Research over the past few years has suggested that certain states of consciousness brought about by meditation techniques appear to evoke specific brainwave patterns. These states are now being created by electronic and auditory stimulation of the brain, and they can be learned through biofeedback.
The traditional “meditative state” – sitting silently, or at least quietly alert, is composed of bilateral, synchronous alpha waves. Deeper meditation also has bilateral theta waves. A state called “lucid awareness” has the bilateral synchronous alpha and theta waves of deep meditation, plus the beta waves of normal thought processes. Lucid awareness can be learned through biofeedback, using the most modern equipment.
Are these kinds of stimulation and biofeedback useful tools for the meditator? What is the relationship of these technological techniques to the meditation beyond technique? Is this an example of bringing science together with meditation?
I would like to experiment with these new technologies – both personally in my own meditation, and professionally in my work as a physician. Do I have your blessings?
It is a very complex question. You will have to understand one of the most fundamental things about meditation: that no technique leads to meditation. The old so-called techniques and the new scientific biofeedback techniques are the same as far as meditation is concerned. Meditation is not a byproduct of any technique.
Meditation happens beyond mind. No technique can go beyond mind.
But there is going to be a great misunderstanding in scientific circles, and it has a certain basis. The basis of all misunderstanding is: when the being of a person is in a state of meditation, it creates certain waves in the mind. These waves can be created from the outside by technical means. But those waves will not create meditation – this is the misunderstanding.
Meditation creates those waves; it is the mind reflecting the inner world. You cannot see what is happening inside. But you can see what is happening in the mind. Now there are sensitive instruments… We can judge what kinds of waves are there when a person is asleep, what kinds of waves are there when a person is dreaming, what kinds of waves are there when a person is in meditation. But by creating the waves, you cannot create the situation – because those waves are only symptoms, indicators. It is perfectly good; you can study them. But remember that there is no shortcut to meditation, and no mechanical device can be of any help. In fact, meditation needs no technique – scientific or otherwise. Meditation is simply an understanding.
It is not a question of sitting silently, it is not a question of chanting a mantra. It is a question of understanding the subtle workings of the mind. As you understand those workings of the mind a great awareness arises in you, which is not of the mind. That awareness arises in your being, in your soul, in your consciousness.
The mind is only a mechanism, but when awareness arises it is bound to create a certain energy pattern around it. That energy pattern is noted by the mind. The mind is a very subtle mechanism. And you are studying from the outside, so at the most you can study the mind. Seeing that whenever a person is silent, serene, peaceful, a certain wave pattern always, inevitably appears in the mind, the scientific thinking will say: if we can create this wave pattern in the mind through some biofeedback technology, then the being inside will reach the heights of awareness.