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One of the goals of skilled bodywork is to help clients achieve a relaxed mental and emotional state, but in the process, we're also altering their state of consciousness. The moment the client is touched, brainwaves begin to change—for both client and therapist (Image 1). By locking into a physical and mental rhythm, it's possible to reduce a client's hyperactive brain wave state. 1 As relaxation occurs, the client is more susceptible to suggestion, making it a prime time to use verbal cues to coach the client toward optimal health. This kind of cueing in a suggestible brain wave state can lead clients in pain to favorably reinterpret the nociceptive (danger- signaling) input. I've found such brain wave techniques to be a great adjunct to both relaxation and biomechanically based bodywork sessions. Here, we'll take a closer look at brain waves and how to integrate this powerful work into our practices. GRASPING BRAIN WAVE BASICS The human brain contains billions of neurons that communicate via electrical wave-like signals, appropriately named brain waves. German psychiatrist Hans Berger discovered these electrical signals in humans in 1929, using an invention he called an electroencephalogram (EEG). 2 By placing electrodes on a subject's scalp, Berger was able to record the brain's electrical activity (Image 2). He categorized these impulses by their frequencies and studied how each wave pattern altered the subject's state of consciousness. Berger labeled the frequencies in hertz (Hz), or the number of times a wave repeats within a second. He then noted how mental performance suffered if any of these frequencies were deficient, excessive, or difficult to access. Below are the four most common brain wave frequencies and a brief description of their individual characteristics. Beta waves oscillate at high/fast frequencies, between 13 and 38 cycles per second (Hz) and register on an EEG when the client is excited, focused, or tense. Beta frequencies may indicate a state of alertness or possibly chronic stress. Alpha waves measure between 8 and 12 Hz and are present when the person is calm and relaxed, yet attentive. Theta waves have a frequency of 4–8 Hz and occur in sleep and deep relaxation. Indicative of an inner focus and vivid imagery, clients are most open to positive reinforcement at this frequency. Delta waves oscillate at the slowest frequency, typically under four cycles per second. They are generated in deep meditation, dreamless sleep, and occasionally during a bodywork session. Cellular healing and regeneration occur in this brain state. RECOGNIZING BRAIN WAVE STATES Clients often come to us in a stress-induced beta-wave state. Physical indicators to note during the health history intake include restless hands and feet, excessive chattiness, bugged or darting eyes, tensed jaw, and a rigid gait. If I see that my empathetic dialogue during intake is not calming down the client, I will typically cut the intake short, get them on the table face up, and apply slow, rhythmic suboccipital techniques 38 m a s s a g e & b o d y wo r k j u l y/a u g u s t 2 0 2 2 Give Your Bodywork a Brain Wave Boost Working with Brain Waves to Advance Client Healing TECHNIQUE By Erik Dalton, PhD MYOSKELETAL ALIGNMENT TECHNIQUES KEY POINTS • Using verbal cues while the client is in a relaxed state and open to suggestion can lead clients in pain to favorably reinterpret the nociceptive (danger-signaling) input. • An effective way to induce a deep brain wave state is through slow low-back and sacral base unwinding techniques. The moment the client is touched, brain waves begin to change. 1

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