Brain Waves & Their Effects on You – Part 2 *
* This is a summarized version. If you need more details about this topic, please download the MP3 file, from the store section.
We all have 4 main brainwaves, and they are, according to their speeds, from highest to lowest: Beta, Alpha, Theta & Delta. Each brainwave activity has its own characteristics, reflecting a special state of consciousness and a certain level of brain activity. The current state of your brain is determined by the dominant frequency of your brainwaves. The Gamma state which can be the fifth of the brainwaves, is not considered as a main brainwave state because rarely you can find a person who has this unique state. It is a very fascinating and exclusive state.
Electricity in the brain moves in the form of waves at all times. These waves are classified according to their speed, according to their frequency. Neuroscience wanted to know about how the brain functions and how it can influence the person. The first discovery about brain functioning began in 1920, at the hands of Hans Berger a German researcher. He was the first to find out that brain electricity changes according to mental processes. The first brainwave he discovered was the Alpha state. In 1930's and 40's, researchers discovered 3 types of brainwaves: Beta, Theta & Delta. Only recently, Gamma state was discovered. Neuroscience discovered that the brain-like any organ of the body- vibrates with electricity, and the rhythm of this electricity which is called brainwaves, causes different states of being. Each of these brainwave states has its own speed range and associations. Research is not totally united about speed range of each state. However, the variations are minimal, and here I will demonstrate the main speed range and characteristics of each brainwave state.
The 5 Brainwave States:
Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta & Gamma:
1- Beta State: (14-40 Hz)- The High-Speed Conscious State:
This is the highest speed of main waves. Beta waves dominate our waking lives as adults. We reach this state when we are actively thinking, engaged in focused mental activity, problem solving and when we are generally alert. It is also associated with logic and decision making. This state is important for us because we spend most of our daily times in different forms of actions, which necessitate a high level of consciousness or alertness. However at this high speed of brain activity, it drains a lot of energy. Furthermore, if we get to the higher level of Beta, say close to 30 Hz or faster speed, we may end being too alert or anxious. Anger, nervousness & fear all happen at the high end of Beta. These negative emotions not only consume tremendous energy but worse, they release harmful hormones like cortisol and others. A continuous state of Beta will diminish your natural ability to relax and also limit your ability to enjoy life. Unfortunately, because of our life style, because we need to do the things that activate Beta such as driving, thinking, problem solving, discussing, studying …etc., we end up in being dominated by it. Research shows that once we pass childhood age, once we become adults, our brainwaves become mostly Beta, during the waking state. This – very likely – may develop stress, restlessness & anxiety in our lives. It is no wonder that stress is a major health problem today, worldwide.
2- Alpha : (8-14 Hz) – The Relaxation State:
This state is about mental relaxation and calmness. In Alpha, the brain learns at a faster and deeper level than Beta. You reach this level when you are relaxed. It is not quite like meditation but a stage that is close to feeling restful, such as sitting on the beach, or listening to calm sounds or music, or walking through a beautiful garden, or just sitting by yourself calmly. It reflects a resting state of mind and nerves. It is associated with creativity, mind/body co-ordination, inspiration and learning. It is good for creating new ideas and reflection. It is about focusing on the present, the importance of now.
Research has shown that Alpha not only improves the performance of students, but also makes students more interested in studying than before. Alpha state is effective for influencing your conscious mind and ultimately, inducing changes at the conscious level. Studies show that by repeatedly accessing Alpha state (especially if combined with meditation), people can get rid of anxiety, or depression.
3- Theta: (4-8 Hz)- The Meditation State:
This state is the border between waking and sleeping, and also the border between the conscious and unconscious mind. It can be reached either by deep meditation, deep relaxation (like hypnosis relaxation) and sleeping with dreams (dreamless sleep is Delta). Theta is a magical state that is the doorway to your unconscious mind UM. You can experience it when you move from Alpha and begin to sleep or when you wake up, moving from Delta (deep Sleep). In Theta, you can get super learning ability, vivid visualization, deep creativity and mind programming. Although during Theta your body is in deep relaxation, you are aware of your surroundings and your senses are sharper. Your mind’s profound programs are at Theta. If you want to induce changes at the unconscious level, this is where you start. Super memory begins at Theta. Dreaming, strong mental concentration and higher intuition are all associated with Theta waves. In this state, you can also enjoy strong spiritual energy. Theta state can be very helpful to generate a lot of energy to the extent that some people noticed that half an hour a day of Theta can replace 4 hours of sleep. This is one reason that Theta is the start of the healing stage. Children are dominated by Theta –much more than adults-and this is a major factor for their accelerated learning abilities.
4- Delta (0.1-4 Hz) – The Deep Sleep State:
This is the slowest of all waves. It occurs when you sleep deeply and without dreams. It can be also reached through deep meditation or deep trance hypnosis. Like Theta, you can reach your unconscious mind UM and induce many changes, only difference is that at Delta level, profound changes are more available than in Theta. The healing process which starts at Theta level can be more profound and complete at Delta. This state is the source of empathy. Many long-lasting emotional disorders and physical diseases can only be treated under Delta. This is one main factor that contributes to the success of deep hypnosis.
5- Gamma (40-100 Hz) – The Exceptional State:
This state is the most recently discovered, and little is known about it and in a way it is still a mystery to many researchers. It is the fastest waves ranging between 40 Hz to 100 Hz, although some studies estimate it to start at 30Hz. Gamma waves were unknown before the advent of EEG devices. Neuroscientists are now discovering the marvelous functions of the brain when it operates under Gamma. They describe it as the “feeling of blessings”. It is said that the brain functions best under Gamma and therefore, the person reaches peak performance, mentally and physically. Research has found that people who suffer from depression, usually have very low Gamma level. It is no wonder that high Gamma activity is associated with feelings of happiness, calmness and at peace. It is like a different state of consciousness. Gamma disappears under anesthesia, and it is also above the frequency of neuronal firing, which is still a mystery. The other mystery is how it is generated? Many researchers studied persons with high Gamma level, and they found that it is high in experienced meditators like Tibetan monks. Richard Davidson, a professor for neuroscience at the University of Madison, Wisconsin, studied monks visualizing world peace. He noticed that these monks as they began to meditate, their brain speed slowed down to Alpha and then Theta, and whenever they began to deeply visualize, their brain frequencies speeded up to Gamma state. Other researchers found that experienced Tibetan meditators have high Gamma level before, during and after meditation. Higher Gamma waves are noticeable among deep meditators much more than in novice meditators. EEG readings showed that novice meditators reach Alpha or Theta states while Expert meditators usually have high Gamma waves. Those meditators describe their feeling as the sensation of being able to do anything. Researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany concluded that the altered state of consciousness that results from expert-level meditation is in fact Gamma state. Neuroscientists Jurgen Fell, Nikolai Axmacher and Sven Haupt reported in August 2010 paper, that expert meditators (meditators who practiced deep meditation for years or decades) enjoy continuous high Gamma level even without meditating. Brain scans show that deep meditators also develop increased cortical thickness of the brain, and even are associated with “neuroplasticity” which means their brain is able to form new connections and therefore, reach new levels of consciousness. This altered state of consciousness may explain why persons with high Gamma level are not only happier and calmer but also enjoy richer sensory experience. For example, in this state, food tastes better, smell is stronger, and colors are brighter and sharper. They describe this experience as “blissful sensation”. It is interesting to note the paradox of Gamma: whenever the brain speeds up to Gamma level, the sense of time slows down. This is evident during a car accident: The brain enters high Gamma level while time seems to slow down!
Neuroscience claims that everyone has Gamma waves, but very few persons have it at a high level, and even fewer persons can maintain it at that high level. This brings us to this important question: How do we get high Gamma level?
One simple answer is meditation. Neuroscientists think that we can train ourselves to get higher Gamma waves. Studies show that meditation and especially deep meditation increases Gamma waves. What is interesting here is what you focus on during meditation. In one remarkable study, whenever monks were asked to focus on love and compassion, immediately their brain speeded up to Gamma state. Researchers recently discovered that the brain becomes in Gamma state whenever the person concentrates on higher virtues such as altruism, love, and compassion. This may answer a long-time question regarding how different forms of meditation lead to different states of consciousness. All meditation styles lead to different degrees of Gamma level, but it seems that focusing on faith or love during meditation, is a major key to high gamma level. There is no doubt that higher spirituality is linked to higher Gamma state.