We have explored the world of brain waves together. We have worked on becoming aware of our thoughts and feelings, and of the intensity of our emotional landscape. We have talked about experimenting with a variety of skills and strategies for reducing stress, distress, anxiety, depression, anger and more. I have emphasized my own hypothesis that most spiritual practices have built into their disciplines a process by which the practitioner can alter their conscious awareness and reach similar levels of relaxation and even deeper states.
Today, I want to share some encouraging tidbits from the world that researches the validity of such ideas. The good news is, evidence suggests that altering the brainwaves consciously yields positive effects. Among the literature, I noticed this one that describes how Brain Eave Vibration Training using rhythmic yoga-like mediation exercises, Iyengar yoga, and mindfulness all produced positive effects. Overall mood and vitality were followed by Brain Wave Vibration Training and Iyengar training, the Brain Wave Vibration Training group had “improved depression”, and Mindfulness was found to have comparatively produced greater increase in absorption. Stress, mindfulness, and overall well being were reported as improved with all interventions.[i]
Note that much of the current research is based on the reports of the “experiencer” and it is difficult to measure outcomes such as “overall wellbeing”. However, this is a beginning and I can say that all of my patients, who have a practice that is known to modify brainwaves, do report to me an increase in overall well being as well.
Another respectable research investigation found that people who mediated using mindfulness techniques actually demonstrated enhanced alpha power modulation in response to a cue. The research paper emphasized, “This finding is the first to show enhanced local alpha modulation following sustained attentional training, and implicates this form of enhanced dynamic neural regulation in the behavioral effects of meditative practice.” I find this pretty impressive. This implies that using certain mindfulness techniques empowers the practitioner to alter his/her state of conscious awareness at will; which in return can lead to powerfully proactively calming oneself quite easily using such techniques when needed. [ii]
[i] Deborah Bowden, Claire Gaudry, Seung Chan An, and John Gruzelier, “A Comparative Randomised Controlled Trial of the Effects of Brain Wave Vibration Training, Iyengar Yoga, and Mindfulness on Mood, Well-Being, and Salivary Cortisol,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2012, Article ID 234713, 13 pages, 2012. doi:10.1155/2012/234713http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/234713 (retrieved 5/17/2015)
[ii] Effects of mindfulness meditation training on anticipatory alpha modulation in primary somatosensory cortex Catherine E. Kerr a,∗,1, Stephanie R. Jones b,1, Qian Wana,c, Dominique L. Pritchett c, Rachel H. Wassermand, Anna Wexler a, Joel J. Villanuevaa, Jessica R. Shawa, Sara W. Lazar e, Ted J. Kaptchuka, Ronnie Littenbergf , Matti S. Hämäläinenb, Christopher I. Moorec; Brain Research Bulletin 85 (2011) 96–103http://www.researchgate.net/profile/Catherine_Kerr3/publication/51059444_Effects_of_mindfulness_meditation_training_on_anticipatory_alpha_modulation_in_primary_somatosensory_cortex/links/00b7d525c222ab3d4b000000.pdf (Retrieved 5/17/15)
Photo by Roberta Maria