Alpha, Beta, Delta, Theta…
THE IDEA OF DOING LESS AND RECEIVING MORE IS SOMETHING THAT I HAVE BEEN ACTIVELY EXPERIMENTING WITH FOR THE LAST YEAR OR SO.
As I unwittingly dived down a rabbit hole of spirituality and science, I discovered so many more crossovers and places where ancient wisdom and new technologies are merging with fascinating outcomes.
SCIENCE IS BEGINNING TO BETTER UNDERSTAND THE MIND/BODY CONNECTION. FOR THE FIRST TIME WE ARE REALLY ABLE TO GET EXPLANATIONS FOR MUCH OF THE WISDOM THE ANCIENT HEALERS HAVE KNOWN FOR CENTURIES.
This article is part two in a three part series on the intersection between science and spirituality, focusing specifically on the brain.
For part one go HERE. Part three is coming soon.
There are 5 different types of human brainwaves, all of which move at different speeds and are measured in hertz. Each brain wave has a purpose and helps serve us in optimal mental functioning.
When I talk about a specific brain wave, I am implying that a particular brain wave is “dominant.” Throughout a day you are likely to experience all 5 types of brainwaves at the same time. For the purposes of explanation I am looking at where one particular brain wave is dominant, which will often depend on the state of consciousness that you are in.
Manipulating our state of consciousness is one of our simplest yet most powerful tools as a Maven (someone who is living at cause, being a conscious creator or master manifestor.)
Our brainwaves change constantly throughout the day according to what we’re doing and feeling. When we’re producing predominantly slower brainwaves, we feel calm and relaxed, but when higher-frequency brainwaves are dominant, we feel wired or hyper alert.
From slow and low to fast and high….
DELTA WAVES (Roughly 0.5 TO 4 HZ)
The waves of deep sleep and regeneration.
Delta brainwaves stimulate healing and regeneration. They are low frequency and deeply penetrating, like a drum beat. Delta waves suspend external awareness and occur in a deep sleep state.
They are responsible for controlling all of the body’s activities that we are not conscious of. Delta waves are required in order for proper bodily maintenance and regeneration of our organs and blood as well as producing and releasing essential hormones like DHEA, melatonin and natural human growth hormone. Delta is the state where cortisol is removed from our system. Having a good dose of Delta Waves is critical to ensure that everything is in-sync and in good working order. Delta Waves are generated only in dreamless sleep, (or deepest meditation) which is why deep restorative sleep and radical rest is so essential to the healing process.
Delta brainwaves enable you to awake feeling refreshed and like you’ve slept well. If you don’t get enough Delta waves, you may awake feeling groggy and like you’ve slept badly. They are also responsible for empathy, intuition or psychic ‘knowing’ like when the phone rings and you know who it is intuitively without looking.
- Too much: (Coma) Brain injuries, learning problems, inability to think, severe ADHD
- Too little: Inability to rejuvenate body, inability to revitalize the brain, poor sleep, restlessness.
- Optimal: Healthy Immune system, essential rejuvenation / healing, restorative / deep sleep
THETA WAVES (Roughly 4 TO 8 HZ)
The waves of the subconscious and healing.
Theta brainwaves occur most often in sleep but are also dominant in deep meditation and can be accessed while still awake. The theta state is used for hypnosis, it’s a mid point between asleep and awake, that twilight zone when you are fully internalised but aware. It can be thought of as the frequency where our subconscious resides and is where lucid dreaming takes place. In theta we experience vivid imagery, intuition and information beyond our normal conscious awareness. It’s where we hold our fears, shadows or ‘stuff’.
Theta is our gateway to learning, memory, and intuition. In theta, our senses are withdrawn from the external world and focused on internal signals. Most people only experience this place fleetingly as they wake or drift off to sleep. Theta brain waves are responsible for moments of creativity and “ah ha” moments. This is the state that yoga nidra and ThetaHealing® allows us to access.
- Too much: ADHD, depression, hyperactivity, impulsivity, inattentiveness
- Too little: Anxiety, poor emotional awareness, stress
- Optimal: Creativity, emotional connection, intuition, relaxation
ALPHA WAVES (8 TO 12 HZ)
The waves of deep relaxation, flow and presence
Alpha brainwaves are all about ‘the power of now’, being here, in the present moment. They’re dominant during quietly flowing thoughts. Alpha is the state created when your brain is idling or resting. Alpha brainwaves are typical when you’re daydreaming or consciously practicing mindfulness or meditation.
Alpha waves can also be created by doing aerobic exercise – That place people often reach when running, lifting weights or ecstatic dancing!
Alpha waves aid overall mental coordination, calmness, alertness, mind/body integration and learning. Alpha waves create a state that can be thought of as the bridge between conscious thinking and the subconscious mind. Often described as ‘Flow States.’ In other words, alpha is the frequency range between beta and theta and is a highly desirable state to achieve, but can be difficult to maintain.
Activating Alpha waves helps us calm down and promotes feelings of deep relaxation. Its why its a good idea to go for a walk round the block, get your feet on the earth or in the grass, or do a 5 minute dance off in your kitchen several times a day.
If we become chronically stressed, a phenomenon called “alpha blocking” may occur which involves excessive beta activity and very little alpha. Essentially the beta waves “block” out the production of alpha because we become too aroused.
- Too much: Daydreaming, inability to focus, too relaxed
- Too little: Anxiety, high stress, insomnia, OCD
- Optimal: Relaxation and calm, mindful presence.
BETA WAVES (12 TO 35 HZ)
The waves of waking consciousness and reasoning
Beta brainwaves dominate our normal waking state of consciousness when attention is directed towards cognitive tasks and the outside world. Beta waves are required for active thinking.
Beta occurs when we are involved in concentration, ‘fast’ activity, and are present when we are alert, attentive, engaged in problem solving, judgment, decision making, or focused mental activity.
Beta is the state that modern society often requires us to operate in, but continual high frequency processing is not a very efficient way to run the brain. Beta waves allow us to problem solve and be highly focused, they can be elevated by stimulants and coffee but we were not designed to operate solely from this place.
Using the frontal cortex and maintaining beta brain activity takes a tremendous amount of energy. Extended periods of Beta, without exposure to relaxation, rest and rejuvenation can lead to depression and chronic stress disorders.
- Too much: Adrenaline, anxiety, high arousal, inability to relax, stress
- Too little: ADHD, daydreaming, depression, poor cognition
- Optimal: Conscious focus, memory, problem solving
GAMMA WAVES (35 TO 100HZ – with 40 being average)
The waves of Insight and enlightenment – Collective consciousness.
Gamma brainwaves are the fastest of brain waves (high frequency, like a flute to deltas drum.) Gamma brainwaves pass information rapidly and quietly. They are the most subtle of the brainwave frequencies, the mind has to be quiet to access gamma. Initially gamma waves were dismissed as ‘spare brain noise’ until researchers discovered them to be highly active when humans were in states of universal love, altruism, and the ‘higher virtues’. Unusual in ‘normal’ people, Gamma waves have been detected in tibetan monks and those who have practiced meditation for prolonged periods.
The neural activity associated with Gamma brainwaves is by far the most interesting. Gamma brainwaves are considered the brain’s optimal frequency of functioning as when in a Gamma state, whole neurons fire up in synch, and sensory perception is bound in an unusual yet fascinating way.
Gamma brainwaves might just be enlightenment, or success in the form of electrical brain activity.
Neuroscientists believe that people can train themselves to produce more of the gamma frequency and it is believed that focusing on compassion and love is the way to do this.
Gamma waves relate to simultaneous processing of information from different brain areas.
Gamma is also above the frequency of neuronal firing, so how it is generated remains a mystery. It is speculated that gamma rhythms modulate perception and consciousness, and that a greater presence of gamma relates to expanded consciousness and spiritual emergence.
So, what do we conclude from all of this?
Well, from where I stand, it seems that by accessing and using all 4 sets of normal brainwaves regularly we have the most chance of good brain health, and optimal everything. It seems to access Gamma, we can use brain entrainment, and take really good care of our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual health.
In the third part of this series I’ll draw on my research and case studies and look a little further at the hows and whys of stimulating different brainwaves consciously and on purpose to increase our health and wellbeing, levels of happiness and love.
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