The term meditation encompasses a large number of varied practices with a different purpose. But, most authors agree that meditation consists in reversing one’s attention towards the inside and to observe the mind and its functioning.
For a long time, meditation has been considered to be exclusively oriental. Today, meditation is widely spread in the West, mainly thanks to the teachings of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Meditating can develop mental abilities, increase consciousness, allow contact with spiritual forces and, more simply, help finding physical and mental well-being. It can take many varied forms: concentrating on breathing, repeating a mantra, clearing the mind…
There are two main forms of meditation.
In the first case, one is trying to reach a state of emptiness of mind.
In the second case, one is working on a state of calm of mind, letting oneself be carried by the sensations that appear.
Studying the different forms of meditation is not the purpose of this brief study. We would rather study its principles in the light of discoveries of a french researcher, Doctor Francis Lefebure. Indeed, the physiological understanding of the mechanisms of meditation helps avoiding many obstacles and can save a lot of time for those who seek spiritual awakening.
Doctor Lefebure managed to analyse precisely the effects of the various exercises. In order to do that, he used the phosphenes, the subjective sensations of light that can be obtained by focusing briefly on a source of light.
He designed a protocol, Cerebroscopy, that analyzes the rhythm of alternation of the cerebral hemispheres. By studying the oscillations of the double phosphenes, Doctor Lefebure identified a certain number of parameters that allow the optimization the practice of meditation.
The first conclusion of his works, is that it is not desirable to try to empty one’s mind for too long. On a physiological level, it does not make sense to try to eliminate all thoughts for a long period of time.
EMPTINESS OF MIND, A CONCEPT EMPTY OF MEANING.
The effect of ‟EMPTINESS OF MIND EXERCISES” on thoughts.
When one tries to chase out all thoughts, whether visual or auditory, a tension can be observed on the face of the subject, as if the circulation of blood was impaired.
After practicing this exercise, one has less ideas, it is difficult to think and one feels rather nervous.
People who practice like this for many years actually paralyze their reflection processes, and thus lose their critical mind. They can be subject to serious headaches and to nervous disorders.
A Cerebroscopic study of a person who had practiced emptiness of mind exercises for 10 years and who was suffering from depression, showed that only a single hemisphere was functioning. She could only see a single, fixed phosphene, when a healthy person should see two alternating phosphenes.
After practicing lateral head sways for a week, she observed that her suicidal tendencies were disappearing and that she was finding the joy to live again. An observation of the alternation of her double phosphenes illustrated this improvement, as she perceived, this time, two phosphenes that alternated normally, a proof that the connections between the hemispheres had been restored.
Try to keep the same thought in your mind (for example, the image of a flower).
You will observe that thoughts are dynamic. The image of the chosen object disappears, is replaced by interfering thoughts or is enriched with new elements. It can also be perceived in a fragmented fashion, sometimes along with the sensation of a motion around the object or a movement of the object itself. The image of the object can also become distorted.
Law n°1: One cannot keep the same thought in mind for a long time. Thoughts evolve and change.
DO NOT CONFUSE EMPTINESS OF MIND WITH CALM OF MIND!
Practicing Phosphenism produces a calm of mind and stimulates all the functions of the brain. The state of calm of mind is characterized by a sensation of peace and physical relaxation, rather than by the absence of thoughts, as one still has toughts in their mind and perceives images and subjective sensations. Cerebral functions are still fully active and are improved by the phosphenes that stimulate the connections between the hemispheres.
Law n°2: Emptiness of mind, defined as a constant effort to stop thoughts from springing up in consciousness, disturbs cerebral functioning.
Phosphene and calm of mind.
While focusing on the source of light, sway your head slightly laterally. During the presence of the phosphene, observe the thoughts that come to your mind.
Again, do a phosphene with a slight sway of your head and keep aware of the thoughts that spring up.
Practice the same operation a third time. Let your thoughts flow and observe them. Is there a difference of quality between the early thoughts and the latter ones?
Law n°3: The state of calm of mind acts like a pump that attracts, as a reaction, many new thoughts. The thoughts thus obtained have a richer quality than usual thoughts: richer in images, richer in colors and in brightness.
It is not physiological to maintain an image or a concept in mind for long periods, as thoughts permanently evolve and change. Certain exercises nevertheless require not to dissipate too much, in order to crystallize thoughts in a more efficient manner. A physiological way to avoid that problem is to focus on a group of related images or concepts, rather than on a single concept or image. Indeed, The concept of ‟light” can be represented by many varied images related to that theme: fire, a star, a comet, a lit match, a light bulb, etc. All these representations are related to the concept of ‟light”.
Similarly, the concept of ‟plant” can be declined almost infinitely, as a there is a multitude of flowers and trees. By going from one representation to another, a concept can be maintained for long periods of time without going against cerebral physiology.
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Thank you for your indulgence and for your consideration of the many hours spent translating all our pages and, more particularly, all the testimonies we share with you so that you may become aware of the impact that Phosphenism can have on those who practice it.
Wishing you the best with your practice of Phosphenism.
Daniel Stiennon (Dr. LEFEBURE School Director, France)