Meditation's Light: A Guide

how to see light in meditation

Seeing light during meditation is a phenomenon that happens to many people, though not to everyone. Scientifically, these experiences are linked to sensory deprivation and heightened neuroplasticity. The light can manifest in different ways, from small sparkles to huge glowing balls. It is believed that this experience indicates that the third eye is opening. While it can be fascinating or disconcerting, most mindfulness teachers advise that it is nothing to be overly excited or concerned about. Instead, it should be acknowledged and integrated into a simple mindfulness practice.

Characteristics Values
What is seen A light or lights, often white but also other colours
A manifestation of the spiritual eye or third eye
A blurry light, a sharp and small light, a large and blurry light, a shape-changing light, a bluish light, a silvery-white star of light
Small sparkles, huge glowing balls
How it feels Fascinating, disconcerting, exciting
Frightening at first, but something you'll get used to
Science behind it Linked to sensory deprivation and heightened neuroplasticity
Linked to stimulation of the pineal gland
A sign of enhanced neuroplasticity and potential for enduring shifts
What to do Visualise the spiritual eye
Pray to God and Gurus for help and guidance
Be grateful for any gifts or blessings
Remember that phenomena are not as important as how you are changing as a person
Concentrate on your meditation experiences

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The 'spiritual eye' or 'third eye'

The spiritual eye, or third eye, is a pivotal concept in several spiritual traditions. It is an invisible eye, usually depicted as located on the forehead, between the eyebrows, or slightly above this junction. It is said to provide perception beyond ordinary sight and is often associated with enlightenment and higher consciousness.

In Hinduism, the third eye is referred to as the "ajna" or brow chakra and is associated with the ability to see beyond the physical into spiritual dimensions. It is also seen on depictions of Shiva, who is referred to as "Tryambaka Deva", the three-eyed lord, where his third eye symbolises knowledge and the detection of evil.

In Buddhism, the third eye is regarded as the "eye of consciousness", representing the vantage point from which enlightenment beyond physical sight is achieved. It is also referred to as the "Eye of Wisdom" and can be discerned on the deity Buddha.

In Taoism, third eye training involves focusing attention on the point between the eyebrows with closed eyes and while holding various qigong postures. The goal is to tune into the correct "vibration" of the universe and to gain a foundation for reaching advanced meditative states.

The third eye is also linked to the pineal gland, a pea-sized gland in the brain that secretes melatonin and small amounts of dimethyltryptamine (DMT). The pineal gland is thought to be the potential seat of psychic and intuitive abilities, or the "soul".

To focus on the spiritual eye during meditation, it is recommended to visualise a distant mountain and rest your gaze at the top of it, with eyes relaxed and looking slightly upward. You can also visualise a tunnel of golden light at the point between the eyebrows and imagine yourself entering that tunnel, feeling surrounded by happiness and freedom. As you move through, your thoughts will disappear, and you will be bathed in light.

The spiritual eye can appear differently to different people. It may be seen as a halo of golden light surrounding a deep blue field with a silvery-white star at its centre. It may also appear as a dim violet light with a faint circle and dot in the middle. With continued meditation and concentration, the gold light will expand and form a tunnel, which, when entered, leads to the astral world.

By focusing on the spiritual eye, one can raise their consciousness and feel more uplifted throughout the day.

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Sensory deprivation

One popular method of sensory deprivation is through the use of floatation tanks, also known as REST (Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy) or sensory deprivation tanks. These tanks are filled with water saturated with Epsom salts, which make you extremely buoyant, eliminating the pull of gravity and creating a weightless effect. The high density of Epsom salts also ensures that you float safely and prevents the risk of drowning.

When using a floatation tank, you close the door (which doesn't lock) and lay on your back in the water. The darkness inside the tank makes it difficult to see even with your eyes open, and earplugs are worn to block out sound. The lack of sensory input allows you to focus on your breathing and withdraw your senses, turning your gaze inward.

Floatation therapy has been found to induce theta brain waves, which are associated with a 'slow activity' theta state between consciousness and subconsciousness. This state is known to be deeply healing, relaxing, and focused, and can enhance creativity and problem-solving skills. It also leads to the release of dopamine and endorphins, the neurotransmitters of happiness.

In addition to floatation tanks, there are other ways to achieve mild sensory deprivation. You can try reducing visual input by lying down in a dark room or using a blindfold or eye mask. Alternatively, you can focus on shutting out auditory input by using earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones. These methods can help you heighten your senses and increase your awareness of your internal state.

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Heightened neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is a term used to describe the brain changes that occur in response to experience. It involves a range of mechanisms, from the growth of new connections to the creation of new neurons. The concept of neuroplasticity applied to meditation suggests that the mental training of meditation is similar to other forms of skill acquisition that can induce plastic changes in the brain.

Meditation practices can be broadly categorized into Focused Attention (FA) meditation and Open Monitoring (OM) meditation. FA meditation involves voluntarily focusing attention on a chosen object in a sustained manner. This could be a specific mental or sensory activity, such as a repeating sound or one's breathing. On the other hand, OM meditation involves non-reactively monitoring the content of experience from moment to moment without maintaining an explicit focus on a specific object. Instead, the practitioner remains in a monitoring state, attentive to anything that occurs in their experience.

Research has shown that long-term meditation practitioners have altered the structure and function of their brains. These brain changes include alterations in patterns of brain function, as assessed by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), changes in the cortical evoked response to visual stimuli, and alterations in amplitude and synchrony of high-frequency oscillations, which play a crucial role in connectivity among widespread brain circuitry.

One study found that FA meditation was associated with activation in multiple brain regions involved in monitoring, engaging attention, and attentional orienting. Interestingly, the activation pattern was generally stronger for long-term practitioners compared to novices, but expert meditators with a very high number of practice hours showed less activation. This finding suggests that after extensive FA meditation training, minimal effort is needed to sustain attentional focus.

Meditation has also been found to induce neuroplasticity phenomena, including the reduction of age-related brain degeneration and the improvement of cognitive functions. For example, the constant practice of meditation has been linked to improvements in attention, working memory, spatial abilities, and long-term memory.

Furthermore, neuroimaging studies have shown that the brain connectivity of meditators changes as they meditate and even in the resting state. One particular study used magnetoencephalography (MEG) to investigate the long-term effects of mindfulness meditation on the brain. They found that meditators displayed topological modifications in the brain network compared to non-meditators, specifically in the right hippocampus, which is known for its role in memory processes.

The implications of these findings on neuroplasticity and meditation are immense. Meditation has the potential to be a powerful tool for enhancing brain health and function, improving cognitive abilities, and promoting overall well-being. By understanding and harnessing the brain's neuroplastic potential through meditation, individuals can unlock a wide range of benefits and improve their quality of life.

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Pineal gland stimulation

The pineal gland is a tiny gland, about the size of a grain of rice, that is located in the brain. It is often referred to as the "third eye" and is associated with spiritual awakening, intuition and clairvoyance in various ancient traditions.

Pineal Gland and Meditation

Meditation is a traditional method of stimulating the pineal gland, also known as opening the third eye. The pineal gland is sensitive to bioelectrical signals of light and dark, and meditation can activate this bioelectric energy. Through meditation, one can direct this energy to the pineal gland, stimulating and helping it open.

  • Sit in a comfortable, relaxed, upright posture.
  • Close your eyes or lower your eyelids.
  • Allow your breath to become deep and slow.
  • Rest your attention on the third eye region just above and between your two eyes.
  • Imagine that you're breathing a golden white light through the centre of your third eye.
  • Remain relaxed and avoid forcing the exercise.

Other Methods to Stimulate the Pineal Gland

  • Sun gazing: Stare at the sun within the first hour of sunrise and the last hour before sunset when the UV index is low. Start with a few seconds and gradually increase the duration over nine months.
  • Qigong: A practice that increases the practitioner's sensitivity to the flow of energy within the body, called chi or qi.
  • DMT: A natural hallucinogen found in the body and some plants and animals. It is believed to be produced or regulated by the pineal gland and can be consumed through the Amazonian botanical tea, ayahuasca.
  • Brainwave entrainment: Use of binaural beats and isochronic tones to induce specific brainwave frequencies associated with pineal gland activation, such as delta, theta and gamma waves.

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Mindfulness and compassion

Meditation is a powerful tool for cultivating concentration, empathy, and insight at a neural level. Mindfulness and compassion meditation, in particular, have been shown to have transformative effects on the brain and body.

Benefits of Mindfulness and Compassion Meditation

One of the key benefits of these practices is the development of empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Through mindfulness and compassion meditation, individuals can learn to regulate their thoughts and emotions, leading to increased empathy and compassion for others.

Techniques for Cultivating Mindfulness and Compassion

There are various techniques that can be used to cultivate mindfulness and compassion. One technique is to focus on the breath, as it is always present and can serve as an anchor to the present moment. Another technique is to practice loving-kindness meditation, where individuals first generate feelings of love and kindness towards themselves and then extend those feelings to others.

Scientific Studies on Mindfulness and Compassion Meditation

Several scientific studies have been conducted to examine the effects of mindfulness and compassion meditation. For example, a study by Richard Davidson and Antoine Lutz found that through mindfulness training, people can develop skills that promote happiness and compassion. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain imaging showed that positive emotions, such as loving-kindness and compassion, can be learned and lead to changes in brain circuits involved in emotion detection.

Another study by Jennifer Mascaro and colleagues found that a compassion-based meditation program, Cognitively-Based Compassion Training (CBCT), significantly improved participants' ability to read the facial expressions of others. This study used both behavioral testing and fMRI scans to measure the effects of the program.

Applications of Mindfulness and Compassion Meditation

The benefits of mindfulness and compassion meditation have a wide range of applications. For example, these practices can be used to prevent bullying, aggression, and violence, especially in young children. Additionally, they can promote more harmonious relationships and improve social and emotional skills.

In conclusion, mindfulness and compassion meditation practices have been shown to have powerful effects on the brain and body, leading to increased empathy, compassion, and well-being. By incorporating these practices into our lives, we can not only improve our own mental and physical health but also create a more peaceful and harmonious world for everyone.

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Frequently asked questions

Scientifically, these experiences are linked to sensory deprivation and heightened neuroplasticity. It is believed that the light is a manifestation of the spiritual eye or third eye, which is located between the eyebrows.

The light you see during meditation varies from one individual to another. One meditator might see small sparkles that look like comet flashes, while another might experience huge glowing balls.

Yes, it is completely natural. It means that your mind and soul are rooted inside your body.

The third eye is one of seven chakras that exist within your body. After months or years of consistent meditation, your third eye gets activated and you may start noticing flickers of white light.

Instead of focusing all your attention on the light, it is advisable to concentrate on your meditation experiences. If you are practicing mindfulness, you can regard the light as another mental event, acknowledge it, and go back to your practice.

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