The Silva Method: A Guide to Using the Alpha State

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Silva Mind Control Method" by José Silva. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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What’s the power of the Alpha state of mind? How does the Silva Method help you take advantage of the Alpha state?

The Silva Method’s Alpha state mental techniques begin the same way: accessing what the Alpha level actually is. In The Silva Mind Control Method, José Silva discusses what this state of mind is and how to access it through self-hypnosis.

Find out how powerful the Alpha state is and how to access it.

What Is the Alpha State?

According to the Silva Method, “Alpha state” refers to a particular brainwave state, one of several scientifically recognized states in which a person’s brainwaves can be measured within a certain range of frequencies. 

According to Silva, scientists recognize four brainwave states: Beta, Alpha, Theta, and Delta. Beta is the most alert state—the state in which you spend most of your waking hours. In Beta, your brainwaves are vibrating at a high frequency as you engage with the world around you. The Alpha state is one step below Beta. In Alpha, your brainwave frequency is lower; you’re less focused on the outside world and beginning to focus internally (such as when you’re first beginning to fall asleep). In the Theta state, you’re even more relaxed and internally focused, and by the time you reach the Delta state, you’re typically fully asleep. 

(Shortform note: Modern science has identified an additional category of brain waves: Gamma waves, which vibrate at a higher frequency than Beta waves. Your brain enters the Gamma state when you’re concentrating intensely, such as on learning new material. People whose brains more frequently enter the Gamma state tend to have higher IQs and more ability to concentrate than people who enter the Gamma state less frequently. Some researchers argue that training people to access Gamma more frequently could help treat neurological disorders such as schizophrenia, epilepsy, and depression.)

Silva argues that the Alpha state is a powerful and underutilized tool that anyone can learn to use. Your brain is capable of different skills in Alpha than it is in Beta, so the first step to accomplishing the skills Silva teaches is to learn to reliably and intentionally access the Alpha brain state. (Shortform note: Some modern studies corroborate Silva’s claim that the Alpha state is a uniquely powerful tool. Scientists have successfully used Alpha wave neurofeedback training (in which participants learn to enter Alpha and remain there) to treat chronic low back pain, in conjunction with other therapies. Engineers are also developing technologies that allow people with paralysis to operate wheelchairs using Alpha wave activity through EEG signals.)

How to Access Alpha State

According to Silva, the Alpha level has a shallow sublevel and a deep sublevel. Since you’re naturally in a shallow Alpha state when you first wake up in the morning, Silva recommends practicing accessing Alpha first thing in the morning since it will be easier to access the deeper Alpha levels when you’re already in the shallow Alpha levels (as opposed to the fully awake Beta state). 

To begin, when you first wake up, with your eyes still closed, look up slightly above your head. Then, slowly count down from 100 to one. This will take you into a deeper Alpha state. Silva recommends repeating this exercise every morning for 10 days. Then, count down from 50 (instead of 100) each morning for 10 days. Gradually reduce the starting count for 10 days at a time until you’re only counting down from five to one. (Shortform note: At this point, you’re merely training yourself to enter Alpha on command; later in the guide, we’ll describe how to further use the Alpha state to achieve your goals.)

When you finish counting, you’ll have entered the Alpha state. Then, when you’re ready to come out of Alpha, do so gently by counting upward from one to five (the inverse of the process you used to enter Alpha). As you count upward, tell yourself that when you finish counting, you’ll feel healthy and energized.

Once you’ve mastered going into Alpha first thing in the morning, you can begin to practice entering Alpha when you’re already fully awake. You can do this exercise at any time of day. Find a comfortable place to sit, with your spine straight. Mentally scan each part of your body, beginning at your feet and ending at your scalp. As you scan, consciously relax each body part. Then, as you did before, close your eyes and point them slightly upward, then count down slowly from 50. After 10 days of practicing this, begin counting down from 10, then from five. Eventually, you’ll be able to use the same technique—counting down from five—to enter Alpha, regardless of whether you start first thing in the morning or during a hectic moment in your day.

Visualizing in the Alpha State

Accessing the Alpha state is only the first step: Next, you’ll need to practice visualizing, which forms the basis of all the other Silva Mind Control techniques. 

To begin, go into the Alpha state and imagine a mental screen filling most of your field of vision. On that screen, picture a simple object, like a familiar cup. Focus on picturing the cup in as much detail as you can. The more you practice filling in the details and focusing on the mental image you’ve created, the better you’ll be able to practice more advanced techniques later on.

(Shortform note: Many meditation practices use visualization to promote certain mental states, as Silva recommends. However, visualization may not be accessible for everyone. Scientists estimate that tens of millions of people aren’t able to picture anything in their mind’s eye—a condition called aphantasia. If you’re unable to visualize in your mind, you might try manifesting through external visualization, such as by creating a vision board.) 

Manifesting in the Alpha State

Once you’ve honed your visualization skills by visualizing simple objects in increasing detail, you can begin to use visualization to create real, positive developments in your life. Silva acknowledges that this technique isn’t foolproof, but it does work sometimes, and the more you practice, the more effective it becomes. 

To manifest the result you desire (in other words, to create it through visualization), you must meet three conditions. First, you must want the result to happen. Second, you must believe that the result is possible—Silva warns that you cannot manifest something you genuinely believe to be impossible. Third, you must genuinely believe that the result will happen (this differs from merely wanting it to happen).

Silva adds a caveat—manifesting in the Alpha state is not an omnipotent power. Specifically, you’ll never be able to manifest something that directly harms someone else. In Silva’s experience, the nature of the Alpha state simply will not allow you to do harm—if you try, that harm is likely to befall you instead.

The Silva Method: A Guide to Using the Alpha State

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  • The method of using your mind to heal your body, sharpen memory, and solve problems
  • How to unlock your innate psychic power to help yourself and others
  • How you can use the Alpha state to heal others remotely

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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