Categorizing Brainwave States (Gamma, Beta, Theta, Alpha & Delta)
You will notice on all of the hypnosis product pages in my store (under the 'product details' tab) there is a field called 'Trance Level'. In this blog I want to explain more what this is all about and how we categorize the levels of trance according to predominant brainwave activity.
How State of Mind is Measured (Hertz)
Our brain (or mind) operates in 5 main levels/categories. Interestingly enough the brain can operate in different levels at the same time, but to keep things simple here lets just focus on our predominant 'state of mind' or 'general consciousness' levels. We naturally experience all the different states of mind at different times each day & night as our general brainwave activity changes according to internal and external influences. We measure this brainwave activity in Hertz (Hz) which tells us how many brainwave cycles are happening per second at any given point in time. Lower levels of brainwave activity = lower measurements in Hertz (for example sleep is lower levels of Hz than being wide awake). These measurements are obtained through an EEG machine and provide a quantitative way of analyzing thought and brain function at any point in time.
The 5 Main Categories of Brainwave Levels (Consciousness)
It's kind of funny that with as little that we know about the inner workings of the human mind that we can group its functioning into 5 main categories, but it does make it easier when describing subjective states and general levels of awareness. These levels are grouped into the following categories below: (categorization does differ from certain sources but there is a general consensus)
Gamma Levels (Above 40Hz)
Ultra high levels of awakened consciousness typified by increased brainwave cycles and thoughts. These type of levels happen during times like when you are highly stressed & over thinking, confronted by a dangerous situation requiring immediate action (fight or flight) or have short bursts of highly advanced insight or motivation. Not quite as much is known about Gamma levels by science/medicine but we are uncovering greater details all the time.
Beta Levels (12Hz to 40Hz)
Beta levels are where our brainwaves usually cycle during the day when we are awake and have full alert consciousness. Beta states are brainwaves cycling 12 to 40 times per second. This is a very general categorization and encompasses most normal daily tasks where we have a full alert attention below the Gamma range. Hypnotherapy does not
Alpha Levels (8Hz to 12 Hz)
Apha levels are typified by relaxed mental sates associated with creativity, problem solving, visualization, and even light daydreaming. Alpha brainwaves cycle 8 to 12 times per second and in these levels you will still have conscious awareness of everything but will generally feel nice and calm and relaxed. Alpha levels are like a gateway to the subconscious - an entry point so to speak before reaching more productive levels of hypnosis or meditation. However many meditations and the practice of activities like Yoga, Tai' Chi etc. are typified by Alpha brainwave patterns of relaxed awareness.
Theta Levels (4Hz to 8Hz)
Theta states are reached when we experience deep relaxation, the first stages of sleep, dream-like creativity, hypnosis, and deeper meditative states. Theta brainwaves cycle between 4Hz to 8Hz and are typified by a much reduced conscious awareness and heightened subconscious receptivity. This is why hypnosis is largely performed in the theta realm because the subconscious is more absorbing of new suggestion without excessive conscious analysis.
Delta Levels (0 to 4Hz)
This is where your brainwaves are cycling very very slowly, most commonly experienced only during the deepest levels of sleep each night (high REM sleep). There are other specific occasions where Delta brainwaves are experienced such as in a coma state, reaction to certain drugs, and also in deep levels of hypnosis. In Delta the conscious processes of the mind switch off and the automated subconscious/unconscious processes take full control. This is why Delta states are linked to healing or physical recuperation because it heightens the inherent connection between the unconscious process of your mind that regulate the physical systems of your body.
Trance is generally defined as a 'state of mind typified by reduced conscious awareness and heightened subconscious receptivity resembling a deep sleep'. This is generally accepted to happen anywhere from the lower levels of Alpha to Delta brainwaves. Hypnosis is a type of trance. In actual fact hypnosis itself could be considered an inclusive definition of trance if you look at it as being a 'parallel detached state of awareness' which usually happens anywhere from Alpha to Delta levels.
When you listen to my recordings the aim is for you to go into a hypnotic trance wherein new suggestions are more readily absorbed by the subconscious. On my product page details, when I say that a particular program has a particular trance level, I am saying that it is designed to help lower you into a specific level of brainwave activity (trance) as per the above categorizations. In the most part this reflects the exact binaural beat frequencies used on each recording, which will differ from program to program. The way binaural beats work is that they entrain your brain to operate at a similar frequency level to that of the binaural beat - more information in this article here. The desired level of trance is also influenced by the way I use hypnotic techniques in the inductions, 'deepeners', and other parts of the script to keep you progressing into deeper levels through the power of suggestion and metaphor.
I hope this article has shed some light not only on the categorization of my own program's trance levels, but also on the inner workings of the mind itself. There is so much about all of this that we don't know, but every day science and medicine is finding out more and more which is very interesting. I personally would love to be around in another 100 or so years from now when even more can be explained and put to use!