There are moments of transcendence during which you strike spiritual gold. Instantly and seemingly without cause, something shifts and you tap into an energy greater than your own. Time and space seem to suspend, your mental vantage point expands, everything makes sense — a straightforward path to follow, and no challenge is too formidable. All of the tension you hold releases for one perfect moment and you experience whole and complete trust in the process of life.
These highly sought-after moments have inspired countless practices, techniques, books, mantras, and prayers. Yet, these coveted “aha!” moments aren’t as elusive as you may think. In fact, the human brain is actually designed to create them.
According to Drs. Andrew Newberg and Eugene D’Aquili, seeking a connection beyond the limits of our everyday selves is inherently normal and inherently human. Newberg found that what may be happening in those moments is that certain areas of the brain are altered, largely due to decreased activity in the parietal lobe, one of the parts of the brain that keeps you oriented in three-dimensional space.
“When people have spiritual experiences they feel they become one with the universe and lose their sense of self,” Newberg says. “We think that maybe because of what is happening in that area if you block that area you lose that boundary between the self and the rest of the world. In doing so you ultimately wind up in a universal state.”
Traditional meditation techniques seem to lead to those states. But a simpler and faster way to reach that state is through music and movement. All forms of life have a certain frequency, including the human body and all its parts. Moving the body to the frequency of music causes a resonance between the music’s frequency and the body’s own frequency.
If done for some time and with focused attention, this can lead to attuning the body to its most natural state, unbiased by thought or emotion. What is important is to allow your body to fully express its own vibratory resonance, without control, censorship, or augmentation. Then it will regulate itself to its original tempo, thus healing itself.
This process of intuitive free-movement is time-trusted and true, according to author Bradford Keeney. In his book “Shaking Medicine: The Healing Power of Ecstatic Movement,” he notes how ancient healing practices rely on ecstatic movement, such as dancing or shaking, to achieve states of deeply relaxed consciousness, during which the body could stimulate its own healing.
“When we shake ourselves to the fullest height of ecstatic expression and then fall into the deepest state of quiet, we set the stage for powerful realignment and evolution of our whole being,” Keeney writes. Free-movement and shaking the body also stimulates the brain’s dopamine, serotonin, and opioid neurotransmitters — our “feel good” chemicals.
A simple technique that can be mastered by anyone within 20 minutes, with no prior meditation experience is “brain wave vibration.” Here’s how it goes. Turn on instrumental music — drumming or anything with a beat. Move your body to the music. Bounce your knees, shake your shoulders, tap your chest — any movement is OK, just allow yourself to feel your body as you are lulled deeper into the rhythm of your own movement, listen to its needs and move it as it wishes.
Key into the sensation of energy in and all around you. When you move your arms, imagine the energy moving with you, as if you were the conductor of a great universal symphony. Move fluidly, creatively, and expressively until you feel as if you have slipped into a state of expansive bliss.
This article is updated from its initial publication in Brain World Magazine’s print edition.
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- Easy Listening — The Neuroscience of Music: An Interview with Dr. Daniel Levitin
- Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out: How Dancing Creates Freedom in the Body and Mind
- Making the Connection: Music for Healing and Wellness
- Music: It’s Got the Power To Move You
- Healing Music: An Interview with Stanley Jordan
- Notes to Live By: Why Your Brain Craves Music