Meditation: The Science
Meditation is aimed at moving the brain out of normal brain function (beta brainwaves) into more relaxed brainwaves (alpha and theta brainwaves) without falling into a sleep state (delta brainwaves).
Scientists have found that the brains of people who meditate (spending more time in alpha and theta states) produce special hormones and “neuropeptides.” These chemicals have been linked to increased memory, creativity and ability to learn. Serotonin a well known and well researched nuropeptide. Seratonin is linked to endorphins which govern feelings of happiness and wellbeing, helping us to feel relaxed both mentally and physically.
The four types of brain waves
Beta waves (15-30 waves per second (Hz)). This is where brains normally function at. It is the normal wakeful state of thinking, dealing with people, problems and the outer world. Most people spend most of their lives in this busy mental state. In schools (and society in general) we constantly ask children to operate in this stressful brain state. Some children (and adults) have a lot of trouble switching off this brainwave to even get to sleep! (See “RAINBOW SLEEP TIME”)
Alpha waves (9-14 Hz). When a person is relaxed, brain activity slows down from beta into alpha. In alpha creative energy begins to flow, fears vanish and people experience a liberating sense of peace and well-being. The “alpha state” is where meditation starts and one begins to access the wealth of creativity and intuition that lies just below conscious awareness. It is the gateway that leads into deeper states of meditation.
Theta waves (4-8 Hz). This state is the aim of meditation. Experienced meditators can reach this deep meditative state where beneficial hormones are released into the body. When a person enters “theta,” brain waves slow down until the “meditator” is almost at the point of sleep. Many people only experience this state while falling asleep or just before waking. It brings forth receptivity, increased intuition, dreamlike images, floating feelings, creativity, inspiration, increased energy and immunity, even old or buried memories can come forth.
Theta is an extraordinary realm to explore. Einstein trained himself to spend many hours in this state.
Delta waves (1-3 Hz). This is the slowest of brainwaves and is found during deep, dreamless sleep. It is also sometimes found in very experienced meditators e.g. Buddhist Monks or Yogi’s.