Understanding Brainwaves and Your Health
Why Care About Brainwaves?
Our brainwave profile and our everyday experience of the world are inseparable. When our brainwaves are out of equilibrium, there will be corresponding issues in our psychological and physical wellbeing. Research has identified brainwave patterns related to multiple types of emotional and neurological conditions.
Over-arousal in certain brain regions is linked to anxiety disorders, sleep issues, nightmares, hyper-vigilance, spontaneous behaviour, anger/aggression, agitated depression, chronic nerve pain and spasticity. Under-arousal in certain brain regions leads to some kinds of depression, attention deficit, chronic pain and insomnia. A combination of under-arousal and over-arousal is observed in cases of anxiety, depression and ADHD.
DELTA WAVES (.5 TO 3 HZ)
Delta brainwaves are slow, loud brainwaves (low frequency and deeply penetrating, like a drum beat). They are generated in deepest meditation and dreamless sleep. Delta waves suspend external awareness and are the source of empathy. Healing and regeneration are stimulated in this state, and that is why deep restorative sleep is so essential to the healing process.
THETA WAVES (3 TO 8 HZ)
Theta brainwaves occur most often in sleep but are also dominant in deep meditation. Theta is our gateway to learning, memory, and intuition. In theta, our senses are withdrawn from the external world and focused on signals originating from within. It is that twilight state which we normally only experience fleetingly as we wake or drift off to sleep. In theta, we are in a dream; vivid imagery, intuition and information beyond our normal conscious awareness. It’s where we hold our ‘stuff’, our fears, troubled history, and nightmares.
ALPHA WAVES (8 TO 12 HZ)
Alpha brainwaves are dominant during quietly flowing thoughts and in some meditative states. Alpha is ‘the power of now’, being here, in the present. Alpha is the resting state for the brain. Alpha waves aid overall mental coordination, calmness, alertness, mind/body integration and learning.
BETA WAVES (12 TO 38 HZ)
Beta brainwaves dominate our normal waking state of consciousness when attention is directed towards cognitive tasks and the outside world. Beta is a ‘fast’ activity, present when we are alert, attentive, engaged in problem-solving, judgment, decision making, or focused mental activity.
Beta brainwaves are further divided into three bands; Lo-Beta (Beta1, 12-15Hz) can be thought of as a ‘fast idle’, or musing. Beta (Beta2, 15-22Hz) is a high engagement or actively figuring something out. Hi-Beta (Beta3, 22-38Hz) is highly complex thought, integrating new experiences, high anxiety, or excitement. Continual high-frequency processing is not a very efficient way to run the brain, as it takes a tremendous amount of energy.
GAMMA WAVES (38 TO 42 HZ)
Gamma brainwaves are the fastest of brain waves (high frequency, like a flute), and relate to simultaneous processing of information from different brain areas. Gamma brainwaves pass information rapidly and quietly. The most subtle of the brainwave frequencies, the mind has to be quiet to access gamma.
Gamma was dismissed as ‘spare brain noise’ until researchers discovered it was highly active when in states of universal love, altruism, and the ‘higher virtues’. Gamma is also above the frequency of neuronal firing, so how it is generated remains a mystery. It is speculated that gamma rhythms modulate perception and consciousness and that a greater presence of gamma relates to expanded consciousness and spiritual emergence.