The human brain is a constant process of billions of neurons sending and receiving signals of electrical impulse.
This complex interaction is what drives your experience of life, right down to your mood, thoughts, and senses.
A brainwave is how we can describe the various states of this electrical activity — known as a brainwave pattern.
Depending on what you may be doing or experiencing, your brainwaves will vary. For example, these waves are different 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 five major brainwave frequencies, each corresponding to different activities and levels of consciousness.
Gamma waves are the fastest range with frequencies from 27 Hz and up. This state of mind is ideal for the formation of new ideas, learning something new, and processing large amounts of information.
In this state of mind, various parts of your brain are being processed simultaneously, which will sometimes result in spontaneous bursts of creative insight. This heightened brain state is associated with peak concentration and extreme levels of cognitive functioning.
These frequencies are also related to expanded consciousness and feelings of love, reported by experienced meditators such as monks and nuns were practice compassion meditation.
The frequency of beta waves range from 14 Hz to 30 Hz. These brainwaves occur when you 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 attention deficit disorder. Healthy levels of beta waves cause you to feel fresh, awake, and full of natural energy.
Alpha waves are produced when you are calm, lucid, and not thinking. The frequency of these waves range from 7 Hz to 13 Hz and this is when we experience peace, clarity, and flow.
The brain starts to slow down into a more passive, receptive state where you feel calm, peaceful, grounded, and less stressed with constant thinking. This is when you are drifting into a light sleep or meditation — you start to become aware of your subconscious activity in the form of mental imagery, or lucid dreaming.
Alpha waves are a perfect indication that you are in a state of calm rest. Within alpha brainwave frequencies, you are fully immersed in the moment (not so distracted by negative thoughts and meaningless worry — this is the mind of wakeful bliss).
When you are lightly sleeping or in a more deep state of relaxation, your brain is most likely producing theta waves ranging from 4 Hz to 8 Hz in frequency. A brain producing theta waves are ideally receptive to hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis — the activity of the subconscious mind becomes more accessible. Theta is ideal for the experience of deep meditation.
The slowest brainwaves are delta waves, where frequencies range from 0.2 Hz to 3 Hz. The brain produces delta waves during sleep, when you are in the deepest part of your sleep and not dreaming.
This is the time when the body has the opportunity to heal and to reset itself.
This is when your mind and body heal and recover. At this time, you are completely unconscious, but the most spiritually connected to your subconscious dialogue. Tibetan monks who have been meditating for decades can reach this in an alert, wakened phase, but most of us reach this final state during deep, dreamless sleep.
Meditation Affects Our Brainwave Frequencies in a Positive Way
As you can see, these brainwaves correspond to certain mental states that each serves different and unique purposes. But the problems begin when these brainwaves fall out of balance. Overstimulation in certain areas is linked to anxiety, insomnia, stress, overthinking, and tension. Under stimulation can lead to mid-day grogginess, fatigue, and some symptoms of depression.
Many studies have revealed that through meditation you are able to balance these brainwave frequencies in order to slow down your mind and calm your nerves. When you are stressed you have a high level of cortisol — often referred to as the stress hormone — and an overactive nervous system.
By learning how to control your focus through meditation, activity in your brain is brought to a lower frequency. This triggers a state of intense calm focus — keeping your stress responses under control and your mind running on a more positive flow of energy.
During meditation, theta waves are usually the most active. This indicates that you are in a profound state of deep relaxation. Bringing your brainwaves into a lower frequency will allow you to experience more space through your thinking and develop a greater awareness of your thought patterns instead of getting dragged around by them.
Meditation with binaural beats is an incredibly easy and effective way to access these deeper states of consciousness. Studies have shown that practicing meditation will produce significant changes in the electrical impulses that result in your brainwave activity.
Meditation enables you to move from higher frequency brain waves to lower frequency, which activates different centers in your brain.
When you practice meditation, you are also strengthening certain parts of your brain — such as the prefrontal cortex (responsible for emotional regulation, focus, and decision making). You are also tempering activity in certain parts of the neural pathways in the brain which allow you to be less reactive to situations that may have previously caused you stress or anxiety.
Developing more clarity and peace into your day-to-day lives becomes the direct effect of consistent meditation.
Slower wavelengths mean more time between thoughts, allowing you the opportunity to skillfully choose which thoughts you invest in and what actions you take. By simply putting on your headphones or earbuds and listening to these audio sessions, brainwave entrainment is the technology that will help you accomplish a more relaxed and optimal mental state.