“Meditation, Judaism, and Self-Mastery”
Let’s reclaim our spiritual heritage!
Special Meditation workshop
“I am not getting getting anywhere in my meditation – there is no special feeling.”
“Steve, what has been your highest experience / achievement”
- Review: What is meditation?
A. “In the most general sense, meditation consists of thinking in a controlled manner. It is deciding exactly how one wishes to direct the mind for a period of time, and then doing it.” Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan.
B. “Meditation is the foundation of all true martial arts. To still, and thus control the mind, is of the utmost importance.” Shifu Raymond Ahles.
C. “(World Class performers) know that the better they become at controlling their thoughts, the better their results will be, and it all begins with metacognition.” Steve Siebold, Mental Toughness Coach.
- Why meditate?
Rabbi Kaplan – “Jewish Meditation”
A. To “think in new ways and have richer mind experiences, p 8.
B. To enhance concentration, pp 8-9.
C. To enhance awareness and perception, pp 10 – 11.
D. To attain “esoteric” awareness, p 12.
E. To develop ESP, p 12.
F. To attune the mind to certain “Truths,” p 13.
G. To tune in to the spiritual, pp 13 – 14.
H. To experience God, p 14.
- How does Meditation affect the brain?
From Sinha Clinic
Each of us, however, always has some degree of each of these brainwave bands present in different parts of our brain. Delta brainwaves will also occur when areas of the brain go “off line” to take up nourishment. If we are becoming drowsy, there are more delta and slow theta brainwaves creeping in. If we are inattentive to external things and our mind is wandering, there is more theta present. If we are exceptionally anxious and tense, an excessively high frequency of beta brainwaves is often present.
Persons with ADHD, learning disabilities, head injuries, stroke, Tourette’s syndrome, epilepsy, including chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia tend to have excessive slow waves (usually theta and sometimes excess alpha) present. When an excessive amount of slow waves are present in the executive (frontal) parts of the brain, it becomes difficult to control attention, behavior, and/or emotions. Such persons generally have problems with concentration, memory, controlling their impulses and moods, or with hyperactivity. They can’t focus very well and exhibit diminished intellectual efficiency.
=== From Science Daily:
Relaxed attention with theta
During meditation, theta waves were most abundant in the frontal and middle parts of the brain.
“These types of waves likely originate from a relaxed attention that monitors our inner experiences. Here lies a significant difference between meditation and relaxing without any specific technique,” emphasizes Lagopoulos.
“Previous studies have shown that theta waves indicate deep relaxation and occur more frequently in highly experienced meditation practitioners. The source is probably frontal parts of the brain, which are associated with monitoring of other mental processes.”
“When we measure mental calm, these regions signal to lower parts of the brain, inducing the physical relaxation response that occurs during meditation.”
Silent experiences with alpha
Alpha waves were more abundant in the posterior parts of the brain during meditation than during simple relaxation. They are characteristic of wakeful rest.
“This wave type has been used as a universal sign of relaxation during meditation and other types of rest,” comments Professor Øyvind Ellingsen from NTNU. “The amount of alpha waves increases when the brain relaxes from intentional, goal-oriented tasks.This is a sign of deep relaxation, — but it does not mean that the mind is void.”
Neuroimaging studies by Malia F. Mason and co-workers at Dartmouth College NH suggest that the normal resting state of the brain is a silent current of thoughts, images and memories that is not induced by sensory input or intentional reasoning, but emerges spontaneously “from within.”
“Spontaneous wandering of the mind is something you become more aware of and familiar with when you meditate,” continues Ellingsen, who is an experienced practitioner. “This default activity of the brain is often underestimated. It probably represents a kind of mental processing that connects various experiences and emotional residues, puts them into perspective and lays them to rest.”
Take home message
Nondirective meditation yields more marked changes in electrical brain wave activity associated with wakeful, relaxed attention, than just resting without any specific mental technique.
- How to Meditate: Dedicated meditation vs In The Moment
A. Dedicated: Body / breath / brain
1). Relaxation exercise
2). Box Breathing
Commander Mark Divine, “The Way of the Seal,” p 138
Box Breathing exercise
B. In the Moment:
1). When should you meditate?
When feeling anxious or distressed
When having trouble falling asleep
When feeling angry
When feeling happy!
2). Where should you meditate?
a. At home
While waiting for your food to heat up in the microwave
While soaking in the tub
b. In the office
While on “hold” on the phone
While waiting for the Zoom conference to begin
c. On the road
While sitting in traffic
d. At a restaurant
While waiting to be served
e. At a store
While waiting to check out
f. In Shul
During the repetition of the Amidah
In between Aliyot