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.
Other entrainment methods sometimes used include autopan modulation that moves sound in an 180º arc to create a desired tone. Harmonic box entrainment, invented by James Mann, uses a layering of binaural and monaural tones that alternate between ears, requiring headphones. Sound modulation and filtering, amplitude modulation, and pitch panning use diverse sounds to create rhythmic pulses matched to the desired brainwave frequency.
They are not beyond what is “normal” but for most of us they are outside of what is “typical”. Whether we consciously seek them or not, somewhere in the back of our minds we hold beliefs that because meditation and brainwave entrainment are beyond our usual set of experiences, then the evidence that they are having some sort of effect on us must also be outside of our normal range of experiences.
The final suggestion I have to offer is that you make your practice a regular, consistent habit. You don’t have to be perfect but you do need consistency. Like any other skill, entering meditation will develop in direct proportion to the consistency of your practice. Missing a session occasionally is not going to derail all your progress. But frequently skipping or blowing insincerely through practice is not going to produce any noteworthy results. There isn’t any hard and fast rule from frequency of practice that always applies to everyone, but most of us will instinctively know whether or not we’re giving our practice the time and effort it requires.
The authors concluded that preliminary evidence suggested that brainwave entrapment was an effective therapeutic tool, but further research was required. The evidence presented appeared to justify the recommendation for further research. In view of the lack of controlled evidence and problems with methodology and reporting in the review, the authors’ conclusions regarding efficacy did not appear reliable.
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A potential and generally desired result of brainwave entrainment is hemispheric synchronization. It refers to a state when the brainwave pattern of the right and left hemispheres become alike. It is said that a person with similar activity in both hemispheres tend to be happier, more optimistic and more emotionally stable and less prone to mental illness. Studies found that increased levels of synchronization are found naturally in people who meditate regularly and people who are very happy with their lives in general.
In other words, you give the well a little taste of what it is you want from it, and then the well responds by delivering more of the same back to you. In the case of the water well, you pour a small amount of water down into the pump. This is known as “priming” the pump. Until you do this the pump does not produce the water you’re looking for. Once you prime the pump it sets up the conditions in which that pump can do its job and the water begins to flow.
While originally brainwave entrainment was achieved by using pure tones of sound, it is now possible to take these tones and blend them with music, rhythms, and natural sounds, such as the sounds of flowing water, bird sounds, or waves lapping on a beach, creating extended tracts of varied and intriguing brainwave entrainment music for everyday use.
They came to the table with the idea that the entrainment track would “cause” them to be in meditation, which it doesn’t. Or they thought that having the specific brainwaves the entrainment program promotes would “cause” them to be in meditation. It doesn’t. If you really understand the principles above, you’ll understand why. If you don’t grasp why yet, read these principles again and consider what they really mean. The answer is there.
It takes slightly more time to practice guided imagery, but this is a great way to leave your stress behind for a while and relax your body. Some find it easier to practice than meditation, as it allows more engagement of the conscious mind. You can focus on imagining relaxing environments you would love to visit, or on memories of your "happy place" for when you're stressed. You can play natural sounds in the background as you practice, to promote a more immersive experience.
Theta is very subtle. It is one of the most elusive and extraordinary brain states you can explore. Theta is a state of somnolence with reduced consciousness; you are neither fully awake nor asleep yet. It is also known as the “Twilight state” or “Stage 1 Sleep” which you normally only experience fleetingly as you wake or drift off to sleep. In the Theta brain state, your senses are withdrawn from the external world and focused on signals originating from within.
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.
If you’re going to enter a state of meditation, a technique of some sort must be employed that takes you there. (Note – I am fully aware of references to “spontaneous enlightenment experiences”, but these are an entirely different category of phenomena than what is being discussed here and are outside the scope of this discussion. Perhaps another time.)
Beta: These brainwaves are associated with high levels of alertness and arousal. When beta brainwave patterns dominate, we’re primed to focus and concentrate, to make decisions and think analytically. When you’re analyzing an issue at work, you’re probably in a beta-dominant state. Beta waves are fast, with a higher frequency (between 15-40 hertz). At the higher levels of this range, beta waves are associated with anxiety.
Changes in neural oscillations, demonstrable through electroencephalogram (EEG) measurements, are precipitated by listening to music, which can modulate autonomic arousal ergotropically and trophotropically, increasing and decreasing arousal respectively. Musical auditory stimulation has also been demonstrated to improve immune function, facilitate relaxation, improve mood, and contribute to the alleviation of stress. These findings have contributed to the development of neurologic music therapy, which uses music and song as an active and receptive intervention, to contribute to the treatment and management of disorders characterized by impairment to parts of the brain and central nervous system, including stroke, traumatic brain injury, Parkinson's disease, Huntington's disease, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer's disease, and autism.