ARE YOU MEDITATING, OR HAVING A SEATED CATNAP?
Meditation takes practice, and it's so easy for the mind to wander away when you're meant to be on your way to enlightenment! Whether we are mentally active, resting or asleep, the brain always has some level of electrical activity. There are distinct brain patterns for people who frequently meditate, the goal is to reach frequent alpha and theta states (and possibly delta). If your mind is constantly chattering, it may be you are in beta state, and still in 'problem solving mode'. Check this list to see if you are truly in the alpha state, taking a nap or or worse, thinking about your to-do list.
First of all, let's define the five brain wave states
1. When you are Stressed or Hyper
Gamma State: (30 — 100Hz) This is the state of active learning, or that feeling of being hyperactive. Gamma state is the best time to retain information. Ever see Tony Robbins jumping around and getting the crowd going - this is to infuse movement with learning, and can create greater retention. The downside however is if you are over stimulated, it can lead to anxiety.
2. When you are Calm and Collected but Plugged In
Beta State: (13 — 30Hz) The Beta State is associated with the alert mind state and is where most of us reside during the day. This is a state of the 'thinking mind', and is known for the active prefrontal cortex, and analytics.
3. Relaxed Attention
Theta State: (4 — 8Hz) The mind slows down further and active visualisation and a sense of deeper awareness happens. This is the state associated with the law of attraction, creating your own reality, wholeness and connection. At the Theta State, one feels drowsy, but more tuned into a general awareness, rather than clear, individual thoughts. Inspired visualisation occurs.
4. The Chilled Out Zone
Alpha State: (9 — 13Hz) Think of those times post yoga, sex, or when you are hanging out when there are no worries or distinct thoughts, just calmness and present awareness. We feel grounded and at peace. The hemispheres of the brain actually show more neural integration, or balance. This is the space that meditation can bring us to as we start to settle in.
5. The Deep Sleep
Delta State: (1—3 Hz) Tibetan monks and serious meditators who have been meditating for decades can reach this in an alert, wakened phase, but most people achieve this state in deep slumber. This is the stuff of Doctor Strange, where the physical and spiritual worlds begin to come together!
The best way to get into the groove with meditation is to use a podcast or app, and be guided through a session. Here are our top picks:
One of the recent technology breakthroughs is the Muse App, which will actually measure your brainwaves during meditation, to see which state you are in. Muse is the first tool in the world that gives you accurate, real-time feedback on what’s happening in your brain when you meditate.
This classic app almost needs no introduction. Revered the world over by celebrities and media alike, the programme is conceived by a former monk, Andi Puddicombe. His soothing British lilt will guide you through a mindfulness practice that can be tailored for children, stress, sleep or focus.
Produced by Jesse and Jean Stern, The Meditation Podcast uses binaural beats which affect the right and left sides of the brain. Themed episodes use a combination of deep breathing and visualisation to bring about a state of deep relaxation. The Sleep episode is one of the absolute best we've ever tried. The meditations are accessible via small donations on Patreon, or try some of the free options.
With thousands of free meditations, this library has something for everyone. With over 30,000 meditations plus courses, it's great for both beginners and seasoned practitioners. Dive into a myriad of different styles and lengths of meditation, you can browse popular meditations, search keywords, or create a custom meditation with your preferred sounds and music. We love this as it's suitable for any mood.
Another popular app, you're greeted with soothing nature-based soundscapes when you open this up and start to browse your preferred meditation for the day. If you're feeling nostalgic for the good old days of falling asleep to fairy tale, check out the Sleep Stories section, which has celebrity narrators. We're rather partial to Stephen Fry narrating the history of lavender as he talks you through endless lilac Provencal fields - even better if you inhale a few drops of the essential oil just before bed.