Hello! In the Breathing post we’ve talked about how we breathe and the benefits that conscious full breathing brings to your body. But the body is not the only one who benefits from this practice. Our mind and our mental faculties are heavily dependent on our breathing patterns. Why? Because our breathing patterns influence our brainwave states.
So, what are brainwaves? Brainwaves are the energy frequencies that our brain emits in its functions, when electrical impulses are sent between neurons communicating with each other, and different energy frequencies (brainwaves) equal different chemical processes happening in our brain and this determines our responses to what is happening around (and also inside) us.
There are 4 major brainwave states: beta, alpha, theta and delta. Below follows a summary of how each brainwave affects how we experience the world.
Delta (from 0,5 to 4 Hz) – delta brainwaves are associated with deep sleep or very deep meditation; they are the lowest frequency brainwave states recorded. In delta our body is healing and regenerating and there is no awareness of the outside world.
Theta (from 4 to 8 Hz) – this is a state in which we rely more on our intuition and are more spontaneous and imaginative, rather than logical and rational. It is the state of small children and the best state to learn any kind of information, because your brain is in a highly receptive mode.
Alpha (from 8 to 13 Hz) – this state is associated with rest (not sleep) and relaxation, as well as the subconscious function of regulating our body. It is a state of rest for the brain, of being present in the now.
Beta (from 13 to 38 Hz) – it’s the higher frequency brainwave state we usually operate in, and it is our most common state during the day. It is associated with questioning and cognitive thinking, and, depending on its frequency (low, medium or high), it can be either used to question and doubt everything around us and ourselves (in low); be attentive and think clearly (in medium); or quickly integrate knowledge, problem solve and be excited in high frequency.
There’s also a 5th brainwave state, gamma, which is associated with states of universal love and expanded consciousness. In this state you can also learn, process and remember enormous amounts of information easily! This state has the highest frequency of all the brainwaves (above 38 Hz), but it is not well understood how it is activated, although meditation on the highest frequency emotions, like love and gratitude seems to induce the brain to produce more gamma frequencies.
So, can you control in which brainwave state you’re in? Yes, you can. You can enter different brainwaves by changing your breathing patterns, here’s the pattern for each state:
Beta – breathe in and out without holding your breath in between.
Alpha – breathe in for a count of 8, hold for 8, breathe out for a count of 8, and hold for 4 before inhaling again.
Theta – breathe in for a count of 4, hold for 8, breathe out for a count of 16, and hold for 4 before inhaling again.
Delta – breathe in for a count of 4, hold for 8, breathe out for a count of 32, and hold for 4 before inhaling again.
So, with this information, you can choose to enter the brainwave state that most suits your activities, be them focused thinking, rest and relaxation or deep regenerative sleep. Practice them and you’ll have a big ally to help you perform at you best in every daily situation!
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