Mental Clutter – Spring Cleaning the Mind
Okay so first of all, what is meditation? If you read the Oxford Dictionary on what meditation is, it’s defined as concentrating hard on something. The English language word meditation is derived from the Latin meditatio, from a verb meditari, meaning “to think, contemplate”. That’s the Western idea. The Eastern concept of meditation is actually to reduce your thinking and ultimately to achieve a state where there is a cessation of thoughts. That’s how Adi Shakara defined it . He was the first to define the 3 states of consciousness and infer that meditation was something beyond them. It’s all about stopping your thinking process..
Mental Clutter versus Meditation
In the west, in neural biology we also know there are three states of consciousness; sleep, dream and wakefulness. And in the west we tend to think that thinking is the highest state of consciousness. However in the ‘East’ it’s very well known that there is another state of consciousness which is higher than the thinking state, beyond thought, which is known as thoughtless awareness called as ‘Turiya’ which means the fourth state of consciousness.
So this state is a state where you enter the gap between the thoughts and you enter the present, you actually stop thinking and this state has been associated with a lot of health benefits and at an objective level you achieve an overwhelming calmness. That’s the first thing you notice when you stop thinking because whilst you can relax the body, say, when you lie on the sofa, or you can listen to music but you can never stop the mental clutter. The only way to stop this mental clutter, the mental motor going, the only way to stop this is by achieving a state of thoughtless awareness.
Achieve Overwhelming Calmness!
So you achieve overwhelming calmness which is better than relaxation because relaxation can relax the body but in meditation you relax the mind, the brain. Such mental stillness is related obviously with the reduction of thoughts and therefore you have less mental clutter and it’s been shown that all mental disorders have more mental clutter. So people with schizophrenia or with obsessive compulsive disorder, they all have these intrusive thoughts, they have more mental clutter and that’s why they have also tension problems. It has been shown the better you are able to switch off your mental clutter the better your tension level, which in a way is obvious because your thoughts interfere with your ability to relax.
So the idea is you achieve mental balance when you don’t think and then you become more connected to pure attention, pure consciousness – without the content, without thoughts and you experience reality as it really is. So, you basically are pure attention, pure consciousness without all this mental clutter going on in your head and that’s why you have much better attention. Additionally, while you achieve the state of thoughtless awareness you feel joy, you feel bliss.
So it is associated with positive emotions. Again there’s evidence that this mental stillnress is associated with activation in the limbic areas of the brain which are important for positive emotions. It’s of course very good for people with depression anxiety.
Are you a mentally healthy person?
And last but not least you achieve emotional detachment and this is very, very important. If you remember why Buddha went out to find enlightenment or meditation, he realised that the world is full of suffering and that we all have negative life events to deal with but it’s the way you cope with them which determines whether you are a mentally healthy person or not.
When in meditation you achieve a different state of consciousness, you achieve a higher state of consciousness. You no longer identify with thoughts and emotions. Normally if you don’t know how to meditate, when negative things happen to you, you may become depressed and when positive things happen to you, you become happy. So your emotions and your thoughts are always depending and reacting on external life events, and we all go through negative life events; parents die, people we love die or we go through divorce or lose your job, whatever it is. We always have negative life events to cope with. But if you achieve a way to cope with them and if you enter a different state of consciousness you can then influence your negative thoughts or your negative emotions rather than being constantly identified with them. And that is the key to meditation. There is evidence that meditation makes you more detached, and this is of course associated with better emotion control and better resilience.
Spring cleaning the mind
For health professionals who work with mental disorders, it is understood that people with mental illness tend to have more mental clutter.
When you study people who meditate, you tend to get much less mental clutter in the brain and this is of course logical because meditation is all about reducing and ultimately stopping the thinking. For example if you’re schizophrenic you have paranoid thinking, if you’re obsessive compulsive you have obsessive thoughts, or if you depressed you have rumination; this interferes with your daily life but if you have a way of reducing the mental clutter then it is much better for your mental life.
In short, having meditation in your life-style tool kit is akin to having a way of spring cleaning the mind. Reducing mental clutter is good for general mental health, positive emotions and improving ones general outlook. By reducing your mental clutter your stress and tension levels can be moderated.
On Tuesday December 10th 2013, Katya Rubia, Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience from the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, guided us through the findings of over 20 years of research into the beneficial effects of Sahaja Yoga Meditation during a live presentation.
With plenty of ground covered we are privileged present that lecture here:
From reduced blood pressure and heart rate, to improvements in mental health and reductions in depressive feelings, to easing of everyday ailments like stress and anxiety, the effects of Sahaja Yoga meditation are reviewed.
Although the original goal of Yoga and Meditation is spiritual growth, important therapeutic side effects on physical and mental health have attracted medical research across the world. The state of thoughtless awareness experienced in Sahaja Yoga Meditation has thus been shown to elicit important beneficial changes in the body and the brain and has therapeutic effects on a wide range of disease processes. We hope that you will be able to join us for this fascinating and worthwhile evening.
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