Bernadette Balla is an ambitious and spiritually focused young woman who lives and works in the eclectic hub of San Francisco.
She started in the position of quality assurance manager at Silicon Valley start-up Twitch in 2009. Twitch is the world’s leading streaming video and gaming platform, a recent unicorn, having been acquired by Amazon two years ago for just under a billion dollars.

Over the last few years Bernadette has dedicated herself to the evolution of an authentic and spiritual approach to her life, one she now integrates seamlessly into her career in the tech world. She firmly believes in the power of positive thinking and the importance of savouring every moment you experience in life.

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★ I have explored practical methods to achieve this drawing on my fascination with the way science and spirituality interrelate to create a new way of approaching life!
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A beginner's guide to the different types of meditation. Find your style.

bernadetteballa.com


Meditation has had a surge of popularity in recent years as more than ever people realize the benefits of regularly quieting their minds. However, if you are just dipping your toe into the world of meditation, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the vast collection of different techniques and remain uncertain as to which one would be right for you in your life.  You don’t want meditation to become a chore, the ideal way to practice is to look forward to meditating, because you can feel the positive changes taking place.


Here I will demystify three specific meditation practices that work in harmony together for anyone interested in learning more about focusing the mind.  Binaural Beats Meditation, Mindfulness Meditation and Mantra Meditation.  


Bear in mind that like any new skill, any form of meditating is challenging to get the hang of. Of course you will face some difficulties when you begin your practice, i was on the same boat and still am sometimes!  It’s easy to get distracted at first, your mind will wander and your thoughts will become louder, darting around and zooming off on wild tangents. This is normal and happens to everyone, even those advanced meditators.  


It can help to remember that you do not need to struggle to achieve a quiet state of mind, instead think of meditation as allowing a state of mind to emerge that already exists within you. The quiet mind beneath your chatter,  that calm confidence that is the inner you.


The three meditation methods below are a great way for those exploring the practice to really get to grips with what it’s all about. Simple guidance through these techniques will help you establish a routine of meditating in a way that works by incorporating them into your daily life.


What is Binaural Beats Meditation?


This practice is based on the premise that meditation allows us to change our brain frequency. To fully understand how binaural beats works, you need to know some basics about how the brain functions.  


Our brains are made up of about 20 billion neurons that generate electro chemical vibrational impulses. These electrical impulses are how our brain cells communicate with each other. The patterns that form as a result of this electrical activity are brain waves or frequencies.


Scientist can measure these brain waves using sensitive medical equipment such as an electroencephalogram (EEG). They have found five main categories of brain wave patterns, each corresponding to different activities and associated with a different state of consciousness.


  1. Gamma - The Gamma state is the best time to learn and retain information, it’s when we are at our most intensely focused.
  2. Beta - The Beta state is where we spend most of our day functioning. It is the alert state of mind we are in when working or thinking in an analytical way.
  3. Alpha - The Alpha state is when we are relaxed and calm, after any kind of activity that brings us to a more lucid or reflective awareness.
  4. Theta - The Theta state is where we begin to go into a meditative state. We are intuitive and can visualize.
  5. Delta - The Delta state is the state of being in a deep, dreamless sleep.


Where do the binaural beats come in?


When you listen to sounds of a specific frequency, your brain waves begin to synchronize with that frequency.  Binaural (meaning “two ears” ) beats works because when listening to two slightly different tones our brains register a beat that measures at the difference between the two frequencies, taking us into a meditative state of mind. This is why sound meditation is an effective way to induce a desired mental state by manipulating our brain waves.


How to practice Binaural Beats Meditation?


So many people give up on meditation because they simply can’t train their minds to a quiet space, find it impossible to focus or get frustrated with how long it’s taking to get results. The reason this technique can help with beginners  is because it acts a shortcut to getting the best from your brainwaves. If you surrender to the audio tone, you effectively allow the binaural beats to synchronize your brainwaves and rapidly enter one of the states associated with meditation (usually alpha or theta).


You don’t have to think about anything at all, you just listen and let your brain waves respond. It’s a very natural and effective way to bring your mind to calm every day. It’s best practiced with headphones and there are many free downloads or examples of binaural beats meditations available on the internet.

What is Mindfulness Meditation?


Basic mindfulness is possibly one of the easiest ways to integrate meditation into our daily lives. It is the practice of paying attention to the present moment with an accepting, nonjudgmental disposition. With mindfulness you do not have to try and stop thinking, or empty the mind. It is the ability to become aware of your physical sensations in the present moment and to see your thoughts and emotions more clearly, a way to keep your thoughts in check and not let them become negative judgements about yourself or your life. Mindfulness meditation is really the simple act of being present in everything you do and when made a regular part of your life can in time become your natural way of being.


All those extra words and thoughts that clutter the mind are just serving to cause our energy levels to spike and dip. In moments of quiet we are much more able to feel peaceful and productive, calmer and at one in our lives.


How to practice Mindfulness Meditation?


It’s very simple, all you need to do is remind yourself through the day to be aware of the present moment and really feel and enjoy what is happening in that moment.  Stopping to breathe deeply, to remember what you are doing and why and to take stock of how you are feeling enables you to notice things you normally may ignore without realizing.


You can practice mindfulness in any situation, washing the dishes, taking a shower, driving your car or before making a phone call or sending an email. If you are often stressed out or anxious about life, stopping to just appreciate what is happening around you and within you, even if just for a few seconds is an incredibly effective way to bring your mind back to a state of calm, again and again. Eventually, mindfulness will become seamlessly integrated into everything you do.

What is Mantra Meditation?


When beginning your journey into meditation, reciting a Mantra  can be a very useful aid to inducing the right state of mind for meditation. As discussed, some of the main obstacles to successful meditation are the busy crowd of thoughts that zoom around our heads and refuse to go away. Choosing to repeat a word or phrase either out loud or internally helps to focus the mind. As we pay attention, bringing the mind back repeatedly to the same sound through mantra, the mind becomes more unified and we become more present in our meditation.


The word Mantra comes from India and is said to mean a “mental device” or “an instrument of the mind.” Some of the most common ancient Mantras used are “om” (the sacred sound of Hinduism) and “Om Mane Padme Hum” (Buddhist). Aside from serving as a focus for the brain, Mantras also hold ancient spiritual meaning which is said to transform you through the process of meditation. You don’t need to know anything about that to experience the benefits of Mantra Meditation,  simply by knowing the word or words and repeating them as a method of pure focus is enough.


How to practice Mantra Meditation?


Decide on the Mantra that most resonates with you. There are even more Westernised and modern versions of Mantras you could use if you prefer or you could create your own. The beauty, however of a Mantra like “om” is in its simplicity. It is the most basic and powerful of Mantras, easy to repeat and the sound itself is said to symbolically tune us into the sound of the universe, connecting us with all living things. You can decide whether to chant the Mantra out loud at the beginning of your meditation and then continue internally, or whether it works best for you to speak the word throughout. Either way, the benefits will begin to show themselves to you with time and acceptance.


Meditation really is a process of showing up for yourself again and again and accepting that there will be good days and bad days. Allowing your individual journey to be adaptable, illuminating and above all pleasurable will help you stick to the practice. Meditation is not about being perfect, it’s about connecting with self. It’s easy to bring a little of our productivity mindset to meditation. That desire to win and overcome things isn’t going to help with your meditation practice, you have to feel the present moment and allow it to be as it is. Allow your practice to develop naturally and above all enjoy it.














★ I have explored practical methods to achieve this drawing on my fascination with the way science and spirituality interrelate to create a new way of approaching life!