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Lights seen in meditation

Q. I'm currently doing your anxiety management course on Wednesday nights, and before I say anything else, need to tell you you've helped me beyond words and I'm incredibly grateful.

But my reason for writing to is an interesting thing I've discovered since the night you spoke about meditation. I find I can meditate very easily, and I see the colours very soon after shutting my eyes, and I suppose I take this for granted since I've always been able to do it, I just didn't know *what* I was doing. But now I know what's happening, I've discovered the exact same thing happens when I sing. I've been a singer for five years (I'm 17), and recently I've noticed, when I'm really putting my whole heart into a song, I'll shut my eyes, and I see the very same colours I see when I meditate. What I was wondering is, am I actually meditating while I'm singing and not realising it, or is it like I'm dissociating with my eyes shut? When I sense anxiety creeping up on me sometimes, I sing something (well, when I'm home and I can turn my stereo up loud hehe), and I find I instantly relax again. Another theory was that maybe because when I meditate, I use music to do so, therefore triggering the meditation process.

Either way, my way of thinking has changed dramatically in the past few weeks, I've managed to keep my anxiety at bay and go weeks at a time with a great positive outlook on everything.

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A. I'm glad everything is going well for you. It is really good.

Re your meditation and seeing colours when you sing. We see colours when we are in the 'theta' state of consciousness.

What I think is happening is you become focussed on your singing, which is a bit like focussing on a word or breath or image. When you are focussed you move into the beginning stages of meditation/ trance state. Now this is a great great gift. You may not realise it but you may go even deeper when you sing. These states are the creative states, because you are getting away from the 'judging' mind of normal consciousness. There is nothing you can't accomplish creatively in these states. Go for it!


Q. I am confused about what is supposed to happen during meditation. Could you let me know what I should expect at each stage of meditation. I have heard/read people see colors. Where does this "sensation" occur during meditation?

I have tried meditating or at least sitting quietly for a few minutes. Doing that helps a lot in relaxing. I need relaxation from the tension I have in my neck and shoulders. I think a lot of my anxiety actually comes from being so tense. The more uncomfortable they are, the more I tend to tighten them to get rid of them. It is a strange way of getting rid of it. My shoulders stay hunched. My husband will say, "Lower your shoulders."I realise I am walking around with them up around my ears.

A. The colons happens as people move through the theta state of consciousness. Everyone moves through the theta state as they go to sleep at night or when they are meditating, but only 25% of people of people see colours. The other 75% don't, so there is no need to worry if you don't see them. Some people who dissociate can also see the colons as they go to sleep at night.

That said, you do need to spend more than a few minutes meditating. We recommend people meditate for 20 minutes at least once a day, preferably twice a day. Your tension is coming from the way you are thinking. The way you think creates the tension and anxiety and the more you worry about how tense you are the more anxious you become.

Besides meditating, are you working on your thinking with the Mindfulness technique? This is the way to permanent recovery.

Learning to meditate

Q. I also notice that you recommend meditation to control panic attacks. How often should I meditate and where can I go to learn how to do it??

A. We usually get people to meditate twice a day for 20 minutes, although many people cut this down to one twenty minute session a day as they can't find the time for two. Bronwyn teaches people to meditate in her book 'Power over Panic', on tape 2 in her Cassette Set 'Taking back the Power' and in the Panic Anxiety Management Videos.

Meditation before sleep

Q. I have started practising meditation after reading your book (which I found it most useful and interesting, and I have been reading it repeatedly). After each meditation, I found difficulty in falling asleep ( I usually meditate at night )and when I do fall asleep, it would be for about 3 to 4 hours only and will not be able to go back to sleep again after. Is something wrong? Perhaps, my meditation technique is not right. Please advice.

A. Don't meditate before you go to sleep. Try and meditate at least 3 - 4 hours before you go to bed. Not being able to sleep after meditating is quite normal. One research paper says people get more 'rest' in the 20 minutes meditation than they do in 6 hours sleep and many long term meditators don't need as much sleep as other people.

In contradiction to this, we always recommend to people who have difficulty in sleeping to meditate themselves to sleep. When people who have difficulty sleeping, meditating themselves to sleep does work....but the difficulty in sleeping is anxiety related. It may not work if you meditate first then go to sleep.

Read more about our meditation technique

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