Your brain wave patterns are the electrical expression of what is happening in your inner environment. What thoughts you entertain, along with your reactions to what happens in your life, influence your brainwaves. Our brainwaves affect our thoughts, and are affected by our thoughts. Paying attention to all the “stuff” that is going on in the world can cause us to live in an inner environment of fear that interferes with our inner peace. If you understand that the thoughts you entertain encourage one brainwave pattern over another, you can use this knowledge to map your way towards Peace. Before I go further, I offer a basic review of the different brainwave patterns below. Keep in mind this is a simplistic version of brainwaves, and the brain. We may have more than one brainwave at any given time.
Beta Waves (13 – 40 Hz) are usually produced by our left-brain, and tend to be the prevailing rhythm of most adults allowing us to be logical and focus on external reality. They are also associated with alertness, arousal, and concentration. Higher Beta levels (30 Hz and higher) are associated with fear, anxiety, worry, negative thinking, over thinking, and feeling isolated.
Alpha Waves (8 – 12.9 Hz) are associated with relaxation, which diminishes fear, anxiety, stress, and takes you out of “fight or flight” mode. The higher end of the Alpha range is associated with super learning while the lower end is associated with feelings of peace and contentment.
Theta waves (4 – 7.9 Hz) are associated with REM sleep and are considered by many psychologists to allow access to the unconscious mind. This state allows you to integrate emotions and experiences.
Delta brainwaves (0.1-3.9 Hz) are usually generated in the right hemisphere, and are associated with dreamless sleep. You can remain alert in this state if you also have small amounts of one of the other brainwave patterns. It generates feelings of unity and oneness.
Many of us do not pay much attention to our thoughts; we do not think of them as being real. However, thinking creates electrical currents in the brain, which we can observe and measure on an EEG. As our brain processes our conscious and unconscious thoughts, brainwaves are created. If thoughts were not real, why would our brain respond to them?
The idea of all of this information is that we are not at the mercy of our brainwaves since we can influence them by choosing the thoughts we are willing to entertain.
Our mind is also ruled by our beliefs. Beliefs from both our conscious and unconscious mind form our programming, which becomes our automatic response to situations. We can change our programming by changing our perceptions, which alter our beliefs. In changing a belief, our brain is free to reinterpret the information we already “know,” and either reach deeper understandings, or change our minds completely. This allows us to respond old situations in new ways.
In addition to our brainwaves, we are affected by which hemisphere we habitually access for our thinking. The right brain is about creativity, and understanding the bigger picture, while the left-brain analyzes available data and uses reasoning and logic to solve problems. In her book My Stroke of Insight, Jill Bolte Taylor, a Neuroanatomist, talks about what it was like for her to lose access to her left-brain when she had a stroke. Because of her experience, she believes her left-brain is where her ego existed. She says that without her left hemisphere she had to rely on her right hemisphere where she felt oneness and connection to everyone.
When one side of the brain is more dominant, we are said to have brain lateralization, which results in lop-sided thinking. Brain lateralization is important because when it occurs the two hemispheres of our brain are not in sync with each other, which means we can either be overly analytical, or overly unfocused. To have balanced thinking requires synchronization between hemispheres, so the logic of the left hemisphere is integrated with the creativity of the right hemisphere.
When we are only accessing the left-brain, logic overrides emotions and we do not feel connected to others, so we cannot feel how what we do affects them. Neither the left-brain, nor Beta brainwaves are bad, but we are not meant to spend all our time in either one.
If we understand that what we think has an effect on both our brainwaves and which hemisphere we access, then we can choose thoughts that better connect us to what we need at any given moment. If we are stressed then we can use meditation or gentle music to move from beta waves to alpha waves. Alpha waves give us a rest from our fears, anxieties, and stresses allowing us to recover. They allow us to stay connected to others while Beta waves may keep us from getting lost in others, and they may also balance Theta waves, which can keep us from getting lost in ourselves.
When you perceive danger, even if the danger is imaginary, your body will go into high Beta waves producing a “fight or flight” reaction. Knowing that this reaction affects the clarity of our thinking gives us a reason to face our fears and deal with them. Living in fear can cause us to spend an inordinate amount of time in low-grade “fight or flight”, so we are always looking for threats. Since the brain cannot locate any actual threat it may generate one from whatever situation we are in. Entertaining thoughts of judgment, anxiety, and fear can push us into fight or flight, while thoughts of peace, love, appreciation, and gratitude can keep us balanced and synchronized.
There are also other organs that have an influence on our brainwaves. Researchers have discovered that the heart generates a magnetic field 5,000 times stronger than that generated by the brain. They have also demonstrated that there is a continuing and dynamic dialogue between the heart and the brain, and the brain is not necessarily in charge. This gives new meaning to following your heart. Researchers have also found that the heart produces such a strong magnetic field that it can be measured a number of feet from the body. In fact, the heart signal of one person can be recorded in the brainwaves (EEG) of another. This may demonstrate our connection to each other. Research shows that when we are in a loving or peaceful state our heart’s electromagnetic field becomes more coherent, which affects the brain. It is only a small leap to suggest that when we are in this coherent state we may affect others without saying a word. This would suggest that if you want to help a friend that is feeling upset or low, you might best help them by sustaining a peaceful or loving state within yourself. Since we are connected, we may be able to lift them to a state where they are better able to accept or deal with whatever is going on.
© 2011 Dan Amato