Sunday, April 12, 2020

Alpha Waves

A long time ago, (obviously) Einstein claimed that, "everything is energy." Indeed, if everything is made up of atoms and atoms vibrate at a certain frequency... well, who's to question Einstein anyways? But quantum theory does state that particles are made up of energy and even the space between particles consists of energy and so who's not to say we're generally energy ourselves? And how does energy travel? Through waves, bebe. Colors are essentially waves as are sounds. So while my friend majored in art therapy (which I may have mistakenly thought of as viewing a color to change your mood), I began to think that music could help as well. And while I was a bit late to board this train, it turns out that sound waves can indeed help place us in a state of greater rest or tension.

When I was little, I really loved to look at colors. I can remember sitting on my father's lap, reading a picture book and staring intently at a beach ball... the colors somehow good enough to eat. Perhaps this is why babies chew the edges of books. And I still love colors, however, like any adult, I hide them in muted form (obviously gray and navy are colors and they're my favorites). But what I didn't pick up from my father was his love of music. I can remember him playing the piano and I remember his insistence we take piano lessons (ugh). But what I did pick up from my father was his overarching anxiety which affected all aspects of his life. So, as one might expect, I generally try many of the remedies out there for such an ailment. Lavender? Check. Exercise? Double check. But it's only as of late that I've come around to music as a calm-inducing agent. If we're to follow the theory that we're all energy and that energy travels through waves (whatever, it's a blog), then let's say that the frequencies at which we vibrate can be affected by external forces or frequencies. While I'm not sure if this theory is correct, some basic research yielded established findings when it comes to our bodies and music.

Indeed, our bodies produce brain waves which are associated with particular states of mind. There are delta waves which are associated with deep sleep or meditation. There are alpha waves which are associated with a general state of calm and there are beta waves which are associated with some distraction and anxiety (we won't go into theta waves). But what's interesting is that such waves are classified by their frequencies. Delta waves are defined as, "a high amplitude brain wave with a frequency of oscillation between 0.5 and 4 hertz," (at least according to Wikipedia). Alpha waves occur between eight and twelve Hz or wave cycles per second and beta waves between 12.5 and 30. So I was thinking that if we're putting out these waves, could they be interrupted (for better or worse) by sound waves. Apparently, the answer is "yes".

A few years ago, I was reading about sound baths and, more recently, have been looking at a site called TunedIn. Both are pretty new-agey and, ergo, neither are readily available even in a city like D.C. Either way, who wants relaxation if it can't really be experienced in the comfort of your own home (whether in or out of quarantine)? Ergo, I started looking to YouTube and the Internets for some answers.

Apparently there are some songs, pop or otherwise, that can help get our brains to that sweet alpha state which can foster a sense of creativity (according to Dr. Emma Gray). While there are songs which you might hear in the spa or others which are super new-agey (often entitled "Best Concentration Music for Studying" on YouTube), I decided to feature the pop variety in that it can actually identify who the good artists are out there and it's music you might not mind listening to in the car. Some songs are legitimately proven to get those alpha waves going and some are one's that generally put me in a relaxed mood. Songs that have been proven to relax yo' body have an asterisk next to them. Enjoy!

*Bruno Mars: The Lazy Song: I've never really thought much about Bruno Mars as an artist. I liked his collaboration with Eminem back in 2011 but from there, everything seemed to go downhill. Enter: The Lazy Song. I actually hadn't heard it until I saw it on the list of songs between 50 to 80 beats per minute which are supposed to calm one down and boost one's creativity. Now it's in heavy rotation on my playlist.

Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here: Obvi.

*Adele: Chasing Pavements: Unlike Bruno Mars, I've generally liked Adele for awhile. She's no Bone Thugs N Harmony but the woman's got a voice on her. While I really like Someone Like You (which I accidentally posted a song which makes you calm in my last post), it's hard not to sing along to the title above... no matter how bad your voice is.

*Buena Vista Social Club: El Carretero: I've always wanted to be a fan of Buena Vista Social Club simply due to their amazing name. However, for awhile, having lyric-less music in the background was (literally) not my jam. Yet, as an adult... it's just what I need.

*Jeff Buckley: I Want Someone Badly: Like many people, I'm familiar with Jeff Buckley through Hallelujah. But, for me, being introduced to Buckley's music through a dear friend provides the associations which makes his tunes give me all the feels. Not only does Buckley's music make me relaxed, it brings me back to a time and place when I was much younger and less terrified of what life had to offer.

Coldplay: Swallowed in the Sea: Got me through senior year of college.

*Beyonce: Halo: Overrated but it was on the list.

Pink Floyd: Shine On You Crazy Diamond: What my boyfriend likes to say to me when I'm acting a fool.

*Aerosmith: Pink: I share Aerosmith's Pink here in that, it's one of the most creative video's I've seen. And alpha waves are said to boost creativity, right?



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