Achieving an alpha state of mind has profound benefits for helping you fulfil your goals and live without stress. So what’s there to know? This article sums up the alpha state of mind, its benefits, the how-to, and common questions, like ‘What does alpha state feel like’.
In alpha state, you feel relaxed yet alert, focused yet in tune with your body and surroundings. To enter alpha state, set aside time for relaxation through meditation, breathing techniques, or similar practices. Regular practice trains your brain to enter the alpha mind state more easily, resulting in reduced stress, improved creativity, and better overall well-being.
Keep reading to learn more about how you can incorporate the Alpha state into your life and experience its many benefits.
What is an alpha wave?
Alpha waves are electrical pulses within the brain, otherwise known as brain waves or neural oscillations (brain oscillations). The alpha brain waves are relatively slow at frequencies between 8 to 13 hertz (Hz). Alpha waves or frequencies are associated with ‘mind power’…
About alpha waves benefits
While it is commonly known for its relaxation benefits, there are also many other benefits to tapping into the Alpha state, including:
- Increased creativity: When your mind is relaxed and in the Alpha state, you are more likely to come up with new and innovative ideas. This is because you are not as inhibited by your conscious thoughts, allowing your subconscious mind to take over and generate new possibilities.
- Improved intuition: The Alpha state is also associated with heightened intuition. When you are relaxed and in this state, you are more in tune with your inner self and can better recognize and interpret your inner feelings and instincts. An article in Neuropsychologia identifies clear cognitive thinking, recall, insight and intuition as alpha brainwave benefits.
- Better problem-solving abilities: Being in the Alpha state can help you approach problems from a more creative and intuitive perspective, allowing you to come up with more effective solutions.
The benefits of alpha waves defined by Psychology Today also include an alleviation of depression. Other advantages include feelings of calm and happiness.
Alpha state meaning
Alpha state means your brain has alpha wave activity. An alpha wave is an “electrical rhythm of the brain with a frequency of approximately 8 to 13 cycles per second that is often associated with a state of wakeful relaxation” ~ dictionary definition.
What does alpha state of mind feel like?
Some people refer to the alpha mind state as being in ‘Zen’. It can feel like your mind is calm and alert at the same time. You’re in a peaceful state, where distractions fade away and the present moment becomes more vivid.
In this state, the brain waves slow down to a frequency of 8-13 Hz, which is associated with creativity, learning, and memory.
For me, I find it feels like a state where I have clarity, intuition, and self-awareness. There’s no stress attached to what I’m feeling or thinking.
How do you know you are in alpha state?
This is how I describe it: You are in the flow. You are in a state of calm and helpful thoughts flow freely. Some describe the alpha state as a light hypnotic state. You are awake but very relaxed. You should really try incorporating it into your daily routine.
Alpha state and subconscious mind
When we’re in an alpha state of mind, our brain waves are slower and more relaxed. This is the same state we’re in when we’re daydreaming or meditating. In this state, our subconscious mind becomes more accessible, which means we can tap into that slower frequency of Theta, which our subconscious mind operates at (3.5–7 Hz).
Our subconscious mind is responsible for our automatic thoughts and actions, and it’s where our beliefs, memories, and emotions are stored. By accessing our subconscious mind, we can make positive changes to our thoughts and behaviours. This can help us overcome negative patterns and achieve our goals.
In an everyday sense, turning off the beta waves (task-orientated) and entering the alpha state of mind is something we do at the start of a sound night’s sleep.
Einstein was one of the famous minds that demonstrated the alpha state of mind benefits …
A recording of Einstein’s brain wave frequencies, as reported by Penfield and Jasper (1954), revealed he was in a continuous alpha state whilst working “on automatic” [in the flow, zoned out] on a rather complex mathematical calculation.
After some time, Einstein became aroused and the alpha waves stopped.
When asked what was happening, Einstein answered that he’d insight into a mistake. He insisted that he needed to contact the university.
We can all reach an alpha state of mind.
How to get into alpha state
So how can you tap into the Alpha state? There are a few techniques you can try:
- Meditation: One of the most effective ways to access the Alpha state is through meditation. By quieting your mind and focusing on your breath, you can enter a state of relaxation and tap into your subconscious mind.
- Visualization: Another technique is to use visualization to help you relax and enter the Alpha state. You can imagine yourself in a peaceful setting, such as a beach or forest, and allow yourself to fully immerse in the experience.
- Yoga: Certain yoga poses, such as Child’s Pose or Corpse Pose, can help you relax and enter the Alpha state. By combining physical movement with breathwork, you can create a state of relaxation and heightened awareness.
- Other: You can get into this state by self-help creative activity where you feel like ‘you’re in the flow’. Doodling is an example and so is colouring in. People unknowingly enter the alpha state when they ‘zone out’. Crocheting, journalling, woodworking, and doing jigsaw puzzles, are all examples of ways people zone out. This is good for you, especially in a full-on ‘doing’ society.
You enter alpha when you stop ‘doing’ and are deeply relaxed. When you still your mind.
An alpha state meditation
- Find a quiet and comfortable place to sit or lie down. Use a supportive meditation cushion if you have one.
- Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax your body and mind — deep relaxation is the goal of an alpha brain waves meditation
(I go through the colours of the chakras, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet in succession, visualizing these in my mind’s eye.)
- Focus on your breath and try to clear your mind of any thoughts or distractions (I wrote several techniques used by practitioners that help)
- Use an alpha meditation technique such as visualization, repeating a mantra (check out my tips), or body scanning to help you relax and enter a deeper state of meditation.
Try imagining yourself in a place that feels safe, where you feel calm and joy in your heart. This could be a scene in the mountains, at the beach, or any place where you feel secure and serene.
- Allow yourself to let go of any tension or stress in your body and mind
- As you continue to meditate, you may begin to feel a sense of calm, peace, and inner stillness
- With practice, you can train your mind to enter the alpha state of meditation more easily and stay in it for longer periods of time.
Be guided in meditation…
Knowing the techniques to reach deep relaxation is the first step toward reaching the alpha state in meditation. Stilling your mind is the hardest part. It can be so challenging. Read about my recommended course designed by an experienced instructor for techniques that help and will have you achieving alpha state meditation…
Using visualization and affirmations while in the alpha meditative state impresses thoughts and images onto your subconscious mind and is a way of empowering you to achieve and attract your desires. Some people market this as the ‘law of attraction’.
Whether you believe in the law of attraction or not, alpha attraction techniques involving visualisation while in that brain frequency appear to bring positive results.
How to reach alpha state of mind quickly
Practising being in the state and using a trigger helps to reach an alpha state of mind quickly by conditioning the mind to associate a specific trigger with the desired state.
Use a particular physical or mental cue as a trigger each time you engage in an activity that induces the alpha state, such as meditation or deep breathing.
Over time, the mind begins to associate the trigger with the alpha state, making it easier to quickly reach this state when the cue is used.
By regularly practising this technique, you can develop a stronger ability to access the alpha state and reap its many benefits.
Examples of cues to trigger alpha level of mind
You will need to have pre-conditioned your mind for these to work.
An example of a physical cue: You take a few slow, deep breaths to calm your body and mind.
You progressively relax your muscles, where you tense and relax each one.
You use visualization techniques, such as imagining a peaceful scene or repeating a positive affirmation.
Sound – a relaxing tune or sound that you associate with meditation can cue you to enter an alpha state of consciousness.
Focusing on a repetitive task, such as knitting or colouring, can also help induce the alpha state of mind. Experiment with different cues to find what works best for you.
Brain wave types
The human brain waves known to science occur at the following frequencies:
- Delta (0.5–3 Hz)
- Theta (3.5–7 Hz)
- Alpha (8-–13 Hz)
- Beta (13–30 Hz)
- Gamma (30–100 Hz)
The latter has only been acknowledged through brain wave test studies using digital electroencephalography (EEG) — how today’s scientists test to check brain waves.
You might see these measured in hertz (Hz) or in cycles per second (cps), but 1 Hz equals 1 cps, nonetheless.
See more in my article:
We experience the alpha brain wave frequency when we are daydreaming or consciously practising mindfulness or meditation or other times when we are in the flow — on automatic.
We are in the beta state of mind when wide awake and operating in today’s fast-paced lifestyle.
In hypnosis, often linked to an unconscious or subconscious mind, we are likely to exhibit an increased level of theta brain waves (APA PsycNet).
In REM sleep or light sleep, our brains are in alpha state. In deep sleep (the dreamless type), we enter delta and theta states. Advanced practitioners of meditation have been found to display increased gamma activity.
This stuff happens without our control or awareness. We know these associations through technology that measures brain activity, namely EEG, which gives views of brain oscillations.
Conscious use of alpha waves
It is highly recommended to practice entering an alpha level of mind often for its multiple benefits. The number of times is up to you but it is thought the more the better to reap the benefits of alpha state of mind.
Technology such as binaural beats and brainwave entrainment can be helpful for people who have trouble achieving the alpha state through traditional mindfulness practices.
You can download alpha state of mind music designed to help with this. You’ll find some on Amazon as well…
However, you wouldn’t consciously use alpha wave-type music or methods while driving or operating machinery or any other activity that requires your full attention.
Tip: Make sure it is a positive experience and avoid feeding your mind with harmful subliminal information.
Have you ever noticed how time disappears when you are using social media networks?
If you check yourself, you’ll probably notice you are in a trance-like state. FB is aware of this connection and is developing brain science technology to tap into your brain waves to improve your so-called experience.
This is no longer the stuff of sci-fi movies.
Brain science use in technology is advancing at a rapid rate and there appears to be insufficient understanding of its effects or whether or not we need to self-guard ourselves from the alpha brain side effects of this phenomenon.
So, be aware of how you use social media and how it affects your wellness. That’s my thoughts.
Also, check out the different types of meditation and start your practice of tuning into alpha state.
What is alpha state of mind? It is a natural ability we have that’s often unrealized. It yields cognitive gains among other benefits that help us stay in tune with the nature within and the nature around us for a harmonic and rewarding life. That’s my take!
Lee D. J., Kulubya E., Goldin P., Goodarzi A., Girgis F. 2018. Review of the Neural Oscillations Underlying Meditation. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 12.