Entrain Your Brain
April 19, 2013
Somehow years ago I became aware of binaural beats and a vague connection to brain waves. Eventually the concept that meditation, its effects on the brain, the results of those effects in how reality is perceived, and the effects of listening to binaural beats, were similar—or linked in a way to have the same results—came into my general sphere of understanding. Yet, I really didn’t understand it, until now. It’s quite simple actually, so I’d like to explain it.
Since I’ve experienced both ways of getting to the same place, I’ll try to give you both perspectives, and I can say that both work well. I have specific blog entries that deal with how to begin meditating naturally, so I suggest to look there for details on how to do that. Since meditation requires zero outside technology and can be done in a natural environment with only your breath, and your mental focus, it is the clear winner here, and the most rewarding. Binaural beats require a playback device like an iPod and stereo headphones, as well as two working ears, so you’re going to need more than just your physical body as-is, but it is a great way for lazy people that just don’t want to do the work and prefer that others do things for them to suddenly have what looks like a brain that has been meditating. However, non-meditators may not actually be ready for the higher focus of a more synchronous brain and the effects at first could have you feeling like a spoiled child that didn’t get what he or she wanted for Christmas this year. If you fully accept what it means to have a newer, better brain, no matter what you think is happening, and you won’t meditate for whatever reason, strap on those ear buds.
I’ll begin by breaking down brain waves and ranges of operation within broad, understandable definitions. The good news is that brain waves are in a narrow band of low frequencies generally below 40Hz. Beta waves are the black sheep of the list, the ones you want to avoid; Beta waves may be the reason you should start meditating in the first place. From 13Hz to 39Hz, these are called Beta waves, usually associated with active, busy, or anxious thinking and active concentration, arousal, cognition, and or paranoia. However, beginning at 40 Hz and above to the upper limit of brain wave frequency are Gamma waves, associated with higher mental activity, including perception, problem solving, fear, and waking consciousness. Because Gamma waves are above 40Hz, these are not considered meditative ranges. Below 13Hz and down to 7Hz are Alpha waves, the realm of waking relaxation, pre-sleep and pre-wake drowsiness, REM sleep, and dreaming. From 7Hz to 4Hz are Theta waves, deep meditation and relaxation and NREM sleep brain activity. Below 4Hz is deep dreamless sleep and loss of body awareness, or Delta waves. For more detailed descriptions of these ranges, read this.
Way before I’ve tried binaural beats to stimulate my brain into certain frequency ranges, I’ve meditated with great success and the results were high creativity, constant sense of well-being with rational optimism, more detailed sensory feedback from all of the senses, and a strong desire to continue engaging in daily routines that promote meditation as a start to every day. After the first few weeks of aligning the mind into a flowing whole instead of a polarized two halves, you invariably have no choice but to experience your strong connection to everything around you and how the biggest, most obvious defining characteristic of your being is that you are here now and every millisecond is a celebration of that truth by the excitation of every atom or force field around you, including you. You can, for the first time, realize the existence of what some may term spirituality, and it also explains clearly that those who cannot acknowledge spirituality have not yet meditated successfully. Binaural beats don’t have that effect, and probably won’t get you there alone, but if a deep understanding of the universe without words to describe it is not your goal, you can still be highly creative, focus your mind into greater relaxation, rid yourself of anxiety, and prepare yourself for the richer organic experience. Since I am doing both, the experience is triple rewarding because I have the three experiences of organic meditation, binaural beat meditation, and both, or some may even argue that a fourth option is now open to me, none at all.
The experiential descriptives used in the list above are a good guide on how to meditate: want to put your brain into Theta wave ranges? All you have to do is breathe and still your mind while staying awake, not going into REM, and not dreaming. Some people only need that much information, and I may be one of them. For the rest of you, there is still hope. Binaural beats coax the brain into operating in these ranges through entrainment. The phenomenon called frequency following response allows binaural beats to be played into your two working ears, and the brain has no choice but to listen and to move towards the frequency of the stimulus, which in this case would be the range of the meditative brain wave frequencies. I will be creating and posting meditative sound files in the specified ranges of desired brain activity on the cloud for all readers of this blog to access and enjoy, all tested and approved by me with any detailed notes for the listener that I find noteworthy through my experiences with them. Since these binaural beats will also be dressed up in musical tones and recordings of natural sounds that I myself have captured, they may even be played during your daily practice without distraction.
Update: Here you will find a stream of a 30 minute Theta wave sound file. Be sure to listen with a relaxed focus, either with your eyes closed or in an environment that will not visually distract you. I find that lying on your back before sleep while listening to this Theta wave audio is very effective and allows the mind to easily move into restful REM sleep. An alternative would be to either sit in a comfortable meditative position while listening during the day and breathing with focus, eyes either closed or open focused on a point about 6 inches in front of you so that your surroundings are out of focus, or simply lying down as you would for a short nap but staying awake and aware. It is important to listen for the full thirty minutes without interruption.
You can download this file here to keep on your device without the need for streaming.