Entering a State of Meditation Through the Computer
by
Greg Gore

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Meditation exercises are an excellent way to enter the alpha/theta state in which you become totally relaxed. Moreover, reported physical benefits include lowering your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing rate while also stimulating endorphins to produce a tremendous feeling of well-being, refreshment and renewal.

Wanting to experience these mental and physical benefits myself, I have attended meditation workshops, viewed videotapes, and listened to audiotapes. Most of the programs I have encountered emphasized sitting in a quiet posture and letting sounds, emotions, and thoughts come and go until you gradually become less and less aware of your surroundings and your physical body. The goal is to enter the alpha/theta brainwave frequencies whereby you are in a “hypnogogic” state, i.e., the state between wakefulness and sleep.

Of course, if you become too relaxed you will fall asleep. Falling asleep is frowned upon by meditation practitioners. A native San Franciscan friend told me about attending a meditation “sitting” at a Zen monastery. She fell asleep while sitting on her meditation cushion and was abruptly and painfully awakened when a monk hit her between the shoulder blades with a stick, affectionately referred to by the monk as an “encouragement stick.” That was my friend’s first and last meditation session.

As an aid to striking the optimum balance between wakefulness and sleep, many meditation programs recommend that you focus on your breathing, and often suggest that you simply count your breaths. Entering a meditative state using these techniques is no easy task. I have found an easier way to enter the meditative state. That way is with the use of single image random dot stereograms (SIRDS).

I became introduced to SIRDS in an article that discussed cyber-optic posters, also known as third-eye posters and thetagraphs. These are black-and-white or color posters that appear to be composed of random patterns or dots. If you hold your nose almost against the poster and allow your eyes to defocus, a 3D image will appear as you gradually move the poster away from your nose.  While appearing in midair, the image will either be converging (coming toward you) or diverging (going away from you). As you stare at this 3D image, you will quickly be in the meditative state. If you see the image divergently, you are directly in the theta brainwave frequency. If you see the image convergently, you are on the way to the theta frequency, and just need a little more practice.

There is a wealth of information about SIRDS, including sample SIRDS, available on the Internet. Using the search terms “cyber-optic posters,” “third-eye posters,” and “thetagraphs” on the Google search engine (www.google.com) produced no results on the web. However, I was able to find a reference to cyber-optic posters using the Google “Groups” search feature. That reference led me to “random dot stereograms” and then to SIRDS.

An excellent starting point for more detailed information and samples of SIRDS is the Magic Eye website, www.magiceye.com. The Magic Eye website has many examples of SIRDS that you can view. A good place to begin is to download and view their example SIRDS at www.magiceye.com/faq_example.htm. Technically, their images are Single Image Stereograms (SIS) rather than SIRDS because they employ repetitive patterns rather than random dots. However, SIRDS is the commonly accepted catchall term and even includes ASCII Stereograms called SIRTS (single image random text stereograms).

For a very detailed FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) about SIRDS visit the Stuart Inglis faq page at www-ai.ijs.si/sirds/SirdsFaq.html. The Urry Software Labs website at www.ixtlan.ru website is also worth visiting in that it contains samples, information, and a short theoretical/mathematical description of SIRDS. The faq page on this site (www.ixtlan.ru/faq.shtml)  also links to the Stuart Inglis fag page mentioned above. For even more in-depth mathematical/theoretical discussion of SIRDS see Professor Dror Ban-Natan’s web page at www.math.toronto.edu/~drorbn/papers/PDI/index.html.

A different kind of stereogram is available at www.colorstereogram.com. Here, a pair of images is used for a stereogramic effect. The author of this website has a nice collection of art masterpiece stereograms such as Botticelli’s painting of the Madonna of the Magnificat. (www.colorstereogram.com/artists/madonna.htm).

Happy Meditations and Happy Holidays!

________

This column was published in the Daily Local News, West Chester, PA on December 11, 2002.

Greg Gore of West Goshen is one of the some 40 volunteers for the Chester County Interlink. The mission of CCIL--an all volunteer group--is to provide easy and equitable access to the Internet for those who live or work in Chester County. CCIL exists on donations by users and grants. It is a 501(c)(3) corporation and donations are tax deductible. Grants are always welcome. For more information on CCIL as an Internet provider, go to www.ccil.org or call 610-431-2673. Greg Gore can be reached at pr@ccil.org or gvg@ccil.org.

© 2002 by Greg Gore. All rights reserved.