When the brain is most creative it is able to form new associations between disparate ideas. When you alter your attitude, what you do with your body and what you choose to focus on, you’re actually altering the frequency of your brain waves. There are several characteristic electroencephalogram waveforms, or electromagnetic oscillations, associated with various sleep and wakefulness states:
A gamma wave is a pattern of brain waves associated with perception and consciousness. Gamma waves are produced when masses of neurons emit electrical signals at the rate of between 26 and 70 times a second (‘times a second’ is frequency, measured in hertz or Hz). Research has shown gamma waves are continuously present during the process of awakening and during active rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.
Beta waves occur above 12 Hz. Beta states are the states associated with normal waking consciousness, mostly active, busy or anxious thinking and active concentration.
Alpha waves are in the range of 8-12 Hz and signify periods of relaxation, with eyes closed but still awake.
Theta waves operate between 4 and 8 Hz and are found during some sleep states, in states of quiet focus like meditation and memory tasks. They reflect the on-line state of the brain in readiness to process information.
A delta wave is a large, slow (2 Hz or less) brain wave and is usually associated with deep sleep.
So to summarise:
Gamma = perception, conciousness and dream sleep
Beta = concentration, wakefulness
Alpha = relaxation
Theta = meditation and creative thinking
Delta = deep sleep
EEG Biofeedback Training is a learning strategy that enables people to alter their brain waves by getting a feedback of their present state. Some psychologists have set up biofeedback specifically to enable patients to enter the much rarer theta brain wave state to utilise creative thinking. They do it by monitoring the brain using electrodes. The patient sits relaxed and wears headphones. If the machine registers alpha waves it plays the relaxing sound of a babbling brook. If it registers theta waves the sound changes to crashing waves which enhances the meditative state. The system forces the patient to relax further and enter theta wave thought.
What is happening in theta wave state is that the brain has slowed down. This slower thinking allows connections to be made between more distant connections in the brain that normal gamma and beta wave thought hasn’t got time to access. This really means that it allows the time for distant, perhaps long out of use memory to be brought to conscious attention allowing older unconnected images to be recontexualised with newer thoughts. This is the creative process.
How can you access your theta wave brain state? Is there something you can do or someplace you can go? In your creative state you will find the solutions to your problems, you’ll be able to think of new ideas and better was of doing things. Can you find time during a busy day to meditate? Can you really afford not to?