What brainwave are you on?

Dear Artist, During your day, your brain normally moves among four brainwave patterns. The frequency of these waves is measured in Hertz. Beta waves (12 – 30 Hertz) are the normal lively situations where you’re performing regular tasks and working efficiently. Alpha waves (8 – 12 Hertz) are a more relaxed and reflective state, like pausing to daydream or during long bouts of fishing without catching. Theta waves (4 – 7 Hertz) are an even more relaxed, sometimes meditative or sleepy state. Theta waves are the “sweet spot” of interest to researchers into creativity, invention and mental imagery. Delta waves (3 – 1 Hertz) are the most relaxed, slowed-down state, present in deep, dreamless sleep. Researchers of brainwave theory have developed various rhythmic noises that are supposed to mimic the Theta state and improve creativity. If you want to try one out, we’ve put it at the top of the current clickback. I found it annoying, but after five minutes or so it’s not so bothersome and the mind nicely wanders. I don’t think it’ll hurt you. I’ve lingered in artists’ studios that throb with Theta rhythms in the form of “God consciousness” (Ennora, etc.) ocean waves, Mayan kalarhythms, Enya, or the dreamy magic of various Theta music meditation discs such as those offered by Dr. Jeffrey Thompson. I’ve also noticed artists who manage to get by with Johann Sebastian Bach. It’s all about how fast your neurons are firing. In Theta, it seems the neurons fire less often but more effectively, perhaps reaching out to more distant or irregular synapses. This quality firing, in theory, unlocks metaphors and unlikely combinations that are the basis of creativity and invention. The tendency for metaphor may be cultural and augmented by an appreciation of literature, particularly poetry. Also, the happenstance language of our birth aids in the singing of our vision. The Theta range of firings may also be somewhat responsible for a sense of pattern, continuity and design that’s a condition in all the arts. Don’t you find it wonderful when you’re just loping along, hitting on all four to seven? Best regards, Robert PS: “Research clearly indicates that Theta waves increase creativity, super learning, integrative experiences, and memory.” (Michael Hutchison, author of Mega Brain Power) Esoterica: Some researchers think the overboard use of metaphor, as might be seen in conceptual art, may actually be a sign of weak or unrefined Theta. Apart from looking at an artist’s work to see if they have “good Theta,” other brainwave indicators can be used. One method, pioneered by myself, finds out quickly if a person is able to make connections where connections may not readily appear. It’s in their ability to “get” jokes or puns. While folks who “don’t get it” may be fascinated with art and even perform on art boards and committees, my persistent observation has been that non-Thetan, non-creatives tend to be “not amused.” This system is actually quite ancient. Hilaritate bonum excogitatio, said the Roman philosopher Kjerkius Gennius (36 BC) “Good humour; good invention.”   Primal therapy by Julie Eliason, Royal Oak, MI, USA  

acrylic painting
by Julie Eliason

I enjoyed your discussion of Theta brainwaves in relationship to creativity. When I was in college I took Abnormal Psychology and wrote a paper on the occurrence of Theta brainwaves. Research indicated that Theta brainwaves are more frequent among children, the elderly, and people who are in Primal Therapy. This therapy is a process of deep regression into childhood memories — even to cellular memories from birth and the womb experience. I have been a Primaler since 1972. With the help of this powerful therapy, I have become a functioning and very happy person. I am also an artist. Primaling has enhanced my creativity, maybe because having healed from so many childhood traumas, I have a deep connection to the child within me. Thank you for helping me see why deep regression therapy has helped my art. There is 1 comment for Primal therapy by Julie Eliason
From: Terrie Christian — Apr 30, 2013

I love your painting, and even more your affirmation that therapy helps art. When I started trauma therapy, I enrolled in art school at the same time because I believed art would help me be happier when doing difficult therapy. I saw an interview of some actors the other day that connected art and music to children’s ability to learn and perform other tasks. They were making the case that it should NOT be the first to go in education. The colors and abstraction in your art shine out that you have achieved a connection to being more childlike and happy.

  The brilliance of Arabic by David Sims, London, UK  

“Kingdom of Heaven”
mixed media on canvas
by Khaled Al-Saai

Your reference to research that indicates language of birth may be a factor in the ability to get puns, grasp metaphors and be creative is interesting. Languages like French and Spanish come to mind. However, the Arabic languages, in all their iterations, are probably the strongest of all. Rich puns and double entendres abound. Creativity and invention should be the strong suit of the Arabic world. What happened? Intolerance of images and the denial of some areas of scientific enquiry as demanded by religious factions are the main impediment. While generally thought to be weak in creativity, the Middle East is a garden of song, poetry and calligraphy, among other arts. Once free of despots and sectarianism, the Middle East will once again bloom. There is 1 comment for The brilliance of Arabic by David Sims
From: Anonymous — Apr 30, 2013

  Getting your bearings by Roxanne Clingman, Milwaukie, OR, USA  

“Dover Castle”
gouache painting, 12 x 12 inches
by Roxanne Clingman

Edison sat in a rocker with his hand full of ball bearings and went to a theta brain wave state. If he passed through to delta, his hand would open and the bearings would fall, waking him. He reported most of his good ideas came in the rocking chair. It’s possible to easily attain theta without all of the bells and whistles, a bunch of ball bearings or twisted body positions, by using a simple mental exercises. Thanks for the breadth of subjects in your letter. Always interesting.       Oblivion almost reached by Rich Brimer, Camarillo, CA, USA  

“Aqua Cove”
oil on canvas, 43 x 56 inches
by Rich Brimer

The greatest thing happened to me tonight as I read your letter. I don’t often smoke weed but tonight was one of those nights that I did. I was laying in bed. I’m reading my email and your most recent letter came to the top so I listened to the theta wave as I was floating slightly above my being anyway… And I had this most energetic awareness and stillness that I’ve had in a long long time. The thing that disturbed me most is that you only sent a 30 second theta wave sound and then it stops abruptly. I just wish there was a way to loop it so it would play over and over and over and over — however, I’m afraid that I would get lost in my subconscious to never return. So, for that, I thank you. (RG note) Thanks, Rich. If you go to James Nestor’s site, noted after the Theta wave on our site, you will find a version that goes on and on.   Beguiling music by Jan Thomson, St. Arnaud, Nelson Lakes, New Zealand  

“Motoeka Boatsheds”
oil on board, 12 x 16 inches
by Jan Thomson

I’ve noticed that my painting is definitely influenced by whatever is playing on my iPod — and that I can influence my painting by planning what I play. Freddy Mercury certainly produces different results than J. S. Bach. But I had to abandon the Leningrad Symphony by Shostakovich today — way too depressing and fast for the poppy seed-heads I was working on. Thanks for your letters — they are a real treat for an artist who lives in a small community and works alone.   There is 1 comment for Beguiling music by Jan Thomson
From: Linda Harbison — Apr 30, 2013

  Blessed silence by Jackie Knott, Fischer, TX, USA  

“Marilyn Pruitt”
oil on canvas, 30 x 24 inches
by Jackie Knott

I hear and read about the positive influence of sound for an artist but cannot fathom how it helps creativity. Modern culture assaults our senses with constant sound and then we introduce more. I seek blessed silence. Maybe it’s because my ears have been ringing for over a decade from a sound injury and all sound is distorted. But, for me, focus on the task at hand is consciously rendered without the distraction of sound. Having said that, I will admit ideas come to me in that blissful time in the early morning.       Dr. Thompson’s discs by Gavin Logan, London, England  

Dr. Jeffrey D. Thompson
Center for Neuroacoustic Research

Dr. Jeffrey Thompson’s discs have brainwave speeds embedded into his music. I notice a change of mood and state of mind particularly when I have stress or too much going on in my life. The set includes Alpha Relaxation, Meditation, Sleep help, Healing the Mind, Creativity and Awakening. When I’m writing I keep the sound very low so it is not intrusive. I find the discs can be given multiple playing and sometimes it doesn’t matter which disc you use. I don’t like the sleep one, but as I don’t have much trouble in that way that’s okay. I prefer my own fantasies (creative inventions and ideas and plans for novels) to put me to sleep.       Enchanting sounds by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki, Port Moody, BC, Canada  

“New Beginning”
acrylic painting, 12 x 16 inches
by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki

On my list of Theta-less sounds are music by Johnny Cash, Randy Bachman kind of rock, and some of the latest pop like Serena Ryder’s. On Theta side, there are many sounds that have a great effect, but Sorabji was the first that came to mind. I once heard some music by him on CBC radio that made my brain feel like it was plated by gold. I searched for that music for a long time and when I finally found it, it didn’t sound quite the same — It lacked the dissonant notes I have originally heard. Then I realized that I probably had interference from another radio station or something like that — so I will never hear those enchanting sounds again! In any case Sorabji has that something that works for me — here is an example. Also try Stravinsky or this Stravinsky Octet. This kind of stuff just tickles my brain the right way. My compliments to Mr. Kjerkius and his humor. It is so regrettable that we can’t always enjoy company of all our fellow humans. But you are right, Theta deficiency can range from stabbing to abrasive to dull to slimy. Any great occasion can drown in a perfect Theta-less storm. We have all experienced a lovely cheerful day turning into a humorless still air of despair. Failing to escape on time, one will only be able to recover through a long Delta sleep. There is 1 comment for Enchanting sounds by Tatjana Mirkov-Popovicki
From: Rose — Apr 30, 2013

Thank you for the info….


Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for What brainwave are you on?

From: Mike Barr — Apr 25, 2013

Re James Nestor’s simulated theta sound at the top of the last clickback, there is one word used in Australia to describe it and its supposed effect – bunkum!

From: Jean Burman — Apr 26, 2013
From: Jackie Knott — Apr 26, 2013

I hear and read about the positive influence of sound for an artist but cannot fathom how it helps creativity. Modern culture assaults our senses with constant sound and then we introduce more. I seek blessed silence. Maybe it’s because my ears have been ringing for over a decade from a sound injury and all sound is distorted. But for me, focus on the task at hand is consciously rendered without the distraction of sound. Having said that, I will admit ideas come to me in that blissful time in the early morning, not fully aware but easing into wakefulness. It’s a narrow window but a productive one.

From: Marvin Humphrey — Apr 26, 2013

Real, not artificial, “quiet” natural sounds do it for me: Gentle surf, brooks, birds, breeze in the trees. Of course, at home, Light classical and vocal-free mainstream jazz helps to block out pervasive man-made racket.

From: jill bukovnik — Apr 26, 2013
From: Allan Henry Cole — Apr 26, 2013
From: Patti Borden — Apr 26, 2013

Well, that explains why I listen to fast-paced Cajun music while I paint. I also love the electronic dance music they play in night-clubs.

From: John Koehler — Apr 26, 2013

Once again u have given me much to think about,,how could a roman philosopher say anything 36 years befor Christ,,, ???? how ever i think that saying “good humor ,,good invention ” would have fit very well with the french revolution, ,,,personally i use a mix of cd’s when i am painting, country western ,, be bop,, classics,, rock and role,,religious spirituals,,,old’des but goodes ,,,, good talking with u

From: Dana S. Whitney — Apr 26, 2013
From: Bonnie Collins — Apr 26, 2013

Since I am a dream interpreter I am constantly looking for puns and metaphors in my dreams. When I teach others to interpret their dreams I can demonstrate how insightful using puns and metaphors can be.

From: Kellianne Land — Apr 26, 2013

Thank you, I am sharing this. I wondered about my state of mind. Now I am certain that I dwell often in the Theta and feel better. As an artist I have struggled with the Beta/Theta thing.

From: Ilse Taylor — Apr 26, 2013
From: Ken Langenfeld — Apr 26, 2013

Sounds like crickets to me

From: Susan — Apr 26, 2013

the music of Philip Glass does it for me

From: Alexander Leung — Apr 26, 2013

Some people have “quality firing” it seems to me automatically. They are often born creatives who stand out in a crowd with their wit and quick connections to new ways of looking at things. Others can only sit and marvel at we who have this ability, and we are always in demand at social events in spite of the fact that we would rather be in our studios.

From: John Jarvis — Apr 26, 2013

I have traditionally had only three or four Hertz in a whole year, but now I am switching to National.

From: Teresa Zimny — Apr 26, 2013

Thank you for the interesting article. I tried these simulated Theta waves, and now I understand why there are so many artists in Provence – the Cicadas emit what sounds exactly like these “Thetas”.

From: Rick Rotante — Apr 27, 2013
From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Apr 27, 2013

I gave my fourth lecture last August, and was written up shortly after for being ‘mostly hilarious’. Dead serious one minute- totally hysterical the next. But guess what? After learning of Asperger’s Syndrome, and researching both it and the ‘Indigo’ perspective, what I learned was that everybody’s brains do NOT work the same way- and mine decidedly does not work like most of the people around me. So regarding your comments about people who don’t ‘get’ your jokes and puns, WE DON’T ALL HEAR THE STUPID ENGLISH LANGUAGE THE SAME WAY. English has so many words that sound the same but mean completely different things that I can be in a conversation with someone and hear them say something that generates a totally blank look on my face because the WAY they intended it to be heard and the WAY I ACTUALLY HEARD IT end up being 2 totally different things. And the way I heard it doesn’t make any sense to me. And that doesn’t make me stupid- or non-creative. But humans who think everyone thinks just like they do have no comprehension what I’m even talking about. Some of us don’t need a social network that just wastes our time. Some of us don’t need to be ‘liked’ by everybody. So be careful when you start insulting some of us who may not be amused by your stupid jokes.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — Apr 27, 2013

In an earlier lifetime I was a Dance-club DJ. Before that I played a cello. I am presently copying much of my old/new music collection onto CD- 10 to 20 indiuvidual songs per disc- all the same volume- so I can load up a 5 CD changer- more than 6 hours of music- and hit shuffle/random play. And then I go to work utilizing my entire brain- plugged into the music- dancing. I meditate to dance music. The shuffle thing did not exist when much of my music collection was created.

From: laurie leehane — Apr 28, 2013

I find Baroque the best to work with once I am in the swing of the work.

From: tamouse — Apr 28, 2013

For me, to be creative, the music I listen to needs to fade into the background, thus mainly instrumentals without many surprises, hooks, or the like. And then occasionally I need to hear something that pulls me out of myself so I can step back and see what I’m doing, and come in fresh. It can be hard to balance flow with freshness.

From: Marguerite Christy — Apr 29, 2013

The clickable Theta sound was interesting to me and made me want to hear deeper into the concepts you discussed. However, it caused a stream of profanity from my husband and I had to pry the cat off the ceiling. Solution? Earbuds.

From: Lucurisa — Apr 30, 2013

What the heck! the noise at the top of the click back is quite annoying to me. I can’t imagine that it is helpful to ones creativity.

From: Petra del Sol Eubanks — Apr 30, 2013

I have several subliminal tapes and really enjoy listening to them, especially when I paint. One time I was laying down and relaxing, listening to one for positive thinking, then I felt this very strong tingling on the top of my head. It startled me and I opened my eyes, but it continued for a few seconds more. Another time, with another tape,after the tape ended, I heard whispering, like close to my ear. I did not make out what was said in the whispering, but something was happening! I actually enjoyed the Theta wave piece on your current click back. Can I but this tape somewhere?

From: Darnéy Willis — Apr 30, 2013

I tell my students one of the requirements of my classes is they have to laugh at least one of my jokes per semester, but if I have to explain the joke to them it doesn’t count.

From: DM — May 01, 2013
From: sheila — May 01, 2013
From: Gentlehawk James — May 01, 2013

Sheila, I have “Enya”‘ed driving all over the West, driving meditations, also like the others you name, will have to check out Deva and Kaur, new to me.

From: Lynn Coleman — May 04, 2013
     Featured Workshop: LeMarche Retreat, Italy
043013_robert-genn Painting Holidays & Art Workshops in Italy LeMarche Retreat   The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. 

Long Lake Park

pastel painting, 10 x 11 inches by Mary Denning, Spokane, WA, USA

  You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Marj Vetter of Three Hills, Alberta who wrote, “Something’s out of whack for me, Robert. I like to listen to rock & roll when I paint. Soon after I start, I don’t hear anything at all!” And also Edna V. Hildebrandt of Toronto, Ontario who wrote, “I’m inspired when images of places I travelled to or memories of my childhood come to mind. That’s what brings on my creative processes.” And also Catherine Nash of Tucson, Arizona who wrote, “My God, I vote for Bach!”    

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