Brain Waves & Their Effects on You – Part 3
* This is a summarized version. If you need more details about this topic, please download the MP3 file, from the store section.
1- Natural Changes of Brainwaves:
We now know that we enter different brain frequency according to what we do. And this frequency changes as we do something else. For example, when you drive your car, you are in Beta, but as you park your car, and enter your home, and lay down on the couch, your brain starts to slow down and enter Alpha, the relaxation state. If you continue in this state for a while, you may feel asleep which means you are entering the Theta state. If you sleep deeply, that is the Delta state. We conclude that our brain has access to all brainwaves and is able to shift from one to another with relative ease. We can also look at this phenomenon in a reverse pattern, which means we can influence our brain, by a special stimulus, to enter a specific desired state. For example, you have a meeting which requires your mental concentration and also high level of calmness, but you have just finished from driving in a crowded and noisy street and that driving experience had its negative effects on your mood and nerves. You feel nervous and maybe furious. You enter the meeting room and your current state is high Beta. In this state, you may tend to argue and complain rather than listen and decide, which may result in messing up the meeting and you may lose the deal. Now this situation may also happen between husband and wife. The man just arrives from his work where he had a bad situation with his boss, and as he enters the house, his wife wants to tell him about an urgent problem with their son. As they gather around dinner table, the man is not able to listen carefully as he is still in high Beta, and the conversation may turn negatively. Many unnecessary arguments and disputes, including marital problems and business failures result from being stuck in Beta waves. Under normal processes, we change our brain frequency as we move from one behavior to another. As you drive and then enter your home and relax on the couch, this process takes time, and in many cases longer than needed. Sometimes you don't have enough time to wait for the natural process to occur. During an important meeting, you don't have enough time to recover from driving anxiety.
On the other hand, some studies show that some people are "stuck" in one brainwave state. They do not have the natural ability of the brain to shift freely between different states. Being "stuck" in one main state means the brain activity will be out of balance. Problems will arise when you can't shift your brain to match the demands of life.
Therefore, before we talk about how to purposely shift our brain states, we need first to know the obstacles that prevent us from reaching our "natural" states.
2- Obstacles to Brainwave Changes:
Our natural ability to shift from one brain frequency to another can be caused by many factors. These factors can be summarized by the following:
A- Life Style & Fatigue: if your life style requires you to be on the go for a long time every day, you end up feeling tired and drained. If you party every night and go to work the next day, you will feel the fatigue in your body. These activities will slow down your brainwaves, and if they become your life style, then you develop one main frequency which may continue in you. Fatigue also slows down your frequency as the sensation of being tired draws sleep feeling. If your frequency slows down for a long period, you may not be able to speed it up whenever you need to.
B- Medications, Alcohol and Drugs: These factors have the tendency to slow down your brain speed. They may even cause damage to your brain cells, especially for cocaine and other drugs. With brain damage, the processing speed of the brain becomes slower and memory becomes weaker.
C- Emotional Stress: If you have a negative emotion for a long time, or if you are suffering from a severe emotional experience SEE, your brain will be tired and slower. You may not be able to activate all parts of your brain, and usually you use only the left side of the brain for processing. Using one part of the brain means you are really stuck and the brain will not function properly. I have talked a lot about the difference between right and left brain and their effects on us, in my blog and in other audio files.
D- Lack of Sleep: Prolonged period of sleepless nights or not sleeping enough hours for a long time can cause brain fatigue as well as body weakness. With brain fatigue, the brain starts to slow down and its energy decreases.
It is important to distinguish between the brain slowing down because of fatigue and when it slows down naturally. In the former case, the brain loses a lot of energy and it becomes less effective. The other distinction is that when the brain shifts to slower brainwaves naturally, it is still able to maintain high mental concentration, either consciously as it is in Alpha, or unconsciously as in Theta or even Delta. When I say "the changing of brainwaves naturally", I mean changing by normal brain shifts because of what we do or even as a result on inducing the brain to change. Either way, the brain functions normally, and it is different from when the brain is under abnormal influences such as the four obstacles mentioned here.
3- How to Induce the Brain for Desired Brainwave States?
We need to shift our brain speed to match what we want to do. To put it simply: If we want to sleep, we need to slow down our brain to Theta. If we need to focus at work, we need to speed up to Beta. There are methods that we can utilize to change the brainwaves in a smooth and easy way. These techniques are hypnosis, visualization, breathing patterns, relaxation and meditation. All of these techniques are usually used for slowing down your brainwaves to a different state, except in the mysterious case of Gamma. However, in some cases, we can also speed up the brain using same techniques but in a different way, especially, using hypnosis or visualization. Therefore, the rule here is that the more you use these tools, the slower the speed of your brainwaves will be. According to one study by Akira Kasamatsu and Tomio Hirai on Zen monks going into deep meditation, EEG readings showed that all monks during meditation had passed through all of the four main brainwaves and in sequence, meaning first they had Beta, then Alpha, Theta and Delta. The other interesting observation of the study, is that the level of brainwaves of each monk reflects his experience in meditation, meaning that experienced monks who had 20 years experience in meditation, produced the highest level of Theta among other monks, and even with high Theta level, the monks did not sleep but rather were mentally alert.
I have talked a lot about hypnosis, meditation, visualization and other tools to change the person, and have talked about those in other articles and audio files, therefore, I will cover here only the other tools to change the brainwaves.
4- Brain Entrainment:
One of the best stimuli for brainwaves is brain Entrainment. Pulses of sound or light, repeated at same intervals will create brain electrical response, and this is called Brainwave Entrainment (or BWE). This means if an external stimulus is applied to the brain, the brainwaves of the brain will change or "entrained" from one state to another. For example, if a person is anxious, in high Beta, and a stimulus of 7 Hz is induced to their brain for some time, the brainwaves are likely to change to Theta, towards the applied speed of 7 Hz. If the brain is given a stimulus, through the ears, eyes or other senses, it responds with another electrical impulses with a corresponding speed that matches the speed of the stimulus. For example, a drum beat can be a stimulus to the brain if repeated. The rhythm of drum beats will resemble brainwaves inside the brain. Therefore, if the rhythm starts to be faster, the brainwaves also become faster, and this is called the Frequency Following Response (or FFR). This phenomenon of FFR is useful to induce desired brainwaves states. For example, if you want to sleep, which means you need to slow down your brain frequency to a level close to 4 Hz, you need to listen to a 4 Hz sound pattern. This is the concept behind brain entrainment which you can use to induce other mental states such as concentration, relaxation, creativity and meditation.
The mostly used methods for brain entrainment are through the ears and vision, the ears being the easiest. It is important here to note that by just listening to an audio entrainment program may not be enough to induce the desired state, because you also need to have the willingness and desire to go into that state, and also be ready to receive that state. Also you need to repeat the exercise to get maximum effects. This is because the brain needs some time to "learn" the induced state which means this entrainment state must be repeated for some time, and then the brain will be able to self-produce it, even without entrainment program. There are many entrainment programs developed by many companies and they usually include CDs and audio software. These CDs are for different kinds of states and purposes, but mainly they are produced for achieving: meditation, sleep, concentration, creativity, relaxation, learning, and even for higher consciousness. The question is naturally, which is the best among these CDs & programs? How can you determine that this CD is better than that? One answer is that you choose the program that develops its speed with session time, meaning that its sound pulses slow down as the session develops. This is because brain entrainment works best when your brain speed is close to the applied stimulus. For example, let us assume that you want to sleep, that means you want either Theta or Dela state. If you buy a CD that starts with Beta brainwave entrainment, which is supposedly your current state, and then the CD tone or sound pulses, slows down dramatically and quickly to say, Theta, then the result may NOT be very effective. You would more benefit if the CD starts at Beta, like the previous case, but it starts gradually and slowly to move to slower brainwave speed, like it moves first to Alpha, and then after some time it moves to Theta. This way, the CD would allow your brain enough time to match and follow the changing tone or pulses, and thus the brain would be able to change to this desired state. This also explains why expert hypnotherapists gradually and slowly change their tone and rhythm of voice to induce the change at the unconscious level, being extremely careful to add a corresponding suggestion to a different tone. Some CDs are created by experts in hypnosis and meditation that know how to change the development of the program, and thus changing the frequency rate of the CD whether it is the music or pulses of sound or the intensity and volume of voice. It is better that these changes happen at stages with indirect cues or suggestions. The brain at the unconscious level can notice these variations in sound and speed and then will match them, and then match the desired frequency. Many persons say that they noticed big changes in them after listening to these CDs for a good period of time. Meditation CDs are especially effective for beginners, because normal meditation techniques usually take few years to master and to be effective, while almost same effects are attained with meditation CDs that focus on altering brainwaves to a range between 8-12 Hz, the Alpha state. Combining hypnosis CDs with meditation CDs is very effective to reach Theta state at a quicker period of time. Hypnosis can program your unconscious mind UM to be very receptive to slower brainwaves stimulus. It is no wonder that master hypnotherapists can hypnotize themselves during a flight trip to sleep during the whole duration of the trip. They can do it easily and repeatedly.
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