Confession: I am a brain geek. I’ve been lucky enough in this lifetime to have worked for 3 years with Nina Davis, craniosacral therapist extraordinaire, and I can’t thank her enough for sharing her work with me.
CST is usually subtle. The one time it wasn’t subtle was when she worked on my locus ceruleus, a “blue spot” in the brain stem that is affected by trauma. When it opened up or unfroze or however it changed, I experienced profound, deep relaxation with no internal images or dialog. Just deep black restful awareness. It was like bliss.
I recommend CST for all trauma survivors. Trauma rewires the brain in a dysfunctional way, and your full recovery depends on you (with whatever help you can get) rewiring it back to a healthy state.
(Besides this, Nina has shown me how acutely a person can develop her sensory acuity, to the point where she’s aware of tiny structures and processes inside her own brain and body and in mine as well, using her fingertips and awareness. She’s just brilliant, like a Bene Gesserit from Dune. I have some perception of my energy body and can feel shifts, but she’s got the detailed inner anatomy down.)
I’ve read articles about scientific studies of long-time meditators that concluded that meditation affects your brain waves in a positive way. I believe it, based on 6 months of daily meditation. I experience my energy field differently, although my physical body is feeling pretty good too these days. It’s as if my brain waves are oscillating in more synchrony than before, which is pleasant and self-reinforcing.
I am very curious about brain waves. They are bioelectricity, and there are machines that give you visual feedback of your brain activity. Here’s what I know (from reading A Symphony in the Brain and Wikipedia):
- Brain waves correspond to mental states, and we usually experience a mixture of states.
- Delta waves predominate when you’re asleep. They’re at the lowest hertz, 0-4.
- Next higher, theta waves occur in the hypnogogic state, when you’re falling asleep or waking and your mind feels pleasantly fuzzy and untethered to waking life. When you visualize something, and when you inhibit/repress, you’re in the theta wave range, 4-7 hertz. Associated with relaxed, meditative, creative states. Healing of trauma occurs in this state, where you unrepress traumatic memories by reimagining the trauma as a witness, not a participant, which makes it safe(r).
- Alpha waves, 8-12 hertz, were discovered first, thus alpha. You can access the alpha state by imagining space inside your body, such as the space between your eyes, or bringing your attention to how your body. Occurs with relaxation. More accessible with your eyes closed; opening your eyes often brings you out of it.
- Beta state, 13-30 hertz, is often referred to as normal waking consciousness. They’re active when you are mentally aroused, or having a conversation, or feeling anxious. Ask someone to solve a math problem, and they’ll be experiencing beta waves (so will you, probably). Interestingly, people with ADHD have too much theta in proportion to the amount of beta waves that they have. Retraining consists of lowering theta and raising beta from 9:1 to 3:1. Body movement usually takes you out of beta.
- The new kid on the brain wave block, gamma waves (25-100 hertz) weren’t measured until people began using digital rather than analog EEG equipment to read brain waves. Studies of Tibetan monks with over 10,000 hours of meditation experience conclude that gamma waves correlate to transcendental meditative states. Also occurs during synesthesia (feeling a color, seeing a sound, etc.). Gamma may signify “binding” of neurons into a network. (Hmm, I’ve heard that neurons that fire together, wire together. Could gamma be where they wire together? If so, it’s prime territory for learning.)
I would love to have a portable EEG machine and electrodes like Ken Wilber uses in the YouTube video where he shuts down his brain waves. It would be fun to play with and learn from. One researcher claims that each hertz is associated with specific mental activity. That would be fun to experiment with!
I wonder what we would see if both Nina and I were hooked up to EEG machines when we were doing craniosacral therapy. What happens when I’m doing yoga, meditating, drawing, petting my cat — what states occur?
I’ve also learned that you can get a “brain tune-up”. A company called Brain States Technology (with three affiliates in Austin at present) uses a new strategy for working with EEG readouts and improving brain functioning. Rather than using a medical model (specifically retraining the brain not to have epileptic seizures or ADHD), they simply show you how to optimize your brain waves, right to left and front to back. So, for instance, you might have less delta and theta when awake, and more beta in the left hemisphere and more alpha in the right.
I’m gathering information and considering doing it.
I’m interested in increasing my gamma waves, which may signify a mental state called “unity of consciousness.” The jury is still out on this (and scientific juries take a notoriously long time to agree on things).
In the meantime, the man who brought us the Delta Sleep System CD has now created one to optimize gamma waves, Gamma Meditation System. I’m ordering it.