Our brain produces electrical impulses, patterns of electrical activity that generate brainwaves. This is the basic function of our brains and is greatly influenced by our thoughts and emotions. Our behaviors such as meditation or risk taking will significantly impact the brainwave activity in markedly different ways.
To understand this better, let’s take a look at just what causes these electrical impulses in your brain.
Brainwaves are measured in Hertz (cycles per second) with an EEG machine (electroencephalograph) by placing electrodes on the scalp. These measurements are very useful for people with sleep disorders, seizure disorders or epilepsy, and certain dementias. What doctors are measuring is the neuron activity of the brain cells (neurons) that communicate with one another through these electric impulses in a wave pattern. But what happens to brainwaves during calm, meditative activities?
The brainwave patterns will vary depending on the brain’s response to any task, emotion or thought. This results in a level of consciousness and cognitive processing which is then measurable. As an example, when you are in a state of intense concentration or anxiety your brainwaves will be more active than when you are in a state of calm thoughtfulness or meditation.
To help you understand this science, let’s look at the five different types of brain waves ranging from low to high frequency. Generally, your brain activity is reflected in a combination of brainwaves with one particular one dominant over the others.
BRAINWAVE FREQUENCIES (Hertz = cycles per second):
- Delta (0.5-3 Hz) are the slowest brain waves and low frequency. Deeply penetrating, like a drumbeat, they are generated during deep meditation and dreamless sleep. Healing and regeneration occur when the brain is in this state of deep, restorative sleep.
- Theta (3-8 Hz) waves also occur in sleep and deep meditation. Theta is memory and intuition, reflective of an inner focus. As our senses withdraw from the external world our dreams can reveal vivid imagery occur in this state.
- Alpha (8-12 Hz) waves occur when you are having quiet, peaceful, flowing thoughtful, and during some meditation practices. As the resting state of the brain, Alpha waves are of mental alertness, calmness, mind-body connection, and learning.
- Beta (12-38 Hz) waves are the most common pattern when we are focused on cognitive learning tasks and what is happening in our outside world. in the normal waking state, they occur when one is alert and focused on problem solving.
- Gamma (38-42 Hz) waves are the fastest and are associated with higher levels of consciousness, a means of simultaneous processing of information from different brain areas. To access Gamma the mind must be incredibly quiet and deeply introspective.
So, what does this all mean? Your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health are all dependent on your level of brainwave activity. Known healing occurs when the brainwaves are in the slower wave bands.
How to achieve this slower brainwave pattern? Through healing modalities which promote a relaxed state of mind. One of the foremost healing therapies currently
music, drumming and chanting, to live crystal bowl “sound baths” the evidence is promising. Sound therapy entrains your brain into a calm, meditative state, where you will experience many benefits. Most people report an almost immediate response to sound healing modalities, promoting a meditative, calming, even sleep inducing response. If you are curious about how these modalities might improve your mental, physical, emotional and even spiritual outlook on life, I encourage you to give sound healing a try!