Over the past few weeks we’ve been looking at Michael Hutchison’s The Book of Floating: Exploring the Private Sea and specifically the theories of floating he discusses with their unique but inter-related benefits.
The Brain Wave explanation is one of the most fascinating and widely agreed upon in terms of measurable benefits of floating.
Brain Waves and their Frequencies
Brain waves are measured by their frequency. The frequency is the number of times a wave repeats itself within a second. Going from highest to lowest, these brain frequencies are named Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta.
- Gamma waves are measured between 30 and 44 hertz, and are associated with attention and memory.
- Beta waves have a frequency between 13 and 30 hertz and in this state the brain is in what is known as the waking rhythm. Awareness of surroundings, clear thinking and dealing with concrete issues and problems are typical of the Beta state.
- Alpha waves frequency is between 8 and 12 hertz, and it’s in this lower frequency range that meditation begins. The dominant state of mind in Alpha is alert but unfocussed, relaxed and calm.
- Theta waves have a frequency between 4 and 8 hertz. The state of mind in Theta is dreamlike, fanciful, and intuitive. “The Theta state is accompanied by unexpected, unpredictable, dreamlike but very vivid mental images… often accompanied by intense memories… Theta offers access to unconscious material, reverie, free association, sudden insight, creative inspiration. It is a mysterious, elusive state, potentially highly productive and enlightening.” ~ Michael Hutchison (p54)
- Delta waves with an extremely low frequency are those that are produced when we’re deeply, dreamlessly asleep.
For many of us, it’s difficult to achieve the deeply relaxed Theta brain waves and remain awake. However, because floatation therapy removes many of the external stimuli that keep our brains constantly moving, we are more easily able to access the Theta state while floating than any other waking time – the removal of external stimuli is also known as sensory deprivation and as such the term is often used interchangeably with floatation therapy.
The ability to produce Alpha and Theta brainwaves at will is now being extensively studied due to the clear benefits associated with these relaxed states of mind – including the ability to control and stop feelings of anxiety, harness creativity, develop and master success visualisation and find creative solutions to complex problems.
Meditation is one of the most highly regarded ways of learning to be more mindful and present by harnessing Alpha and Theta brainwaves and research indicates that floatation therapy likewise “increases and facilitates the production of theta waves…” ~ Michael Hutchison (p56)