‘So what technique do you use to get into an alpha state?’, she asked me as she sipped her tea. ‘I’m sorry?’ I replied with a frown. ‘I know you write for infinithoughts and you say you are a regular meditator, so I am just curious…’ The blank look never left my face. I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about. She politely expanded – ‘Recent research shows that the alpha brain wave state is the most conducive for creative expression. Learning new skills, especially for children now getting ready for exams, it will be wonderful to give them a technique for bringing their brain waves to alpha.’ I politely listened. She continued ‘You know, today so many people suffer from Alpha block – the inability to get into the alpha state!’. I racked my memory and slowly replied – ‘The brain is normally in the beta wave state and during deep meditation – real meditation – it reaches the delta state. More than that I don’t know if there is any research relating meditative states to brain wave activity. I will have to check’. I smiled – not to cover up my lack of knowledge but more because the curiosity in me was kindled full swing. I gently whispered – ‘God ! Science ! Better get ready for the show! Here I come…’
Science decided that a practical experience is better than written information or knowledge. There was the stick-it note reminding me I had better get started on my research to write this article. But a million things kept coming – each one more urgently demanding my time. I love my work – all of it. My greatest blessing is I don’t do anything I don’t like! But my biggest bottleneck is I hate deadlines. Given my space and time, I literally dance with joy at every opportunity for self expression life bestows on me. But when I look at my calendar or sometimes the time limit on my ‘to do’ list – it stresses me totally. So I have a ‘todo’ list that has no time frame. It works well for me because I am (they say) a type AAAA personality. If something is on my list I have to get it done and place that tick mark without which I cannot rest. So bottom line – I hate deadlines. So it was with utter chaos in my thought process that I began researching on brain waves for this article, knowing the deadline had to be met. And then I realised Science had instigated this practical joke on me!
Me: Ok! So I understand that there are 5 brain wave states – Beta (14 – 40 Hz) the waking consciousness and reasoning wave; Alpha (7.5 – 14 Hz) the deep relaxation wave and the gateway to our subconscious mind when closer to 7.5 Hz; Theta (4 – 7.5 Hz) the light meditation and sleep wave; Delta (0.5 – 4 Hz) the deep sleep wave in the realm of the unconscious mind and the gateway to cosmic consciousness; and the Gamma wave (above 40 Hz) which is a recent discovery associated with high-level information processing – probably the door to better understand the ‘Thuriya’ state of consciousness, the thoughtless awareness state. Now your turn to tell me Science, why do deadlines bother me so?
Science: Deadlines are a form of stress. There is a greater demand on your time and the availability of time is limited. You are responding to it with stress. During stress, you are in a beta wave state when it is very difficult to be creative. Beta wave is very much needed for alertness, logic, reasoning and effective functioning through the day. But they add to your levels of anxiety.
Me: But I love to write. And I love spending time with you Science. So why should this stress me at all?
Science: Well, probably because you are not using time management techniques I have taught you – Delegate, say ‘no’, stick to your agenda and avoid perfectionism.
Me: I like writing I can’t delegate that! I don’t want to say ‘No’ to any opportunity, I can’t avoid perfectionism – God probably created me with a little compulsive disorder, I cannot accept something when I know it can be done better and as for my agenda – that is my main problem. You see, I am ready to research the science of the brain waves. But I can’t seem to find the inspiration to put it all together coherently.
I sighed. I had gotten this far. I gently closed my eyes. ‘God! I love you! Thank you for making my life so meaningful. Thank you for giving me curiosity that makes me wonder yet never disturbs my peace. Now I want to know all about alpha brain wave state. Its time for you to step in Father. I am not writing this to pass on information. I know there is a little secret language in which you talk to Science. I want to hear that conversation. Thank you for letting me in…’
He gently laughed. In a flash I realised, this was the alpha state I was trying to actually understand… Modern science acknowledges that everything in this universe are merely strings of vibrations. Everything has an optimum range of vibrations – including us. This rate is called resonance. When we are in resonance we are in balance. One research suggested that as our planet beats from 7.82 – 8 cycles per second, 8 hz is the alpha brain wave rhythm in which we are completely in resonance with our planet. But the problem is that our waking conscious states are in beta wave state at 14 – 40 Hz. How does one open the doors to the alpha state ?
Science: Did you know that Hans Berger discovered Alpha Brain waves in 1929 ? As they were the first brain waves to be detected they were named after the first Greek alphabet Alpha. They are characterised by a relaxed effortless alertness that is most important for creativity, peek performance and learning skills. But their most important role is to act as the bridge between the subconscious part of the mind (theta waves) and the conscious part of the mind (beta waves). Information, feelings, creativity, memories – all reach out from our subconscious mind to our waking conscious mind for expression using the alpha waves as a bridge. When people are highly stressed, there often occurs an ‘alpha block’ where they have very little or no alpha waves at all. This can cause a lot of repressed feelings – unfulfilled subconscious needs or locked away memories. Because people who suffer with alpha block are unable to relax when they are awake and conscious, they are extremely restless during waking hours and directly sleep in the theta wave state missing the alpha wave state that is crucial to feel rested.
Me: So what really is the solution? Can we alter our brain waves at will?
Science: Yes! Meditation is the answer!
Me: Yes I am sure meditation is the answer. But what about those who lack focus, have a lot of mental chatter and are physically restless ? Meditation is not really easy at the beginning…
Science: Human beings typically hear sounds that are between frequencies of 20Hz and 20,000 Hz. But the Brain wave states are below the lower limit of our hearing. Physicist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove discovered Binaural beats in 1839 which solves this problem. He realised that if you play two different frequencies in each ear, the difference is what is registered by the brain. So if you play 410 Hz sound in one ear and 400 Hz in the other, the brain registers this as an inaudible 10 Hz sound. This sound is called the Binaural beat. Now when you continuously hear this, your brain begins to resonate with this and follow this beat which is called the Frequency following response. You slowly slip in to the alpha brain wave state at 10Hz !
Me: Sounds really interesting Science. I mean to even discover about brain waves and find out that using headphones to give different frequency sounds to each ear and slowly transport them to an alpha state – I am in awe of you and what you give us…
Science: I sense a but?
Me: Yeah well… Knowing my Father, I am sure He did give us simpler ways to reach the alpha state – even for those who are restless and unable to meditate. I mean, I am sure there are ways that don’t require a pre-recording with head phones and dependency on human intelligence alone. I read that binaural sounds are not naturally occurring in nature – though I firmly believe that the sounds of AUM as they open up the chakras do have something to do with this. There must be a natural easy way to reach the alpha state…
God gently whispered: I gave you gratitude and appreciation…
Science: Oh I was getting to that! Martin E.P. Seligman, Founder of the Centre for Positive Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and his team have done extensive research on the physiological coherence between emotions like gratitude and appreciation and the alpha brain wave state. The Greater good science centre at the University of California has also launched large scale research projects based on recent findings that gratitude builds a stronger immune system, lowers blood pressure, increases happiness and basically makes life more worthwhile.
Me: We have taken gratitude for granted for too long. All it takes to gently slip in to an alpha brain wave… Ok All that is too much words! Sorry Science – what ever the brain waves may be called, it hardly matters. All we need to know right now is “in order to amplify your happiness you need to be grateful.” Simple 🙂
Written by Gita Krishna Raj | Published in infinithoughts in May 2014
When Science met God… | Segment Seven: Formula to Life | Chapter Nine: Happiness Amplified