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There is so much to do. There is so little time. We must go slowly.— Taoist saying
Last month, when my wife broke her back, I spent a while using hypnosis to help her relieve the pain. As I was doing so, I noticed various thoughts floating across my mind. I thought about how lucky she is that the break will heal. I thought about how lucky most of us are, living with no ills or with only minor ills. And, I wondered at how so many people squander their luck to bad food, bad stress and bad decisions.
In certain ways, these three things feed on each other. We feel stressed, so we eat bad food. We eat bad food, which makes it harder to cope with stress. We then have more stress, so we make bad decisions. And so on. But, if you can improve one of these, it helps to make the others better.
Many people have found that a great way to defeat stress and improve decisions is to meditate. However, meditation can take a long time to master — years, or even decades, according to some. But new discoveries can help. Researchers have measured people’s brainwaves and found out what happens when meditating successfully. They’ve also compared these brainwaves to “normal” people, and to people that have achieved high levels of happiness.
Over the years, we’ve found ways to alter our brainwaves deliberately. Some methods use simple machines that create patterns of light or sound. Some methods use certain ways of talking. There’s meditation, of course, older than we have records. And some methods take moments and are quick and easy to master.
So, today, I decided to describe a simple way to alter your brainwaves to a relaxed state known as “alpha”. This is the same as going into a light state of meditation. In this state, you can relax, feel calm, and think new thoughts. And, of course, you can diminish pain — physical or emotional. As a young child, I hated dentists’ injections, and insisted that the dentist drill without using any pain relief. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was entering an alpha state while the dentist drilled and filled.
How to “instantly” meditate
Unlike standard meditation, it’s not necessary to focus on a single thought. In fact, it’s OK to allow your mind to wander and to think of whatever thoughts happen across your mind as you do this easy exercise.
Sit in a comfortable chair, where you can safely close your eyes. It’s OK if there is moderate noise and movement around you — it doesn’t have to be quiet and still!
Take a deep breath in; hold for a moment; and relax, breathing out. Do this three or four times.
Stare at a fixed point, perhaps on the wall. Without taking your eyes off that point, start to notice just how far to the left you can notice things around you. Then, do the same with the right. Still looking at the one point, allow your vision to expand up and down. You may be surprised at just how much you can notice going on around you. Keeping your expanded vision, you can stop staring at the one point.
Start to notice just how much you can hear. The little noises that you hadn’t noticed… the far-away noises that had passed you by. Don’t concentrate on any single noise. Instead, just let every noise, near or far, loud or soft, enter into your awareness.
While continuing to notice your vision and hearing, start to notice how much you can feel. The chair you sit on; the temperature and movement of the air; the feelings in your back and feet…
Keep your awareness on your vision, sound and feelings. At some point, you may find you want to close your eyes. You may also find that your thoughts start to wander, without you asking them to. Stay there for as long as you want.
With enough practice, you’ll find you can start to enter this state in seconds. It’s a great way to unwind when you feel overwhelmed by life!