Within the brain, millions of nerve cells pass the information along to each other with electrical pulses. With electroencephalo-graphy (EEG) we can measure the brainwaves of these electrical pulses by putting electrodes on the scalp. Even awake we experience different levels of awareness that come from brainwave states. Altered states can be used to help with mediation, used in hypnosis and for biofeedback.

Beta: Is our normal wake state of consciousness. We are engaged with our environment, we are having conversations and we are thinking.

Alpha: This state is a meditative state. It is a relaxed state of focused concentration that we naturally dip into throughout the day but only for a moment. An example would be daydreaming, where your focus is not on your environment but on something internal. As a result, you lose your sense of time flow. This is the state you are in when you are reflecting, relaxed and not engaged in conversation.
Interesting enough, “Psychophysiologist Thomas Mulholland found that after just 30 seconds of watching television the brain begins to produce alpha waves, which indicates torpid (almost comatose) [slow]rates of activity. Alpha brain waves are associated with unfocused, overly receptive states of consciousness. A high-frequency alpha waves [sic] does not occur normally when the eyes are open. In fact, Mulholland’s research implies that watching television is neurologically analogous to staring at a blank wall.” ( It is also the state of light hypnosis.

Theta: An example would be daydreaming, where your focus is not on your environment but on something internal. As a result, you lose your sense of time flow. Times, when you cannot remember how you got where you are, would be a result of dipping into Theta. A state where ideas are all free flow and sometimes inspirational. When you are engaged in a repetitious task you can mentally disengage from the task, as it does not require focus, and enter into a theta state.

“”People with ADD/ADHD [inattentive ADD/ADHD, as opposed to other types of ADD such as overfocused] exhibit too little Beta(thinking) activity and too much Theta(dreaming) activity. This is the classic inattention for ADD. With ADHD, hyperactivity keeps people from falling asleep. In essence, the person is combatting the high Theta activity and keeping themselves aroused (by increasing their Beta activity).”“ (

Delta: Deep sleep with no awareness and no dreaming. This state of sleep is said to restorative and is the time when our brain focuses on body maintenance.

Sleep and Dreaming-When we go to sleep we go from low beta, to alpha, theta and finally delta. Dreaming most often occurs in theta, in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. In REM sleep we are incapable of movement, in order to prevent us from acting out our dreams. People that become aware during this stage can actually experience the sleep paralysis that occurs; they feel awake, feel aware, but cannot move and might experience some hallucinations or dream elements that increase the frightening aspects of this sensation. While others sometimes do not experience the sleep paralysis and act our there dreams, from kinking, punching to walking or eating. Stage 1 and 2 of sleep are characterized by theta waves and 3 to 4 with delta.

Meditation– “Alpha waves range between 7-12 HZ. This is a place of deep relaxation, but not quite meditation. In Alpha, we begin to access the wealth of creativity that lies just below our conscious awareness – it is the gateway, the entry point that leads into deeper states of consciousness. Alpha is also the home of the window frequency known as the Schuman Resonance – the resonant frequency of the earth’s electromagnetic field.” ( “Theta rests directly on the threshold of your subconscious. In biofeedback, it is most commonly associated with the deepest levels of meditation. Theta also plays an important part in behaviour modification programs and has been used in the treatment of drug and alcohol addiction. Finally, Theta is an ideal state for super-learning, re-programming your mind, dream recall, and self-hypnosis.”

Resources: – what is the function of various brain waves. – tools for wellness. – brainwaves
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