Neuroscience Part 2: The Magical Theta Wave

Brain waves and you

This is a love letter to the theta wave. Hopefully it doesn’t get too sappy.

Our brains generate electricity. According to an article in Scientific American, our brains can generate as much as 10 watts of electrical power. In other words, your brain could power 1/4 of a 40 watt lightbulb! Isn’t that exciting? (Answer: Sort of.) How do we see this electrical activity that our brains generate? In brain waves. Our brains emit different types of brainwaves. Some waves include: gamma, beta, alpha, theta, and delta. Alpha and beta waves are characteristic of normal waking states—beta for more intense concentration and alpha for relaxation. Delta waves occur in deep, dreamless sleep. Gamma are high frequency waves that fire when we have an “a-ha” moment and when our brain waves are firing in sync—gamma waves are seen more frequently in the brains of long-term, intense meditators.

That leaves us with theta waves.

Theta waves happen when we focus on our internal worlds, and tune out the external. They occur when we’re daydreaming; when we’re cruising down the highway and we forget the last 5 miles; when we’re right about to fall asleep. The key to being in your theta wave is repetitious activity—if you’re driving down a straight highway and you’ve set your cruise on 70 mph (no speeding, folks), you’re more likely to go into the theta wave than when you’re driving through a busy downtown because the first is calm and repetitious, and the second is chaotic and likely life-threatening. (Perhaps a bit dramatic, but true, am I right?). The theta waves also lends itself well to generating ideas and free-flow thinking. It’s where you go when you want to make connections and notice patterns. Why? Because in the theta wave, your brain is far less likely to self-censure.

 
The major waves our brain generates.   Source here

The major waves our brain generates.

Source here

 

theta wave and hypnosis: how does it heal?

When we’re in hypnosis, we enter the theta wave. This means are brains are making free-flowing connections and producing more mental imagery. In other words, hypnosis gets us into the theta wave, which allows us to turn inwards and examine our inner worlds.

A key aspect of hypnoanalysis—the protocol that I use—is accessing memories where we learned and absorbed negative messages/suggestions that are currently running our subconscious mind. A recent study suggests that the theta waves allows a person to more easily access memories and make free-flowing connections to the past and present. By accessing the limbic system through theta waves, we (you and me, the therapist) are able to mine our brains for traumatic emotional memory. At the same time, the theta wave also promotes healing because they are associated with making new connections and learning. A therapist can make a suggestion while a person is in the theta wave and the brain is more likely to hang onto it.

Do you have questions or concerns about hypnosis? There are a lot of weird myths around hypnosis. Assuage your fears here.

let’s wrap it up

Let’s summarize this because sometimes neuroscience is confusing. When we’re hypnotized, we enter the theta wave. The theta wave gets us in touch with our most emotional memories and also promotes learning and making new connections. As a result, we can access emotional, painful memories and retrain the brain to think about them in new, different, and exciting ways. Voila, that’s hypnoanalysis in a nutshell!

For more neuroscience shenanigans/fun, check out this blog post.

Curious about what hypnoanalysis, the most advanced form of therapeutic hypnosis, can treat? Click here for more information.

Have questions? Please leave a comment below or send me a message.

Brita Larson