The human brain is a constant process of billions of neurons sending and receiving signals of electrical impulse. This complex interaction is what drives our experience of life, right down to our mood, thoughts, and sense.
A brainwave is the language used to describe the various states of this electrical activity — known as a brainwave pattern, which is cyclic in nature, meaning that they are repeated in cycles.
Depending on what you may be doing, the electric activity in your brain can vary. For example, brainwaves differ greatly from when you are awake compared to when you are sleeping. To measure brainwave activity, sensitive equipment called an EEG is used.
Hz is the abbreviation for hertz. This is the unit used to measure frequency and is defined as one cycle per second – the higher the Hz the faster the brainwave activity.
There are 5 types of brainwave frequencies which are classified to a person's current mental state:
Gamma waves have frequencies from 27 Hz and up and are responsible for the formation of ideas, language, learning and memory processing. These waves are the fastest. When we are in a deep sleep, gamma waves disappear but return when we wake up.
These frequencies relate to expanded consciousness and feelings of love. Gamma brainwaves were found in Tibetan Buddhist monks who were practicing compassion meditation.
The frequency of beta waves ranges from 14 Hz to 30 Hz. These brainwaves occur when we are wide awake and this is where we spend most of our waking hours. Although these waves are unassuming, many people lack sufficient beta waves which can cause a host of mental and emotional problems such as depression, insomnia and even ADD.
Alpha waves are produced when we are in complete awareness – alert but relaxed. The frequency of these waves range from 7 Hz to 13 Hz and it is at this state that learning and processing of information are thought to be extremely optimized.
Occurring when you first wake up and when you close your eyes, alpha waves are a perfect indication that a person is in a state of calm. Within alpha brainwave frequencies, we are in a state of light meditation and fully immersed in the moment (less distracted by negative thoughts and meaningless worry – this is the mind of wakeful bliss.)
When someone is lightly sleeping or in a more extreme state of relaxation, their brain is most likely producing theta waves which range from 4 Hz to 8 Hz in frequency. A brain producing theta waves is receptive to hypnotherapy and for self-hypnosis as the mind is in a very receptive mental state.
The last type of brainwaves are delta waves, where frequencies range from 0.2 Hz to 3 Hz. The brain produces delta waves during sleep, when a person is in the deepest part of their sleep and not dreaming.
This is the time when the body has the opportunity to heal and to reset itself.
At this time, the person is completely unconscious, but it is believed that is is within this state that we are most spiritually connected to our subconscious dialogue.
Meditation Affects Our Brainwave Frequencies in a Positive Way
Sometimes these brainwaves can be out of balance, which can cause some problems. Over stimulation in certain areas is linked to anxiety, sleep problems and stress. Under stimulation can lead to some types of depression.
It has been found that through meditation we are able to balance these brainwave frequencies in order to control stress and anxiety. When we are stressed we have a high level of cortisol – often referred to as the stress hormone.
By Learning how to control focus through meditation, activity in the brain is brought to a lower frequency, triggering a state of calm focus – which also keeps cortisol at a controlled level
During meditation, theta waves are usually the most active. This indicates that a person is in a state of deep relaxation. Through bringing the brainwaves into a lower frequency, we are able to experience more space through our thinking and develop a greater awareness of our thought patterns instead of getting dragged around by them.
Meditation with binaural beats is an incredibly effective means of relaxation. Studies have shown that practicing meditation yields marked changes in electrical brainwave activity — which is associated with wakeful and relaxed attention — than just simply resting. Meditation is considered an activity.
When you practice meditation, you are actually strengthening certain parts of your brain — such as the prefrontal cortex (responsible for emotional regulation, focus, and decision making).
We are also weakening certain parts of the neural pathways in the brain which which allow us to be less reactive to situations that may have previously caused stress or anxiety. Developing more clarity and peace into our day to day lives becomes the direct effect of consistent meditation.
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