“The future is made up of many sparkling individual moments linked seamlessly together.”
– Cynde Margritz, January 2018
This year I found myself strangely unattached to my usual ritual of reviewing the past year’s accomplishments and setting goals/ resolutions for the new year. Stranger still, I’m getting things done, without much effort or angst and living in the moment. What happened? I’m happy here, but how did I get here?
Being the brain state analyst that I am, I sleuthed everything that might account for this change. Adopting new mindfulness practices, nope. Fewer pressures and stress from family and business, nope (more). Changes, in diet, fitness, or self-care routines, nope. To help cope with my increased stress (and the holidays!), I have been doing a lot of a new de-stress protocol we developed in the office. A key component of this protocol is a specific increase of alpha waves relative to other brain waves.
This got me to wondering: Could the alpha brainwave state be a state of mindfulness? My personal experience shouts yes! I’m living fairly effortlessly in the present moment, aware of listening to myself and making the best choices for my moment to moment, so the past and future feel less worrisome. I’ve always thought of alpha as a “state of being”, the brain’s preferred idle mode or neutral. I had not previously thought of alpha as a “state of mindfulness” until my recent experience. We will definitely be offering alpha mindfulness training in our neuromeditation program.
Apart from neuromeditation (neurofeedback assisted meditation), how does one increase their ability to live in an alpha mindful state? The following exercises will help you cultivate your alpha state.
- Do alpha inducing activities.
- Increase your time spent doing alpha inducing activities. Staring at a fire, spending time in nature, yoga, listening to jazz or classical music, watching comedy or nature videos, drawing, doodling, painting or coloring are all alpha inducing.
- Savor the present.
- Alpha is the bandwidth of the senses. Use all your senses to become aware, relish, and luxuriate at the moment. When subjects in a study took a few minutes each day to actively savour something they usually hurried through—eating a meal, drinking a cup of tea, walking to the bus—they began experiencing more joy, happiness, and other positive emotions. Another study even showed reduced aggression and increased empathy linked with a previous savouring activity. (Psychology Today)
- Close your eyes (when you can safely do so) and breathe.
- Alpha automatically goes up when you close your eyes. That’s why we close our eyes when we want to visualize something more easily. Breathing brings you into the present moment and orients you to the now. Breath is always there for you. Our EEG research working with breath work masters has shown that specific breath work patterns are associated with huge alpha increases.
Of course, if you want the short-cut to a mindful alpha state come do one of our neuromeditation programs. And remember life is now and made up of many little now moments. Nothing happens next, nothing came before. This is it.