Meditation And Bipolar Disorder – It Is More Than Monkey Mind.

This is the second part of a series on mediation and bipolar disorder. If you have not read the first part. please follow the link to read it.

Monkey mind is a Buddhist term used to describe someone who cannot calm their mind enough to engage in meditation fully. The instructor of the meditation course said I had a monkey mind, but he was wrong; I had a bipolar mind. In the last post, I said the type of meditation that the instructor taught was painful and that back then, I could not explain it, and now I can. This is the explanation.

I feel I need to preface this explanation with I am not a doctor or scientist; I am a fellow bipolar sufferer who looks for answers to his own condition. I hope by sharing my insights, you may benefit in your fight with your own condition.

How The Bipolar Brain Works.

Your brain gives off electrical signals called waves that can be detected when electrodes are attached to your head and fed into an ECG machine. These waves have names that are attached to states of being.

Beta brain waves, 14 – 30 Hertz, Awake, normal alert consciousness.

Alpha brain waves 9 – 13 Hertz, Relaxed, lucid, not thinking.

Theta Brain Waves 4 – 8 Hertz, Deep relaxation, meditation, and mental imagery.

Delta Brain Waves 1 – 3 Hertz, Deep, dreamless R.E.M. Sleep.

Dr. Hans Burger discovered Gamma Brain Waves 31 – 70 Hertz in 1924. Gamma brain waves are linked to peak performance and flow. In recent studies, they have also linked Gama brain waves to the bipolar brain. The bipolar brain seems to be in the Gamma state, 31 to 70 Hertz, an above-average amount of time, and seldom goes below the high end of the Beta state 24 to 30 Hertz. Although in most literature, the Gamma state is linked to peak performance and deep thought, The bipolar brain in the Gamma state is linked to mania, racing thoughts, and anxiety (a fully engaged flight or flight response). It is important to note that in most charts showing the different brain waves, Gamma waves are seldom shown as few people ever reach that high level of brain activity.

My Layman’s Explanation:

Think of a car. When the car is parked, that is its Rem or Delta state 1 – 3 Hertz. When the car is idling, the car is in its Theta state.  Driving around the neighborhood, the car is in its alpha state 9 – 13 Hertz. Cruising on the highway, the car is in its Beta state 14 – 30 Hertz. Seldom does the average car need to accelerate to the Gamma state 31 to 70 Hertz level. Now think of a race car. Such a car in the heat of a race will reach speeds 3 to 4 times faster than highway speeds; that is, its Gama state 31 – 70 Hertz.

Why Some Forms of Meditation Are Physically Painful To The Bipolar Mind.

According to the states of being revealed by brain waves, the meditative state is achieved by reaching Theta brain waves, 4 – 8 Hertz.  Monkey Mind talks about people who cannot fully relax into the Alpha brain waves, 9 – 13 Hertz, and then transition into the Theta state 4 – 8 Hertz. To relax to this level is a real impossibility for the bipolar mind.   The reason I found the type of mediation the instructor was teaching painful was my brain, which was running at the Gamma state, 31 – 70 Hertz, could not shift to the Theta state, 4 – 8 Hertz, which was like asking a race car in the heat of a race to just idle. It cannot unless something is broken. That is why trying to meditate the way the instructor was teaching was so painful. It really hurt, and now you can understand why. In talking to other bipolar sufferers, many said they found certain types of mediation painful as well. Next week we will begin to discuss the many types of meditation and point out the types of meditation that can be painful to the bipolar mind.

Please let me know in the comments about your experience with mediation or bipolar disorder and if you found this information helpful. Please like and share this post.

As we conclude this week’s blog post, always remember our battle with bipolar disorder is with and in our minds. Our struggle is with our illness, not with other people, places, situations, or other external things. Our goal is to develop the self-discipline to take control of our emotions, minds, and lives. 

The great inspirational speaker, Jim Rohn, said:” Work harder on yourself than anything else.” 

I say,” Work hard on yourself, and everything else falls into place like magic.”

Keep to the path, the hard one. The easy one does not go anywhere. 

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Many other people blog on bipolar and related subjects. Mental wellness is all about knowledge and learning about ourselves. The more informed we are, the easier our struggles may be. Each week I attach a blog that I found interesting that may inform you. The following blog is another author’s work.  I hope you enjoy this week’s blog created by Julie A. Fast.

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