The ideal mental state is “relaxed alertness.”
This means being fully aware and focused, yet with an effortlessly calm mind.
This state is achieved when alpha waves are dominant in your brain.
Humans only have 2 mental states while awake — alpha and beta.
We spend most of our lives in beta, as we rush through the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Beta is when our minds are moving fast, checking things off our to-do list, and bouncing from one thing to the next.
People can be productive in this state, but the rapid mental activity in beta mode has been linked to depression and anxiety. When your mind is racing and you can’t get out of a negative pattern of thinking, that’s when beta waves are taking over. You likely know the feeling.
Alpha, on the other hand, means being clear-headed, present, and fully in the moment. Alpha waves create a sense of peace and well-being in your mind and body. When people are in this state, they exude charisma as their mind focuses only on the here and now.
This is also the state when athletes and other performers are at their best — also known as being “in the zone” or the “flow state.” Unsurprisingly, alpha brain waves boost creativity and resilience to stress, and reduce anxiety and depression. When your mind is free, peak performance and enjoyment are naturally achieved.
While spending some time in the beta state is unavoidable, you don’t want to spend too much of your life in overdrive. Life is more pleasurable in the alpha state.
So how do you achieve this feeling of calm focus?
One way to do it is through long-term meditation practice.
Expert meditators with thousands of hours of practice regularly achieve the alpha state in daily life. In the early going, you will generate alpha waves only during your meditation time, but gradually you’ll notice that relaxed mental state creep into more of your day.
Meditation is a worthy long-term endeavor, but I am also interested in quick-fix ways to enter the alpha state. When you are anxious and stressed, you don’t want to wait years for mental clarity.