I remember when I first started meditating, I never thought about brain waves or understood how important they are in achieving success. After a few years of trying, but failing, to develop a regular meditation practice, I stumbled upon a book that referenced The Monroe Institute® (TMI), a 501(c)(3) non-profit research organization that has been using sound technology in its meditation workshops and research since the mid-1970s. Being a very left-brained, analytical sort at the time, reading about the science behind the sound technology used in its programs intrigued me and prompted me to attend my first workshop at TMI in 2008.
Since then, I’ve attended numerous TMI programs and read many books and research papers on meditation, stress, sound wave patterns and neuroplasticity, the ability of your attention and thoughts to actually change the physical structures in your brain. Within the past year, I attended two week-long workshops at TMI where I had electrodes placed on my head to allow an EEG to track my brain wave patterns while I meditated, all as part of an academic research project overseen by a research professor at the University of Virginia.
At the start of the workshop, we established our baseline brain wave state with our eyes open and closed. After each audio-assisted meditation, I was shown my brain wave patterns from the meditation and I saw the changes in the patterns as I had different experiences during the meditations. Above all, at the end of the week, it was gratifying to see from the EEG that I am able to carry the brain wave patterns of relaxed, focused meditation into my waking state. This is my ultimate goal for Legally Mindful – to help others translate the benefits of different meditative states into their waking lives.
EEG-Based Research Using SAM
TMI has conducted three week-long workshops, including the two I attended, where EEGs were used to monitor participants’ brain wave patterns while listening to the same sound-assisted meditation (SAM) used in the Legally Mindful meditation exercises. Here are three brief excerpts from the Executive Summary from the June 2017 workshop detailing their findings:
“Everyone responded to the SAM audio frequencies by producing consistent surges of Gamma in the 35-45 hertz (Hz) range and some in much higher frequencies.”
“This study confirms that the characteristics of Gamma are not only coherence … , but also that in a very real sense Gamma “powers up” the brain into either a more advanced brainwave pattern or greater voltages in Alpha and/or the full range of … frequencies, all the way up to 100 hertz.”
“That the two people with no previous meditation or Hemi-Sync/SAM experience produced sustained surges of Gamma, gained profound insights, and at times attained very high Gamma Synchrony scores confirms the effects of SAM on non-meditators.”
My EEG Results
Following the workshops at TMI, each participant received their own summary of their brain wave states for each meditation, including a beginning and closing baseline measurement with eyes open and eyes closed.
Here are two excerpts from my summary that I think shows what’s possible for others:
“Gary produced an unusually advanced Awakened Mindi pattern (64% at TL5) with his eyes open. This is rare and impressive. It means that he has externalized the Alpha waves of relaxation into the outer world.”
“His scores were good for the Awakened Mind training level 5, although a bit lower than other experienced meditators. This is due to his high-amplitude alpha, which he externalizes with eyes open. An Awakened Mind score of 64% for eyes open is very high. This means that he maintains internal awareness, via his alpha bridge, to his subconscious and unconscious levels of mind even with his eyes open. This is the definition of the Awakened Mind—that is, awakened awareness.”
Extrapolating from my results, I think it is possible for most everyone to achieve a more relaxed, focused state than your current normal, even with your eyes open. You should understand that these improvements to your brain and way of thinking are gradual. The Legally Mindful exercises are tools to help you see fairly quick, incremental results from your meditation practice, as well as long-term health and well-being benefits. While I cannot guarantee any individual’s results, I am confident that if you devote a decent amount of time (3 or 4 times a week), go into the exercises with a positive intention, and you follow the Legally Mindful process, you will look back in a couple of years and see how much different you feel than before you started using these exercises.
Check out part two of this blog post where I explain more about the brain wave functions and SAM sound technology benefits.
Legally Mindful is a registered trademark of 4-20-08 Productions LLC, dba Legally Mindful, Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Monroe Institute is a registered trademark of The Monroe Institute, a non-profit, charitable corporation, Faber, Virginia.
Hemi-Sync is a registered trademark of Interstate Industries, Inc., Lovingston, Virginia.
i The Awakened Mind brain wave state will be explained in more detail in a future blog post where I will write about my experiences in the TMI workshops where our brain wave patterns were measured by an EEG while we listened to SAM-based meditation exercises.