Brain rhythms and the power of relaxation

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Robert Maurer

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There is intense electrical activity in the brain. It was Dr. Hans Berger who first, in 1929, described the four types of rhythms or waves, called electroencephalographs, characterized by different frequencies (or cycles per second):
- Beta rhythm (frequency above 14 hertz). It is the state of active wakefulness, characterized by mental and muscular tension, which prevails when we are busy, alert, with our attention almost entirely turned outwards or to the intense remurgination (internal dialogue). It is the rhythm of the maximum expenditure of nervous and physical energies, in which the orthosympathetic nervous system dominates. It also coincides with the paradoxical sleep phase or when you dream (REM phase). It is the rhythm of acute stress and is directly proportional to it. Stress hormones bring the brain to maximum activity and, in the long run, to maximum wear and tear from overwork. Hyperactive people spend much of their time in this rhythm.

- Alpha rhythm (frequency approx. 8-13 hertz). It is the rhythm of detachment from external reality. It coincides with relaxation and a decline in brain activity. In healthy people, not under stress, this state is generated automatically by simply closing the eyes. MH Erickson would define this state as "the normal daily trance state" experienced by everyone.

- Theta rhythm (frequency approx. 4-7 hertz). It coincides with the state of semi-sleep. It is the phase in which associative and creative thinking is favored. It is the rhythm of the flashes of genius, of sudden illuminations. In this phase one is open to inner listening, to introspection. But it is also the rhythm of psychophysical regeneration. It corresponds to the trance state normally reached during a hypnosis session.

- Delta rhythm (frequency less than about 3 hertz). It coincides with deep dreamless sleep and intense muscle relaxation. In this phase there is the maximum production of the growth hormone GH (which throughout life is essential for cell renewal as well as, in the first phase, for growth) and the maximum activity of the immune system. It is the topical moment for all our regenerative processes and for the production of "endopharmaceuticals": the powerful drugs produced by our. organism with highly specific action. Everyone knows the great power of the "placebo" effect. It stimulates the body's self-production of drugs thanks to the sense of tranquility, the calming effect, resulting from the firm belief of having taken something that will soon make us feel good. On the contrary, mental tension (eg fear) as well as the prolonged intake of drugs (through a feedback mechanism) inhibit the action of our. "Internal doctor".
The delta rhythm is under the maximum domination of the parasympathetic nervous system and prevails in the sleep of good dorms. When it is altered, the person sleeps badly, regenerates little and therefore tends to be tired, to get sick easily and to have psychosomatic disorders.
Hence the importance of techniques and activities that promote relaxation.

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