What is happening in the brain when you meditate?

Image from MAKE
Image from MAKE

If you’ve often wondered about what’s happening in the brain when you meditate, you might find this picture helpful. It shows which brain waves are activated during the different stages of meditation.

The brain produces varying proportions of brain wave types, depending on its current levels of relaxation, focus, and other mental states. Each type of wave has its own characteristic frequency range and its own benefits of being activated. This explains the benefits of meditation which can include reduction in stress, improved sleep, reduction in anxiety, improved concentration and improved relaxation. For some articles about the benefits of meditation see Pick the Brain, Art of Living and Health and Yoga.

The different brain waves are:

  • Delta – the deepest state of dreamless sleep and deep unconsciousness. These brain waves are very favourable to healing, strengthening of the immune system and rejuvenation
  • Theta – the threshold of the subconscious mind. It’s associated with the early stages of sleep, dreaming and relaxation. This is where long-term memories, creativity, deep spiritual connections and long standing emotions are kept. This is where your mind is capable of profound learning, healing, and growth.
  • Alpha – associated with higher creativity and super learning; receptive. There is increased relaxation and serotonin here.
  • Beta – the state of conscious awareness, external focus. You spend most of your waking life in beta.
  • Gamma – perception and alertness. (Text taken from The Love Vitamin)

In meditation we generally start in beta, and move through alpha, theta and delta, and then return back to beta.

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