Demystifying the Meditation Process

If your meditation practice continuously feels like a herculean effort, and you can’t stop thinking, analyzing, and wondering if you’re doing it right, you’re doing the exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish. That’s why I want to demystify the meditation process.

The purpose of meditation is to slow down your brain waves and get beyond the thinking, analytical mind. What I want you to understand is that you already know how to do this, because you do it every day.

If you can begin your practice with the understanding that all you’re doing is relaxing your body (just like when you’re falling asleep) while keeping your mind conscious and awake—and if you can continuously move deeper into this state of relaxation while focusing on nothing (or not thinking)—you’ve just opened the doorway between the conscious and subconscious mind.

The Ladder of Consciousness

When the conscious mind is awake and functioning optimally, it exists in the realm of the beta state. But when the brain is in high beta, that means it’s in a highly aroused, overly-active state. This usually indicates someone is living in an emergency mode—otherwise known as fight or flight.

Once you get beyond beta, the first layer of the subconscious is the alpha brain state. In alpha, your breathing naturally slows down, the voice in your head quiets, and the more you continue to relax, the more you begin sliding down the ladder of consciousness into the theta and delta states. It takes relaxing, getting comfortable, and discontinuing thought to change your brain and body’s physiology—and you do this every night as you fall asleep.

The antithesis is also true. When you can’t sleep at night, it’s typically because your mind is racing and you’re processing thoughts about your family, job, health, an upsetting event that happened earlier in the day, and of course—a worst-case future scenario that doesn’t actually exist.

This type of circuitous, negative thinking manufactures corresponding chemicals in the brain that signal the body to feel emotionally. Once we feel those emotions like frustration, judgement, fear, or anger, we tend to think more thoughts equal to those self-limiting emotions. When this happens over and over, our body becomes addicted to these emotional states, and thus becomes addicted to the hormones of stress—further miring us in negative feedback loops. As a result, instead of sinking deeper into consciousness, our brain waves climb the ladder to higher levels of beta brain wave activity. In fact, this is where we enter the realm of high beta brain waves and now the analytical mind is now overly active.

It’s through our meditation practice that we can enter the subconscious and change our unwanted programs. Think of the subconscious as the brain’s operating system. By dropping into the operating system of the brain, we can alter habits, behaviors, and remove emotional scars. If you’re not trying to change anything, you can simply open yourself up to receiving unknown possibilities and create something new.

Body Asleep, Mind Awake

Look at it this way—falling asleep and waking up is not something we have to learn how to do, right? We do it every day.

These two times of the day are when the door to the subconscious mind naturally opens up. When we go to bed at night, the nighttime neurotransmitter melatonin makes our brain waves go from beta to alpha, from alpha to theta, and from theta to delta. When we wake up in the morning, serotonin—the daytime neurotransmitter—creates the same process in reverse; our brain waves go from delta to theta, from theta to alpha, and from alpha to beta.

As we close our eyes and begin the meditation process, it makes sense that we are changing our brain chemistry from serotonin to melatonin, and thus our brain waves follow suit. As we sit still and relax our body, we stop thinking because our brain is naturally processing less sensory information.

If we can allow our bodies to begin to fall asleep while we are aware of our inner world, we’re in the perfect state to begin our transformational and/or creative work. Just like it’s harder to fall asleep when the neighbor is mowing his lawn, your teenager is playing hip-hop music in the next room, or there’s coffee brewing in the kitchen—it’s harder to get into that meditative state because the external sensory information keeps us focused on our outer world, instead of our inner.

The Takeaway

Like riding a bike or playing tennis, what I want you to understand is relaxing the body yet staying conscious is just a skill to develop (there’s a reason why we call mediation a practice). When you can completely relax your body and remain conscious, this is the realm where the unknown and the mystical happens.

By sensing the vastness of space around you and becoming no body, no one, no thing, no where, in no time—your body, other people, things in your environment, and past and future events no longer become the object of your attention. You (as consciousness—not the body) are no longer picking up the sensory information around you, which means you’re no longer living by the hormones of stress. In this state, you’re not awake, you’re not sleeping, and you’re not dreaming; you’re in the transcendental state. This is the unknown realm and this is where the door opens to events like out-of-body experiences, spontaneous healings, and mystical moments.

So the next time you sit down to meditate, I want you to remember that you already know how to do this. Slow down the process and really feel in each one of those stages. Stay aware, expand into the future you’ve always wanted, and connect to the feelings of that new future.

Know that the life you’ve always wanted to live awaits you. You just have to make the journey.

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  1. hubert May 28, 2016 at 8:32 am - Reply

    Thank you very much for the advice

  2. Meghraj May 28, 2016 at 9:20 am - Reply

    Useful article for the meditators. I practice meditation regularly and I have read the books of Dr.Dispenza, so Ican understand these things. I reach in said transcendental state almost every time… But I have never experienced any mystical experience. I can feel myself apart from body and mind, so it is the out of body experience for me. I never have any other out of body experience and I don’t believe in any extra ordinary experiences.
    Thanks for the article.

  3. Mike May 28, 2016 at 5:20 pm - Reply

    such simple clarity! excited to move forward! THANK YOU!

  4. Hillari Hamilton May 28, 2016 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the explanation. What is taking place when you are meditating and you can smell wonderful incense or burning wood or some sort of fire flame?

  5. Tamara May 30, 2016 at 8:17 am - Reply

    As a stroke survivor I get the advice to meditate all the time. I’ve started 2 days ago by using a device by the Institute of Heart Math 3 times a day for 10 minutes. Breathe in for 3 seconds and out for 6. But as if I’m not frustrated enough already, I don’t notice any positive effects. It just feels like a chore, I have to force myself to complete these 10 minutes. I’ve got the feeling for years now I’m so close to recovery, but I just can’t get there. I just feel like such an ugly invalid, while I was finally sexy before my brain exploded and I got a lot of attention. Now I still get noticed, but not in a positive way. I just can’t accept ugly as my new normal. I need to get out of this fight-or-flight mode I seem to be stuck in.

    • EC October 13, 2016 at 12:31 am - Reply

      Hi Tamara, just anadept passing by. I think what Dr. Dispenza wants us to understand, is that in order to manifest the healing we desire -be it of any sort- we have to separate ourselves from the feelings we have about our conditions. You must never allow yourself to feel like an “ugly invalid”, that is just a possibility of you made physical, it doesn’t define you, the universe of possibility is much wider. Every time you feel like that, remember one thing: your essence is not your body, your essence is your consciousness. And if you are consciousness you can rise above that feeling, hence above that body you now have. This is something you just remind yourself in everyday life while conscious. I think this is a very important starting point because if you still produce emotions related to that body, than you’re still attached to it, you’re fueling it with energy. Stop doing that, rise above it. Have you read the book “Breaking the Habit of being yourself, How to lose your mind and create a new one”? It might help a whole lot.

    • Sharon May 4, 2017 at 2:41 pm - Reply

      Dear Tamara, Your mind is confused by your in decisiveness. It will undoubtedly go
      with the one that has more emotion behind it. That would be the one that believes you
      are ugly instead of the I am healthy and beautiful one.
      It’s like when you were a kid on the playgoung and you wanted to get on the merry go round. But the kids had it going so fast that when you tried to jump on it you were bounced off into the bushes and you found yourself with all the other kids that were bounced off. To get on the merry go round you have to be vibrating to the same speed as the merry go round.
      You must change your thoughts to what you want and believe that your body is already healing itself. It a long time for your body to get this way. Embrace this time,listen to the lessons your learning,help others but refuse to speak negative.
      See yourself eating and drinking pure healthy food and water,exercising,listening to happy music, drawing,writing,singing.
      Help others.

  6. […] Dr. Joe Dispenza writes in his blog: […]

  7. Why I Meditate | Wisance June 3, 2016 at 10:02 am - Reply

    […] Dr. Joe Dispenza writes in his blog: […]

  8. Paula June 3, 2016 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    I Love this explanation and it totally mirrors how I experience my ‘success’ in a meditation. It directly correlated to how well I can relax my body while staying conscious. And when I manage it effectively, without exception, something useful bubbles up to the surface that I didn’t ‘know’ before. Love the simplicity of this explanation and even though I knew I was on the right path, it’s the first time I can meet an explanation and shake hands so to speak. Thanks for this.

  9. Pan June 4, 2016 at 8:19 am - Reply

    [and if you can continuously move deeper into this state of relaxation while focusing on nothing (or not thinking)—you’ve just opened the doorway between the conscious and subconscious mind.] Thank you so much for this clarification dear Dr Joe, the key phrase today was “not thinking”, this i can do, but try as i might i could not get my head around being:- no body, no thing, no time, etc., but, ‘no thinking’, YES! this i can do!
    love and light,

  10. Pita Lemstra June 4, 2016 at 12:27 pm - Reply

    thank you for the reminder, I am off to an all day meditation, so this is just what I needed to be reminded of.
    Thank you Dr. Joe, I hope to take another workshop with you someday soon.

    in gratitude,

  11. Annette June 4, 2016 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    I practise the meditation every day and I am waiting so much for the transcendental state. At the moment it seems not easy to reach, but I will go on trying. I will come to the progressive workshop to Hamburg and I hope to find the key there……..!

  12. John Tresemer June 4, 2016 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    Thank you, amigo.

  13. J.C. June 4, 2016 at 7:24 pm - Reply

    Thank you! I needed this reminder today.

  14. Marsha Candela June 4, 2016 at 11:40 pm - Reply

    When the student is ready, the teacher (Dr. Joe) will come!

  15. Maria Andrea Corcuera June 5, 2016 at 5:35 am - Reply

    Dear Joe, Thank you for this wonderful and clear explanation of the meditation process. Your meditations are helping me at every level !
    Loved your Course in Mexico City !
    Big hug
    Mariandrea Corcuera

  16. Effie June 5, 2016 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    And I quote you here Dr. Joe – “If your meditation practice continuously feels like a herculean effort, and you can’t stop thinking, analyzing, and wondering if you’re doing it right, you’re doing the exact opposite of what you’re trying to accomplish. That’s why I want to demystify the meditation process”

    So sorry Dr. Joe, but I don’t think that the meditation process was demystified in your article? You explained the concept, yes, just as you have in your books, almost to the exact wording, but nowhere do I see any explanation on how to truly demystify the meditation process. Nowhere does it give the reader an alternate technique for example to quiet down the chattering mind, which I am dealing with on a daily basis? I have meditated for many years (also followed your meditation technique explained in your books), but I only seem to be able to meditate on and off….because my mind keeps entertaining itself with random thoughts throughout, and that becomes very trying. I have tried and tried and had to stop again just recently, because I am not getting anything out of my meditation, except frustration. As far as I can tell there is no evidence of a true explanation in the above article..

    • John Bond June 21, 2016 at 10:33 pm - Reply

      Hi Effie
      I’ve read your response and I feel inspired to respond.
      In my life I wished to be able to love more so following Joe’s guided meditation on changing beliefs I meditated on what it would feel like to be able to love more. What choices would I make, how would I feel…
      What I would do in your case would be to meditate on what it would feel like to be able to meditate and get all the benefits out of it that you are wishing to achieve. How would that make you feel, what choices would you make…

      Much love and kindness

    • Joaquin October 6, 2016 at 2:31 pm - Reply

      Practice a mantra / chant during your meditation. This will help quiet down your thoughts. Dr. Dispenza says to practice gratitude by breathing into your heart chakra.

      While breathing into all of your chakras chant the phase “Thank you” for 20-30 minutes.

      Allow any thought to come into your mind but always go back to the chant. Eventually the thoughts will quiet down.

      It can be any chant, “Thank you” is easy and to the point. You are thankful for the past, present and future. Then remember to feel what you are thankful for. That’s how you create your day by being grateful for what you want in the future, now.

      Let the Universe handle the details and never waver from your belief.

    • Chez January 29, 2018 at 2:56 am - Reply

      Have no expectations about what your suppose to feel and just allow your mind to do what it wants and just observe it without judgement. Stop the control and just let go. Sometimes one can rely to heavily on tools outside of us to “fix” us when we are self are the lock and key. You CAN do this but YOU need to get out of the way and stop TRYING so hard

  17. John Bond June 5, 2016 at 11:02 pm - Reply

    Thank you so much Joe for your dedication to your work. You have helped me completely transform my inner world and I know that my outer world will follow suit. I am so grateful that words cannot even explain how much love and gratitude I feel towards you. I want to give back somehow someday just like you do in every moment of your day.
    I have learnt so much in such a short space of time yet just like the volume of space my nostrils occupy it is still so little in the great vastness of possibilities.
    Thank you once again

  18. Cristiano June 6, 2016 at 8:22 am - Reply

    Terrific!. Thnaks so much! I needed such important inspiration, advise and help.

  19. Chuck June 6, 2016 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    Thanks Dr. Joe,

    This article has been the most helpful and has “demystified” the topic.

  20. badlikeme June 7, 2016 at 3:59 am - Reply

    Thanks, Dr. Joe. You saved my Life. Well, you and my Dog Callie who I’ve always wanted and came to me in a way that I didn’t expect and she’s been the greatest Dog. Back to you, though, Doc. I was in a loveless Woman who had been depressed for awhile and we developed what I now know was codependent. Because of you, I weathered the sea of changed and I’ve never been this happy in my Life. Happiness, truly, is a choice. So is everything else. Including anxiety and depression. You taught me a skill that sounded like bullshit when I first read it. But I was done. My marriage was killing me and I thought the answer was to work harder and just be sad. You taught me that “wrong” feeling was just me. It hurt like hell to change. I didn’t want to be here. It was just a natural response to me deciding to change. From the inside out, I love myself. Every day is filled with beauty, gratitude and appreciation for the gift of my existence. I’ve a long way and I know how I got here. I am The Man I’ve always wanted to be. I have everything I ever wanted. Everything. Now I’m just creating, exploring and expanding. The unknown simply means I’m paying attention to the fact that I’m here. It is a tremendous gift to share your experience and passion. Thank you with with all of my thought which is infinite. I could never repay you. I’m awake and my Life is rich. If we ever cross paths the first two rounds are on me. Gotta watch out for that booze. That shit is a neurotoxin. I figure two rounds are good. Don’t ever quit y’all. It’s worth it. You will have it all and they way you get it will blow your mind overtime.

  21. mercedes diez barroso June 8, 2016 at 2:50 am - Reply

    That was so simple and clear thank you so much for your explanation is exactly what I need to affirm what I want to practice in my meditation by the way The Mind Matter program I love it your meditation are fantastic

    I am so grateful for all your teachings Loove you so much see you in Seattle

  22. Marisol June 9, 2016 at 1:28 pm - Reply

    Thank You forever, Dr. Dispenza. By far, this is the clearest and simplest explanation of what I just didn’t have the ability to understand before, Now something’s ‘clicked’ and I feel secure enough to explain to others this process. Thank You! Thank You!

  23. […] Dr. Joe Dispenza escreveu em seu […]

  24. Mary Jean Lawson July 31, 2016 at 9:39 pm - Reply

    Dear Joe:
    You have a gift of explaining what we all want to know to live happier and more fulfilling lives. Since attending your workshop in Tempe, AZ I have been doing the daily meditation with your CD and feeling my life just get happier and more fulfilled. I have discovered the source of my health problems after years of suffering through incorrect medical opinions. I have been able to “connect the dots” so many have missed so that I know I will reverse my illness.

    I am also now writing the book I feel equipped to complete and am enjoying every minute of it. I have steered many interested friends to your books and tapes. And, many are reading and listening.
    You are undoubtedly being inspired, or so I imagine, so we can move forward to fulfill our own purposes.

    My meditation sessions are not all perfect. I still struggle with throwing off intrusive thoughts sometimes. But I don’t give up because when I get down to the alpha level, and I now know the feeling, I stay with it.
    What comes up that day sometimes surprises and amazes me. I hope others will persevere also. It is the way for me.
    Mary Jean

  25. Joaquin October 6, 2016 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    Dear Dr Dispenza

    Thank you very much for demystifying meditation.

    You have helped me understand how to consciously influence the quantum field.

    My deepest regards

  26. Janet Burl February 11, 2017 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    Have you ever thought of working with a hemorrhagic stroke survivor? The few of us who survive, are struggling to tewire our brains around the dead section. Doctors don’t give us much hope, and we continue to go beyond their expectations. We have to learn that anything is possible, go beyond what we’re told, reach for the impossible, and have faith not only in the Great Being, but have faith in ourselves. We survived for a reason, and to me, that reason is to help others to reach the potential that they didn’t know was in them, to struggle against the odds, and become more than they are, more than they believed possible, to make it out of the rabbit hole.

  27. […] Dr. Joe Despenza – demystifying-the-meditation-process […]

  28. Tim Hoff June 29, 2017 at 7:28 am - Reply

    thank you so much! A lot of valuable information in regarding the meditation states! Im such a fan of this work

  29. V November 6, 2017 at 3:02 pm - Reply

    Hi everyone,
    I hope you’re all doing well. I am a bit confused when it comes to Dr.Dispenza’s work. What is the most reliable approach for the best chances at healing? Am I supposed to sit in meditation with music playing in the background and visualize myself healed? Or am I supposed to use one of his guided meditations? Thank you so much for taking the time to read this and reply. I appreciate all of you.

  30. Self healing December 29, 2017 at 10:34 am - Reply

    Really informative blog, which shares many helpful information regarding the meditation process. Please keep sharing these type of posts for inspiring people.

  31. Arthur J. Marr January 29, 2018 at 9:08 pm - Reply

    A new explanation of Mindfulness from the perspective of Affective Neuroscience

    Here is a brief and simple argument that ‘meditative states’ actually represent the overlap of two distinct neuro-physiological states: somatic and neurologic rest. A more expansive explanation of my position, written for a lay and academic audience, is linked below, and is based in large measure on the work of the distinguished affective neuroscientist Kent Berridge of the University of Michigan, who was kind to review and endorse the extended argument.

    A Note on Resting States, Resting Brains, and Meditative States

    A resting state, or ‘somatic rest’, would seem to correspond with a brain at rest or ‘neurologic’ rest, but by definition, somatic and neurologic rest are entirely different things. A resting ‘state’ or somatic rest represents the inactivity of the striatal musculature that results from the application of resting protocols (continual avoidance of perseverative thought represented by rumination, worry, and distraction.). Resting states also are affective states, as they elicit opioid activity in the brain. Resting states in turn may occur in tandem with all levels of non-perseverative thought that are passive or active, from just passively ‘being in the moment’ or being mindful, to actively engaging in complex and meaningful cognitive behavior. The latter cognitive behavior is also additionally affective in nature due to its elicitation of dopaminergic activity that cause a feeling of energy but not pleasure, and the resulting opioid-dopamine interaction increases the levels of both of these neuro-modulators, and results in a perceived state of ‘bliss’ or ‘flow’. On the other hand, a resting ‘brain’, neurologic rest, or the so-called ‘default mode network’ is a specific type of neural processing that occurs when the mind is in a ‘passive’ state, or in other words, is presented with no or very limited cognitive demands. This results in ‘mind wandering’ that can entail non-perseverative (creative thought) or perseverative thought (rumination, worry). As such a resting brain may or may not correlate with somatic rest, and is correlated with a level of demand, not a kind of demand, as in somatic rest.

    Like the broad color palate that emerges from the intermix of three primary colors, it may be argued that meditative states are simply emergent properties of two very distinctive neuro-physiological resting states that have separate and easily definable causes. It is remarkable that in the literature of meditation, the neuro-physiology of rest both in body and mind is not defined, with a similar neglect to explaining how neuro-muscular activity is actively shaped by experience or learning. The importance of meditation is very real, and the meditative community is understandably averse to equating it with rest since it makes meditation less ‘special’ or less marketable. But that is my argument nonetheless, which in the end provides a better advocacy of meditation by denying that meditation elicits a unique physiological process or state, which like the concept of ‘phlogiston’, or the imaginary element that enabled fire, impedes rather than furthers scientific inquiry


  32. Steven April 26, 2018 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    I don’t meditate regularly anymore, but years ago I reached this state of “enlightenment”. I was spending almost all my time outside work to meditate. I was studying some religions at the time looking for a God to follow, found meditation and it brought me to myself. Now I believe God IS the universe and every little thing here, it’s a part of it. And because of my experience I believe we can also put out a greater energy than was found in his studies. I was told by a child that I stop evil, his mom asked “how do you know”, “look at him” is all he said. Following about 5 seconds after that, a group of loud highschool kids came into view and fell completely silent upon eye contact. This was when I was doing really deep meditation, about 4-8 hours a day. At one point I looked in the mirror and saw a gold aura thingy permeating from my body, thought something was wrong with my eyes so I continued to wash them a couple times. Still there, I just thought “okay, guess that’s a thing” haha. Even had stare downs with multiple animals, favorite was the tiger and it’s keeper was wondering why it was just staring. I was thinking “ha, I know why”. Lol. Thanks Dr. Dispenza, your work is the work I wanted to do, but seen no need because of my mindset. Everything just Is, to me. Just recently I’ve started really preaching the gospel of meditation, figured why not, if more people can have this constant state of happiness and basically throw away negative emotions, that’s all the better. Haven’t gotten sick since meditation. I plan to try and open a non-profit meditation type of clinic in the future. And use your work as a model for it. I’ve been at this constant state of happiness that’s lasted at least 7 years so far.

  33. Mindvalley May 28, 2018 at 3:22 am - Reply

    Such a great articles in my carrier, It’s wonderful commands like easiest understand words of knowledge in information’s.

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