Brain Waves and Minding your Mind

Different brain waves are associated with different functions in the body. When our brain waves are slower we have more of a tendency to be creative and productive along with increased ability to rebuild through lengthening telomeres and increased stem cell activity.

When we are in the “zone” working our brain waves slow down to about the same as that of meditation — the alpha brain wave.  This slower brain wave is not so draining on our brain power.

Whereas the beta brain wave is a faster brain wave and is the brain wave we are in when we are working and doing busy-ness in our days. In the active beta brain wave we don’t do much rebuilding, we do more thinking.  It is our consciousness that we live out of most of our days. While it’s not bad (and quite necessary!) to spend some time in Beta brain waves, Continual high frequency processing is not a very efficient way to run the brain, as it takes a tremendous amount of energy.

Spending less time in beta thinking and more time in alpha thinking will keep your brain young. This is anti-aging for your brain .

Our body shifts energy to where it needs it — we don’t have enough energy in our body to support too many functions at once.  Our brain shifts energy from different areas as well.  Our brain also needs to reboot and it can not reboot when it is in high frequency processing all day (and night -if you can not turn off your thinking for sleep).

We are like the plants:

Think about plants — Those of us that know plants and when to harvest understand how a plant moves its energy; early in the spring plants energies are mostly in the roots, since the plant is small and depending on climate may have had to hibernate underground for the winter the roots hold the energy.  If you want the medicine from the root, you harvest in the spring.

Most Flowers have the energy of the plant in the early morning hours, usually flowers are harvested during the early morning hours to get more medicine from them — Some variations like night blooming jasmine will be collected at night since it blooms at night.

Late summer and into fall the energy of the plant is going to the seeds, it is in the fall we harvest the seed as the plant is putting more of it’s energy there.

Just as a plant moves energy, so does our body — AND SO DOES OUR BRAIN.

Our body doesn’t have unlimited energy to handle every system of the body all day long.  Instead our body moves energy around to where we need it.  During this process some organs and systems of the body may be deprived for a period of time — if it short, it’s not a problem.  If there is an increased or prolonged need for energy in one particular area or system, the other systems will start to be drained.

Let’s learn about brain waves and how they effect our physiology.  I have been starting to see a “snapshot” of what happens to several different functions in our body when we get tweaked — lets look at heart rhythms, brain waves, and our DNA under stress:

We know our heart rhythm is effected by our mood — and our heart rhythm effects how our brain operates – as we learned from HeartMath about coming into “coherence”.  Here is a reminder of what we learned:

  • When under stress our heart rhythm (using heart monitors) is erratic and disordered — these erratic signals travel on the neurons from the heart to the brain limiting our ability to think clearly, remember, learn, reason, and make effective decisions.
  • In contrast the more ordered and stable patterns of the heart’s input to the brain has the opposite effect – it facilities higher cognitive functioning that not only benefits the entire body but also profoundly affects how we perceive, think, feel, perform.

And our brain waves do this as well, it can be seen on EEGs when we are stressed our brain waves became erratic vs. when we are happy and calm they smooth out nicely.

And you know our DNA does this too!

  • When we are stressed our DNA literally closes up – gets tight — and does not function optimally.
  • When we are happy or relaxed, our DNA in turn relaxes and opens up where it can perform its healthy functions.

Pay attention — when we get “tweaked” it literally effects our health in many different ways.  You want to “choose your battles wisely” — and don’t let others tweak you too often!

Brain Wave Coherence (from EEGs)

We want to smooth out our brain waves too — and have coherence between the portions of our brain. The yogis figured this out a loooooooong time ago with cross over practices, how? Who knows?

Neuroscientists have shown cross-body movements help the left and right hemispheres of the brain to connect and coordinate. The more your hemispheres connect, the more optimally you perform on any given task.

When we use both eyes, both ears, both hands and feet equally, the corpus callosum which connects the left and right hemispheres of our brain becomes more highly developed.

The corpus callosum ensures both hemispheres communicate efficiently and allows for the sharing of information, learning, and memory between them. While most cognitive function contains right-brain and left-brain components, many functions, such as language or spatial reasoning, have a dominant hemisphere.

Yoga practices that improve the communication between the brain hemispheres include Transcendental Meditation (TM) and a funky “ear lobe squat” called Thoppu Karanam.

And the yogis knew about brain health through breathing and meditation practices as well. Now with biofeedback EEGs, and heart monitors we can see different types of pranayama exercises shift our brain into different wave patterns.

Brain waves speed up or slow down depending on what we are doing and thinking — both our physical and mental activities can effect our brain waves.

  • As we become more calm and slow down our thinking brain waves slow down too.
  • As we become more active in thinking they speed up.

When our brain waves are slower, these are some of the ways they effect our physiology:

  • Better mental resourcefulness and better mental coordination
  • lower blood pressure, heart rate, and lower levels of stress hormones
  • DNA replication become more efficient

As the brain waves get slower

  • Creativity and Intuition increase
  • Learning and memory improve
  • Stem cell activation improves! 
    • Importantly, certain frequencies stimulate the reproduction of stem cells, while other frequencies cause the stem cells to migrate and adhere where needed.  To use stem cells for healing, those are the three things required: replication, migration and adhesion, and all three can be triggered through meditation.

As they get Slower and slower

  • Brain efficiency increases improving mental performance
  • Cellular regeneration
  • Telomere lengthening happens
  • Empathy increases

Brain Waves 101:

  • Beta waves are the thinking, problem solving brain waves we use most of our days — at least those of us with brains.
    • Beta waves are during normal wakeful activity, it is a higher frequency at 13-36 HZ
    • Beta is a ‘fast’ activity, present when we are alert, attentive, engaged in problem solving, judgment, decision making, or focused mental activity.  Excerpts from:
      • Beta brainwaves are further divided into three bands; Lo-Beta (Beta1, 12-15Hz) can be thought of as a ‘fast idle’, or musing. Beta (Beta2, 15-22Hz) is high engagement or actively figuring something out. Hi-Beta (Beta3, 22-38Hz) is highly complex thought, integrating new experiences, high anxiety, or excitement. Continual high frequency processing is not a very efficient way to run the brain, as it takes a tremendous amount of energy
  • Alpha waves are the light meditative state — sustain it for 15 seconds and you are “meditating” 🙂  Alpha is during rested, relaxed, meditative states at 8-13 Hz
    • (From the Daily Mind)   Alpha Waves: Healthy alpha wave production supports mental resourcefulness and better mental coordination. The presence of alpha waves is indicative of a general state of relaxation and relief from weariness. Many believe that alpha waves are the bridges between consciousness and unconsciousness. Meditation synchronizes alpha activity between the four regions of the brain: left, right, anterior and posterior. This effect positively correlates with creativity.
    • The presence of alpha waves is a sign of deep relaxation, without requiring the mind to be empty—they characterize wakeful rest. Alpha waves also promote calming changes in the nervous system. The result is lower blood pressure and heart rate and lower levels of stress hormones that are conducive to a calm mind.
    • The alpha state is the state of BEING PRESENT
    • Nose breathing and yoga increases alpha brain wave activity. (Mouth breathing exercise produces a significant amount of beta brain waves that are associated with a stress response).
  • Theta Brain Waves – this is the deep meditative brain wave. They occur during during deeper meditations and sleep – during the twilight phase between as we wake or drift off to sleep.  They are at 4-8Hz. 
    • Theta waves enhance creativity and intuition.  Theta waves are our gateway to learning and memory.  In theta waves we withdraw our thinking from the external world and focus on signals originating within. Theta waves are the 5th limb of the yogic 8 limbed tree – pratayahara or the withdrawal of senes.
    • Theta waves are said to help open the “third eye”
    • Theta waves increase stem cell production.
    • In theta we are in a dream; vivid imagery, intuition and information beyond our normal conscious awareness. It’s where we hold our ‘stuff’, our fears, troubled history, and nightmares.
    • Yoga increases Alpha and Theta brain waves
  • Delta Waves: These waves are characteristic of sleep — deep dreamless sleep, unconscious.  Extremely slow, but loud brain waves at .5-4 Hz, low frequency and deeply penetrating.  Maybe very experienced mediators can find delta waves in the waking moments.
    • Delta waves suspend external awareness.
    • Increases in delta waves is associated with higher brain efficiency and may improve mental performance and health.
    • Delta waves will cause a decrease in the stress-producing hormone, cortisol.
    • Delta brain waves increase cellular regeneration and telomere lengthening supporting healing and regeneration.  This is why deep restorative sleep is so healthy for us.
    • EFT tapping meditations (From TCM) have been shown to increase delta waves.
    • Delta state is the kundalini state.  Fusing of mortal mind w/ the divine mind.
    • The delta state is a source of empathy.
  • Infra-Low are known as Slow Cortical Potentials that underlie our higher brain functions.  They are so slow they are difficult to detect and measure.  They are <.5Hz They appear to play a role in brain timing and networking.  Very little else is known about them.

And then there is the new Brain Wave on the block:

  • Gamma brainwaves.  They are the fastest wave with a high frequency (like a flute) and are able to process information from different brain areas simultaneously.  They pass information rapidly and quickly.
    • They are the most subtle of brain wave frequencies, your mind has to be quiet to access gamma waves.
    • It is thought they help modulate perception and consciousness.
    • Gamma waves are only active in states of universal love, altruism, and higher virtues.  This is why it took so long to discover them!
    • Gamma brainwaves are the “download” brain waves — you know when a master of some type learned something as a download from the universe — it is in the gamma brain waves this happens
    • Gamma brain waves were thought of as “spare brain noise” (just like scientists used to call our RNA junk DNA!). 
    • Gamma waves are above the normal frequency of neuronal firing so how they are generated still remains a mystery.  It is theorized that a greater presence of gamma waves is related to a higher consciousness.  Something we need a little more of today!
    • Gamma is the wave length of happiness and integration.
    • And perhaps gamma brainwaves are the 4th mental state the yogis talk about.  Brain waves loosely correspond to the yogi concept of 4 states of consciousness which is represented by the om symbol — it is said the 3 represents the first three states; the waking state (beta and maybe alpha brain waves), the dreamless state (theta and maybe some alpha brain waves here too), the third state being the deep dreamless state (which corresponds to delta waves), and the 4th state known as Turiya which is symbolized by the half moon and dot of the OM symbol — the half moon represents the illusion of the senses which we have to go through to reach the “dot” of the perfect state of being aware of Awareness.  In this 4th mental state there are no ignorances or incorrect identifications with something other than Self.

Gamma is the brain wave of integration.  

Integration is important — whether it is a fun experience or one of loss or grief — we need to digest and integrate our life experiences so we can move forward in our life.

In my herbal medicine circles there is always a lot of talk about how digestive herbs not only help our body digest food — they help our mind and emotions digest experiences so we can grow.

Gamma waves are our brain waives of higher consciousness —and of happiness 🙂

How can we integrate or shift into gamma brain waves?  We have tools 🙂

#1 is perception!  Your perception can effect your brain waves.  How are you perceiving your life?  If you perceive your life as being a vehicle for higher consciousness you may be encouraging gamma brain waves.

#2  Bhastrika!  The pranayama bhastrika or bellows breath produces brain waves similar to gamma waves — our brain waves of higher integration and higher consciousness.

Bhastrika initially gives one a sensation of excitation (due to its effect via EEG on activating temporoparietal cortical area brain waves) followed by emotional calm and higher mental alertness.

Bhastrika is fun to do and has many other benefits including those of all yoga and meditations like reducing stress, heart rate, and blood pressure, in addition bhastrika offers us:

  • Quicker reaction time
  • decreased distractibility
  • greater aerobic performance
  • Better focus
  • Reduces physical, mental, and emotional blocks (according to yogic lore).

How to do Bhastrika

Mercola reporting brainwaves

Douillard reporting on it too

Link to blog from Dr. John Douillard on gamma waves and bhastrika

What does all this mean?  What minding your mind stuff shows is that our consciousness has an enormous effect on our cells.  This is a big leverage point for you health!  Don’t ignore your brain stuff — Your thoughts effect your biology.

What this is also showing is is that we can consciously shift our brain wave patterns into healthier wave lengths.  How? Stay present!  Yoga teaches us this!  Think about how we TRY to do yoga we do postures while keeping awareness on our breath, bandhas, and mind focused – this is staying present with our yoga practice.  This simulates what we can do in our daily life to stay present — come back to breath, bandhas, posture, and what are you thinking?

  • While you are putting the dishes away … put your tongue on the roof of your mouth, take your breath deeper and slower.  Smile 🙂  Exhale pick up that dish from the dishwasher, inhale put it up in the cupboard.

Research finds when you start your day with a short meditation you encourage synchronicity — you condition your beta thinking.  Your problem solving ability goes up 260% when we are in a slower brain wave state, our creativity doubles, and productivity increases.  This is why I wake up, sit up in bed and meditate most mornings.

When your brainwaves are out of sync it is associated with emotional and neurological conditions.

  • Over arousal in some areas is linked to anxiety, sleep problems, nightmares, OCD, anger/aggression, and chronic pain.
  • Under arousal in certain areas leads to depression and ADHD.
  • A combination of over arousal in some areas and under arousal in others can happen too — which is instabilities in your brain waves or brain rhythms and correlate with tics, bruxism, panic attacks, bipolar disorder, migraines, narcolepsy, epilepsy, sleep apnea, vertigo, tinnitus 

Here is the research from Dawson Church, PhD on brain waves and stem cells I spoke of earlier, he also writes a book called Mind to Matter about how our thoughts can manifest:

“Research shows that when you expose cells to a frequency of 7.81 hertz, DNA replication becomes far more efficient. Importantly, certain frequencies stimulate the reproduction of stem cells, while other frequencies cause the stem cells to migrate and adhere where needed.  To use stem cells for healing, those are the three things required: replication, migration and adhesion, and all three can be triggered through meditation. “In the book, I have a list of the conditions that are treated successfully with energy healing,” Dawson says.

The more I learn about the body the more amazed I am at its healing capacity — it is a self healing machine! Not only that how the body operates is an amazing feat in itself.

They body heals naturally if you give it what it needs in food!  When you load up the body with sugar and stress you get in the way of healing.

Get out of your own healing way by not stuffing things in your mouth or stuffing things in your mind OR stuffing things in your ENVIRONMENT that hurt us and don’t work for healing.

Pay attention to your thoughts and words to increase your healing potential.  Any process that changes your perceptions can change your brain waves.  You want to think thoughts that synchronize your brainwaves and areas of your brain.

When times get tough it can be easy to fall into negative thinking patterns and detrimental self talk — kind of like our brains default mode network – which takes over and subconsciously keeps us in a negative pattern.

With consistent meditation and practicing awareness — catching yourself when you start the negative self talk or regular talk and replacing it with more effective and uplifting talking and thinking its possible to retrain your brain to a more positive default mode.

When you are going about your day — be aware of what your are doing … one thing at a time! If your mind is spinning while you do the dishes you won’t be creating slower brain waves where healing and regeneration happen … instead you’ll support the aging process …

The brain is so powerful it can even simulate being in a woods just by looking at a picture of the woods.

Next time you lie down for rest pose after a yoga practice, see if you can fall into that light meditative sleep.  You may be encouraging the theta waves in your rest pose, why not?  You’ll increase stem cell production, open your third eye and receive information from the universe, and awaken from rest pose with more insight, intuition, and creativity.  

Now that’s something to take with you off your yoga mat!

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