How the Brain Works
Many people truly have no idea how to alter their brain waves, but the truth is its much easier than most of us think it is to alter your state of consciousness, therefore your brain wave pattern. In neuroscience there is a saying that says,”The mind is what the brain does,” and assuming this is true your state of mind is determined by the particular frequencies and intensities of your brain waves as well as where they are located within your skull.
For instance, if you are thinking more visually most of your neural activity is taking place in the visual cortex within the occipital lobe, or near the back of the brain, and if you are thinking more auditorily than it is in the auditory cortex in the temporal love, or near the middle of the brain.
Moreover, if you are fully alert and focused you are likely experiencing beta brain waves, whereas alpha waves are more along the lines of relaxed awareness or contemplation. These are merely generalizations and the only way to truly know what state you are in is through neuroimaging such as MRI or EEG, but you can take a pretty accurate internal assessment using biofeedback.
Assessing Your State of Mind
Biofeedback uses the body’s natural resources to get a depiction of your state of mind, or brain wave state. To do this assess your heart rate, breathing pattern, and the way you are thinking at any given moment. If your breathing is quick and shallow that is a tell tale sign that you are in a beta state, whereas slower, deeper breaths are related to alpha or theta brain waves, as well as delta, but these are generally only present during sleep.
The reason this works is because the autonomic nervous system (ANS), the part of the peripheral nervous system (PNS), that controls internal organs such as the heart and lungs, is controlled by your reaction to both internal and external stimuli, in other words what you are thinking or outwardly perceiving. It also regulates the endocrine system, which in turn gives us even more information about our state of consciousness through biofeedback.
The reason all of this is important is because knowing how the body and brain works is vital to recognizing what brain waves you are experiencing, therefore your state of mind. If your heart rate is up, meaning you are likely in a beta state, do you think that is ideal for giving a presentation? Unless the presentation is motivational in nature or perhaps for advertising purposes, chances are your ideal state is alpha or more relaxed.
Successful athletes are adept at getting into the ideal state of mind. When you step onto the court, the field, mat, or wherever your sport is played, depending on whether its a contact sport or not, fast paced or relaxed, do you think beta would be the best state to be in? Perhaps, but then again maybe alpha is what’s necessary.
In an alpha state we are operating on more automatic responses than conscious thought. Does this not sound ideal for a football player waiting for the ball to be snapped or a golfer attempting to sink a put for par? How about when an artist is trying to come up with a creative idea? Actually theta waves are generally correlative to creativity.
Controlling Your State of Mind
When it comes to your mind it is crucial to be able to manipulate your brain waves to be in the ideal state at any given time. How do you do this? By doing or focusing on things that put you in the state you ideally wish to be in. If you are looking for a beta state try breathing a little shallower, raising your heart rate; this will quickly put you in a beta state, or maybe you could watch a motivational video. Whatever makes your heart race and your breathing quicken will usually put you in a beta state.
Alpha states are a little harder but still pretty easy to reach. Powerful music that isn’t too fast or exciting can easily put you in an alpha state. Anything that makes you contemplative and relax slightly will do this. Theta waves are easy to generate as well. Deep relaxation is a theta state. Meditation, deep breathing, often closing your eyes will create a theta state. Whatever clears your mind and relaxes your body deeply is likely creating theta waves.
Remember the mind is what the brain does, and since we know the brain controls the functions of the body, keeping track of what your body is doing will help you determine what state you are in. You should enter each situation with a clean slate, so to speak, so try taking three slow, deep breaths, or perhaps fast and shallow, depending on what state you are seeking, and be conscious of where you are and where you would like to be.
Remaining present in your body will keep you grounded in the moment and aware of what state you are in as well as the environment around you. Keep this in mind and you will be the master of your own state of mind in no time.
I hope you enjoyed this post and gained some powerful insight. If so, feel free to like and share, and let us all know about any of your favorite activities that allow you to reach the ideal state of mind in any given situation.