Consciousness is generally meant to mean how aware one is of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts and what’s going on around you. But what if it also meant how awake you were.
In my booklet ‘A Birth Path’ I write about the nine stages of labour and how they intersect with the four states of consciousness. The term states refers to the four levels of consciousness distinguishable by the frequency of the brainwave, measurable in Hertz. are known individually as Beta (β) Alpha (α) Theta (θ) Delta (Δ)
It is often heard said that you cannot birth from your mind, and this is taken to mean that natural birth is more challenging when your mind is still functioning in the normal state of Beta, rather than the primal instinctive state of Theta. Beta is our regular waking consciousness, alert and active. There are three other states after Beta, namely: Alpha, Theta and Delta. During our daily life we move through all these states quite naturally although perhaps the shift we are most aware of is the move from waking to sleeping.
Beta state is when we are aware of our surroundings, our place in the world and of the people around us. Sensually this is the level of pre- or early arousal. In terms of waking or sleeping, while our brain is in Beta we are definitely awake. We are in our heads, thinking, analyzing, conscious of other people and the world around us. This is the realm of the neo-cortex, the intelligent sharp witty brain. It can be a challenge to birth while in the mental state of Beta because we are so aware of our surroundings.
Alpha is when the frequency of brain waves slow. It is a place of light relaxation, meditation and day-dreaming. This is a gateway state between the highly active and alert Beta and the sleeping Theta, it is the place you travel through as you lie down to sleep and mentally relax. Sensually it is the place of high arousal and sexual intimacy where the rest of the world seems to melt away into the background. It could be said that this is the home of the intuitive voice, the lucid presence and awareness of knowing what is within. In this place we are more in touch with our bodies, our needs and wishes. Giving birth while in the state of Alpha can mean we are more in touch with ourselves and our baby, intuitively knowing what position to be in. It is a state of relaxation and surrender. There is still an awareness of the outer world and what is happening around but it is no longer of so much importance, it is like looking at the world through a window. Sounds can be muted; people’s opinions matter little. Although it is possible to be drawn out of this state by bright lights and lots of questioning or by perceived danger. Any amount of adrenalin will change the state of awareness bringing it back up to Beta in case action is required.
Theta is the seat of deep peace and total calm. There is no thinking here as this is the primal brain, the feeling instinctive place that is even more relaxed than Alpha. The outer world has drifted away and consciousness is very much centred within. For those attending a woman in labour this is where they can possibly feel left out as the mother journeys on alone. But their presence is essential, they are protecting the space, holding a state of external calm that gives the mother the space she needs to feel deeply safe so she may go within.
This is the state of consciousness you experience each night as light sleep. It is deeply restful for your mind as it no longer has to take in new stimulus from your senses. This is the state surrender known as orgasm.
Delta is an exquisite state of consciousness. Each of us experiences it every night as deep sleep but to experience it while awake is a cosmic experience not easily forgotten. It is a complete dissolution of the self and oneness with the divine, also called bliss or ecstasy. It is the state of consciousness that has direct contact with the unconscious, the place that dreams come from, as well as the collective unconscious, our collective dreaming. It is multiple orgasm. It is deep sleep.
Taken from my new booklet ‘A Birth Path – stages & states of consciousness’ available 8th September 2016. Find out more here
The content is also the base of my 3 hour Birth Path workshop held regularly near Exeter, Devon, UK
A summary of the states of consciousness
Beta brainwaves: β
- Frequency of 14 – 28 cycles per second / 16 – 31 Hz
- The thinking / rational conscious mind
- Active and alert, conversational
- Early arousal
- Standing at the ocean shore
Alpha brainwaves: α
- Frequency of 7 – 14 cycles per second / 8 – 15 Hz
- A day-dreaming state, Light relaxation, meditation
- Lucid, not thinking
- A bridge between Beta and Theta
- Erotic intimacy
- Swimming in the ocean with the waves
- Frequency of 4 – 7 cycles per second / 4 – 7 Hz
- Very deep relaxation. No thinking, all feeling, primal brain
- Absolute perfect calm
- The subconscious mind
- Light sleep
- Riding the ocean waves
- Frequency of 0 – 4 cycles per second / 0.1 – 3 Hz
- Cosmic bliss and oneness with the divine
- Multiple orgasm
- Deep sleep
- Becoming one with the wave
Cosmic woman by Darlene Jones
Woman on beach by Kay Smith
Woman in blue bikini by Kazuya Akimoto
Swimming the in Ocean by Scout Cuomo
Bold breaking wave by Maggi Hambling