By Fred Kofman
Philosopher and Vice President at Linkedin
“I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Your brain is made up of billions of neurons which use electricity to communicate with each other. Millions of neurons sending signals at once produce electrical activity that can be detected with an electroencephalogram (EEG). This electrical activity of the brain is called a brainwave pattern.
When you slow down your brain rhythm through meditation, you put yourself in a more relaxed state. You become better at analyzing complex situations and taking in new information, which allows you to stop reacting mindlessly and start responding more consciously.
In the following video, I explain how meditation practice allows you to go down into the depths of relaxation beyond the surface waves of stress.
These are the different waveforms that your brain can produce:
Beta waves range between 14 and 40 HZ. In Beta, you are wide-awake, alert. Your mind is sharp, focused. It makes connections quickly, easily, and you’re primed to do work that requires your full attention. In the Beta state, neurons fire abundantly, in rapid succession. New ideas and solutions to problems flash like lightning into your mind. On the other hand, this is the brainwave of the fight-flight response and the one associated with feelings of anxiety, stress, scattered unfocused thought. Also, excessive Beta brainwaves are a feature of insomnia
Alpha waves range between 8 and 14 HZ. The Alpha state is a pleasurable and relaxed state of consciousness essential to stress reduction and high levels of creativity. Artists, musicians, and athletes are prolific alpha producers; so are intuitive persons. In Alpha, your brain hemispheres become naturally synchronized, creating a sense of balance and well-being. Some health benefits associated with this state are reductions in anxiety, stress, depression, chronic pain, and high blood pressure, as well as increases in cerebral blood flow, motivation, energy, performance, and happiness.
Theta waves range between 4 and 8 Hz. Theta is the twilight state which you normally only experience upon waking, or falling sleep. For most people, being able to enter the dreamlike theta state without falling asleep takes meditation practice. In Theta, your brain hemispheres are synchronized and you can achieve a higher level of brain functioning. This produces a sense of inner peace and emotional stability, deep relaxation, improved memory, heightened intuition, inner silence, and spiritual connection. Theta states promote better sleep, release beneficial hormones related to health and longevity, and reduce mental fatigue, stress, and anxiety.
Delta waves range from 0 to 4 HZ. Delta is the state of deepest relaxation, healing, and connection with your subconscious mind. In the Delta state you are sound asleep. Slow Wave Sleep or SWS, is the deepest of sleep states and it plays a vital role in health and well-being. During this phase of the sleep cycle, the brain begins producing very slow, large Delta waves. A few hours of Delta waves will give your brain all the restorative sleep it needs. The delta state releases anti-aging hormones such as melatonin, DHEA, and human growth hormone (HGH).
Meditation can change your brain
Meditation not only produces state-changes in the brainwaves; it also changes your brain structure. In this talk, Sara Lazar presents this amazing phenomenon:
Find more exercises related to mindfulness at work here.