Recently developed entrainment software has been designed to correct specific imbalances in hemispheric activity associated with undesirable mind-states. For example, people suffering with depression often have more activity in the right hemisphere, and specially designed brainwave music decreases this activity while increasing activity in the left hemisphere, reducing depression.
But the question is: Does it have a special effect on the brain? A lot of people think so. The basic claim being made for binaural beats is "resonant entrainment". Entrainment, in physics, is when two systems which oscillate at different frequencies independently are brought together, they synchronize with one another, at whatever the combined system's resonant frequency is. Examples of entrainment occur in animals in nature; for example the chirping of crickets or the croaking of frogs. Synchronization of menstrual cycles in women is another example. Even people coming together and dancing with one another is a type of entrainment. The basic claim for binaural beats is that the perceived low-frequency beat will entrain your brain wave pattern, thus forcing your brain into some desired state.
The quickest way to relieve stress is to release endorphins through exercise. An easy way to do this is through shaking and dancing, a form of expressive meditation that loosens your joints as well as clears the mind. It’s one of our favorite techniques to teach in conflict and disaster areas, such as Haiti. Start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent, shoulders relaxed, and shake your whole body for a few minutes (we recommend 7-8 minutes). Then, stop for a minute or two and pay attention to your breathing and physical sensations. Finally, turn on fast music – anything that gets you energized, and allow the music to move you. Don’t feel the need to follow any specific dance moves, just do whatever feels good for you in the moment (it might help to close your eyes). Dance for about 5 minutes, or until you feel satisfied.
By the 1980s, entrainment technology had merged with advancements in microelectronics technology, making it possible to develop even more sophisticated audio and visual brainwave entrainment products for the marketplace. In the last two decades, a number of scientific studies have reported brainwave entrainment as an effective remedy for ADD, academic learning problems, and improving memory and cognition.
The exact physiological mechanisms to explain how exercise improves stress have not been delineated. Human and animal research indicates that being physically active improves the way the body handles stress because of changes in the hormone responses, and that exercise affects neurotransmitters in the brain such as dopamine and serotonin that affect mood and behaviors (9,11). In addition to the possible physiological mechanisms, there also is the possibility that exercise serves as a time-out or break from one’s stressors. A study that tested the time-out hypothesis used a protocol that had participants exercise but did not allow a break from stress during the exercise session (5). Participants were college-aged women who reported that studying was their biggest stressor. Self-report of stress and anxiety symptoms was assessed with a standard questionnaire before and after four conditions over 4 days. The conditions were quiet rest, study, exercise, and studying while exercising. These conditions were counterbalanced across participants, and each condition was 40 minutes in duration. The “exercise only” condition had the greatest calming effect (5). When participants were not given a break from their stressor in the “studying while exercising” condition, exercise did not have the same calming effect.
I enjoy this one called: Cognition Enhancer For Clearer and Faster Thinking – Isochronic Tones (Electronic) … I seem to enjoy it. Any harm in just listening to this one every day for 30 minutes as a routine daily thing, just like brushing your teeth and making your bed. I would just use it at times when I’m working at my desk, maybe even reading the online news etc…Thoughts?
On the other hand, if you’re a person who generally has their life together, and who is somewhat successful in your current coping strategies, even if they’re not perfect, then a little bit of additional quiet and relaxation may not seem so dramatic to you as it does to that burned out person. It will feel good, but the degree of difference between that and your normal way of life will not seem so extreme to you as it will to the burned out person. It is a relative experience.
There's no doubt that brainwave entrainment audio is a great technology for anyone who is interested in encouraging altered states of consciousness and it certainly can help people to reach deeper states of relaxation than they might normally have access to. I myself will often listen to brainwave entrainment music in order to enhance my practice of meditation. But let’s keep a balanced perspective, put all the marketing hype to one side for a moment and acknowledge that there is no brainwave entrainment technology in this world that can make you meditate like a Zen monk “at the touch of a button”, despite what some might like you to believe. The mind is NOT a machine. It moves through various states of consciousness in an organic way and at a natural pace. We certainly can guide and accelerate that process with the use of brainwave entrainment audio, but we cannot control it with the same sort of specificity and immediacy as you might control the speed of the car you drive.
Just so, when you reach a state of meditation you don’t “keep digging”, so to speak. The hole has been dug. All that digging has done what it was meant to do. Once your technique has gotten you into meditation, STOP DIGGING! You’re there. If you keep digging you will frustrate your ability to remain in meditation for any significant period of time. Only resume your chosen technique if and when you slip out of the meditative state. If you’re human then you WILL slip out of that state again and again. Don’t worry about that. That’s how the process works for all of us mere mortals.
Brain waves are electrical activity patterns caused by the neurons of the brain communicating with each other. Brain waves can be detected using sensitive medical equipment such as an electroencephalogram (EEG) monitor. Brain waves provide an indication of the mental state of an individual. In other words, the appearance of brain waves is directly connected to what a person is doing, thinking or feeling. The different Brain states are: Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta. You have your own unique brain wave patterns that function habitually. Some of these brain wave habits are useful, and others need some fine-tuning. When your brain is functioning efficiently, your brain waves are “in sync” with your activity, but stress or lack of sleep can interfere with this natural harmonious relationship. To restore this harmony, at Gaia Meditation, we have developed a wide range of free audio programs, including meditation music, relaxation music, sleep music and plenty other Sound Healing programs.
With almost 100 years of research validating the effectiveness of brainwave entrainment, it’s no wonder why it’s used by thousands of people all over the world. What does the future entail in this exciting field? With the adoption of smartphones, virtual and augmented reality, and advancements in technology reducing the cost of EEG and other forms of biofeedback devices, the entrainment possibilities are endless.
By exposing an individual to repeatedly external stimulus which can be flashing lights and/or recurring sounds, the entrainment process consists in pushing the brain to adjust to match the frequency provided. Unlike other forms of neurotherapy which require the individual to actively respond to stimulus, entrainment creates an immediate neurophysical response which is instinctive and effortless for the person being provided with the light and/or sound combinations. The key outcome of the sensory stimulation is known as the ‘Frequency Following Response’.
Brainwaves, or neural oscillations, share the fundamental constituents with acoustic and optical waves, including frequency, amplitude and periodicity. Consequently, Huygens' discovery precipitated inquiry into whether or not the synchronous electrical activity of cortical neural ensembles might not only alter in response to external acoustic or optical stimuli but also entrain or synchronize their frequency to that of a specific stimulus.