Brainwave states

August 16, 2006

The brain is an electrochemical organ that emits an electrical charge that can be measured and also influenced through a technique known as entrainment. Entrainment is the tendency for two oscillating systems that have similar periods to fall into synch with one another. What usually happens is that the system with the greater frequency slows down to match the system with the lesser frequency. I had a very strange experience with this when I was on my meditation retreat last month when my heart beat kept synching itself to the ticking of my bedside clock. Other anecdotal evidence of these things include how people you’re having a close rapport with will often mirror breathing patterns, and for women who live together to slowly gain matching menstrual cycles.

In any case, the brainwave states are typically divided into these five categories:

  • Gamma: 38-80 Hz (waves per second). A heightened state of awareness. Your mind will feel loose and free, able to make wide connections quickly. Good for wit, improve, problem-solving, and sometimes even ESP.
  • Beta: 12-38 Hz. A focused state. You will often be in this state when engaged in conversation, leading a group, or engaged in something new.
  • Alpha: 8-12 Hz. A meditative or relaxed state. Associated with taking a rest between working states, or taking a shower, or driving down a familiar road, or on a walk.
  • Theta: 3-8 Hz. A sleepy state. Right after you wake up or right before you fall asleep. You are still thinking but everything is a bit groggy and slow. Hypnosis can often take people into this very suggestible state.
  • Delta : 0.2-3 Hz. Deep, dreamless sleep.

Once you recognize these states, it’s possible to take advantages of the strengths of each. The alpha and theta states are great for new idea generation… the commonly reported phenomenon of getting your best ideas in the shower, or driving to work, or walking to the store seem to support this. On the other hand, Beta and gamma states are best for intensely social and communicative environments… first dates, parties, etc.

There are biofeedback and brainwave alteration tools out there to help entrain you into deeper slower states of awareness. My question for you is, do you know what you’d want to do with these different states if you could better control them?


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