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Brain Waves, Meditation and Altered States

It is widely accepted that our brains produce electrical charges at varying frequencies. The brain waves can be detected with EEG (Electroencephalography) which were first recorded in humans by Hans Berger in 1924.

Brain waves change during, for example, sleep, meditation, prayer, relaxation or other practises.

Through my experiences in sensing, and (continually) learning to distinguish between intuition, psychic awareness and mediumship, I could feel a difference between the states, but did not have a framework to intellectualize on.

At Arthur Findlay College, for the Advancement of Spiritualism and Psychic Science, I received an interesting hand-out.

The following table is based on that hand-out; the source of the information was not indicated. I researched for a source online, but it was not clear where the content originally came from.

However, I did locate more on the Wikipedia.org and included excerpts into the table. Additional information, from other sources, is also provided, at the bottom of the table.

Normal Material Life Brain Waves

Hertz Wikipedia Content:

Beta

30-12 Hertz approximately

  • Low amplitude beta with multiple and varying frequencies is often associated with active, busy or anxious thinking and active concentration.
  • It is the dominant rhythm in those that are alert or anxious or who have their eyes open.
High Beta 30 – 23 Panic, Hyperactive
Beta 22.99-16 Twitchy
Low Beta 15.99-14.5 OK
Beta/Alpha 14.49-13.5 Calm
High Alpha 13.49-12.4 Quietness

Altered State of Consciousness (ACS) Brain Waves

Hertz Wikipedia Content:

Alpha

12-8 Hertz approximately

  • Begins with closing the eyes and with relaxation.

  • Decreases with eye opening or mental exertion.
  • The posterior basic rhythm is actually slower than 8 Hz in young children,therefore, borders on the theta range (depending on the source).
Alpha 12.39-9.9 Start of Meditation
Low Alpha 9.89-8.2 Inspiration, Clairvoyance
Alpha/Theta 8.19-7.7 Light Trance

Theta

7-4 Hertz approximately

  • Normally seen in young children.
  • May be seen in drowsiness or arousal in older children.
  • Observed in meditation and associated with relaxation and creative states.
High Theta 7.69- 7.1 Partial Loss of Awareness
Theta 7-4.9 Further Loss of Awareness
Low Theta 4.89-4.3 Deeper Trance
Theta/Delta 4.29-3.9 Out of Body
High Delta 3.89-3 Guides Controlling
Delta 2.9-1.5 Passive Body
Low Delta 1.49-0.5 Full Deep Trance
Panning 0.49-0.01 Where Have You Gone?
Wikipedia Content:

Gama

30–100 Hertz

Gamma-band oscillations?
  • “According to a popular theory, gamma waves may be implicated in creating the unity of conscious perception.”
  • In relation to meditation, “experiments on Tibetan Buddhist monks have shown a correlation between transcendental mental states and gamma waves.” Source: Wikipedia

 

Other Information / Sources about Brain Waves and Meditation

Sahaja Yoga Meditators Measured with a QEEG

Dr. R. Manocha in Australia conducted a pilot study with advanced meditators using an “Sanhaja Yoga” meditation technique.

Brain waves were monitored using a device called a QEEG (quantitative electro encephelo gram).

Here are some highlights:

During meditation, participants were able to discern and signal when they had entered into a state of mental silence, or “thoughtless awareness”. “Precisely at the time that the theta [brain wave] activity became prominent, the meditators reported that they experienced a state of complete mental silence and “oneness.”

Dr. Manocha also writes “the focus of theta activity at the front of the head and top of the head, both in the midline, suggest that structures deep within the brain, possibly the limbic system, are being activated. The limbic system is responsible for many aspects of our subjective experiences, such as emotion and mood, so it is no surprise that meditation, which is traditionally associated with blissful states, might involve this part of the brain.”

He also speculates: “the two areas of theta activity coincidentally correspond to the two main chakras in the brain, according to yogic tradition. The forehead chakra called “agnya” or “third eye” is located in the centre of the forehead while the chakra at the top of the head, is called “sahasrara” or “crown chakra” and is traditionally associated with the limbic system.”

You can read more about this and other interesting articles at: ResearchingMeditation.org.

Buddha on the Brain

Researching this subject, I found more about the meditation study conducted with Tibetan monks; a very good article written by John Geirland in the February 2006 issue of Wired Magazine.

The article describes that experienced monks produced Gama Waves that were 30 times stronger than a control group of college students inexperienced in meditation.

I’m not sure (yet) where “Gamma” fits into psychic or mediumistic states; it might not, it might be a different frequency. The information will turn up eventually.

To read the full report, you can find it here at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Also, for more about this subject, go to the Mind & Life Institute where the Dahlia Lama and researhers are “Building a scientific understanding of the mind to reduce suffering and promote well-being.”

My To Do List

The more I get into this topic, the more questions are generated. Here are notes to myself, concepts to research further at a later date.

  • Which wave length begins during “psychic” activity, Alpha?
  • There are different types of “mediumship” that occur at different brain wave patterns. Does “mental mediumship” begin at Low Alpha as suggested on this ___?
  • During “Physical Mediumship” what is the brain wave pattern? Delta?
  • What exactly is “Gamma-band oscillation?” Is this what is generated by an individual meditator? Or, is this what is experienced during ANY group meditation or only in group mediation with “an objective feeling of compassion during meditation.” Hmmm I wonder how to send a note to the Dalai Lama folks. BINGO, see Mind & Life Institute
  • Needs a research source: THETA waves 3 to 7 Hz associated with increased recall, creativity, imagery and visualization, free-flowing thought, future planning, inspiration, drowsiness, present during dreaming and REM states
  • Needs a research source: DELTA waves .1 to 3 Hz associated with deep dreamless sleep, deep trance state pituitary release of growth hormone, self-healing, present during deep levels of non-REM sleep.
  • From Wired Feb 2006 article: “Experiments that will follow novices through months of intensive training – the only way to test whether meditation actually changes the brain – are starting up at UC San Francisco and UC Davis. Meditation research is blossoming at a dozen universities, including Harvard and Princeton. Check for published studies since then.”
  • Mind & Life Institute

3 Responses so far.

  1. Owen says:

    Very interesting, is there any low cost, stress low cost machinery “out there” and readily available for purchase that one could use to measure their own frequencies?

  2. Kathrene says:

    Since this will be probably an ongoing project, I’m adding a change log to this page:

    • Added “Sahaja Yoga Meditators Measured with a QEEG.”
    • Added “Buddha on the Brain.”
    • Added more to the “To Do” list.
    • Fixed some typos and links.
  3. Elizabeth says:

    Great article Kathrene, Very detailed and yet easy to understand.
    Thanks

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