The Perfect (Brain) WaveWhat is the secret to the peaceful bliss of the Buddha, a swami, a yogi or healer or that annoyingly joyous person?  It is partly due to achieving a specific brain wave or combination of them, that is.  Regardless of theology, belief system, technique or methodology, a common brain wave pattern is found among those who have states of consciousness worth emulating.

In her book, Awakening the Mind: A Guide to Harnessing the Power of Your Brainwaves, Anna Wise refers to this as the awakened mind and anyone can learn how to produce a similar brain wave pattern.

She measured the brain wave activity of artists, composers, dancers, inventors, mathematicians, scientists, and CEOs and presidents of corporations and found that the brain wave patterns during bursts of high performance or peak experience were the same patterns that the yogis and swamis lived in. When in the awakened state, the mind is clearer, sharper, quicker, and more flexible with information flowing easily between the conscious, subconscious and unconscious increasing intuition, insight, and self-healing. The brain state of the awakened mind can be learned and, according to Wise, the quickest and easiest way to do this is through meditation.

The brain state of the awakened mind can be learned and, according to Wise, the quickest and easiest way to do this is through meditation. There are four types of brain waves:

Four Types Of Brain Waves

Beta – These are the fastest and the most common brain waves for a waking, conscious state produced by your thinking mind.  This activity can include the anxiety, panic, list making, judging, and critiquing thoughts present in an overactive mind.  However, beta waves can also indicate creative, clear, alert, or attentive thinking.

Alpha – Alpha waves denote a relaxed, detached awareness that would be present, for instance, in a daydreaming mind. Alpha is the light reverie that provides the gateway to meditation.  It’s the link between the conscious and subconscious mind.

Theta -Theta waves are produced by the unconscious mind which holds our long-term memory, suppressed creativity and repressed psychological “stuff.”  The subconscious mind is also the key to bliss, deep insight, intuition, and profundity. Wise says “Theta is the ‘peak’ in peak performance.”

Delta – These are the waves of the unconscious mind most common during sleep, but occurring while awake too.  This brain activity performs the unconscious scanning behind intuition and instinctual action.  Delta has been called the “orienting response” because it positions us in time and space. Whereas theta waves connect us deeply within ourselves, delta waves are thought to connect us to the collective consciousness.

Wise sees “meditation as a state of consciousness – a specific brain wave pattern – not a technique.” The brain wave pattern of the awakened mind, found in the masters, is a combination of all four brain wave categories. Because beta is thinking, she recommends learning to meditate without beta.  Then, a person can add beta back into the mind in very specific ways.  But, one must first learn how to get rid of it which is not an easy task, let me tell you!

The eventual goal is to achieve an awakened mind where a meditation-like state is the normal constant with a person being able to turn thoughts on and off at will.  I’m not there yet, by any means, but I am a heck of a lot closer than I was!

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  1. I will need a lot more practice to be able to turn on Theta the way yogis do, but I do like these simple constructs. The way I learned it in college neurobiology was: Beta when tasking, Alpha between tasks or when composing/writing, Theta when you are “in the zone”, and Delta in deep sleep. Biofeedback (galvanic skin response) machines are a lot cheaper than they were in the 70s. I was trying to remember to check out getting one as a meditation monitor. Thanks for reminding me.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Mikey, thanks for the convenient simple way to remember all the waves. I did not know that you are in the alpha state when writing. No wonder I like doing it so much!

      I am not sure if I get to theta when meditating or not. It might just be mini snoozes followed by me jerking back to focusing on my breath. That is the whole point, isn’t it?, training the brain to stay focused. Recently, I have been doing this meditation where you count the breaths to 100 and start over anytime your mind wanders enough lose place. I have only ever gotten to 100 once…and I think that I may have cheated just a little. So, I am not anywhere near a yogi either.

      Oh, check out emWave for a simple, relatively inexpensive biofeedback sensor for your finger. I bought one of those.

  2. George Colombo Reply

    My Amazon order just arrived and in it was a book called The Open-Focused brain which deals with at least some of these issues. I’ll report back when I’ve had a chance to check it out but it’s all certainly fascinating stuff. (By the way, may I mention how much I love this blog?)

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Well thanks bunches, George. Let me know if the book is interesting, and I will add it to my stack. I love learning about all this brain stuff. There are so many facets and angles of it. They all lead back to the premise that we can change our brains and lives. I find that so empowering!

  3. Hi Debbie ~ I like this visual of the perfect wave — with information flowing and a clear, more flexible mind. Thanks for the inspiring post :~D

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Hi Sue. I had not thought about that, but I do also love the visual of a wave. I think it provides the perfect strength, synergy, and calmness that we strive for in the awakened mind.

  4. Ande Waggener Reply

    Living by the ocean, as I do, I love the image of the perfect wave! I, too, am getting better at riding those slower brainwaves most of the time, or at least, getting back to them when the ride gets a little out of control. 😉

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Oh, you are so fortunate to live by the ocean. I don’t think I would get anything done, if I did. So, it is probably a good thing I do not. I think the visual of the ocean and the sound of the waves would be very conducive to an awakened, relaxed mind for me. Enjoy!

  5. As a mathematician I can say that when you somehow hit “the wave”, the possibilities seem limitless, and you can just prove anything. Usually it doesn’t last that much, but in that short span you solve almost everything that was bothering you… Which usually is some proof 😉



    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      Rubin, thanks for the insightful comment. I guess, like anything else, its’ fleeting elusiveness is part of the allure. The glimpses just keep us motivated and striving to attain that state again….and to solve the latest batch of bothersome things that have popped up!

  6. Thanks for the interesting write-up on the research of artists, CEO and the swamis. I am most intrigued.

    I don’t know what levels I hit during meditation but it is possible to feel like I am in the zone, in some kind of “weightless” space. I don’t experience this all the time and especially when it is hard to settle my mind. If I am lucky, I also get to experience waves of profound love.

    • Debbie Hampton Reply

      I don’t know what levels I hit either, Evelyn. I do have moments like you describe where I am in the zone when I like to think maybe I hit theta. Then, other days, I have a monkey mind and have to keep coming back to my breath. Regardless, it always centers and calms me.

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