Setting the conditions for good meditation – The Meditation Blog

From Pär Westlund

Attending a newbie's course in Acem Meditation doesn’t simply contain studying the fundamental directions within the method. Participants are additionally given recommendation on what circumstances are conducive to creating good meditation observe in each regular life and meditation retreats.

When we meditate, the rationale is that we open our consciousness to what spontaneously arises in our thoughts, thereby creating freedom for the spontaneous exercise that’s there to specific oneself. We repeat the sound of meditation as gently as attainable, no matter what’s going on in our thoughts – with out anticipating that the spontaneous exercise ought to be of any explicit kind, or that it ought to change or go away. The content material and nature of spontaneous exercise can shift on their very own throughout meditation – not as a result of we’re intentionally attempting to steer it in a sure course with our will, however as a result of we undertake a free psychological angle once we repeat our meditation sound.

The light and easy repetition of the meditation sound within the thoughts elicits a number of physiological responses. We can enhance the optimistic affect of those responses on our meditation by creating favorable circumstances that may assist us obtain the very best results.

We shut our eyes

When training non-directive meditation strategies resembling Acem meditation, there are two varieties of adjustments in mind exercise that may be measured by an electroencephalogram (EEG). When the meditator assumes an inwardly directed consciousness of the spontaneous actions of the thoughts, i. H. The fundamental precept of free psychological posture follows:

  • The theta waves enhance, which is an indication of elevated inside directed consciousness.
  • Alpha waves enhance, which is an indication of elevated restful consciousness.

It is beneficial to meditate together with your eyes closed and the lights dim or as darkish as attainable. If we meditate with our eyes open or focus our consideration closely, which is usually purposeful and leaves much less freedom for spontaneous exercise to specific ourselves, we is not going to get the identical kind of change in our mind waves. About 30% of mind exercise is used to obtain and course of impressions whereas we’re awake with our eyes open. Meditation with open eyes leads to an enormous activation of the mind. During meditation, in distinction to regular visible perform, activation within the mind takes place from the skin in. During meditation, photos, ideas, and many others. come up that aren’t essentially related to quick exterior stimuli.

External noises

External noises can hinder our meditation. When we meditate in an atmosphere with lots of sounds, our consideration can simply be caught by them. This can contribute to the "drowning" of components of the spontaneous exercise. We can develop into irritated and disturbed by the noises and attempt to suppress the noise and the ideas that activate them in our minds. We may then develop into too energetic to keep away from sure ideas and impressions with the meditation sound and to lose the free psychological angle. We are proscribing the liberty of spontaneous exercise that ought to have been current if it had not been for the exterior stimuli. The similar goes for different sensory qualities – a few of which require extra consideration than others.

Physical processes

Physical processes affect our meditation. After a big meal, there may be extra power and a spotlight within the physique's automated activation that takes place throughout digestion, which makes us extra sleepy.

Coffee has an affect on us. Many discover espresso stimulating. In on a regular basis life, espresso drinkers might not discover the consequences of caffeine of their meditation as a lot. However, previous to the retreat, contributors are suggested to cease ingesting espresso the week earlier than, in addition to black and inexperienced tea, which incorporates an analogous stimulant. This reduces the consequences of caffeine on lengthy meditations and helps keep away from complications on account of caffeine abstinence. Following the fundamental precept of Acem meditation, we attempt to reduce the consequences of exterior stimuli to be able to encourage a course of that ought to have its personal dynamic.

Exercising or jogging shortly earlier than meditation usually will increase the necessity to relaxation earlier than meditation time. It is vital that we now have time to chill out earlier than meditating and that we shouldn’t have an excessive amount of lactate in our physique whereas meditating. On the opposite hand, straightforward strolling and yoga are nice methods to organize for meditation. They could make it simpler to take care of the bodily restlessness that we might encounter throughout meditation.

The leisure response

It is beneficial that you simply sit able that gives good decrease again assist and your ft on the ground, or together with your legs stretched out in mattress. Your posture ought to contain as little activation of your muscle mass as attainable.

Meditation triggers a leisure response on account of a lower within the exercise of the sympathetic a part of the autonomic nervous system. This a part of the nervous system is activated in several methods when we have to obtain one thing or when we have to shield ourselves from a attainable menace, also known as a struggle or flight response. During meditation, exercise within the sympathetic nervous system is lowered – which is the other of what happens throughout stress.

The different a part of the autonomic nervous system is the parasympathetic system, which stimulates relaxation and leisure. The mixture of sign adjustments in each the sympathetic (lowered) and parasympathetic (elevated) programs that happen throughout meditation permits us to chill out. A scientific examine of Acem Meditation regarded on the indicators within the nervous system that journey from the mind to the guts. The exercise in separate nerves was measured (2). The examine confirmed {that a} lower in indicators happens instantly within the sympathetic nervous system, whereas the rise in exercise of the parasympathetic nervous system is slower. When we repeat the meditation sound effortlessly and with out purposefully, an vital change within the functioning of the autonomic nervous system takes place. Relaxation takes place with out us consciously selecting to chill out. This is named the "relaxation response" and was found by Harvard researcher Herbert Benson within the 1970s (3).


It is comparatively frequent to go to sleep whereas meditating. Such sleep is a part of the spontaneous exercise of the thoughts and you will need to let it come throughout meditation. We ought to subsequently not attempt to keep away from sleep in our meditation. Sleeping additionally means meditating correctly. Sleep throughout meditation could also be on account of a scarcity of sleep or an replace and will probably be labored via once we permit it.

The significance of accepting sleep turns into notably evident within the first a part of a retreat. It is frequent to get extra sleep at this stage, generally in a number of consecutive meditations. Allowing sleep opens us and deeper components of our psychology develop into extra accessible to us. If you get very sleepy whereas meditating in a retreat, it’s good to lie down and let sleep come. If you don’t go to sleep mendacity down, simply sit up and proceed your meditation. The wrestle towards sleep succession implies that we don’t take care of sleep with a free psychological angle.

The meditation sound

The kind of meditation sound we use in meditation and the way we use it’s also vital. The meditation sounds which are utilized in Acem meditation haven’t any semantic which means, however have a harmonizing impact on us via their rhythm and the mix of syllables that chill out us throughout repetitions. In addition, the sound of meditation additionally has a provocative impact, inflicting these components of us that we expertise as limitations to specific themselves in meditation.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) is a technique of measuring adjustments in blood move in several components of the mind whereas additionally offering an in depth image of the mind's anatomy. In this fashion, fMRI measures the exercise of various components of the mind. fMRI was used to achieve a greater understanding of how completely different meditation sounds have an effect on the mind throughout meditation. One examine discovered that repeating meditation sounds with a semantic which means didn’t activate the mind in the identical means as meditation sounds with out such a which means (4). Another examine confirmed that once we repeat the meditation sound effortlessly or with focus, completely different components of the mind are activated (5). Both the sound of meditation and the best way through which we repeat it have an vital affect on the mind and thus on the outcomes of meditation.

The largest change seen within the fMRI that happens within the mind throughout meditation is within the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex – simply above the left eye – is the a part of the mind that grows essentially the most throughout our growth and is vital for processing impressions that happen each once we are awake and once we are asleep.

In meditation, by effortlessly repeating the sound of meditation, we attempt to create favorable circumstances that stimulate the spontaneous exercise of the mind. In our day by day life, day by day residue is usually up to date in meditation – together with what occurred throughout the day in addition to ideas about what’s going to occur within the close to future. In addition, reminiscences and occasions from the distant previous can come up.

In lengthy meditations, experiences and reminiscences from the close to or distant previous usually develop into extra frequent. Regardless of what lies forward, it is crucial that we attempt to deal with the content material of our spontaneous exercise in our meditation with as free a psychological angle as attainable when repeating the meditation sound.


1) J. Lagopoulus et al. (2009) Increased theta and alpha EEG exercise throughout non-directive meditation. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, pp. 1187-1192.

2) A Nesvold et al. (2011). Increased coronary heart charge variability throughout non-directive meditation. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, pp. 773-80.

3) H Benson and M Z Klipper. The Relaxation Response, Harper Collins, 2000.

4) M. Engstrom et al. (2010), Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 16, pp. 1253-1258.

5) J Xu et al. (2014). Non-directive meditation prompts the community in commonplace mode and areas related to reminiscence retrieval and emotional processing. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 8, pp. 1-10.


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