include:

  • will cause you to lose control

  • make you surrender your will resulting in being dominated

  • exposes weakness

  • you cannot be dishonest

  • will lose consciousness

  • will suffer from amnesia

  • you only need one session

  • hypnosis is sleep

  • You can recall “lost” memories

The most amusing myth is “You have never been under a hypnotic state.”   This myth is a misnomer, as referenced in the previous section on Trance as well as another blog I published discussing that brain waves during the stages of hypnosis are the same stages as sleep.  Please click here for additional reading.


The Subconscious Storehouse

 

A guided or self-hypnosis session allows for an acquainted communication between the conscious and subconscious (or unconscious) mind.

There is a limit to what we can hold in our focal awareness (conscious),  and an alternative “storehouse” for all of our acquired knowledge through prior experiences is needed (subconscious).

The conscious is in the foreground where your active thought processes take place and are the part of your mind that you pay attention to when you are thinking.

The subconscious mind is in the background, absorbing and storing every piece of information that has sorted through the brain since the time you were born.Subconscious

The subconscious mind is responsible for how our body functions, how we breathe and why we have a pulse and every other function of the body that keeps us alive.  It is in the subconscious where our emotions originate and connect us spiritually to each other, the universe and our creator.

Although the conscious mind is constantly supported by the subconscious mind, we are still capable of retrieving retained information from the subconscious when the two are connected.

With the assistance of the hypnotherapist (by video or MP3), you enter into a self-session making a conscious (present/mindful) effort to control your breathing for a few minutes (breath in to the count of 6, hold to count of 4 and exhale to the count of 6 while you consciously release body tension upon exhale).  In a matter of moments, conscious thoughts will surface.

I have found that acknowledging each thought one by one is more effective than trying to fight with maintaining my focus on breathing.   My visual is as though the thoughts are written on a piece of paper that floats into my hand.  Once I acknowledge the thought the piece of paper floats away.

This will not work for everyone, but you can try it. Don’t be discouraged.  In the beginning, the thought will seem to linger. Once dismissed, another thought will immediately take its place.   The longer you sit quiet and focused and acknowledge and release each thought your mind will become quiet and still.  No two sessions are alike.

A higher level of harmony, balance, and consistency can be realized when you are able to tap into the subconscious storehouse.  It is possible to discover insight into things you can’t even begin to imagine about yourself.

Communication with yourself can and will significantly influence your self-observations and allow you to connect with who you are, what you need and want from your life, it can alter negative emotional responses and even lead to control of your own mental and physical conditions.

Michael Sealey’s session titles involve the wide range of personal issues we deal with on a daily basis. Whether it be physical pain, cravings from smoking or food, or a bad attitude, you can control your thoughts.

The subconscious mind is powerful. You already have the answers and remedies and they are contained within you.


Is there a Cure for Insomnia?  

 

With multi-taskers there is a significant amount of uncontrolled thinking that can cause exhaustion and fatigue, which lowers stress levels and creates the perfect circumstances for the development of insomnia.

Over the long term, left untreated, it will exacerbate to the point of excessive stress, anxiety, and depression.Insomnia Sleep Hypnosis

While insomnia can occur independently as a sleep disorder, it is not unusual for most people to experience inadequate sleep during different times in their lives.

Adequate sleep is imperative to an adequate mental function.  This is achieved through relaxation into the various stages of sleep necessary to achieve the REM stage where the most beneficial sleep is obtained.   This well-known and well-established science explains how and why hypnosis is so effective for insomnia.

Sleep hypnosis was my first experience with hypnotherapy.  Combined with mindfulness styled meditation, guided meditations, and affirmations, the most immediate change involved my perspective of the symptoms caused by my conditions.  This included frequent and consistent insomnia.

Although I still experience pain on a regular basis, I no longer lay awake at night fighting for a comfortable position that will allow me to fall asleep and stay asleep.

I no longer fully rely on mind altering drugs to control sleep, muscle spasms, inflammation, and pain.  My doctor recently told me that if it were not for the pain my blood pressure would be normal.  I found that to be quite interesting since I have to take blood pressure medication.  I am hopeful that my continued meditation practices will allow my body to function properly completely drug-free.

 


Pain and Emotion “Brain Circuits”

 

A hypothetical example of how hypnosis can alter a physical condition is – let’s say you have a headache.  A headache causes pain.  The body’s reaction to the stress is to release additional chemicals and hormones which are responsible for a headache. When the stress is relieved the body no longer responds to the stress, eliminating the source of a headache.  Medical doctors treat physical symptoms with drugs.  The Hypnotherapist focuses on the thought processes that are contributing to the stress.

Brain Signal - Geralt

A stress headache can’t be compared to the level of chronic pain from disabling medical conditions such as degenerative disc disease or rheumatoid arthritis but migraines are debilitating.

Nearly every illness, disease or condition includes the symptom of pain.   Eventually, though, without proper pain management, the risk of developing mental health conditions like anxiety and depression are significantly increased.

Srini Pillay, MD,  an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School, discusses how chronic pain alters brain circuits:

The pain itself can rewire your brain. When pain first occurs, it impacts your pain-sensitivity brain circuits. But when pain lasts, the related brain activity switches away from the “pain” circuits to circuits that process emotions. That’s why emotions like anxiety often take center stage in chronic back pain. And it’s why emotional control becomes that much more difficult.

Dr. Pillay fully recommends mindfulness meditation and hypnosis to treat chronic pain because it will “improve emotional control by increasing brain blood flow to the frontal lobe.”

If these techniques are used for an extended period of time (scientific studies indicate 8 weeks) it can improve anxiety and depression symptoms as well.

Mindfulness and Hypnosis cause a “brain relaxation pathway by deliberately ignoring mental “chatter” and focusing on breathing.”  When you do this, an “unfocus” circuit called the default mode network is activated.  (Dr. Pillay).

When I first read the article by Dr. Pillay I actually thought to myself “is this guy making this up?”   But he is a professor of psychiatry and there are nearly 70 years of scientific research to support various theories.

The benefits of hypnosis are not limited to chronic pain.  While numerous studies indicate meditation literally changes brain structure, there is still much research to be performed.

Another method that relieves chronic pain and depression (temporarily) is ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, in which some people experience tingling sensations or a static-like sensitivity along and on the skin.  It characteristically starts on the scalp and travels down the back of the neck and upper spine and shoulders.   One study published by the Department of Psychology, Swansea University, Swansea, UK indicates:

“The current study identifies several common triggers used to achieve ASMR, including whispering, personal attention, crisp sounds and slow movements.”

ASMR produces a flow-like mental state, a fully engaged feeling of enjoyment, complete involvement, and an energized focus.


The Christian’s Beliefs about Hypnosis

 

Spirit fire

 

Many Christian beliefs are sincere when they consider the influences of demonic activity, and some believe that an open mind will invite some type of demonic movement against the Christian.

Based upon what we know for fact, there is nothing scientific establishing how this can occur, but it would be reasonable to assume that if a person’s decision skills and thinking was altered or diminished somehow, that it could possibly enhance a more lucid imagination – and hypnosis can produce more lucid visuals and dreams.

Some people are absolutely more susceptible to certain influences (hypnotherapy) which someone else would see as detrimental.  It would be during this time of susceptibility (hypnotic state) that a demonic attack would be more likely to occur. Hypnosis, at one time, was known to be associated with the occult with the intent of contact with demonic spirits.

There is scripture taken quite literally by Christians.  In Acts 16:16-18,  “startling” detailed memories by people who would not have otherwise experienced them. Exactly how it is known that they would not have experienced them otherwise is not clear.

The expected response by many Christian’s is that hypnosis is considered a form of witchcraft, despite the fact that what we now know about the phases of sleep and brain wave frequencies, the same events occur without hypnotherapy and are biological phases of sleep.

Galatians 5:22-23 mentions that we need to control ourselves and not give conOpen Bibletrol to someone else.

Romans 6:12-13 says we need to submit ourselves to God, not something else.

Romans 6:16 warns us against submitting our decisions to another.

Despite the success stories about Hypnosis and despite how much we may trust the hypnotist, the Bible tells us to stay away from anyone trying to control our minds.  There are many Christians who will not accept hypnosis as a viable method of healing the mind and body.

 


A Beginner’s Experience with First Time Hypnosis

“Weird and Awesome”

As I was scrolling through pages on the internet the other day, I came across a post written by someone (possibly born in 1982) who never had an interest in hypnosis until he read an article that “sparked his interest.”  He happened to come across Michael Sealey’s videos.   This reminds me of my own experience when discovering the self-hypnosis and sleep hypnosis of Michael Sealey.  His story is honest and sincere.

First Time Hypnosis – Wow. Interesting (And Scary) Experiences. from hypnosis

Remind me of the Benefits Again, Please

 

From the perspective of this 20 plus year patient of chronic neck and back pain  (referring to myself), and having also lived with the associated conditions of panic attacks, numerous situations of depression with anxiety so intense that it has been labeled a “disorder,” all resulting from pain, I  am extremely thankful that (1) hypnosis does in fact “work” (2) there are credible resources available to educate yourself as to what healing hypnosis really is and (3)  by using hypnosis, including sleep-videos such as those by Michael Sealey,  you will begin to understand how it works.

Meditation techniques and hypnosis have been the most effective pain management strategy I have found since the mid-1990’s.

There is one more thing I have felt needed to discussed the entire time I have been working on this material.  Maybe my subconscious is responsible for the “gut” feeling I have had about sharing a summary of my medical situation.

I want you to be comfortable with the accuracy of the information I have chosen to present to you.  It is important that you absolutely relate your medical conditions and symptoms to these alternative healing methods.

Not only has medicine advanced during the time I have managed my own medical conditions, but I am also 20 years older.   What I find the most interesting is, that even though medical doctors have had access to the advancements made in medicine concerning the use and effectiveness of alternative treatment, it has never been offered to me by anyone.  And I suspect it may have never been offered to you.

A summary of my own history of incidents that caused my physical condition to deteriorate over time, hopefully, will satisfy any questions you may have about whether the methods I am telling you about will work for you.  If you are not convinced then you will be less likely to get involved. And, as someone who knows the reality of what you may be going through, it is important to me that you find your healing too.

  • 1978 – Cervical Neck Sprain Strain – auto accident
  • 1987 – hysterectomy
  • 1993 – Cervical Neck Sprain/Strain and L-1 Compression fracture – auto accident.  Diagnosed anxiety/depression
  • 1994 – Aggravation of 1993 injuries – auto accident
  • 2007 – herniated the L5-S1 disc – Working with a physical trainer
  • 2008 – L5-S1 continued to deteriorate and after a fall the disc completely ruptured and was found broken into three pieces during the surgery.
  • Between 2007 and 2009 I underwent regular spinal epidural steroid injections and took significant amounts of opiates and muscle relaxers.
  • In October of 2008, I was unable to walk and was wheelchair bound.
  • 2009 – February – L5-S1 fusion – I wore a brace for 8 months post surgery with strict physical limitations (could not lift more than 5 pounds), but the bone graphs did not completely fuse for two years.  Physical exertion caused inflammation, pain and I still had radiating pain into my legs.
  • 2010 – 2011 – continued exacerbations with excessive physical activity but I was able to control the pain with anti-inflammatories and I had been off the heavy opioids since the end of 2009.
  • 2011 –  My fiance and I went to Mexico the summer of 2o11.  There was a zip-line theme park consisting of 14 zip lines, some of them going through caves and waterfalls.  We zipped every single one.
  • 2012 – severe nerve pain down into my right arm and hand.  The testing showed four bulging discs in my neck.  The neurosurgeon referred me to pain management because I had degenerative changes affecting the nerves, but had not deteriorated “enough” to justify surgery.
  • 2012 – Dental implant surgery
  • 2013 – Gallbladder Surgery
  • 2012-2014- I was working a very stressful job as a paralegal.  I saw the pain management specialist every other month.   The only medication that was effective was opioids.   Extreme stress, excessive sitting exacerbated pain.
  • 2015 – pain increased.  Testing indicated 4 herniated discs in the neck. Neurosurgeon fused C-5, 6 and 7 vertebra on 7/2.  Expected return to work three months. Pain continued. Additional testing revealed bone spurs and advanced degenerative changes in lower thoracic and upper lumbar spine as well as narrowing at prior L5-S1 fusion.
  • 2016 – approved for SSDI. Retired. Continued with pain management with 24 hour time released opiates. Until discs in neck deteriorate further the conditions will continue to degenerate. Future to be determined.
  • 2016eyelid surgery to correct loss of peripheral vision

If you suffer from any mental or physical condition whatsoever, hypnotherapy and meditation techniques DO work and regular practice will provide Whole-Wellness when combined with proper nutrition and as much exercise as you can tolerate.

 

What’s Good for the Goose May not be Good for the Gander

 

Not all techniques will work the same for everyone.  A particular technique will be more effective for you than your neighbor.  With guided meditations and hypnosis there are many voices and tones of voice that I cannot listen to because I find them annoying and irritating.  You might prefer a female voice, where a male voice is what works for me.

But one thing is certain:  people are living a poor quality of life because of physical and mental conditions that do not respond to pharmaceutical techniques, and there is hope for all of us.  So many people have no idea it exists.

Hypnosis, whether used alone or combined with other forms of meditation and relaxation, along with consistent proper nutrition, is a system of self-care that will profoundly affect the body’s reaction to stress producing fatigue, anxiety and insomnia and other physical abnormalities.

What we didn’t dig into in this blog are how the very same techniques can help stay emotionally stable, control impulses that lead to weight gain, addictions such as smoking, and exaggerated emotional reactions to fast paced living (a/k/a  Drama).   By maintaining a strong immune system we can assure ourselves of a healthy self-esteem while destroying fear, procrastination and subconscious negativity.

 


Interested in Learning Hypnosis?

Hypnosis Training Courses

 

Are you interested in learning hypnosis for the purpose of helping someone else or to educate yourself further?  Maybe you live with a mental or physical condition that is affecting your quality of life.

As someone who has experienced positive results from sleep hypnosis and guided meditations, I can assure you that a positive outcome awaits you. Take less pain medication, quit smoking, feel good about yourself and have a full nights sleep every night.

Hypnosis Downloads has over 1000 mp3 self-hypnosis (guided hypnosis) sessions in compliance with current psychotherapy standards, as well as hypnosis training courses. It is a complete resource providing hypnosis sessions that can be listened to on your computer, smartphone, tablet or CD.  All Hypnotherapy Downloads have been carefully crafted by professional hypnotherapist educators.  Over 600,000 sessions have been downloaded since 2003.

 

Take the Next Step

 

Hypnosis enforces no rules and no responsibilities which mean that it is all up to you. A person cannot be held accountable for lack knowledge.  If no one knew that smoking will kill you, or that relaxation techniques performed routinely will ease the mental and physical withdrawal symptoms, then there would be no obligation to do anything.

This article has provided you with the knowledge that relaxation techniques, hypnotherapy, and meditation practices will produce beneficial results of enhancing your overall mental and physical well-being.  You are now held accountable for that knowledge, whether you use it for yourself or someone else.

My recommendation to you is:   Start working on a plan and begin implementing it into your daily life.  The most time consuming, in the beginning, is finding a hypnotherapist or other alternative healer that works for you.  Starting with Michael Sealey is a good choice because his techniques are credible and effective and proven.  He can introduce you to different techniques as well.

And, of course, check our website regularly for updated articles on related topics and techniques, and subscribe to the website and you will receive new articles and assorted tips and tricks by email.


Be Healthy    

Mind  ~  Body  ~   Spirit

 


CLICK BELOW TO SELECT YOUR SESSION 

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Like this post?   See how I learned to do it


References

  • Michael Sealy, Hypnotherapist, YouTube Channel,  https://www.youtube.com/user/MichaelSealey
  • Srini Palley, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School,           http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/psychology-low-back-pain-201604259537
  • Abstract:  Shape shifting pain: chronification of back pain shifts brain representation from nociceptive to emotional circuits;  A Journal of Neurology, 2013 Sep;136(Pt 9):2751-68. doi: 10.1093/brain/awt211.  Hashmi JA1, Baliki MN, Huang L, Baria AT, Torbey S, Hermann KM, Schnitzer TJ, Apkarian AV.
  • https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23983029
  • Myths about Hypnosis, American Society of Clinical Hypnosis
  • Abstract. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): a flow-like mental state.  2015 Mar 26;3:e851. doi: 10.7717/peerj.851. eCollection 2015. Barratt EL1, Davis NJ1.Department of Psychology, Swansea University, Swansea, United Kingdom.

History of Meditation

Origin of Meditation

Origin of Meditation

The origin of the practice of meditation is seen mainly in religious contexts throughout history.  It can be traced back to prehistoric 5000 BC.

The earliest writings to be discovered were concerning meditation (Dhyana) originating from the Vedas of Hindu traditions around 1500 BCE.

Nearing 6 to 5 century BCE, was the period of the first development of other forms of meditation in Taoist China and Buddhist India.

Dhyana Meditation 

   Early Buddhism

The word Dhyana, as influenced by the Vedas in early Buddhism, means “contemplation and meditation” in all three religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism, but the technical context is varied in each religion.

Meditation/Dhyana was incorporated into Yoga exercises, the goal being the extracting the various aspects of self-knowledge.

Over time meditation was developed further by the traditions of Hindu, Jain and Buddhist, influenced independently of the specific religions or by one influencing the other.

The most influential part of the traditions of the Hindu religion was that it involved self-directed awareness and is the part of the process where the yogi would find self, seek the self’s relationship with all living beings and where Ultimate Reality was to be found.

There is much debate concerning the origin of meditation on Buddhism but there are historical records dating to the 1st century BC, in the sutras of the Pāli Canon which set forth levels and states of meditation in Buddhism in India, and the formula for salvation:

(1) observance of the rules of morality

(2) contemplative concentration

(3) knowledge; and

(4) liberation.

This specifically places meditation as part of the path to salvation.

 

  Taoist Meditation

Soon, when Buddhism was spreading to and through China, the writings of the Vimalakirti Sutra (100CE) included meditations and enlightened wisdom which was practiced by the Zen.

(Zen is a combination of Indian Mahayana Buddhism and Taoism which started in China before spreading to Korea and Japan).

Harmonizing Greek and Jewish Philosophy

By 20 BCE a form of “exercises” of a spiritual nature had been written by Philo of Alexandria (who believed in the literal Hebrew Bible and who first attempted to harmonize Greek and Jewish philosophy). These spiritual exercises involved concentration and attention (prosoche).

By the 3rd century, a Greek philosopher named Plotinus developed meditation techniques based on his philosophy of “The One, The Intellect and The Soul.”

In Judaism in the Torah, Isaac is described as “lasuach” in the field. It has been interpreted by some that he was participating in some type of meditative practice.

In the King James Version of the Bible, in the Book of Genesis, “lasuach” is translated “meditation,” yet all commentaries define his action as prayer.

Throughout the Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible and a textual source of the Christian Old Testament) it is strongly suggested that Judaism always contained a tradition of meditation.

 

Japanese Buddhism

Beginning in the 8th century, the expansion of Japanese Buddhism meditation practices spread into Japan.

The first meditation hall was opened at Nara, Japan by monk Dosho after being introduced to Zen in China. The Japanese modified Chinese practices.

In Japan, around 1227, the first sitting meditation instructions (Zazen) were written by Dogen and the first community of monks was established.

Early Jewish meditation practices grew and developed and included meditative approaches to prayer.

Different forms of meditation were practiced, including Kabbalistic practices. Some involved approaches of Jewish philosophy.

Dhikr

The concept of Dhikr, or Remembrance of God in Islam, is interpreted by various meditative techniques and became one of the essential elements of Sufism, or Islamic mysticism, in the 11th and 12th centuries.

In Sufism, thinking leads to knowledge, and its followers practiced control of breathing as well as incorporated the repetition of holy words.

 

Christian Meditation

Eastern Christian meditation also involved the repetition of a phrase while in a specific posture and is traced back to the Byzantine Teresa of Avilaperiod.

Hesychasm was developed on Mount Athos, Greece, and involves the repetition of the Jesus Prayer. This form of meditation is still being practiced today.

Western Christian meditation progressed from the 6th century Bible reading among the Benedictine monks (Lectio Divina or “divine reading”) but did not involve the repetition of phrases, actions or specific body posture.

In the 12th century, monk Guigo II termed four formal steps in Latin:  lectio, meditatio, oratio, and contemplatio, which interprets “read, ponder, pray, contemplate.”

In the 16th Century of Western Christian meditation, saints such as Ignatius of Loyola and Teresa of Avila were instrumental in its development.

By the 18th century, the study of Buddhism in the West was a topic mainly focused upon by intellectuals.

French philosopher Voltaire sought toleration towards the Buddhists.

The first English translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead was published in 1927.

 

Yoga

Schools of yoga began forming in Hindu revivalism in the 1890’s.

Gurus began introducing yoga schools to the West. Some yoga schools were designed particularly as secularized variations of yoga traditions to be used by non-Hindus.

One example is the Transcendental Meditation system which began its popularity in the 1960s.

In addition, various forms of Hatha Yoga were developed from the Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga school, and eventually became simply known as “Yoga” in the West.

 

Secular Meditation

Secular meditation emphasizes stress reduction, relaxation, and self-improvement more than the spiritual aspects, although both secular and spiritual forms of meditation have been heavily analyzed by scientific research.

Scientific studies increase as more studies confirm the benefits of meditation over the past 60 years.

With such diversified history concerning the subject and despite 4500 years of practice and study, the mechanism of meditation that provides health benefits remains unclear.

Research continues with current Clinical studies underway and additional studies scheduled to take place.

 

 


REFERENCES
– A clinical guide to the treatment of human stress response by George S. Everly, Jeffrey M. Lating 2002 ISBN 0-306-46620-1 .
– Joseph, M. 1998, The effect of strong religious beliefs on coping with stress Stress Medicine. Vol 14(4), Oct 1998
– The origin of Buddhist meditation by Alexander Wynne 2007 ISBN 0-415-42387-2
– Zen Buddhism: a History: India and China by Heinrich Dumoulin, James W. Heisig, Paul F. Knitter 2005 ISBN 0-941532-89-5
– Hadot, Pierre; Arnold I. Davidson (1995) Philosophy as a way of life ISBN 0-631-18033-8
– Hans Urs von Balthasar, Christian meditation Ignatius Press ISBN 0-89870-235-6
– The Sutra of perfect enlightenment: Korean Buddhism’s guide to meditation by A. Charles Muller, 1999 ISBN 0-7914-4101-6
– Kaplan, Aryeh (1985). Jewish Meditation. New York: Schocken Books. ISBN 0-8052-1037-7.
– Zen Buddhism: a History: Japan by Heinrich Dumoulin, James W. Heisig, Paul F. Knitter 2005 ISBN 0-941532-90-9
– Soto Zen in Medieval Japan by William Bodiford 2008 ISBN 0-8248-3303-1
– The Cambridge History of Japan: Medieval Japan by Kōzō Yamamura, John Whitney Hall 1990 ISBN 0-521-22354-7,
– Alan Brill, Dwelling with Kabbalah: Meditation, Ritual, and Study in Jewish Spirituality and Divine Law by Adam Mintz, Lawrence H. Schiffman 2005 ISBN 0-88125-865-2
– Prayer: a history by Philip Zaleski, Carol Zaleski 2005 ISBN 0-618-15288-1
– Global Encyclopaedia of Education by Rama Sankar Yadav & B.N. Mandal 2007 ISBN 978-81-8220-227-6
– Sainthood and revelatory discourse by David Emmanuel Singh 2003 ISBN 81-7214-728-7
– Spiritual Psychology by Akbar Husain 2006 ISBN 81-8220-095-4
– “Mount Athos: History”. Macedonian Heritage. Archived from the original
– An introduction to the Christian Orthodox churches by John Binns 2002 ISBN 0-521-66738-0
– “Hesychasm”. OrthodoxWiki.
– Christian Spirituality: A Historical Sketch by George Lane 2005 ISBN 0-8294-2081-9
– Christian spirituality: themes from the tradition by Lawrence S. Cunningham, Keith J. Egan 1996 ISBN 0-8091-3660-0
– The Oblate Life by Gervase Holdaway, 2008 ISBN 0-8146-3176-2
– After Augustine: the meditative reader and the text by Brian Stock 2001 ISBN 0-8122-3602
– Enlightenment and reform in 18th-century Europe by Derek Edward Dawson Beales 2005 ISBN 1-86064-949-1
– Shakya, Tsering “Review of Prisoners of Shangri-la by Donald Lopez”. online
– Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion by David A. Leeming, Kathryn Madden, Stanton Marlan 2009

 

If you like this post:   This is how I learned to do it.

Cognitive Brain Therapy | Benefits of Meditation on the Brain

Meditation Alters Cognitive Brain Function/
Benefits of Meditation on the Brain


The most universal forms of meditation evolved from the spiritual cultures of Hinduism and Buddhism which can be traced to around  1500 BCE.   Over the course of time, meditation practices and techniques have been interpreted by the cultures in which they were introduced.

There exists a great diversity of technique but the results of meaningful meditation, in every form, maintain a common denominator.

The advancement of medicine has allowed researchers to study the benefits of meditation in the brain as never before, and the scientific evidence is overwhelmingly evident that meditation can actually alter brain function and structure.   The modern world has resulted in the production of the most highly sophisticated medical equipment, allowing researchers more access to functions of the human body than was ever expected a few decades ago.

In conjunction with skilled masters of medicine, engineering and computer technology, the knowledgeable teams of physicians and other medical professionals who have dedicated themselves to how meditation affects the brain, the answers are more reliable than ever.

In fact, meditation has been scientifically proven to be so effective that it would not be a misnomer if it were known as Cognitive Brain Therapy.

Different Techniques Influence Different Brain Function

Different cognitive brain functions are involved when comparing the meditative states influenced by Hinduism (loss of sense of self/duality) with Buddhism (mindfulness).  Each practice activates different brain networks.


Involvement of the Senses  – How Many Senses do Humans Have

To help us relate to how meditation can possibly promote physical changes to brain structure, it is relevant to understand the involvement of the senses.   While there are probably many who have studied the body, most of us interpret the senses as the commonly referred to “Five Senses.”

However, one definition of “sense”:
Brain and the 5 Senses

Any system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that respond to a specific physical phenomenon and that corresponds to a particular group of regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted.

The senses can be divided into exteroceptive and interoceptive:

  • Exteroceptive senses perceive the body’s own position, motion, and state, known as proprioceptive senses.
  • Proprioceptive senses include nociception (pain); equilibrioception (balance); proprioception (awareness of position and movement of parts of one’s own body).
  • External senses include the traditional five: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste, but also includes asthermoception (temperature differences) and an additional weak magnetoception (direction).

Interoceptive senses are senses that perceive sensations in internal organs.

When you’re mindful and paying attention to breathing, sounds and the present moment, cognition is slowed down which enhances the senses.


With this extended definition of the “senses,” and the following explanation of the differences in the cultural influences on meditation:

Buddhist Influence – Mindfulness is achieved through focused attention on the body, breathing and control of thought.

Hindu Influence –  The goal is to reach a state of nothingness, resulting in a loss of sense of self and duality (the mind and body acting as one). 

I, for one, was in a better position to accept what the research revealed.


Evidence – Affected Brain Structures

The brain network related to Buddhist-influenced meditation stimulates activity in part of the frontal lobe structures of the brain.  The frontal lobe structures are associated with the working memory, mental flexibility, and self-control (coordinating with each other).  This confirms that the essential element of “mindfulness” based meditation is neuro-biologically effective.

Hindu-inspired meditation triggers a left lateral network of areas of the brain, including the postcentral gyrus, the superior parietal lobe, the hippocampus and the right middle cingulate cortex.

Separating the anterior (front) and posterior (back) networks of the brain scientifically establishes that various meditation styles are linked to different patterns of neural activation networks. This simply means that neurons in the brain will process information based on external sources (meditation techniques) and the front and back of the brain are affected differently.

 

MRI brain changes after meditation

Long-term meditation increases brain gray matter in the following regions and these changes are evident within eight weeks of daily meditation.

  • insula
  • sensory regions
  • sensory and auditory cortex

Sara Lazar, PhD (who began her studies on the effects of meditation after using Yoga as physical therapy from a marathon training injury) explains:

Meditation literally changes brain structure.


Sources:
http://www.nmr.mgh.harvard.edu/~lazar/
http://www.massgeneral.org/about/pressrelease.aspx?id=1329
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0278262614000578?via%3Dihub
http://udel.edu/~kkneisel/ART307/Project%201/project1_1a/
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/05/26/harvard-neuroscientist-meditation-not-only-reduces-stress-it-literally-changes-your-brain/?utm_term=.e970381746d9

Like this post? This is how I learned to do it.

 

How to Meditate in Bed – Make it a Ritual

Meditate with Heaphones

Meditating in Bed | Not Unusual

What do you think of when you hear the word “meditation?”  If you have never experienced it, you probably don’t think of “meditating in bed”  although it is not unusual.  In fact, you would be surprised at how many people actually make it a ritual.  What you more than likely visualize the first time you hear it is someone sitting on the floor in what appears to be an uncomfortable position; a dark room filled with several small flickering candles and the aroma of the lavender essential oil.  Maybe even a large fluffy towel hanging on a towel warmer.

But what if I told you that meditation sitting on the floor isn’t absolutely necessary; that you can meditate anywhere you can get comfortable.  That when you climb into bed every night after a long exhausting day you have an ability to instantly turn off the circulating random thoughts that usually keep you tossing and turning throughout the night.

To meditate in bed is a way of telling your conscious and subconscious mind that you have permission to shut down in preparation for sleep.  The body will follow with a few mental suggestions such as ‘Relax,” or other prefered cues you choose to use.  A guided meditation instructs you as to what to do and when, and I recommend these if you have not tried it before.

A Story Connected or Childbirth

Long before I knew anything about meditation, in 1980 when I was pregnant with my son, The Lamaze method of childbirth was offered to expecting parents. It was a psycho-prophylactictic method which allowed the mother to give birth without the necessity of drugs to control pain by using relaxation and breathing techniques, along with support from a spouse, friend or hospital employee.  My doctor at the time was not a fan of Lamaze, so I purchased a book and taught myself.  One of the lessons required you to select a single muscle in your body, such as your forearm or a calf muscle. The objective was to train yourself to constrict just one random muscle in the body to simulate a contracting uterus. You would practice the technique by tensing a muscle and timed it as though it was a contraction while concentrating on keeping the rest of the body completely relaxed.  At first, it was difficult to select random muscles to contract and it took much concentration and persistence.  But the more I practiced it the easier it was to control the physical reactions to my own commands.

I never had a chance to use the technique while I was in labor – l will save that story for another day, but it is similar to meditation in that you maintain your attention and thought on anything that is in the present moment.  This Lamaze routine became a necessary element of my preparing for sleep every night for many many years.  I would start at my feet and work my way up to my face and head. Until I learned about meditation, I didn’t realize the similarities (and I hope you found that little comparison to Lamaze an entertaining one).

As I opened up significantly in my story in my About Us page, I needed an effective way to control my sleep to maintain the schedule of a single mother, a high-stressed working environment.  I was limited financially and was trying to keep people from taking advantage of my circumstances. I handled it all the only way I knew how, but I sure wish I had been introduced to guided sleep meditations and sleep hypnosis recordings sooner than I was.

It just makes sense to incorporate a daily routine to prepare for relaxation before bed every night and is something that you will look forward to once you participate a few times.  Just thinking about the bath can be a topic of a meditation period sometime during the day when you need to step back for a few minutes.

A comment was made on my website by a lady who has spent many years meditating:

“Funny I have not thought to meditate in bed, and yet meditation is a part of my daily life. I do relaxation exercises in bed if I am having trouble getting to sleep, but not specifically meditation. What a great idea! I will implement this tonight!”

 

Reasons You Need To (Meditate in Bed)

Millions upon millions of people live in a world of fast pacing lifestyles and try to pack into one week the same set of activities that 30-40 years ago would take twice that amount of time to complete.  So many of our friends, co-workers, neighbors, family members and even our young children are running on fumes of pure exhaustion.

Scientific studies have determined that the human body requires a specific number of hours of sleep, and children require much more than adults do.  Yet we are running on empty as sleep deprived, poorly nourished, drinking little bottles containing caffeine and who knows what in hopes of achieving a few more hours of activity (whether we are productive or not).  We end up fatigued, exhausted and allow other situations to exist which cause stress and anxiety and which are merely the beginning of mental and physical disease processes.

The American Sleep Association reports the following sleep deprivation statistics:

        –    37% of 20-39 year-olds report short sleep duration

         –  40% of 40-59 year-olds report short sleep duration

         –   35.3% adults report <7 hours of sleep during a typical 24-hour period.

I am also half livid over the number of small children who are allowed to stay up until they fall asleep, with no regulated schedules or bedtimes.  If you hear a screaming child in a store or in a restaurant, or witness obnoxious behavior from the older kids, you can bet that lack of sleep and hunger are involved.

Changes in sleep patterns are also a part of the aging process.  Pharmaceuticals merely cause sedation, not the necessary restorative sleep that your body requires.  Pharmaceutical companies are more frequently reporting new potential side effects of sleep aids which make it not only a safe practice to avoid, but it is more comforting to not have to rely upon anything to fall asleep at night.  I remember younger days, as a child, when I was so tired every night that I was able to fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.  It was the same time period of my life when my grandmother was up at the crack of dawn and had breakfast on the table before I woke up every morning.  I recall the day I realized that she slept every night also.  She was still busy-beavering it around the house when I went to bed and was always up every morning dressed with makeup, breakfast on the table and a load of laundry in the washer.  ]

What the Brain Requires

Brainwaves change as we enter various levels of sleep, which are identified by frequency.  During the transition from wakefulness to sleep the beta brain waves slow to a synchronized and slower alpha frequency.  The brain continues to slow to theta waves – then into the delta stage.  These are the same stages we enter during daydreaming, as we fall asleep and as we awaken every morning.

Other physical changes such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure also take place.  The final stage is REM (rapid eye movement) and accounts for about 25% of the sleep cycle.  (National Sleep Association; CDC.gov).

These are the same stages we enter during daydreaming, as we fall asleep and as we awaken every morning.

Make it a Daily Ritualfeather beddin

We are responsible for getting enough adequate sleep and providing our bodies with proper nutrients.  Busy and stress-filled lifestyles (and particularly the fast-paced habits of Americans) do not allow time each evening for the body and the brain to begin transitioning to sleep before we go to bed.

The most beneficial decision is to select a bedtime that allows for the number of hours of sleep that you require.  A hot shower or bath before bed allows muscle tension to begin to relax.

Guided meditations for sleep are available on YouTube, although it takes quite a bit of time to sort through them to find the voice that is most effective for you.  I found many that really are not pleasant to the ear.  There are just as many that will take you to places you have never been before.  And they are free.

I simply use the earbuds with my phone.  Get in bed, take a few minutes to allow yourself to get comfortable, then start the video.  All that is required from that point is to listen and follow the instructions, and if you wake up the next morning refreshed and not remembering falling asleep, then you are on your way to mastering guided sleep meditation.


FREE GUIDED MEDITATION

To make this adventure just one step easier for you, I have included one of my very favorites for you to try.  One of the many free Guided Meditation recordings on YouTube, this one is entitled, Sleep Meditation for Deep Trance Relaxation, by Michael Sealy.  This particular video has over 770,000 views.  Michael Sealy is a hypnotherapist from Australia and some of his hypnosis sleep videos have been viewed over 7M times.

If his guided meditations work for you then I know you will find his sleep hypnosis videos are just as effective.

NAMASTE – AND SWEET DREAMS