Accelerated Learning and Life Skills

Alpha State

In my previous post, I discussed the four different kinds of brain waves and how the alpha brain wave state is the optimal state for learning. When our brain is in alpha state, we have the greatest access to our higher order thinking skills. We are in a state of relaxed focus which is perfect for learning, test-taking, or anything else that requires our undivided attention and focus.

I lead my college physics classes through a quick alpha state process before every quiz or exam. The process described below is one that I originally learned from Quantum Learning and then modified and adapted for my classes. In general, I lead the process from the front of the classroom as I model the steps for students. I say each step almost exactly as it is written.

Alpha State Process:

1) “Shift into Alpha State.” (Note: this is an “anchoring phrase” that can be changed. See below.)

2) Sit up straight.

3) Allow a deep breathe in.

4) Close your eyes as you exhale quietly.

5) Keep your eyes closed as you continue to allow slow deep breaths.

6) Picture in your mind’s eye your peaceful place. Your alpha place where you feel calm, confident, happy and resourceful.

7) Allow the image to become brighter. See the scene through your own eyes and hear the sounds through your own ears.

8) With your eyes still closed, look straight up, look down, open your eyes and focus.

Alpha State

This process allows someone to quickly shift into alpha state because our mental, emotional, and physical states are all connected (more about this in a future post). Each step in the alpha state process is designed to shift one of the three states, which also affects the other two. For example, sitting up straight shifts your physical state into a more confident one, which then has a positive effect on both your mental and emotional states.

Here are a couple quick notes about two of the above steps:

1) The “anchoring phrase” can be anything you want. It is a phrase that you start with every time you do the process. Eventually, your brain will associate the phrase with being in alpha state and the two will become anchored together. Once that happens, simply saying the phrase can cause your brain to downshift into a slower more alpha-like brain wave state.

6) Your peaceful or alpha place is somewhere, real or imaginary, where you feel calm, relaxed, peaceful, and safe. Someplace where you feel self-assured and confident, where you feel like you are at your best. It might be your home or bedroom, a church or synagogue, the beach, a favorite vacation spot, anyplace you want. Once you have the place in mind, really try and imagine yourself there. Visualize what you would see, hear, and smell.

The more you do this process, the easier and more automatic the steps will become. As a student, I recommend getting into alpha state right before class starts, before studying, and especially before taking any quiz or exam. If during an exam you ever find yourself panicking or have your mind go blank, you can quickly do this process and get back into a more resourceful state of mind.

Good luck and happy learning.

Comments & Responses

7 Responses so far.

  1. John Welch says:

    The site looks really great, Joe. Great information presented really nicely. Looking forward to reading more.

  2. […] that you know how to prepare your mind for learning, let’s take a look at preparing an optimal learning space. Where you study may not […]

  3. […] a resourceful and positive state of mind. The optimal state to be in is called alpha state. Click here for a process you can use to quickly shift into alpha […]

  4. The third occurrence of alpha wave activity is the alpha-delta or slow-wave (SWS) state. This activity spreads across the brain in an anterior-posterior gradient.

  5. The next brainwave category in order of frequency is alpha. Where beta represented arousal, alpha represents non-arousal. Alpha brainwaves are slower, and higher in amplitude. Their frequency ranges from 9 to 14 cycles per second. A person who has completed a task and sits down to rest is often in an alpha state. A person who takes time out to reflect or meditate is usually in an alpha state. A person who takes a break from a conference and walks in the garden is often in an alpha state.

  6. Alex says:

    When you look straight up and straight down are you moving your head or just your eyes? Or does it matter?

    • Hi Alex,

      When you look straight up and straight down, you are just moving your eyes (while they are still closed). Let me know if you have anymore questions.

      Thanks- Joe

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