Twenty-four hours a day, the cells within our brains are in constant communication with our bodies and the world around us. They generate electrical impulses that fluctuate rhythmically in distinct patterns called brain wave states.
These states are closely correlated with our thoughts, emotions and our general state of being, as well as the functioning of the various systems of our body. There are four categories of brain wave states, which our brain cycles through many times throughout the day and night.
Your brain doesn’t operate in only one brainwave state at a time but instead pulses in all these states simultaneously, with one of the states being dominant at any given time.
The first state is beta, which is associated with a heightened state of alertness and focused concentration, such as being in a conversation or playing a sport.
Then we have alpha, which are slower in frequency than Beta and represents a state of relaxed mental awareness or reflection, and are often associated with visualisation, problem solving and accessing deeper levels of creativity.
Even slower frequency still is theta, which represents a state of deep relaxation and meditation, enhanced creativity, stress relief, light sleep and dreaming. Actually research has shown that by spend just 30 minutes a day in a Theta state, can dramatically improve a person’s overall health and wellbeing.
Finally we have delta, which is the slowest of the frequencies and is experienced in deep, dreamless sleep and in very deep meditation where awareness is fully detached. To get into a theta state, one of the most powerful ways of doing this is through the Ganzfeld effect.
The Ganzfeld effect was discovered in the 1930’s, by psychologist Wolfgang Metzger whose research established that when people gazed into a featureless field of vision they consistently hallucinated and there were noticeable changes in brain EEG readings. Metzger claimed the phenomenon was the result of the brain’s search for missing sensory stimuli, resulting in amplified neural noise which was interpreted in the higher visual cortex.
When our brains are starved of any stimuli after staring at any featureless, uninterrupted field even for a few seconds, it triggers the Ganzfeld effect, which in German means ‘total field’ or ‘entire field’.
The ancient Greeks and Tibetans engaged in a similar process by entering dark caverns to receive insights from their subconscious minds, or from the otherworldly realms. Furthermore this phenomenon has been experienced by arctic explorers staring at featureless expanses of white snow, prisoners in dark cells (for which the phenomenon has been termed ‘prisoner’s cinema”’), astronauts, pilots, and miners trapped in underground caverns who end up having visions of apparitions.
You can access the Ganzfeld effect by using a Ganzfeld mask with your eyes open and headphones on with meditation music or white noise to block out any outside distractions. This keeps the brain alert and looking for information. When no information is present, the brain start amplifying the senses, until the neural noise is confused as real sensory information. Dreams are produced in a similar manner.
Once the brain determines there is nothing to distract the eyes, it automatically shifts into a Theta state within a few minutes.
Experimenting with the Ganzfeld effect is a faster way to reach a deep hypnotic trance, and connect with your subconscious mind, which is where all our habits and behaviours originate. This allows your mind to bring messages to your conscious awareness to be cleared. Although, it is good to remember that with any new technique, it takes time and patience to really get the benefits of what is has to offer. So dive in and see what happens!
Dean Griffiths is the founder and CEO of Energy Fusion, the first interactive online platform to subjectively assess physical and mental health for companies and individuals.
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