The power of meditation is perceived through changes in brain wave stages. Most of us have at least heard of, if not experienced first-hand, the myriad benefits of meditation. We know how it can make us feel—centered, calm, present, peaceful… Let’s look into the science behind our feelings, and how our minds move through various brain wave stages, unlocking key psychological and physiological benefits.
Brain Wave Stages 101
Our brains always have some level of electrical activity, whether we’re engaged in deep thought or fast asleep. An electroencephalograph (EEG) measures the frequency of these electrical impulses. Frequency, measured in hertz (Hz), is the number of times a wave repeats itself per second, like a radio.
Our personal radio antennae usually have various brain wave patterns at the same time in different locations of the brain, but there tends to be one that is dominant at a given time. The location and amount of slow-to-fast electrical brain wave patterns (delta, theta, alpha, beta, gamma) are associated with different frequencies and states of mind, with their own respective functions and benefits.
Beta Brain Wave Stage 13-30 Hz
Beta waves are somewhat fast, with frequencies ranging between 13 to 30 cycles per second. This stage is associated with focused, problem-solving, decision-making, and goal-oriented thinking. This is our most normal, active, and alert state of processing the world around us.
Meditation tends to decrease beta wave activity in the brain, which may be related to a reduction in anxiety and stress.
Alpha Brain Wave Stage 8-12 Hz
Alpha waves are slower, with frequencies ranging between 8 to 12 cycles per second. This stage is associated with a state of calm wakefulness and relaxation, where our mind is less active, and more at ease, bridging the conscious and subconscious minds.
Meditation tends to increase alpha wave activity in the brain, which may be related to improvements in mood, creativity, and intuition.
Theta Brain Wave Stage 4-8 Hz
Theta waves are slow, with frequencies ranging between 4 to 8 cycles per second. This stage is associated with deep relaxation, meditation, and dreamlike states. In this state, we are on the margins of wakefulness and sleep, allowing access to the subconscious mind.
Meditation tends to increase theta wave activity in the brain, which may be related to increased feelings of overall tranquility, calm, and well-being.
Delta Brain Wave Stage .1-4 Hz
Delta waves are the slowest, with frequencies ranging between .1 to 4 cycles per second. This stage is associated with dreamless, trancelike, non-REM sleep, and unconsciousness.
Meditation tends to increase delta wave activity in the brain, which may be related to decreased awareness of the physical world, deep relaxation, and rejuvenation.
Gamma Brain Wave Stage 30-140 Hz
Gamma waves are the fastest, though perhaps less well-understood, with frequencies ranging between 30 and reportedly even up to 140 cycles per second. This stage is associated with information integration and cognitive processing across brain regions during REM sleep. Reports about studies on these enigmatic wave patterns demonstrate that they’re also present during times of high anxiety with neurons firing uncontrollably. On the other hand, they have been observed in the brains of very experienced meditators, like Tibetan monks, whose neurons fire rapidly and in harmony across all regions of the brain.
Meditation tends to increase gamma wave activity in the brain, which may be related to improvements in memory, attention, and enhanced communication and synchronization between brain hemispheres.
Brain and Body Benefits of Meditation
According to the author and spiritual leader, Amit Ray, “meditation is choosing not to engage in the drama of the mind, but elevating the mind to its highest potential.”
As we noted above, research has shown that regular meditation practice corresponds to increased alpha and theta brain waves activity, and decreased beta wave activity. This in turn correlates to reduced stress and anxiety and increased relaxation and feelings of peace. Additionally, studies also show meditation can lead to increased activity in the gamma brain waves, which are linked to higher cognitive processing, heightened awareness, and improved memory.
On top of all these great brain benefits, meditation offers physical effects on your overall health and well-being, as well, by:
- decompressing your nervous system
- reducing pain intensity
- lowering blood pressure
- improving sleep quality
Power Meditation in Dayton
Engaging regularly in meditation can help you learn to shift your brain waves into different stages, leading to improved focus, relaxation, creativity, and general feeling-good-ness. Take a look at the Ignite Yoga class schedule, and treat yourself to one of our Meditate classes. It’s a pause that brings your body and mind back home.
If you’re ready to be guided through a deeper dive into the mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical benefits of meditation, our Meditation 101 Workshop, is just what you’re looking for. We’ll examine how meditation can be an effective technique to create new neural pathways leading to more compassionate choices, and stress relief, as well as why and how it is a path to gaining a better understanding of your truest self.
Take a moment to slow down. Inhale. Exhale. Close your eyes, and ride the waves to presence, balance, and tranquility.