Today I went off on another curiosity tangent and started researching Binaural Beats and Brain Waves as they sparked my interest yesterday when I experienced their effects by a complete fluke. I’m gonna skip the story that caused my curiosity and just present some interesting info I gathered off the net and at the end I’ll add my own opinion and conclusions to all this.
Our brain is still a mystery to scientists so no wonder we discover new things about it every day, but because I want to keep this post as short as possible, I’ll try to summarise this in a few paragraphs.
We know that the brain’s electrical charge is maintained by billions of neurons. The neurons are continuously exchanging ions and the ions of same charge repel each other, and when many ions are pushed out of many neurons at the same time, they can push their neighbours, who push their neighbours, and so on, causing a wave. The oscillations of this wave, which can be picked up by an EEG, have characteristic frequency ranges (explained below), spatial distributions and are associated with different states of brain functioning (e.g. the various sleep stages). The neuronal networks underlying some of these oscillations are well understood, while many others are not. Research that measures both EEG and neuron spiking finds the relationship between the two as very complex.
Therefore these brain waves are all oscillating electrical voltages in the brain, but they are very tiny voltages, just a few millionths of a volt. They’ve been split into 5 different categories and each one could induce a multitude of mental states, from hyperactivity to relaxation, meditation, creativity, enhanced intellectual performance and all sorts of other desirable/surprising mental states. The frequencies found in the EEG are:
> 40 Hz Gamma waves = Higher mental activity, including perception, problem solving, fear, and consciousness. Mysterious, controversial.
13–39 Hz Beta waves = Active, busy or anxious thinking and active concentration, arousal, cognition, and or paranoia. Are seen in highly stressful situations and where there is difficult mental concentration and focus.
7–13 Hz Alpha waves = Relaxation (while awake), pre-sleep and pre-wake drowsiness, REM sleep, Dreams. Seen in wakefulness where there is a relaxed and effortless alertness. Highly beneficial. More info here
Each of the these types of brain waves is good for something different. However, we can get into serious trouble if we can not turn on the type of brain wave needed for the task at hand. On the other hand, people who can turn on the ideal brain waves to deal with each and every situation needed are considered highly gifted.
So how do you turn on the right ones at the right time?
As our brain is an amazing bioengineering creation (among other things), it usually turns on automatically the right brain waves for the right time, so you shouldn’t need to worry about it. But here’s the catch, if you are stressed, worried, concerned with various issues, or you find yourself at the other end of the scale where you’re lazy and don’t care about anything (=live a very unbalanced life, like most people), then the automatic process is not happening and it has undesirable consequences.
Alpha and Theta brain waves are extremely important to our health and personal growth but due to the hectic lifestyle our economic-driven society promotes and sustains, we are suppressing these brain waves with: stress, caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and various other drugs and addictions. I don’t need to tell you these things are bad for you cos u know it, its been scientifically proven, but you gladly ignore all that because the media advertisement brainwashed everyone into believing they need to consume those industry products because of the apparent benefits (placebo effect) or because it makes you look “cool” for smoking/drinking/using/buying/having those products. (There are a few astonishing studies on manipulation and control of public perception but I’m not gonna get into that now, if interested, Google it but try to sort out the nonsense from facts)
Certain articles I read show that the suppression of Alpha waves and their replacement with Beta waves during a hectic daily lifestyle, transforms individuals into drones as they are incapable of individual and true creative “out of the box’ thought. This is very worrying and to put it simply, here is a logical example: if we are in Delta while we sleep (lets call this 1st gear) and in Beta when we’re hyper active (lets call this 4th gear), then what most people are doing is jump out of bed in the morning to get to work, go through the day stressed with deadlines and other targets they need to achieve, drink lots of coffee, energy drinks and use other various stimulants to keep them going or keep them “happy”, then in the evening get back to bed and switch back to Delta. From a car driver’s perspective, this is like using only 1st and 4th gear all the time. Soon enough that gearbox, that engine and ultimately the car, will fall apart. In this case its us unfortunately. I believe that we really need to learn how to live a healthy lifestyle as it will make us more of what we are, it will encourage progress due to us being truly happier, more creative, more work efficient and simply..more.
I’m continuously surprised by the amount of people who driven by financial restraints go to work like mindless drones ignoring the world around them and most important their own unhappiness. Someone once said that “if you love what you do then it’s not a job but a hobby, and you don’t have to work another day in your life while being paid for your hobby.” Considering all of us are very good at those things we really enjoy doing, why don’t people wake up and follow their dreams? I know it’s physically hard but is so logically simple and so possible..
I personally think there are only 2 types of people in this world: those that lead and those that follow. (those that don’t care are still part of those that follow btw). Society today and our education system is so standardised that it seems to create corporate or academic soldiers instead of multi-area specialised individuals that are highly capable of multidimensional divergent thinking. This is a topic for another post but my advice to anyone reading this is to develop awareness and choose for yourself how to live your life and what makes you happy, don’t let others make those choices for you.
As we all know, our brain is an extraordinary piece of biotech therefore it can automatically deal with more things that we can imagine but like any muscle we got to train it. And we got to train it with the right tools and means in the right direction. So how can we do that? How can we make our brain generate more of those beneficial Alpha and Theta waves during any given day? Well to start with, you can always stimulate it with Binaural Beats of Alpha and Theta frequency during any of your daily activities (Amazon has a few albums on the subject, or else search with Google/Yahoo for “alpha wave audio” and take it from there). Audio stimulation helps but only if you are willing to do what it takes to grow and leave negative habits behind you that stop your own evolution.
Basic awareness and audio stimulation on 7Hz and 10Hz during daily activities is a good start, but I think the real progress will be made by using something as simple as curiosity. If u keep asking questions about anything really, they will generate at least as many answers and some more questions to keep you busy. But you see, this simple process not only that it “trains” our brain and helps us gather more knowledge, it actually stimulates our neurones to fire multiple new inter-neuronal connections that enhance a large variety of our skills. If you’re worried about looking silly by asking something that u don’t know, have some confidence and don’t mind what people think. Whats important in the end is that you get the information you need. And remember, a question is never silly, an answer is.
I’ll end this post with a quote that always comes into my mind when I’m taking off on various adventures: “courage is not the absence of fear it is the ability to act in the presence of it.” As life itself is an adventure, I don’t think we should be afraid of it but we can’t just take it for granted either. We and everything around us are too complex to be meaningless and just meant for such simple lives don’t you think? We should explore our inner and outer worlds, find answers to our questions and then pursue more questions, as awareness is the first step towards something new, towards progress, evolution and balance. Most people are afraid of what they don’t understand and reject it from a hard-wired defence mechanism, but if we find some courage to explore our limits, it will only bring good things, and I speak from experience here I assure you. My advice to anyone reading this is to be the change you want to see in others, be an Alpha wave generator, stand out by being yourself and lead the change in the right direction; the flock will eventually wake up as well. Ah and don’t worry, curiosity never killed the cat 🙂