Over the years, a lot of research has shown that the patterns of activity in the brain change according to what we are doing. The slowest are when we are in a deep sleep and the fastest when we are most aroused. The frequencies have been organized into groups and given names. For example, the waves in the average state when we are active, taking in stimuli and thinking are called beta brain waves. Alpha brain waves are in the next slowest group and are characterized by a state of passive awareness. Having your brain in this state can bring a number of benefits.
The brain enters the alpha state when falling asleep and waking up, it is a sort of in between state. As we do different activities the brain activity therefore has to change suggesting that there are qualities inherent in each for different tasks. It is important that the brain retains this ability to switch or research has shown that disorders can arise. It is possible to deliberately induce these states. For example, to cause more alpha brain waves it is necessary to be relaxed. This can be done through meditation, controlled breathing and listening to certain kinds of music.
It seems that there are several tasks which are performed better in the alpha state; learning and memory, creativity and skills. Creative people show higher levels of alpha waves and have bursts of them when solving problems. This suggests that they play an important role in novel thinking. Many people get new insights just after waking when their brains are becoming more aroused but not yet fully aware. These things suggest that we can be more creative if we induce alpha waves.
Experiments have also demonstrated improvements in learning ability and memory. Many learning tools such as language courses are sold with a tape of classical music. This is because the music induces alpha waves and the memory should be able to perform better as the person is practicing the new words. It may be that in this state the brain is more focused on less tasks and therefore better at them.
Muscle relaxation is a concept used by many top athletes and musicians. Once a skill is learned a level of relaxation is possible while performing and this is thought to help the performance. Scientists have shown that at these times these people also have bursts of alpha waves so it may be that the brain is helping the muscles.
For people who have trouble sleeping well learning how to induce the alpha state can mean having a good nights sleep. It is like setting your brain off on the path to deep sleep.
As the alpha state is characterized by relaxation it can also help relieve stress. Learning to control breathing to induce the waves can improve the ability to relax and forget about stressful things.
There are a number of significant benefits to inducing alpha waves for people who want to create, learn and sleep well.