There are four different brainwave frequencies or patterns of brain activity. Let’s learn how they can help you unleash your mind’s full potential.
The human brain is more than just an organ. Due to its methodical yet mysterious functions, the brain has always been compared to a computing system which records, stores and retrieves vital data. Before we discuss brainwave frequencies, let’s talk about the way the brain activity occurs.
Most of the recorded information is received through the senses and is encoded in electrical impulses. All parts of the brain communicate with each other, and this is done through a vast array of nerve cells – the neurons – which work like small “electrical” stations. Their membrane presents an electrochemical charge on the external surface, releasing it again and again in the form of what is called cyclical electrical potential. This is what is commonly known as the brain waves.
These waves then travel along neural protrusions called axons and dendrites to other neurons. The nerve cells act in unison to generate thoughts, movements, and information that spread through very fine networks, between the various parts of the brain and the organs of action.
The four brainwave frequencies
The frequency of these waves is calculated in ‘cycles per second‘, or Hertz (Hz). The brainwave frequencies vary depending on the type of activity in which the brain is engaged and can be measured by electronic devices like the electroencephalograph (EEG). Scientists commonly categorize the electromagnetic waves in four patterns, which reflect different types of brain activity throughout the day:
1. Delta waves
They have a frequency between 0.5 and 4 Hz and are associated with the deepest psycho-physical relaxation. Delta brain waves are present in the unconscious mind, sleep, dreams, and total deprivation. Therefore, they are produced during the unconscious processes of self-healing.
2. Theta waves
When the state of calmness and relaxation transforms into drowsiness, the brain moves to slower rhythmic waves with a frequency of 4-7 Hz. Theta is accompanied by unexpected, unpredictable, dreamlike but very vivid images (known as hypnagogic images). Often, these surprisingly real images are accompanied by intense memories.
Theta waves offer subconscious access, unexpected revelations and creative inspiration. It is a mysterious, confusing, high-potential and even enlightening experience. The research of theta waves is not an easy task because it is very difficult to maintain this state as people tend to fall asleep as soon as they start generating large amounts of theta waves.
3. Alpha waves
Alpha waves have a frequency ranging from 8 to 14 Hz and are associated with a state of vigilant but relaxed mind. The mind, calm and receptive, is focused on solving external problems or attaining a light meditative state.
Alpha waves dominate in introspective moments or in those where the concentration to achieve a precise goal takes place. They are typical, for example, for the brain activity of those engaged in a meditation session, yoga or tai chi.
4. Beta waves
Beta wave has a frequency ranging from 14 to 30 Hz and is associated with the normal awareness when we are focused on the external stimuli. For example, when reading these lines, your brain is producing beta waves.
These waves are, in fact, the basis of our fundamental activities of survival, associated with sorting, selecting and evaluating the stimuli that come from the world around us.
The beta waves also allow quick reactions and actions. In times of stress or anxiety, beta waves give us the ability to keep the situation under control and quickly solve a problem.
Can Humans Control the Brainwave Frequencies?
No. The cycle of the brainwave frequencies occurs naturally. As a matter of fact, the cycle of the waves gradually increases from the moment when we wake up and goes through all the four patterns until we fall asleep: from delta to beta.
All the same time, we can select activities that stimulate our brain and trigger the brainwave frequencies that offer an optimum result and improve our lives in many ways.
Consequently, scientists claim that the healthiest state of mind is the one experienced in the Alpha stage.
Alpha waves are common for those who are very creative and have a clear mind. If you close your eyes for more than a minute, the level of alpha waves will increase automatically.
In childhood, for example, each one of us had a much stronger alpha wave activity. Some researchers claim that if it was possible to live with a child-like mental state, we would be able to live for up to 300 years. That is because children live in the present moment and don’t waste their brain activity on worries and regrets.
How to Maintain an Alpha State?
The way we start the day will set the tone for the rest of the day. Although the external factors may not always trigger the alpha frequencies, the power lies within us and our thinking pattern. This is why it is essential to start the day with positive affirmations and thoughts or relaxing activities:
1. Meditation Routine
A chaotic lifestyle can barely leave room for personal development. Yet, it is necessary to make time for meditation and emotional healing. Meditation through prayers, fitness, yoga, etc., can effectively activate the alpha brainwaves and help you access the state of creativity and relaxation.
2. Visualization of Ideas
The Indian philosophy states that if we say a word 1000 times, it becomes a mantra, a thought which literally creates the future. The word “mantra” in Sanskrit is a combination of two words – “man” (thought) and “tra” (release), so the mantra should be a thought of liberation.
Even if you may not want to say what you wish for, try to visualize it or how you would achieve that state/goal.
3. Binaural Beats
Binaural beats are based on brainwave technology designed to create a similar state of relaxation that can be reached through traditional methods.
All you need is a pair of headphones and an MP3 Player. While listening to binaural beats, it is recommended to avoid distractions or activities that will demand your full attention since activating the alpha state requires you to stay focused on your inner world.
How do you relax your mind and activate your alpha brainwaves? Feel free to share your experiences with us in the comments below.