Using Brainwaves to Manage Chronic Pain and Cope with Chronic Illness
I discovered that brainwaves can be used to manage chronic pain and cope with chronic illness by accident. Due to a variety of chronic health conditions, I have lived with a great deal of pain for many years and yet I noticed that the more pain and suffering I endure the more creativity I seem to experience. I was aware that my creative outlet was a coping mechanism, but didn't understand the mechanics behind it. I thought it was a form of escapism, because I can be so absorbed in my creativity that I get lost and I'm not aware of my pain for a period of time.
Yet many other people in my life with less pain and suffering experience a lack or loss of creativity. People often comment that they don't understand how I do so much when I live with such great pain and challenges. Over the years, I occasionally run into other people with chronic health conditions and pain that also experience high levels of creativity.
I had always wondered why it is that some people experience creativity and other's don't and then one day when I was writing about the benefits of mediation it dawned on me, it's brainwaves.
Neuroscientists tell us that the brain is an electrochemical organ that uses electromagnetic energy to work. The brain waves formed by these electrical charges can be observed in an EEG. (electroencephalogram) Brainwaves are measured in Hertz, which is cycles per second, or Hz for short.
The fist brain wave category is called beta. These waves are measured at about 13 to 40 Hertz. Beta brain waves are produced when we are awake going about our day. When we are aware, focused, attentive, engaged, excited, concentrating, thinking and in conversation. The more deeply engaged or excited you are, the higher you will be on the Hertz wave measurement.
The second category is alpha. Alpha brain waves are measured at 7 to 12 Hertz or cycles per second. As soon as you close your eyes, even when you're awake and not meditating, your brain slows down to the alpha cycle. They are associated with being in a relaxed non-aroused state of mind. This is why closing your eyes throughout the day instantly helps you feel more relaxed, because it slows down your brainwaves.. Alpha waves are also accessed with light meditative states, hypnosis and periods of creativity and may produce mild feelings of euphoria.
The third class is called theta brain waves. They come in at 4 to 7 cycles per second and are associated with deeper levels of meditation, daydreaming, repetitive tasks, intuition, the subconscious mind, spiritual experiences, periods of insight, dreaming while sleeping, out of body experiences, extrasensory perception, and high levels of creativity. They too may produce feelings of euphoria which are more intense than those experienced in alpha. Not only that, theta waves are believed to boost the immune system as well. Most average people experience theta waves in the seconds right before falling asleep, called the twilight period.
The slowest brain waves category is delta. They range from 0 to 4 cycles per second. The only time delta brain waves are experienced is during very deep, dreamless sleep. If you don't sleep sound, then you are probably not accessing delta waves very frequently.
All the brainwaves have an important function and work conjunctively. You don't want to stay consistently at one brain wave frequency. If you never went into beta, then you couldn't get anything done. For example, alpha waves allow theta and beta waves to connect. You can take the insights you discover in theta and put them into action in beta, because alpha carries out the transfer of information.
Now for the reason all of this is so important and how it relates to managing chronic pain or coping with chronic illness. Neurons in the brain are "wired" to produce neurotransmitters like serotonin, dopamine and beta-endorphins at certain brain wave frequencies, particularly alpha and theta. Neurotransmitters are responsible for a vast number of functions throughout the mind and body, and regulating mood states and pain perception are two of the most important, as well as our sleep cycle.
Dopamine and serotonin provide us with feelings of pleasure, happiness, a sense of well-being, self-esteem, serenity and relaxation.
Beta-endorphins are a naturally occurring opiate like neurotransmitter in the brain thats primary role is to relieve or reduce pain. However they also produce euphoria, a sense of well-being, improved self-esteem, relaxation and influence mood. They may also boost the immune system and slow down the growth of cancer cells. Beta-endorphins are believed to be significantly more potent than morphine. Think of them as your bodies natural painkiller. For example, you hit your thumb with the hammer or shut your fingers in the car door, beta-endorphins are released to deal with the pain.
When you're generating alpha and theta brain waves, it stimulates neurotransmitters in the brain that improve mood, decrease pain, and possibly boosts the immune system. Alpha and theta waves are both associated with high levels of creativity, so during those states of mind you get the added benefit of being creative.
So it seems to me that some people, like myself, have developed a spontaneous ability to enter alpha and theta waves on a regular basis as a coping mechanism for pain and suffering, thus why creativity levels abound. I, and other people like me, are essentially living meditation.
Sometimes the sicker one is the more creative they become. My theory is that for these people the more suffering they endure, the deeper into alpha or theta they go and the more often they remain there.
I haven't had my brain hooked up to any monitoring devices to support this theory, but I would bet if I did, I would find that my mind is in a meditative state most of the time, because at times I have so much creativity it overwhelms me and I am exceptionally insightful and intuitive. However, I seem to flow seamlessly back and forth between alpha, theta and beta, because I have no trouble staying focused and attentive when needed.
If I'm not careful, my creativity could actually be counterproductive. I literally can't keep up with it. I have more ideas for books, screenplays, web sites, audio, videos, and businesses than I could ever possibly have the time to implement in this lifetime. The ideas just flow like a stream almost constantly.
They come to me when I try to take a nap, meditating, walking, cooking, deep breathing exercises and even when I'm sleeping. I have stacks of notes scribbled everywhere. Sometimes I'll be sleeping and all of a sudden I have an incredible creative idea, amazing insight or a brilliant piece of prose for a book, article or a web page I'm working on just comes to me out of nowhere. I'm like, "Wow, where did that come from?" All of a sudden I'm hoping out of bed to write it down so I won't forget it. Sometimes I'm too tired to get up and then in the morning I'm racking my brain to remember it.
The same applies when I meditate or practice deep breathing exercises. I'm always having to interrupt my session to run for the pencil and paper, as some of my best insights, words and thoughts come to me during these times.
I could literally drive myself into the ground trying to accomplish everything my creative my mind comes up with and would like to achieve. So, sometimes I have to reign that girl in and make her rest.
The upside to all of this is that in spite of the fact that I experience a great deal of pain and suffering in my life, I am able to rise above it and live a full, productive and satisfying life. The pain is still there, but it doesn't consume me. It is less intense, powerful and controlling. The impact it has on my life is minimized.
Yes, there are days when the pain gets the best of me and I do lose my creative streak now and then, but those days and times are far less than the days I rise above.
This means that if you can manifest more theta and alpha brainwaves in your brain, you can use them to manage your pain and cope with your condition more effectively.
An increase in your creativity level, consciousness, intuition and insightfulness will just naturally occur as a positive side-effect that you can use to your advantage as well and boosts the benefits of this valuable technique.
Alternatively, if you don't live with a chronic health condition, brain wave activity can be used simply to improve your life, become more aware, insightful, creative, intuitive and achieve higher levels of consciousness.
Use Brainwaves for Better Sleep, Relaxation, Stress Management & Improved Mood
Not only can your brainwaves be used to help you manage chronic pain and cope with chronic illness, but it is also one of the most excellent and effective tools for reducing stress, enhancing sleep, relieving anxiety, basic relaxation and improving your mood as well.
As we learned above, alpha and theta brain waves slow down the brain and stimulate neurotransmitters that improve our mood, alter our stress response system and regulate our sleep, which results in a calmer more relaxed state of mind and body, and delta brainwaves result in deep, healing, refreshing sleep.
I use deep breathing exercises, which produce alpha brain waves, several times a day to manage my stress levels, and every night when I go to bed I do about 8 or 16 rounds of deep breathing and it puts me right to sleep.
Some of the many conditions that benefit from producing more theta and alpha brain waves include, any chronic pain disorder, depression, anxiety disorders, fibromyalgia, irritable bowel, high blood pressure, headaches, tension, adrenal fatigue, insomnia, chemical sensitivities, food sensitivities, MS, Chron's, alcoholism, addiction, PTSD and any stress related condition.
Basically there isn't any condition that couldn't benefit from learning how to harness the power of brainwaves. It isn't a cure, but it can drastically improve your quality of life. However, for people with ADHD, it is believed they have too many theta brain waves, so they wouldn't want manifest anymore of those, they would want to focus on more beta waves and alpha.
Now if you're fortunate enough to be one of those people who can produce theta and alpha brain waves spontaneously, you only need to become aware of your ability and learn to use it more frequently. For me, it just happened spontaneously on its own. I didn't make a conscious effort to alter my brainwaves, it just happened. However, I still use a variety of techniques in my life to keep them manifesting.
For those who don't have this ability, it has to be developed and there are a variety of ways to help you. The two simplest and most affordable ways that I use the most are deep breathing exercises and meditation.
Both of these activities alter brain wave activity and create alpha and/or theta brain waves. I use these methods regularly to manage stress and pain and they always incite great levels of creativity as well. You can learn the basics of each of these in less than hour in my affordable little guide - Meditating for Health. Spending time with nature will also stimulate alpha and/or theta waves.
Another very effective method is the use of sound on audio CDs designed specifically for the purpose of manifesting alpha or theta brain waves. Dr. Jeffrey Thompson has a CD series with his clinically proven system called The Brainwave Suite that I highly recommend.
Dr. Jeffrey Thompson is one of the worlds leading experts in brainwave entrainment, research and sound healing. With nearly three decades of experience, he has produced more than 90 audio programs with his groundbreaking discoveries and clinically proven approach.
He and his clinical research work has been featured nationally in more than twenty media shows and magazines like Time Life, Psychology Today, CNN, Good Morning America and Wall Street Journal. He has even worked with NASA.
Dr. Thompson's audio programs are used widely by psychotherapists, hypnotherapists, mental health centers, universities, hospitals, clinics, fitness clubs, healthcare professionals and many more.
Using your brainwaves to manage chronic pain and/or cope with chronic illness, reduce stress, enhance sleep, relax, improve mood, relieve anxiety or to simply stimulate more creativity, intuition, insightfulness and higher levels of consciousness is one of the simplest, most affordable, effective and holistic self-care strategies to you can find.
It requires no harmful prescription drugs, no visits to the doctor's office and is totally within your control, which also enhances mood, self-esteem and outlook on life because it's empowering. The benefits are so plentiful, it just can't be overlooked.