When a person practices deep meditation & relaxation, he or she is entering the Alpha brainwave state. Alpha is only one of the five main brainwaves we currently recognize. Our brainwaves dominate our moods and activity; Scientific research discovered that the frequency of the electrical pulses in the brain determine which brain wave state we are presently working in.
Certain sound and light pulses have been created that can actually stimulate the frequency of our brainwaves, changing them and therefore our state of mind. This is the nature of brainwave Entrainment and Binaural Beats. The most commonly categorized frequencies are; Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta and Gamma.
Though naturally there is never only one absolute brainwave speed operating at any one time, there is usually one that dominates the rest and therefore dominates our moods and actions:
Sound is a most powerful force and one that affects us on many different levels. Consider how years ago companies used gentle tones within elevators of early skyscrapers to ease the fear and tension of the occupants – elevator music! Imagine Jaws without its theme tune! A horror film without tension building and nerve jumping Soundscapes, a chic flick without its romantic sound tracks – get the idea?
How Do Brainwave Entrainment Sessions Work?
The correct way to guide or entrain the brain with sound toward the desired brainwave pattern is to first create pulses of sound frequency that the brain neurons will begin to synchronize with – like a room full of people who all begin to dance in rhythm to the beats of a music track.
Once this synchronization is estimated to take place, usually about six minutes into an uninterrupted session, the sound pulses begin to gradually change frequency to guide – or entrain – our brainwaves to the target frequency and thus produce altered states of mind.
The kinds of tones used in an entrainment session can vary, some mainly use Binaural Beats and some combine Isochronic tones to create the pulses. Other music, sounds and nature tracks can also be combined with the pulses, allowing the listener to enjoy and ‘relax’ into the experience more.
What Are Binaural Beats?
Sometimes called Binaural Music, a binaural beat works by creating a sound frequency that would not usually be audible to us. For example, it is possible to create a frequency of 10hz by playing 210hz in one ear of a headphone, and 200hz in the other ear. The brain processes the frequencies and only hears the difference between the two – in this case, 10hz.
They may not always be the most efficient way to entrain the brain because our brains ‘sound mixing’ capabilities reduce the depth of the resulting sound to less than a whisper, therefore not providing a strong pulse for the brain to synchronize with.
Binaural Beats use the brain to first process the information and then ‘hear’ the tones; they are only made possible by the use of headphones. Binaural Beats also depend on an equal operation of BOTH hemispheres (sides) of the brain, and may therefore not be effective for some.
However they can be useful as they provide a very hypnotic response, perhaps because the brain is more inwardly involved in the processing of the sound?
What Are Isochronic Tones?
The tones sometimes used in sessions are Isochronic tones and tone based pulses. They provide a very consistent, clear cut rhythm; they stop and start exceptionally fast allowing the brain to synchronize more easily and precisely. They produce an extremely strong response and can provide the most effective way to stimulate the brain.
How Do We Use Brainwave Entrainment?
These sound sessions are used in a variety of ways. Some use them to achieve a deep state of relaxation or meditation. There is evidence that certain frequencies can alleviate such conditions as ADD, Depression, Stress, Anxiety and more. Harvard Medical School professor Herbert Benson states in his book; The Breakout Principle’ that the effects of stress can be alleviated by focusing one’s mind on a repetitive sound, word, phrase or movement, which is very much how entrainment to sound works.
At the other end of the frequency scale, Beta Waves are known to be good for chronic fatigue, slow metabolism, heightened concentration and preparation for physical activity. Even grander claims are made by some that this type of sound technology can induce states of paranormal experience such as O.B.E. (Outer Body Experience), Psychic exploration and contact with realms that are normally hidden to us!
On experience, they do ignite a very strong sense of personal depth and an invitation to discover more about oneself and what may be going on just outside of normal consciousness.
The majority of sessions’ available are generally to be used with headphones. This is not only to enable the use of Binaural Beats but to heighten the sense of isolation from outside stimulus and enable a deeper concentration. There are, however, many sessions available that can be used without the need for headphones and are useful for a less active involvement with the sound, perhaps to play in the bedroom to relieve insomnia.
There are health warnings that come with this type of sound therapy, being that the nature of the repetitive beats are not suitable for those prone to fits, seizures and epilepsy and possibly to be avoided by the pregnant woman. There is little evidence however that any harm has come to those who use this therapy, but that does not mean harm is not possible and a person should always remain aware and responsible for their own health!
Personally I feel that it would be a shame to avoid something that may improve or enrich ones life and am a great believer in self help and improvement where this is possible! In other words, Brainwave Entrainment may be worth a try rather than to suffer or to miss out on something that may bring a little more quality to ones life.
See our chart to understand how these brainwaves affect us