Ride Your (Brain) Wave: Neuro-Synchronicity and Your Human Potential

Ride Your (Brain) Wave: Neuro-Synchronicity and Your Human Potential

In today’s modern society, we can easily forget that we are the controllers of our reality and how we build our model of the world. Moreover, that “our reality” is not made up of  outside influences, but that it actually consists of our thoughts, beliefs and mindset. Those outside influencers are an experience, but it is how we “choose” to process them that forms our reality. Everything on our little planet (and beyond) are all energy; which means, tapping into energy can allow us to experience a deeper…well… experience.  Understanding brainwaves is the first key to unlocking our subconscious. It’s time to dig deep.

Most people understand that brainwaves have something to do with the electrical activity of the brain, but understanding some of the basics of your brain and brain wave states is very useful as well. By understanding how your brain goes in and out of certain brainwave states, you can learn to take advantage of each state; to be more productive, creative, and even to be able to learn how to relax and restore the body, mind and spirit.

All brain cells communicate via electrical signals (hence the waves). Your brain contains about 100 billion neurons, which is well over the number of stars in in the sky. Each neuron is connected to about 10,000 other neurons, making for about 100 to 500 trillion neuron-to-neuron connections in the brain; which at the present moment science still does not fully understand. What we do know is this… “The neurons that fire together, re-wire together.” Thus, what we think, we become. The brain has the power to change.

Brain activity has a pulse, a beat, or frequency that corresponds to it’s level of current activity – much like a flicker of a light. These brain beats, or brainwaves, happen at a variety of speeds. For example, during deep sleep,  the brain will flicker or beat about 3 times per second. During high-focused thinking, the brain might flicker or beat as much as 50 times a second.

Modern technology allows us to tap into brainwave frequencies and or “patterns” and with a little auditory help, we can learn to use our brain more efficiently – to restore, rejuvinate, build our internal vision boards, etc. Different brainwave frequencies or breats have been shown to connect to different “states of mind,” which corresponds to a spectrum of subjective experience. If you can access the right state you can also experience and illicit suggestions like “you are currently experiencing excellence,” or “go forth with confidence,” or “you can succeed with ease and grace,” – this is what we call a  guided experience. You can ask your subconcious or you can have a coach guided you, either way the lower more relaxed states are easy to tap into if you know how.

Your brain naturally cycles through the brainwave states during the day. It is not as if, we are stuck in one all day or at any one time. Every 90 minutes or so, your brain requires a break or a shift let’s say and it must slow down its activity.  This cycle is known as the ultradian rhythm, or basic rest and activity cycle (BRAC).

A well known technology used since the mid 1900’s is known as “Brainwave entrainment” or “brainwave synchronization,” which is any practice that aims to cause brainwave frequencies to fall into step with a periodic stimulus having a frequency corresponding to the intended brain-state, like falling asleep or inducing relaxation. This stimulus can be known as binarual and monarual beats.

This effect is produced in the brain, not in the ears as with monaural beats. Thi is produced by the neural output from the ears and created within the olivary body within the brain, in its attempt to “locate” the direction of the sound and creates a subjective experience.

The slower the beat or frequency, the more relaxed you will feel.  These frequencies are generally classified into 5 groups (from slow to fast): delta, theta, alpha, beta, and gamma.

The 5 Brain Wave States:

Beta (14-40Hz) : Our Waking Consciousness & Logical Reasoning State

Beta brain waves are associated with normal waking consciousness and a heightened state of alertness, logic and critical reasoning. Now, this sounds like a great place to be in, and it is if you are a high functioning induvidual, but it can also be the state that increases stress, anxiety and can lead to depression and mental health problems if you are in this state too much and for too long.  Hence, we need to learn how to tap into various states to properly maintain balance.

Delta (0.5-4Hz): Deep Sleep State

Delta brainwaves have a frequency of about 4 beats or less per second, as if the brain is breathing slowly and heavily. The brain generally only enters the delta state during the deepest stages of sleep, appropriately known as “slow-wave sleep”.

Theta (4-7.5Hz) : Light Meditation and REM Sleeping State

Theta brainwaves are associated with dreaming and REM-stage sleep and sometimes light sleep. This is where brain activity beats anywhere from 4 to 7 times per second. But theta also occurs several times throughout the day. If you’ve ever “zoned out” while driving or otherwise went on mental “auto pilot”, that means you entered theta.

In running, when you are in the zone;  that’s also theta. Deep meditation is another example of this deep trance like state.

Theta can be used for creative flow states, where ideas seem to come effortlessly. During accelerated learning programs theta is the state that coaches usually want thier students to be able to tap into because this is where idea generation can stem from.

Alpha (7.5-14Hz): Deep Relaxation State

Alpha brainwaves have a frequency of 7 to 13 beats per second. The alpha wave state is a sign of deep relaxation while awake. Like theta, it can be used in hypnosis (trance work) and accelerated learning. While in deep meditation, you can notice that just by deep breathing and tapping into lower energy, you can lower your frequency to the alpha and theta states, and sometimes even increase the frequency to beta states.

Gamma ( above 40Hz) – The Deep Introspective & Insight State

The Gamma  range is the most recently discovered and is the fastest frequency at above 40Hz. While little is known about this state of mind,research shows Gamma waves are associated with bursts of introspection, enlightenment and  insight and high-level information processing. Long periods of meditation and internal processing can lead us into a deeper state or states of consciousness. While this sounds very “kumbaya” it is scientifically proven to improve all areas of both our internal state of being, our physcial form and how we present ourselves in the world and how we respond to the changing environment. In short, it leads to personal evolution!

Ride the wave:

Most of the time your brain is firing at different frequencies; therefore, the goal isn’t to achieve one frequency, it’s to establish a synchronicity between frequencies and establish an equilibrium.

Brainwave synchrony measures just how well coordinated the different parts of your brain are. A brain in which all its neurons tend to fire at the same frequency would be highly synchronous..  The 3 main states involved with levels of relaxation, introspection and calmness are; delta, theta and alpha frequencies.

My Waves: Beta and Theta

After careful R&D, I have come to realize that the majority of my day is in Uptime or Beta and Theta and nearing the end of my day I am still quite… high strung. Does this sound familiar? In order to re pattern and bring more balance into my own life, I have realized that I need to carve out more time in my day to relax.  Once way to better understand these relaxation states is before bed or during times of meditation. For me, this is my 20mins in the morning of slow movement and yoga and an hour before bed. What has helped me prepare for sleep and utilizing more of my potential in delta and alpha (even more theta) is through guided brain entrainment and neuro synchronization.

To experience this, try these neuro-synchronizers before bed or for meditation. Not only will then help you sleep, but they will also “suggest” to your brain to process and filter for improved sleep, relaxation and overall well-being:

. 1.  Neuro-Synchronization-

2. Binaural Deep Sleep –

3. Binaural and Monaural Beats –



Thought Models NLP –

Brain Entrainment / Vibrational Sound Therapy:

Chronic Pain & Real Time Process:



It has long been known that Yoga has Ying and Yang properties. Each style, no matter if its restorative or power has an effect on both the mind and body and it works, not because the poses are relaxing, but because they are stressful. It is your attempts to remain calm during this stress that create yoga’s greatest neurobiological benefit. For instance for A-Types, Restorative, Yin and Hatha styles can be very mentally challenging and on the other hand for those who find body weight exercises challenging and linking breath with movement (as in Vinyasa, and Power yoga) can find the transitions and posture challenging.

Your brain tends to react to stressors, feeling of  discomfort and disorientation in an automatic way, by triggering the physiological stress response; which results in activating anxious neural chatter between the prefrontal cortex and the more emotional limbic system. The stress response itself increases the likelihood of anxious thoughts, like “Oh man, I’m totally going to pull something,” or ” how long do I have to hold this one legged eagle pose”. And in fact, your anxious thoughts themselves further exacerbate the stress response. One should not give into the speed wobble or what we coaches call “the shake n’ bake,” this is all just a neurological response to the challenge.

Interestingly, despite all the types of stressful situations, both physcially and mentally  a person can be in (inversions, running away while being chased, box jumps at the gym or even finishing your boss’s expense report by 5 o’clock) the nervous system has just one stress response; which should you leave you with some comfort as you just need to learn to feel the signs and then switch on which attitude you wish to combat the stressor with – like a light switch. The specific thoughts you have may differ, but the brain regions involved, and the physiological response will always be the same.

So what does this physiological stress response “feel” like? The physiological stress response can come in the form of an increase in heart rate, breathing rate, muscle tension and elevation of cortisol and other stress hormones, sweating and that feeling of “fight or flight… our primal feelings.

Stress and Mental Health has been a large focus on many health strategies around the world, and Yoga is one of the most beneficial, therapeutic and holistic forms of treatment one can invest in, but of course I am bias. See for yourself…

Yoga & GABA Levels:

The World Health Organization reports that mental illness makes up to fifteen percent of disease in the world. Depression and anxiety disorders both contribute to this burden and are associated with low GABA levels. Currently, these disorders have been successfully treated with pharmaceutical agents designed to increase GABA levels.

According to the researchers, yoga has shown promise in improving symptoms associated with depression, anxiety and epilepsy. “Our findings clearly demonstrate that in experienced yoga practitioners, brain GABA levels increase after a session of yoga,” said lead author Chris Streeter, MD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology at BUSM and a research associate at McLean Hospital.

“This study contributes to the understanding of how the GABA system is affected by both pharmacologic and behavioral interventions and will help to guide the development of new treatments for low GABA states,” said co-author Domenic Ciraulo, MD, professor and chairman of the department of psychiatry at BUSM.

“Western and Eastern medicine complement one another. Yoga is known to improve stress-related nervous system imbalances,” study researcher Dr. Chris Streeter, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry at BUSM and Boston Medical Center, said in a statement. “This paper provides a theory, based on neurophysiology and neuroanatomy, to understand how yoga helps patients feel better by relieving symptoms in many common disorders.”

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine, New York Medical College and the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons hypothesized that there are certain imbalances in the brain when a person has depression or stress-related conditions. Such imbalances include low activity of something called gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA); low activity of GABA is linked with epilepsy, chronic pain, depression, anxiety and PTSD, researchers said.

The researchers hypothesized that yoga works to increase the activity of GABA; resulting in amelioration of disease symptoms. This has far-reaching implications for the integration of yoga-based practices in the treatment of a broad array of disorders exacerbated by stress,” the researchers wrote.

Here is an excerpt from an article in Psychology today (Sept 2011):

“The fascinating thing about the mind-body interaction is that it works both ways. For example, if you’re stressed, your muscles will tense (preparing to run away from a lion), and this will lead to more negative thinking. Relaxing those muscles, particularly the facial muscles, will push the brain in the other direction, away from stress, and toward more relaxed thoughts. Similarly, under stress, your breathing rate increases. Slowing down your breathing pushes the brain away from the stress response, and again toward more relaxed thinking.

So how does this all fit together? As I stated before, the stress response in the nervous system is triggered reflexively by discomfort and disorientation. The twisting of your spine, the lactic acid building up in your straining muscles, the uneasy feeling of being upside down, the inability to breathe, are all different forms of discomfort and disorientation, and tend to lead reflexively to anxious thinking and activation of the stress response in the entire nervous system. However, just because this response is automatic, does not mean it is necessary. It is, in fact, just a habit of the brain. One of the main purposes of yoga is to retrain this habit so that your brain stops automatically invoking the stress response

Some people might think that the stress response is an innate reflex and thus can’t be changed. To clarify, the response is partly innate and partly learned in early childhood.. Yes, the stress response comes already downloaded and installed on your early operating system. However, this tendency is enhanced, by years of reinforcement. In particular, you absorb how those around you, particularly your parents react to stressful situations. Their reactions get wired into your nervous system. However, just because a habit is innate, and then reinforced, does not mean it is immune to change. Almost any habit can be changed, or at least improved, through repeated action of a new habit.

To give an example of changing a similarly innate reaction, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you have a gag reflex. This gag reflex gets in the way of many college freshmen as they struggle through the college socialization process of chugging a beer. Most have a difficult time. However, by the time senior year spring break rolls around, many of them have learned how to largely suppress that reflex. Like your gag reflex, just because your stress response is innate and automatic doesn’t mean it can’t be reshaped through sustained, and intentioned practice.

For some people waking up at 6:30AM to go to a yoga class would automatically trigger their stress response. The good news is that you don’t actually have to go to a class to practice yoga. The poses most people associate with yoga are just a particular way of practicing yoga called the asana practice (“asana” translates to “pose”). The asana practice challenges you in a specific way, but life itself offers plenty of challenges on its own. Under any stressful circumstance you can attempt the same calming techniques: breathing deeply and slowly, relaxing your facial muscles, clearing your head of anxious thoughts, focusing on the present. In fact, applying these techniques to real life is what yoga is all about. Yoga is simply the process of paying attention to the present moment and calming the mind. Over time you will start to retrain your automatic stress reaction, and replace it with one more conducive to happiness  and overall well-being.”



Huffington Post:

Harvard Health Publications: Yoga and Mental Health

Pyschology Today:




The nervous system is conditioned to operate in a specific way and it takes a conscious effort to change and engage with our mind and body towards better movement, more symmetrical movement.

When we move with intention and purpose, it does not take a rocket scientist to understand that it can lead to optimal wellness, as well as optimal learning. More an more coaches, athletics therapists, practitioners and psychotherapists are paying more and more attention to the benefits of neurological re patterning and neuromuscular corrective movement. “Re-patterning” really means “retraining” the brain to more efficiently use both sides to perform tasks, rather than limiting itself to using only one hemisphere at a time.

This also applies to somatic memory and re-patterning techniques used in neuromuscular training. Neurologists have discovered that we can use the body to “re-pattern” or retrain the brain to change inefficient pathways into more efficient ones. The knowledge of the connection between the brain and the body has been well documented.

Many medical doctors, as well as athletic coaches use a technique called “patterning” or “Brain Integration Therapy” which consisted of exercises replicating the crawling movements of a baby to help students with head injuries and other severe neurological dysfunctions.

For instance, Brain Integration Therapy known as Brain Gym, was introduced by Dr Paul Dennison, an education specialist, incorporated research from many other fields to further explore the mind/body connection. This incorporates performing specific tasks; followed by “re-patterning” techniques which stimulate the neurological connections within the brain and facilitate whole brain learning.


Does this sound familiar! The body, as we have previously discussed “the somatic body,” holds onto emotions, patterns, feelings and belief systems.  Some of which are positive, while others no longer serve us. This can be attributed to previous injuries, poor movement patterns, even trauma or childhood nuances that we have not yet let go of and thus, our physical body reacts by offers us feelings of “unwell,” “pain” or discomfort.

When muscle recruitment is less than optimal, that can be a sign of anything from injury to compensation to poor motor learning. Neuromuscular patterns are akin to thought processes or computer programs essentially. Now, when I say “corrective movement” I am referring to any exercise that corrects or improves better mechanics. This can be movement and performance coaching, specialized yoga, kettlebell work, body weight work – anything that promotes better motor learning and in a sequential manner based on the individuals unique mechanics.


Somatic patterning is an approach to body therapy that integrates the knowledge of human kinetics and kinesiology with practical applications and corrective movement exercises to improve posture and movement mechanics. Integrative Bodywork facilitates relaxation, structural and neuromuscular re-patterning, and overall healing.

This work nourishes the body — injuries, low energy, imbalances, and uncenteredness are transformed. Whether you need regular work or need a one time gift to yourself, I encourage you to try this work.

The FMS (Functional Movement Systems) assist with this re-patterning because it is based on pediatric development and what coaches call RNT. By taking a client back to pediatric patterns, they can release pent up “somatic emotions,” in their tissue that they may not even realize is preventing them from achieving better movement.  In the therapeutic sense; this style of somatic learning is seen often in Yoga and fascia stretch.


For an athlete, neuromuscular re-patterning come in the form of DNT (dynamic neuromuscular re-patterning) or RNT (reactive neuromuscular re-patterning). RNT operates on the premise that the body will do what it needs to maintain balance – homeostasis.  I am a bif fan of combining this approach in association with Sport NLP (neuro linguistic programming) can support breaking fear based barriers.

Gray Cook often says, “Does turning on your glute give you a better squat, or is giving you a better squat a better way of teaching you to fire your glute?” The chicken and the egg complex.

For instance; let’s take the basic squat pattern (a hip hinge) or chair pose in Yoga. More often when trainers/teachers visually see a client performing an exercise inefficiently, we cue them verbally. For instance “keep the knee tracking in line with the hip,” or “don’t let the knees rotate out.” And the client replies…”I’m trying…. or I don’t get it.”

Many faulty movement patterns, the body doesn’t recognize that the pattern it’s maintaining is sub-optimal. It’s compensated and over time that specific (yet foundational movement pattern) has been altered.

To assist the client in recognizing the error in proprioception; the coach/teacher can  apply a small amount of force to get the movement pattern to correct itself and the client to “feel” the correct movement range of motion. In other words, if the knees tend to drift medially from the midlines of the feet during a squat, then pushing the knees inward while instructing the patient/client to resist the push will cause him/her to activate the muscles that externally rotate the femur (thigh) in the hip more intensely. This will allow the client to understand somatically, as well as neurologically how to clean up and correct the movement. Then you can verbally cue tempo, control, breathing etc.


The last 4 part series has been an exploration on the science behind the connection of mind and body, more importantly, between our connection to motor learning, acceptance and improvement towards optimal health of the mind, body and spirit. Buddha, said it best…”what we think, we become,” sometimes we just need a little nudge.

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“With the ever growing impact of science in our lives, belief and spirituality have a greater role to play reminding us of our humanity. There is no contradiction between the two. Each gives us valuable insights into the other. Both science and the teachings of the Buddha tell us of the fundamental unity of all things.” ~Upaya Zen Center

 Brain Food for Thought:

  • How  do meditative practices influence pain and human suffering?
  • What role does the brain play in emotional well-being and health?
  • To what extent can our minds actually influence physical disease?
  • Are there important synergies here for transforming health care, and for  understanding our own evolutionary      limitations as a species?

Meditation has been extensively used since the dawn of time in many civilizations around the world as a means of cultivating a state of well-being, balance and flow of equilibrium between the mind, body, soul and environment. The practice of documented meditation has formally been found in ancient scripture as early as the third century BCE, in the Buddhist writings of Abhidharma.

What was once a “froo-froo,” only for the “yoga mat” exercise is now being studied in terms of its influence on brain activity, cognitive development and patterning. There is wide spread recognition of the influence that mind has on our physiological, attentional and affective paradigms; where more clinicians are integrating the application of emotional regulation and somatic healing in their clinical practices and merging the scientific research of brain science, with somatic developmental psychology and the art of meditation to prevent and treat disease such as mental illness, depression, etc.

At the Mind & Life Institute, the Dalai Lama and leading researchers in medicine, psychology, and neuroscience are exploring the healing potential of the human mind by using dynamic interchange along with intriguing research findings that shed light on the nature of the mind, its capacity to refine itself through training, and its role in physical and emotional health. The most recent Zen Brain program at the Institute of Mind & Life, explores trauma, stress, loss and the human potential for resilience and happiness.

“Mindful meditation may be described as sustained awareness aimed at non-reactive and nonattached mental observation, without cognitive or emotional interpretation of the unfolding moment-to-moment experience.” (Cahn & Polich, 2006; Gunar).

The role that meditation plays in brain development has been the subject of several theories and a number of studies.  At the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that long-term meditators had greater gyrification — a term that describes the folding of the cerebral cortex, the outermost part of the brain.

Published in the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience journal the study is the latest effort from the U.C.L.A. lab to determine the extent to which meditation may affect neuroplasticity — the ability of the brain to make physiological changes. Previous studies found that the brains of long-term meditators had increased amounts of so-called gray and white matter (the former is believed to be involved in processing information; the latter is thought of as the “wiring” of the brain’s communication system.

In 2009, a study was presented at an American Heart Association meeting, suggested that the mental relaxation produced by meditation has physiological benefits for people with established coronary artery disease. Researchers followed about 200 high-risk patients for an average of five years. Among the 100 who meditated, there were 20 heart attacks, strokes and deaths; in the comparison group, there were 32.

The results – the meditators tended to remain free of disease longer and also reduced their systolic blood pressure. That study was conducted at the Medical College of Wisconsin inMilwaukee, in collaboration with the Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention, a research institute based at the Maharishi University of Management in Fairfield, Iowa. The institute’s director, Dr. Robert H. Schneider, suggested that the stress reduction produced by the meditation could cause changes in the brain that cut stress hormones like cortisol and damp the inflammatory processes associated with atherosclerosis.

We already know that regular exercise; such as Yoga can reduce stress and increase the “happy chemicals” in our brain – endorphins, serotonin and dopamine. In 2010, more than 50 people gathered in the Circle of the Way temple at Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to explore the connection between neuroscience and meditation.  This summer solstice, the same experience took place inNew York CityinTimes Square; where thousands of yogis came out to collectively “om” in the name of community and good energy.

“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘universe,’ a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” – Albert Einstein

As a corrective coach, I know how important focus, visualization and control of one’s movements are crucial to a client’s success, but what is often neglected today is the power of the mind to improve or reduce a client’s success.  If the mind is not yet freed from self doubt and self defeating mind stuff; then the success rate of that client will be limited and the body will continue to move slowly and show limitations in a successful progression.

This is what somatic anthropology and mind-body practioners call “control and resignation. Much like our muscular states our psyche works a bit the same. “For instance… “I need to hold onto this, to keep control of it (a pattern of thought that holds many of us back from letting go of fears).. the hypo-response reflects a resignation that says, “attempting to do this is too exhausting; i give up.” The body (and mind) flow between a triad of states – over-activity, under-activity and neutrality. Present empirical findings indicate that these physical states generally correspond to psychological ones.Every part of the body may be said to also be part of the mind.” – Levine 1976

The answers are simple. Meditation is proven to have a hug influence on brain activity and physical response. Meditation produces significant increases in activity in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for positive characteristics like optimism and resilience, as well as “higher” executive functions as decision-making, judgment, and planning. All of which, can help combat and prevent physical disease.  When we operate in the prefrontal cortex (the front part of the brain) we are able to think more clearly, make better decisions, listen more attentively, see outside our own perspectives and see other people’s points of view and work together more effectively and more efficiently.


The question you should be asking yourself is “what are YOU thinking? Choose your thoughts wisely, as the infamous Gandhi once said…”thoughts become words, words become things, things become values”… and so on.



NY Times –


The Huffington Post –


Body, Breath, & Consciousness – Ian Macnaughton

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