States of Consciousness

We have different states of consciousness throughout the day: sleep, being half-asleep, daydreaming and full alertness. Each of these states has a different level of brain frequency of electrical energy. Scientists have measured these frequencies by using an EEG (electroencephalograph) to measure the varying levels of electrical activity in the brain during the different states of awareness.

Full-alert state: the Beta state

This is the state of being fully awake, and for children is where they do most of their daily activity – chatting to their friends, working at school, talking, playing etc. Brain frequency in this state of awareness is usually between 15-30 hertz (Hz). This is the state of consciousness we are in when we are aware of the world around us e.g. when looking at this website.

Daydreamer state: the Alpha state

This  is the level of awareness linked to meditation and mindful activities. In children the frequency associated with this state is 9-12 Hz. During this state children simply notice their surroundings without needing to think or analyse, they simply enjoy being in the experience. This state can be compared to how we feel when taking a bath, noticing the exquisite fragrance of the bath oil, the warm feel of the water on the body, the cosy, relaxing sensation brought about by being in the bath, how restful and safe it feels to be in there. We are totally absorbed in these good feelings which allow us to quieten the usual busy thoughts which can run riot in our minds.

Dream state: the Theta state

This state has a brain frequency of 4-8Hz. There is no thought here and is a deeper consciousness state associated with deep sleep and dreaming. Some adults achieve this state though meditation but for children whose brains are not fully developed neurologically I would not be aiming to achieve this level of consciousness with the children with whom I work.

Deep sleep: the Delta state

This state has a brain frequency of 1-3Hz. This is a time of dreamless sleep where the body’s cells regenerate.

Wakeful and relaxed attention – helping children to relax

For children the Alpha state of awareness is associated with wakeful and relaxed attention. Children can be helped to  experience this state during meditations and mindful activities. This gives them time off from being in full alert mode. The parasympathetic nervous system is activated which is responsible for rest, digestion, growth and repair amongst other things. Children feel relaxed and happy and with practice are able to create these feelings themselves by using the mindfulness techniques. They can be confident of being able to cope with overwhelming negative feelings in positive ways because they have the tools with which to do this.

In my role as Connected Kids™ tutor I offer 1-2-1 sessions with children and teens helping them to achieve the sometimes elusive state of ‘wakeful and relaxed attention’. I also run mindfulness classes for various age groups (see website for details) and offer sessions to groups of pupils in schools. If you think I could help your child do not hesitate to contact me here. I look forward to hearing from you.

Tara Russo


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