A mind in that is present in the alpha brainwave is one with a relaxed mind, free of stress and is automatically uses more of the right side of the brain.
Your brain frequency fluctuates countless times every day, often spontaneously, as and when the need arises. The best time to identify when our brainwave is changing is during the night, when we go to sleep. You can lay down, close your eyes, and your brain automatically starts slowing down so you can rest, dream, and become rejuvenated.
The sleep process is necessary for us to maintain our mental and physical health and balance. This is also the reason we sleep more when we are sick, as our brain slows down automatically into an alpha state to regenerate our body.
[Read: What Are The Health Benefits of Music?]
To understand the importance of alpha brainwave, let’s have a quick look at the 4 types of brainwaves.
The Beta Wave
The Beta Wave has a frequency of 14 to 21 cycles per second. We use this frequency in our ordinary waking state, with most of our activity being at about 20 to 22 cycles per second. At this level, we reason, rationalize, and execute whatever chores we need to do.
However, the beta waves will increase the more stressed and nervous you are, or to put it another way, the more stressed you are, the faster your brain frequency becomes. If your brain wave frequency goes up to about 60 cycles per sec, you will get hysteric and anything higher than, you may pass out.
The golden rule: The higher your brain wave, the harder you will find to function. A typical situation, would be an examination, an important business meeting where you are stressed out, and your brainwave is probably up to 30 or higher, and finding yourself not thinking straight.
The Alpha Wave
The frequency is from 7 to 14 cycles per second. This state of mind is called as the “relaxed alertness”. You are calm and peaceful, with clear creative thinking, ideas, solutions and intuitive breakthroughs.
Studying is easy. This state of mind can help you reach your full potential and help your body regenerate itself, with increased health and vitality. This is also the state where daydreaming, hypnosis and nocturnal dreaming take place.
The Theta Wave
Theta wave can be described as deep sleep and has a range between 4 and 7 cycles per second. All our emotional experiences are recorded here.
The Delta Wave
Delta wave is categorized as the deepest sleep state. Their frequencies are less than 4 cycles per second. This state can be best described as total unconsciousness-the delta state.
The Sleep Cycle
In an eight-hour sleep period, you might spend 30 to 90 minutes in delta state, 30 to 60 in theta state, and the rest of the time in alpha. Obviously, this will vary between individuals and even vary from night to night with the same person.
The important thing to note here is that different states of brain waves are a natural phenomenon that you go through every day, but you can consciously choose to drift into an alpha state of mind.
Now that we know a bit about brain waves, let’s have a look at the alpha brain-wave again.
The key words for alpha are: “relaxed alertness”, “calm – peaceful, with clear creative thinking, ideas, solutions and intuitive breakthroughs”, “body regeneration”, “increase in health and vitality” and it is also the natural state of the right side of your brain to be active.
This combination, especially relaxed alertness and having access to your right brain function is an important state of mind to have.
In fact, the ability to trigger right brain function and alpha brain activity, is the ability to get in touch with your intuition, creativity, music, art, painting, writing, dancing. Also abilities such as problem solving, seeing the bigger picture and the ability to swing into the left side for logic contemplation and swinging back to see your conclusion in a bigger picture also occur in the alpha state.
[Read: An Inside Look at Music Therapy [Infographic]]
How Can We Drift To The Alpha Brain Wave?
By playing Alpha Music, your mind can drift into the alpha state. Generally, relaxation music or meditative music can be used as alpha music. You can also reach this state by doing creative activities.
For instance, you may start off painting with your left side of your brain, but if you don’t need to concentrate on techniques, you can easily shift over to the right side and into the alpha state. (This is also where you lose your sense of time and may tend to paint longer than you wanted to). Most artists know the power of music, and play alpha music to aid them in achieving the right mood.
The alpha state can also be achieved by relaxation exercises or meditation, which you may have to learn first in order to benefit from it. These activities can also use the aid of alpha type music.
You can influence your personal space, living space or working space by playing appropriate music. Music is extremely powerful, we all know how certain songs can affect us and trigger off emotions.
In my years of counselling, I have come across some of the most amazing examples of how music can trigger emotions, and not always in a positive way.
One example springs to mind:
I had a woman client who had morning sickness when she was sub-consciously listening to a specific song on the radio. She still gets morning sickness every time that particular song is played on the radio. This is called an anchor, the song has anchored the feeling.
You may ask, what has that to do with the alpha brainwave?
Listening to alpha music can have two functions. One is to help you to get to the place of relaxation and the second to work as an anchor. For instance, if you associate a certain music to the alpha state (meditation, painting or other creative activities) the next time, you listen to that music or song, you will be able to access that alpha-relaxed alertness state of mind even faster.