Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Not mine, but good info on Alpha brain waves
The following is taken from the google knol site from a company called Mental Lion. They offer entrainment sounds on their website along with research articles. At Mind Alive we focus on Audio Visual Entrainment finding that it has double the entrainment ability as compared to sounds alone. I've posted a bit on it before :) Anyway, I had Dave have a quick look at the following article to make sure everything agreed with what he knew. I, of course, love the pictures and the approach that the author talks about the advantages and disadvantages of Alpha brainwaves.
Alpha brainwave stimulation: advantages and disadvantages
What are alpha brain waves?
Alpha waves describe the electrical activity of the brain in the frequency from 8 to 12 hz. That activity occurs naturally in periods of light relaxation or when the eyes are closed but the person is awake.
It is generally believed that alpha waves are dominant brainwaves in people who are in a relaxed or meditative state. It is also present in creative or day dreaming states. It has been also detected also that children tend to stay more time in alpha states than adults.
What is alpha wave stimulation?
Alpha brainwave stimulation is the process of inducing the brain from any state to a state of alpha brainewave dominance. This process of induction is made through the brain entrainment process. You should know that our brains always produce all the range of alpha waves and an mental state means that one particular brainwave have dominance over the rest, but all coexists.
Here an example of alpha dominance:
Even though alpha wave state has a series of benefits that state is not a cure all brainwave. Every brain is different than others and some people can have a deficit of alpha brainwaves and other people not.
Advantages of stimulating your brain with alpha brain waves
Body and mind relaxation
Alpha brainwaves are associated with relaxed body and mind states. The brain’s thought process is slowed and the mind became lucid. The body is completely relaxed and free of all tensions and nervousness. Boosting the alpha brain wave is a great way to enjoy the feeling of relaxation and a great way to let go of all worries and tension.
Achieving a creative mental state
Alpha brainwaves are generally associated with a creative state of the mind. These state can be found in artists, musicians, and creative thinkers. Creative problem solvers are what many companies are currently looking for. If you want to increase your creativity at work consider stimulate your brain with alpha sessions.
Problem solving increased skills
Hard work and heavy concentration for long hours can lead your brain into a state of dominant beta brainwave pattern of our brain. This state can take you to the called "mental block". Have you listened the writer’s block? Well, you can unblock your brain by stimulating your brain with alpha brainwaves and in this way take your brain to the "flow state" quick enough to finish your paper or article on time without getting "stuck."
The alpha brainwave state is associated with a very stable state of mind. This mental state is related to a balanced mood and stable emotions. Anxious hyperactive, and unstable people could greatly improve their moods by increasing their alpha brainwaves. Feeling emotionally stable means not to overreact to stressful circumstances.
High athletic performance
If you are an athlete, you should prepare your mind as well as your muscles. In fact, you could significantly improve your performance by entraining your mind with alpha brain wave sessions. There is published evidence showing that elite sportsmen such as professional basketball players and golfers increase alpha activity just before hits their best shot.
Another fact is that the EEG (electroencephalography) of professional athletes are very likely to show the alpha state, whereas newbie athletes and even decent athletes demonstrate low or any alpha activity. The best brain wave to entrain for peak athletic performance is considered the 10 Hz (i.e. 10 cycles per second). I recommend athletes to try alpha entrainment before a competition a shot and see if it puts you "in the zone."
Stress and anxiety reduction
A beneficial effect of alpha brainwave entrainment is the reduction of stress and anxiety. Increase your alpha brain waves and quickly you will feel a decrease your fears, tension, stress, nerves, and anxiety. If forgot how to relax, by increasing your alpha brain patterns you will feel like you’d been taken a miracle drug.
Achieving the flow state
The state of "flow" refers to the mental state in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing driven by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the performance. You are in a mental state with optimal brain waves balance, you are neither overstimulated nor under stimulated. You feel "balanced" and understand that you are in a desirable state of mental working.
Super learning state
Alpha brainwave has been identified as the optimal brainwave to learn quickly and effortlessly. It is called also the "super learning" state. The alpha brainwave state mostly improves one’s natural ability to passively absorb large amounts of information. Basically, you don't need to make as much of an effort to learn a new ability, language, or skill.
Immune system improvement
Increasing your alpha brainwaves can lead to self-healing and prevention of diseases. This is due to the fact that alpha waves reduce stress and relax the patient. The excess of stress and anxiety can harm the immune system by releasing harmful chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol.
Recent research has shown that as a consequence of the relaxation produced by the increasing of alpha wave activity, positive thinking and positive emotions also are produced. I can personally testify this: After having stressed for a long time for my job, in which negative thoughts came to live, my thinking became increasingly positive after a few sessions of alpha entrainment; likely resulting from increased mental peace and tranquility.
Alpha brainwaves are associated with the release of neurotransmitter serotonin. Low levels of serotonin have been one factor that some researchers have linked to depression.
How do I know if I need alpha brainwave sessions?
Regarding alpha waves, there are three kind of people: those with normal levels of alpha brainwaves, those with low levels, and those with high ones.
The following people can be considered with healthy levels of brainwaves:
Generally, if you are more outgoing and consider yourself extroverted, you have more alpha brain waves dominance than introverts. The consensus seems to be that if you have dominance of alpha activity, you are more than three times as likely to be extrovert. It has sense because introverts are less comfortable during social interaction whereas being social comes natural for extroverts.
The objective of Meditation is the increase of slow brainwave patterns such as alpha ant theta. Each time you close your eyes to meditate, you experience a natural surge of alpha activity. Meditators with long practice can recognize and control this state of awareness. Like any exercising, the more you practice it, the easier it becomes to getting alpha dominance through meditation.
Children tend to have their brains in a state of alpha and theta dominance. As we get older, patterns of beta brainwaves tends to dominate the other patterns. For this reason adults would definitely benefit from alpha brainwave stimulation rather than younger population.
Disadvantages associated with an excess of alpha brainwaves
Like any of the other brainwave patterns, too much dominance of one particular brainwave can cause problems. For that reason, it is not advisable to induce a brainwave that you already have in high levels. In fact, if you overstimulated the alpha waves you may experience some negative effects such as:
Lost of focus
If you have some degree of Attention Deficit Disorder, alpha stimulation will not work with you but it may make things worse. it can created a fuzzy state of mind. If you are already unfocused, stimulating the alpha brainwave pattern is usually not recommended.
As you increase the alpha dominance in your brain, you may have too much daydreaming. Some daydreams are fine, but living in the moon wouldn’t be of much benefit if you are already daydreamer.
Depression has been connected to high dominance of alpha brainwaves compared to beta brainwave activity specially in the left-hemisphere of the brain. There is a rule of thumb: If your depression is resulting from over stimulation (e.g. stress, fear, anxiety), then the stimulation with alpha waves will be beneficial. However, if you are lazy, tired, drowsy and feel depressed (e.g. under stimulation), you should avoid the alpha range and use beta entrainment instead.
Alpha brainwave patterns have been linked to tiredness and drowsiness in some individuals. Therefore, if you are feeling tired during the day, sleepy, or fatigued, your do not need an increase of alpha waves. Indeed, when you are receiving alpha wave entraining, you may experience temporary feelings of lethargy; this is an evidence that your brain is adjusting to a new frequency range. As I said before, alpha brainwaves are the ones that are naturally produced right after you close your eyes before fall asleep.
Although this problem is not common, some people with excessive alpha activity may feel a lack of excitement for anything in life. If you by now feel relaxed and have a clear mind, you should not stimulate your brain with alpha waves. Instead, look for some excitement activity. Indeed, this is a signal that you already have adequate alpha activity.
Lack of visual sharpness
A lack of visual acuity and visual awareness are associated with alpha brainwaves. Instead, beta brainwaves are associated with augmented visual awareness and acuity. When slowing your brainwaves down to the alpha range, the visual area of the brain is also much less clear.
In the alpha brainwave state, your brain may be in excess receptive to suggestions and new information. This state isn’t always a good thing because your subconscious is open to accepting even negative suggestions.
Healthy ways to increase alpha brainwavesBrainwave entrainment
Brainwave entrainment stimulation is a great way to fine tuning your state of consciousness and awareness. Even more, you can build and try your own alpha session in the range from 8hz to 12hz with open source tools. Brainwave entrainment is an easy process that involves simply listening to a sound (tones) and your brainwaves naturally will match the frequency associated with the sound. Note that no special training, experience, or practice is needed.
The objective of meditation is to lower the brainwaves to the alpha-theta brainwave range. A safe and healthy way to increase your alpha brainwaves is to make meditation a daily habit or start up a meditation routine. If you are already meditating you will naturally increase the easiness of getting alpha brainwaves. Note that for meditation you need some training and practice.
The goal of self-hypnosis is also to target the lower brainwave ranges (e.g. alpha and theta). Doing self-hypnosis on a consistent basis will definitely help you reduce stress by increasing the natural control of your alpha brainwaves. This practice also requires some training and practice.
Every time that you close your eyes and visualize, alpha activity automatically takes the control. If you are the type of person that often enjoys closing your eyes to imaging or picture things, you’ll get a naturally dominance of alpha brainwave activity. Visualization can go hand-in-hand with a meditation practice, but if you’s rather only visualize, you’ll still be promoting your alpha brainwaves.
Like meditation, yoga is also another activity that boosts relaxation and well being by shifting your brainwaves to the calming patterns of alpha and theta. There are many different types of yoga, and if practiced right, they’ll definitely allow you to connect to your alpha awareness.
Deep breathing is not only a great way to improve overall oxygen levels in the brain and body, it is great also to achieve a state of relaxation. When you make deep-breathing a habit, you will begin to feel more relaxed and your brainwaves will shift from the somewhat stressful beta brainwaves to the alpha cadence.
Saunas / Hot Tubs
Saunas and hot tubs cause your entire body to feel completely relaxed and cause your mind to quiet and drowsiness to kick in. The brainwave associated with those feelings of relaxation like you’ve been sitting in a hot tub or in a steamy sauna are known: the alpha waves. Same would apply for laying in the sun tanning on a nice warm beach, feeling the hot sun soak into your body is deeply relaxing. That feeling of deep relaxation is due to an increased amount of alpha brainwaves.
Just after 30 seconds of watching T.V. your alpha brainwaves will show up. Even if you happen to be reading captions or text on the T.V. screen, the alpha waves still emerge. Normally, beta brainwaves surge while reading, but not while reading on T.V. The radiant light from cathode-ray technology in T.V.’s and other appliances automatically cause the brain to idle and shift to the alpha state. I personally don't recommend watching T.V. to be the best way to increase your alpha brainwaves, but I’m not going to put it in the unhealthy category.
Unhealthy modes to magnify alpha brainwaves
Alcohol is a huge alpha brainwave propeller. In moderation, alcohol probably won’t kill your appreciated brain cells, but it isn’t a healthy activity for your body or your brain. Are you a person that need to get drunk to relax? Alpha brainwaves are the reason that anxious and stressed people turn to alcohol. When you are drunk, your brain produces lots of alpha brainwaves and lowers your inhibitions. Even more, alpha brainwave stimulation through brainwave entrainment is a recommended therapy to fight against alcoholism and drug addiction.
Though there is controversy as to whether or not smoking marijuana is good or bad, I personally don't recommend marijuana or any other illegal substance to be healthy. Smoking marijuana does increase alpha brainwaves, which is why smoking marijuana makes people feel relaxed. However, marijuana will not give you the aware, synchronized, and peak-performance alpha brainwave that most people are looking for.
Conclusions about alpha brainwave stimulationI personally think that generally speaking alpha brainwaves are great to stimulate and the recommended frequency is around the 10 Hz. This frequency is the safest brainwave to entrain. However, you should be the judge as to whether or not increasing them is best for you. If you are already experiencing many of the listed "benefits," you probably don't need much of an alpha enhancer.
Are you already a relaxed person that feels emotionally stable? If so, chances are good that your brain naturally produces large amounts of alpha brainwave activity and you may be perfect in the alpha range. If you are experiencing some of the listed negative effects described above, you may consider to speed up your brainwaves into the beta range. If you are over anxious, tend to worry a lot, and aren’t emotionally balanced, chances are good that you’d benefit from the alpha increase.
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