Am I Meditating Right?
Am I Meditating Right?
Over the last decade, there has been an expanding awareness in mainstream culture that meditation is beneficial. There is a growing body of literature to support this. These days the driver is often less to do with traditional spiritual goals and more about stress management or cognitive or physical performance. Meditation can definitely help with these things but it can be difficult to get started. In today’s busy world, most people want to know if they are ‘doing it right’ to ensure they are making good use of their time.
Most often if you ask an advanced meditator if you are meditating right, they will tell you that as long as you are sitting and trying, you are doing it right. I never found that very satisfying. A more refined answer might be to ask you to self-reflect. If your current meditation attempts are reinforcing mind wandering or a dislike of meditation then your current method is not helpful. If you are happier and more present with family, friends and at work, then you are likely on the right track. Sens.ai addresses this question by increasing self-awareness with measured progress straight from your brain and heart biosignals.
If you are seeking to assess and evolve your practice, I thought it would be helpful to share the markers of the stages toward improvement of the skill of meditation. These will shed light on why Sens.ai measures certain metrics such as streaks, zone, power, synchrony and coherence.
First let’s define meditation. Meditation is training in concentration and awareness. And although a given session often starts with analytical contemplation, meditation itself is what remains after the analytical mind has subsided - effortless concentration and awareness.
These Are the Stages of the Path in Developing the Skill of Meditation and the Common Markers Associated:
1 | Developing continuous concentration
- Resistance to practice
- Falling asleep
2 | Developing Sustained Concentration
- Increasing concentration streaks from seconds to minutes
- Feeling a “brightening” of awareness - being both the observer and the observed thinker
3 | Developing effortless concentration
- Immediate and lasting concentration during sessions - when concentration streaks are measured in minutes and mind-wandering is measured in seconds. When your time in the concentration zone is noticeably greater than 50% of a given session then you are moving into effortless concentration.
4 | Developing Blissful and Single-pointed Concentration
- You can hold a non-conceptual meditation object.
- Self-talk / self-narrative disappear.
- The mind is compliant and can shift effortlessly from object to object without losing quality in awareness or concentration.
- No physical discomfort is noticed during sessions.
- Sessions can become longer with ease if desired.
- Concentration state persists out of session - perpetual perception of life is colored with equanimity and bliss.
Which Meditation is Right for Me?
In the first phase, as you learn to develop continuous concentration, the best meditation objects are often the simplest - focus on the breath, body scans, and ‘the space between the breath or between body parts’ are suitable objects of focus.
As you start developing sustained concentration, objects of meditation can still include breath work, body scans, ‘the space between’, but you may add ‘noting’ methods. Noting is a form of mindfulness meditation; an example of noting is observing with emotional neutrality each moment of seeing, hearing and feeling. Compassion is a great first non-conceptual object of concentration.
As you move into developing effortless concentration you can go deeper and you should consider objects of meditation that include Letting Go, Forgiveness and Gratitude. Deep insights can be gained. This is where rewiring for happiness can occur.
Then while developing blissful and single-pointed concentration, you may incorporate objects of meditation that include Open Monitoring (just being present with whatever arises), Limitless Potentiality (Emptiness) & Unprovoked Happiness (Bliss).
Sens.ai includes a version of each of these powerful meditations mentioned above.
Each object of meditation, for example. compassion, resonates at unique frequencies and harmonizes with specific brain training Programs in the Sens.ai App. This mapping has been done over the last number of decades. Pioneers in this realm include Rael Cahn, Anna Wise and Jay Gunkelman. Check out the bottom of our www.sens.ai/science for studies on meditation to brainwave mapping. Our App provides guidance to help you choose meditations to optimize your experience.
People often confuse mindfulness and meditation. Mindfulness training is another term for full minded awareness which is our vigilant companion during all meditations. This full minded awareness sharpens our self-awareness to keep our concentration on the meditation object sharp. This awareness will keep the meditator alert to a loss of vividness in their perception of the meditation object. Mindfulness is its own training Program in our App.
Sens.ai Metrics That you can Track and Improve as You Traverse Your Path
Streaks - the longest continuous duration you were able to stay focused
Zone - the combined sum of all your streaks in a given 20 minute session
Power - the strength of your focused brainwave signals
Synchrony - the harmony of your brainwave signals between different parts of your brain
Coherence - the consistency of your heart rhythm
As mentioned, obstacles to be watchful of and overcome in the beginning stage include mental wandering, falling asleep, dullness of awareness, boredom, fatigue, lack of motivation, procrastination, restlessness. The solution is perseverance - set goals, set a routine and practice.
This path is not necessarily linear, you will get glimpses of other states before they become persistent. And the path is not bound by a particular timeline; proceed at a pace that feels good for you.
Meditation is no longer solely in the domain of spiritual seekers. Developing concentration and awareness will help all people live bigger, fuller lives by enabling them to pay attention to what is important at a given moment and live with a full-minded presence.
Regardless of your motivation, the path of developing meditation as a skill which is effectively brain training, is a continuum from self-care to peak performance and perhaps, transcendence.
Sens.ai seeks to make each stage of practice fun and rewarding so you can proceed without striving and agitating yourself with expectations.
Our goal is to get you 10x more focus, awareness and happiness out of your mind training efforts compared to meditation alone. There is no replacement for direct experience when it comes to motivating your practice. We will accelerate this for you and keep gently nudging you along with personalized training.