A wave is an energy transfer phenomenon through matter. Matter through which energy is transferred is referred as medium. The particles of the medium interact with each other and come back to their original position after energy is being transferred. So, a wave transfers energy through matter without affecting the inherent nature of matter.
A brain undergoes activity of continuous thoughts and triggers emotions that form our reality. This activity is achieved through communication between neurons. A brainwave is produced by synchronized electrical impulses from masses of neurons communicating with each other. Thus, brain waves are tiny oscillating electrical voltages in the brain and each wave is just a few millionths of a volt. As the electrical activity changes in the brain, it goes through different wave patterns and can be measured through an EEG or Electroencephalogram. Brainwave speed or frequency is measured in Hertz (cycles/second) and is divided into bands representing slow, moderate and fast waves. The realm of brainwaves is complex and as of now it is understood on a broader perspective.
There are four primary brain wave ranges: Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta. These frequencies range differently over the course of the day while performing different activities.
- Beta – (13-40 Hz) – These frequencies are related to periods of high concentration and cognition. Examples of brain activity of this range are studying for exam, giving a presentation, having a conversation about a topic, reading or writing, practicing a skill etc. In beta state, mind experiences on an average of 30 thoughts per minute.
In this range, mind focuses and concentrates on getting the job done. Beta state allows the conscious mind to focus and communicate with its subconscious memory to produce results. Abundant activity of this range increases stress, thus decreasing efficiency. For example, when a brain is focused on understanding a topic, it oscillates around 13-20Hz and if it is unable to understand it, thoughts of disappointment, ignorance and frustration arises and brainwave oscillation increases to reach 35-40 Hz.
- Alpha – (7-12Hz) – This brain state corresponds to calmness, creativity, imagination and flow. “The Zone” described by high performance athletes are referred to the Alpha brain waves. Alpha waves allow the individual to tap into its inner creativity and solve difficult problems with clarity. Alpha state is the resting state of our brain where effortless alertness and concentration is natural. The brain lives in the present moment with harmonic and quietly flowing thoughts. A mind resonating in Alpha frequencies during meditation experiences a feeling of inner peace and stillness. In alpha state, mind experiences on an average of 15 thoughts per minute.
During Alpha state, your subconscious mind takes over major control of the mind and the conscious mind is a mere witness, analyzing and improving in the flow. Where, Beta state corresponds to learning and practicing a skill, Alpha state is related to performing that skill as a talent. Doubts and fears dominant in Beta state fades away and creativity and confidence emerge in Alpha state to allow the individual to experience a state of flow. The resonant frequencies of earth’s electromagnetic field also lies in Alpha range i.e. 7.5-7.8Hz.
- Theta – (4 – 7 Hz) – This brain state corresponds to deep meditation, intuition, memory and dreaming. During hypnosis, Theta brainwaves are experienced that results in a specific subjective experience and are dominant during sleep and deep meditation. It is evident that sleep is a natural form of unconscious meditation. The domain of the subconscious mind and gateway to the unconscious mind are functions of this range. In Theta state, mind experiences on an average of 7 thoughts per minute.
The subconscious mind filters the memory according to our experiences and maturity. During Beta and Alpha state, the subconscious mind registers experiences of the conscious mind in form of memory, whereas in Theta state our subconscious mind communicates through dreams and vivid imagery depicting important lessons to be learnt based on our daily life experiences.
- Delta – (0-4 Hz) – This brain state corresponds to deep sleep, healing and detached awareness. This state is the realm of mysterious intelligent unconscious mind and is the slowest of all four brainwaves. In this dreamless state, the body is healing itself and resetting its internal clocks. Delta waves help in recovering of a sick body through invoking the right hormones for regeneration.
A human brain experiences these wave patterns throughout a day without realizing its importance. A continuous balance among brain wave patterns is necessary to improve the quality of a life. Research depict that any one brainwave state is active at a given time and depending on the brain activity, other brainwave states are present in a passive mode of association.
The quality of perception depends on the frequency of the brain wave states. The choice of thoughts, emotions and feelings affect the wave patterns, thereby changing focus of the mind and quality of the results. The purpose of understanding characteristics of different brainwave patterns is an opportunity to accept the importance of balanced brainwave states on the quality of mind. Meditation and Yoga are practices to ensure optimum natural balance is maintained throughout the day.