“Alpha/Theta Neurofeedback is like Meditation on Steroids” – NY Times
Alpha brainwaves are closely tied to feelings of intense relaxation and inventive thinking. We tend to be more creative when Alpha waves are our state of mind. Occurring at frequencies between 7-12 Hz, Alpha waves make us alert while simultaneously decreasing feelings of anxiety or stress. Like Alpha waves, Theta waves are also attached to feelings of relaxation. Theta waves are a bit slower than Alpha waves, occurring at 4-7 Hz. The relaxation experienced with Theta waves is deeper. It is the feeling we experience just before sleep or upon waking.
Located just below our conscious mind is a center of creativity that is tapped when Alpha waves are dominant. It brings our most inspired thoughts and ideas to the foreground. Similarly, Theta waves are meditative in nature. You may experience images similar to that of dreams or recall memories that had long been dormant. The contemplative state that one experiences with Theta waves can produce a feeling of floating on air. Deep meditation is a person’s ability to control Theta waves. Tapping into these brainwaves allows us to be apt problem solvers. If we can learn to voluntarily control these waves and use them to our advantage, then we can help ourselves to relieve feelings of stress, induce creativity, and enhance performance. Experiencing these feelings of well-being and relaxation can be essential to human function. Developing our ability to control these brainwaves and harness their calming power is called Alpha-Theta Training or Alpha-Theta Neurofeedback.
This neurofeedback is done through the use of the electronic monitoring of an autonomic body function. In the case of brainwaves, that electronic monitoring is done via Electroencephalogram (EEG). The EEG measures brainwaves. When one’s brainwaves reach the Alpha-Theta frequencies – 0-12 Hz – the EEG sends an alert. It is believed that this automatic response helps to train the person to develop voluntary control of that function; in this case, producing brainwaves in the Alpha-Theta frequency. When a person receives this quick feedback – neurofeedback – he or she becomes consciously aware of feelings associated with that brainwave frequency and is likelier to be able to get back to that state. This can take several sessions and a great deal of dedication, but the rewards derived from this neurofeedback can greatly outweigh the effort put forth.
Alpha-Theta Neurofeedback was designed with two purposes in mind. The first is to literally calm your brain by training you to use your Alpha and Theta waves. By doing this, you can actually make yourself react differently to stressors and anxiety. People who are considered high Alpha-Theta are typically less hostile, less angry, less unhappy, less depressed. They can also be friendlier, more vigorous, more motivated, and more clear thinking. You are more easily able to return to a place of mental peace. In addition to this, Alpha-Theta Neurofeedback can also be used in a way that’s similar to hypnosis. One is able to dive deeply into his or her unconscious and more easily cope with and resolve psychological issues. The effects of Alpha-Theta Neurofeedback can be long-lasting. After this neurofeedback training, one’s brain becomes more steady, robust, and adaptable.
In addition to the psychological benefits that can be achieved through Alpha-Theta Neurofeedback, it can also be used to treat other afflictions, including alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is the result of being able to get to the deep-seated reasons that perpetrated the condition, even when the person experiencing it may not consciously know them. In Alpha-Theta Neurofeedback sessions, one can decide what he or she would like to focus on. It can be dedicated to something specific, like working through a fear. It can also be more general, like the desire to be more motivated or be self-disciplined. In this way, it’s similar to hypnosis. However, the point of these exercises and of neurofeedback, is to train your brain to reach these states on your own so that you don’t need the aid of a practitioner to get to a healthier mental place.