The Most Powerful Thing I’ve Ever Done
For a century, researchers have used EEG machines to measure brain states. Individuals’ patterns shift dramatically over time. Their brain waves change as their experience changes, indicating a durable physiological shift.
Gamma is the highest brain wave frequency (40–100 cycles per second or Hz). It is most prevalent at times when the brain is learning, making associations between phenomena and integrating information from many different parts of the brain. It reflects complex neural organization and heightened awareness. When monks are asked to meditate on compassion, large flares of gamma are found in their brains (Davidson & Lutz, 2008). One does not need to be a monk to attain these mental states, however; they can be achieved through practice. Happiness that is not dependent on any external stimulus can be attained by training the mind and brain (Kershaw & Wade, 2011).
The next fastest wave is is beta (12–40 Hz). Beta is typically divided into two parts: high beta and low beta. High beta is your monkey mind. High beta (15–40 Hz) is typical in people with anxiety, people experiencing frustration, and people under stress. Low beta (12–15 Hz) is the band that reflects your body’s autonomic functions, thus it’s sometimes called the “sensorimotor rhythm frequency” or SMR. Beta is required for processing information and for linear thinking.
Alpha (8–12 Hz), below beta in frequency, is an optimal state of “relaxed alertness.” Alpha connects the higher frequencies—the thinking mind of beta and the associative mind of gamma—with the two lowest brain waves: theta (4–8 Hz) and delta (1–4 Hz).
Theta is characteristic of light sleep. When we dream vividly, our eyes move rapidly and our brains are primarily in theta. Theta is the frequency of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Theta is also the dominant frequency of people under hypnosis, healers, people in trance, and people in highly creative states (Kershaw & Wade, 2011).
The slowest frequency is delta. Delta is characteristic of deep sleep. Very high amplitudes of delta are also found in people who are in touch with non local mind, even when they’re wide awake. The brains of mediators, intuitive, and healers have much more delta than normal. People who are in deep sleep, in non–rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep are usually predominantly in delta.
Delta is where we connect with many resources above and beyond the local self. Those in a creative trance usually have lots of delta, as they lose all awareness of the outer world in absorption in their creativity. They are mostly in delta, with some theta and alpha.
As noted, alpha forms a bridge between the two high frequencies of beta and gamma and the two low frequencies of theta and delta. The ideal state is enough alpha to link all of the other brain rhythms together. High beta is minimized, with very little monkey mind and anxiety. There’s a balanced amount of gamma and theta, and a wide base of delta.
Effective coaching trains clients to enter that state in which they have enough alpha to connect them with their theta and delta while simultaneously calming the anxious high beta frequencies.
Coaches were one of the first occupational groups to make widespread use of HeartMath, neurofeedback, and other methods of physiological measurement. Though such measurement is not essential to the coaching process, it provides clients with objective evidence that their beliefs and thoughts affect their bodies.
This can assist them in sticking with a coaching program. The objective scientific measurement of stress gives clients confidence that the effects of coaching are real and that the coaching relationship has clear benefit.
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