Brain Waves During Meditation – Time To Use A Monitoring Device?

Have you ever wondered what happens to your brain when you meditate? I am not talking about all these benefits of meditation. No, I am talking about what is happening at the VERY moment of meditation. From the first moment of sitting down and closing your eyes to that peaceful moment in which you are finally in flow, fully present! Well, the keyword here is brain waves.

During meditation, there are observable changes in brain wave patterns, which reflect alterations in brain activity. You see, throughout meditation, your brain undergoes several stages. And, what is the critical characteristic of those stages? Brain waves!

But before we investigate meditation brain waves, let us prepare the ground.

What Are the Brain Waves?

Brain waves are rhythmic patterns of electrical activity generated by the brain. The synchronized activity of large groups of neurons within the brain can produce these electrical signals. Brain waves are measured using electroencephalography (EEG), or other neuroimaging techniques.

brain waves

Complicated, huh? Well, let’s make it simpler. Imagine your brain is like a big orchestra. Each musician (or neuron) in the orchestra plays their instrument (send electrical signals). However, when many musicians play in a coordinated way, they create music (or brain waves). These brain waves are like different types of music, each with its own rhythm and style, depending on what the brain is doing at that time. So, you can imagine brain waves as music played by lots of neurons in your brain.

Types of Brain Waves

There are several types of brain waves, each associated with different mental states, activities, and levels of consciousness. We can categorize the brain waves into five main frequency bands:

  1. Delta Waves (0.5-4 Hz): Delta waves are the slowest brain waves typically observed in deep, dreamless sleep. They typically exist in restorative sleep, bodily healing, and unconscious functions.
  2. Theta Waves (4-8 Hz): Theta waves are present during light sleep, deep relaxation, and the early stages of meditation. They are also associated with creative thinking, daydreaming, and accessing the subconscious mind.
  3. Alpha Waves (8-13 Hz): Alpha waves are associated with a state of relaxed alertness. They are often observed when you close your eyes and become less engaged with external stimuli. Hence, these are the waves that usually exist during meditation or other mindfulness practices. Alpha waves are also behind the “flow state”.
  4. Beta Waves (13-30 Hz): Beta waves are linked with active, alert, and analytical thinking. They dominate during normal waking consciousness. The brain uses beta waves during engagement in cognitive tasks, problem-solving, and decision-making.
  5. Gamma Waves (30-100 Hz): Gamma waves are the fastest brain waves and are associated with heightened perception, learning, and consciousness. They are often present during moments of insight, and deep focus. Also, experienced meditators are very likely to run into gamma waves. (check the study here)

Each brain wave represents a different mental state!

Apparently, each of these brain wave frequencies corresponds to different mental states and cognitive processes. The brain continuously produces a combination of these waves. Their prevalence can change depending on your activities, emotions, and level of relaxation or alertness.

For instance, during a typical day, your brain may shift between beta waves when actively working, alpha waves during a relaxed break, and delta waves during deep sleep.

Now, having said that it’s time to cut to the chase!

Brain Waves During Meditation – Time To Use A Monitoring Device?

As it happens during a typical day, similarly throughout meditation the brain undergoes several distinct changes and processes. These changes occur gradually as you enter deeper meditative states and can vary depending on the specific meditation technique practiced.

meditation phases
“Breathe in; Breathe out.”

Brain Waves During Meditation

1. Initial Relaxation

At the beginning of meditation, as you sit or lie down in a comfortable position, the brain starts to relax. This initial relaxation is associated with a decrease in beta brain waves. Remember beta waves are present in active and analytical thinking. So, as your mind shifts away from external distractions, beta waves decrease.

Beyond that, a recent study suggests that these neurocognitive effects of meditation training can extend past the practice. More particularly, after 3 months of focused attention meditation, the participants showed reduced beta frequency waves during eyes-closed rest. A reduction that mirrored the proportional decrease during meditation.

2. Transition to Alpha State

As you continue to focus your attention on a chosen object (e.g., your breath, a mantra, or a visualization), you enter an alpha brain wave state. It is now shown that there is an increase in these low-frequency waves during meditation. Alpha waves are associated with relaxed alertness. This shift indicates that your mind is becoming less active in terms of everyday thoughts and external stimuli.

Alpha waves act as a bridge between your conscious thought and the subconscious mind. Their presence is also linked to reduced stress and anxiety.

3. Increased Theta Waves

With deeper meditation, especially in practices involving concentration or visualization, you may experience increased theta brain waves. Theta waves are associated with deep relaxation, creativity, and access to the subconscious mind. This state is often described as a “dream-like” or trance-like state.

4. Occasional Gamma Waves

While less common, some studies have reported increased gamma wave activity during deep meditation, particularly in experienced practitioners. Gamma brain waves (30-100 Hz) are associated with heightened perception and you will be very lucky if you experience it.

5. Synchronization of Brain Activity

Meditation tends to synchronize brain wave activity across different regions of the brain. This synchronization enhances mental clarity, focus, and cognitive functioning. It promotes a sense of unity and coherence within the brain.

Meditation Brain Waves Outcome

As a result of these brain activities, more things are happening.

  1. Reduced Activity in Default Mode Network (DMN): The DMN is a network of brain regions associated with self-referential thoughts, mind-wandering, and daydreaming. During meditation, activity in the DMN tends to decrease, leading to a reduction in rumination and a shift away from a self-centered perspective.
  2. Activation of Other Brain Regions: Depending on the type of meditation, different brain regions may become more active. Increased prefrontal cortex activity, associated with attention and self-regulation, is often observed during mindfulness meditation. Compassion meditation can activate brain regions associated with empathy and social connection.
  3. Altered Perception of Time: During deep meditation, some individuals report a distorted sense of time, where minutes can feel like hours. This subjective experience is related to changes in how the brain processes time perception.
  4. Enhanced Awareness: As you progress in meditation, you may experience heightened awareness and a deeper sense of presence. This is often associated with a quiet mind, reduced mental chatter, and a profound sense of the present moment.

Researchers use EEG and other neuroimaging techniques to study these brain wave patterns and their relationship to various aspects of cognition, emotion, and consciousness. Understanding brain waves helps scientists and clinicians investigate conditions such as sleep disorders, epilepsy, and cognitive impairments.

The fascinating thing is that now these kinds of devices are available for use in the comfort of one’s own home!

“Am I even doing this right?”… while in your meditations?

“Am I even doing this right?” It’s a question that often sneaks into our heads during meditation, like an unwelcome guest at a peaceful gathering. We start to doubt ourselves, and wonder if we’re somehow missing the mark in our quest for mindfulness. But let me tell you something: there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to that question. Meditation is as unique as you are. It’s not about a rigid set of rules; it’s about your journey toward inner peace, a path that’s beautifully messy and filled with self-discovery. So, when you catch yourself pondering this question, don’t fret. Be gentle with your chosen meditation method, and remember, there’s no ‘perfect’ way to do it. It’s your way.

Now, if you’re looking to take your practice to the next level, consider meditation devices that can track your brain waves. These tools can help you better understand your mental states during meditation, providing immediate bio-feedback.

meditation brain waves

From my personal experience, these devices can be game-changing for your meditation practice.

The Best Monitoring Device of Brain Waves to Optimize Meditation

muse logo

MUSE the Headband for Meditation

Why you should try the Muse headband:

  • Enhanced Meditation: Muse provides real-time biofeedback, helping you deepen your meditation practice and improve focus.
  • Personalized Guidance: Muse responds to your unique meditation needs, making it a personalized meditation coach.
  • Scientifically Backed: Supported by prestigious institutions like Yale, Harvard, MIT, and NASA, Muse is rooted in research.
  • Portability: Muse is designed for travel, allowing you to maintain your mindfulness and sleep practices anywhere.
  • Ease of Use: Muse is user-friendly, making meditation and sleep improvement accessible for all.

Two choices of Muse Handaband: Muse 2 and Muse S

You can explore both choices HERE!

Muse S (Gen 2) Headband: For Meditation AND Sleep

muse s headband

  • EEG, PPG, accelerometer, and gyroscope sensors and tech
  • Overnight sleep tracking and insights, smart-fade technology (my best part)
  • Ultra comfortable fabric band
  • 10 hour continuous battery life
  • Weighs in at just 41g
  • Compatible with the free Muse app, plus unlock more content. Plus, the ability to pair with your favorite external apps with a premium app subscription.
  • Price: 399.99 USD
muse s headband sleep

Muse 2 Headband: For Meditation Brain Waves Monitoring (and more!)

muse 2 headband for brain waves

  • EEG, PPG, accelerometer, and gyroscope sensors and tech
  • Flexible polycarbonate and silicone band
  • 5 hour continuous battery life
  • Weighs in at only 51g
  • Compatible with the free Muse app, plus unlock more content. Plus, the ability to pair with your favorite external apps with a premium app subscription.
  • Price: 249,99 USD

Read also: The 7 Greatest Benefits of Meditation, Backed by Science


So, if you’re ready to take your meditation to the next level, go with the game-changer: Muse.

Giving you real-time biofeedback on your meditations so you can bring your attention back to the present moment when your mind starts to wander.

Plus, it’s travel-friendly and super user-friendly. So, while there’s no “right” way to meditate, Muse can be the trusted companion that amplifies your mindfulness journey.

Give it a trial.

Thanks for reading!

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