A meditation hack? Using two forms simultaneously
For most people, starting the day sitting and concentrating on my breath for 20 minutes sounds completely crazy. I can’t blame anyone for thinking that. It probably was some form of craziness that forced me to make this a habit.
Over the past few years, I had been experiencing increasing jaw pain. My jaw would pop and crackle as a chewed. Eating a big sandwich or almonds would leave me with a dull headache. There were several occasions where I was completely overwhelmed with a radiating pain coming from my jaw.
I was under a great deal of stress, and though I was a patient person with the outside world, my inner dialog was more like a ruthless tyrant. I was constantly beating myself up, replaying mistakes in my mind or fretting about the future. I knew this emotional distress was a big source of my jaw problem and I was ready to try anything to fix it.
Meditation to the rescue
Over the past two years I have made a habit of meditating every day for around 20 minutes. The simple practice of bringing awareness into my body and watching the thoughts that appear in my mind helped control the negative thoughts and understand the physical impact they were having on me. Though this was not the only thing I did to address my jaw problem, I am sure that it was a critical element of it.
Meditation is not only useful for pain relief, it is helpful for keeping you focused and positive throughout the day. You don’t have to start with 20 minutes, even 3-5 minutes when you’re getting started is enough. You also don’t need to be perfectly focused the whole time, even if you’re only focused for 10 seconds of that and the rest of the time you continue to plot the murder of that guy that cut you off in the checkout line, it is a success.
I have experimented with a few different techniques both ancient and modern and have developed a system using two programs simultaneously that I think complement each other very well. One is an active guided meditation style and one is a passive form.
I’ll introduce each and provide some links so you can try these things out for yourself. I’ll also show you how I use both simultaneously. You can use these as part of a morning routine, or whenever you are feeling some pain (emotional or physical) and want some relief.
Your brain on meditation
Both of these techniques focus on changing your from a high beta frequency to a alpha or lower. High beta is our default these days and most of our world is engineered to trigger that state of mind. It is an intense state of focus, that in caveman times was only reserves for when you were fighting a bear or hunting. Alpha and theta waves are associated with more relaxation, mental clarity and a broad awareness.
Alpha is a generally healthier and more restful state of mind to be in, but day to day living in the modern world usually forces us into a beta state. Over time practicing allows you to reach these lower frequencies while still staying alert and awake.
The active form – Open Focus mediation
The first is called Open Focus. I discovered this approach after reading a book called Dissolving Pain by Les Fehmi. This is a meditation technique that spreads your focus between your different senses, and can also be used to manage chronic pain. Fehmi developed this technique be experimenting with different meditation styles and used biofeedback to track his brainwaves and find the techniques that delivered the best results.
The book dissolving pain was my first introduction to treating pain with meditation. Open focus training is also good for general meditation practice and balancing out emotions and stress. He has some guided meditations here that you can try for free.
The passive form – Holosync meditation
The second is Holosync bineural beats from Centerpointe. I heard about these guys from the Smart Drug Smarts podcast. Bineural beats is a way to influence your brainwaves directly with sound. You use headphones and have two slightly different frequencies in each ear. Long story short, the brain hearing these frequencies will actually start to produce similar brainwaves. Centerpointe developed 30 minute long guided meditations with bineural beats with some background sounds like rain or waves. I thought this was a great program as well, I can really feel the positive effects of sitting and meditating with this for a half hour.
A good alternative to Holosync’s program for iOS is an app called Pure Binaural Beats. It has an easy to use slider to pick which frequency of binaural beats you would like to use and gives you an idea of the effects of the frequency. It also has a cool setting that allows you to play the sound simultaneously with other apps on your phone. So you could listen to it with music or a podcast or you can double down and listen to a guided meditation.
Double meditation power.
I has been using both separately, but I found it difficult to repeatedly listen to the open focus exercises repeatedly and would become distracted. The centerpointe exercises are not guided, so I found I needed to add another technique to stay focused. So I decided to try them together, and I found that they supplement eachother very well.
On my laptop I opened one file in iTunes and another in VLC and played them both at the same time. I did the same thing on my phone by playing simultaneously with the tractor DJ App. Below are some links to some audio files that you can try for yourself.
I recommend turning the binaural beats file to about 30% volume while leaving the guided meditation at 100%.
Here are some Open focus samples you can download and try.
I could not find any free files from holosync but I did find something similar on youtube. Or check out the Pure Binaural beats app.
If you try it, let me know what you think! If you disagree with me and think I am melting my brain with these antics, please let me know as well.