Our brains are constantly active and continuously generate brainwaves. Depending on the state we are in, these brainwaves have dominant frequencies. For example, during deep sleep, your brain makes dominant delta waves, and during a long car ride in which you get a bit dreamy and think: “Gosh, am I here already?”, your brain produces dominant alpha brainwaves.
What are Brainwaves?
Our brains constantly produce electrical pulses that release energy. Together with neurotransmitters and hormones (neurochemicals), these determine how you experience the world around you. The patterns that the electrical pulses cause are called brainwaves. We can distinguish a few different types.
Types of brainwaves: the frequencies
Roughly speaking, we can distinguish five brainwave frequencies. Besides, there are subcategories within these areas, but I will limit myself to those five to give you a clear picture.
Delta waves (0.5 to 3 Hz)
Delta waves are the slowest brain waves. Like the beat in house music, it is deeply penetrating. These waves are generated dominantly during deep meditation sessions and dreamless sleep.
Theta waves (3 to 8 Hz)
Theta brainwaves occur during sleep but are also dominant during deep meditation or under hypnosis. When we create theta brainwaves, we have the best access to our memory and our subconscious.
Alpha waves (8 to 12 Hz)
Alpha brainwaves are mainly dominant in a relaxed state, but we still process input from our environment.
Beta waves (12 to 38 Hz)
Beta brainwaves are dominant when we are in an awake state of consciousness. During the waking state, we can consciously focus our attention on cognitive tasks and the outside world.
Gamma waves (38 to 42 Hz)
Gamma brainwaves have the highest frequency. They ensure the simultaneous processing of information from different brain areas. Due to their high frequency, they can transmit information quickly and silently.
About alpha brain waves
Alpha brainwaves are the brainwave patterns that Zen monks frequently produce. Years of training in meditation and breathing techniques allow them to master this state to perfection. A typical alpha state is described as a state of “flow,” a state of relaxation – both physical and mental – in which everything seems to happen naturally, even strenuous activity. Alpha waves also bring a deep sense of peace of mind and increase creativity and productivity. Read more about the frequencies of brain waves.
Train your alpha brainwaves
You can train your brain to produce more alpha brainwaves and teach yourself to enter an alpha state at will. Ways to train yourself in this are, for example, neurofeedback, meditation, and listening to binaural beats.
The great thing is that nowadays we can use modern techniques. While monks used to need years of training to train their brainwaves, nowadays, we can create dominant alpha brainwaves in just 15-20 minutes with the techniques mentioned.
Research on brainwaves
One of the authorities in the field of brain wave research is Anna Wise. She mainly researched the relationship between brainwave patterns and spirituality and has also written two books about it: Awakening the Mind and The High-Performance Mind. One of the conclusions from her research is that people who are able to deliver exceptional performances – think of top athletes, sharp thinkers, and top mathematicians – perform well on all their brainwave patterns, from delta to gamma brainwaves. In other words, all their brain frequency areas are well developed.
Benefits of Alpha Brainwaves
If you have ever been in a flow state – a situation where you have lost sense of time and consciousness and where you have been extremely productive – then you have ever experienced alpha brainwave dominance. A high alpha has many great benefits for your mental health:
- They reduce unrest1
- They reduce depression 2
- They increase creativity3,4
- They increase pain tolerance5
- They increase stress tolerance6
When you can control your brainwaves and create a dominant alpha brain wave pattern, you calm your mind, allowing you to be calmer, happier, less reactive, more creative, and more productive. It will enable you to go through life more effectively, making you better able to achieve the visualized goals you have set for yourself.
How do you train alpha brainwaves?
There are several ways to train your alpha waves. When you do this regularly, you condition the brain in the same way you condition thought patterns and behavior. Practice makes perfect, and the more often you train yourself, the more hardwired the pattern becomes embedded in your brain.
Meditation is the oldest way to train your brain. The feeling of inner peace and focus you get from meditation is due to the increased alpha brain waves. It is one of the most widely used methods for optimal performance. Top athletes, business people, and politicians, many of them practice meditation to achieve the best performance.
It does take some effort to learn to meditate and to choose the best meditation method for you. Also, especially for troubled minds, it can take a while to get the hang of it. A faster way to put your brain in a meditative state is to listen to binaural beats.
Binaural beat is music to train specific brainwave patterns. There are also numerous free sound clips available online for alpha waves. Take a look at Youtube.
It is necessary to use stereo headphones or earplugs with binaural beats, as different frequencies are played on the left and right. Read more about binaural beats.
While most people don’t directly link gratitude and brainwaves, this one is there. With your thoughts, you can consciously choose to evoke a certain emotion in yourself.
At a moment of unrest or dissatisfaction, read a moment when you encourage yourself to evoke a feeling of gratitude. Consider, for example, a loved one, a pet, or a situation in which you were super thankful.
Coupled with the feeling you evoke, the brainwave patterns synchronize. The dominant brainwave pattern is alpha. By training yourself in this, you ‘take your brainwaves with you’. You will automatically experience how powerful a feeling of gratitude works. A valuable resource is the NLP technique anchoring.
Avoid blue light
Daylight has a very broad spectrum of light waves. As we know it from screens, blue light, LED/lamps, telephones, and tablets are only a small part of this. Just as junk food is bad for our physical health, blue light is bad for our brain health.
Blue light disrupts your brainwave patterns and thereby sabotages your need for sleep. Since our daily screen time is still growing, it is important to protect yourself from this light spectrum, especially if you want to train your alpha brainwaves.
One way to protect your eyes from catching blue light is to wear blue light glasses. This filters the blue light before it enters the brain through the eyes and disrupts the brain waves.