You may have experienced Theta right before drifting off to sleep, during a lucid dream, or during a deep meditation. In Theta, you no longer sense the outside world, but you are aware and conscious of your internal world. All of your subconscious fears, hopes and judgments are hidden in the Theta state. Theta is a difficult state to achieve because you often drift out of it very quickly either becoming conscious in Alpha or moving on to the next deeper state. By staying in Theta, you can learn endless information about yourself and your consciousness.
One can also learn to control and slow down their brain waves through various neurofeedback technologies such as electroencephalograph (EEG), galvanic skin response (GSR), and heart, pulse and breath rate monitors. These devices measure stress and relaxation parameters and then "play" back the signals to the user so they can use the signals as a beacon to guide and "steer" themselves into a relaxed state. This takes some time, work and discipline but is much quicker than learning meditation.
Any other things help you relieve stress? “Yoga is something I always return to. I find there is something about just reconnecting to my breath and surveying my body that allows me to be very honest about how well I am managing to maintain a sense of peace regardless of the chaos around me. On a daily basis, I find cooking to be a wonderful, sensory-rich, hands-on way to unwind from a busy day.”
Go behind the scenes of brainwave entrainment technology creation with Joseph Kao, developer of the extraordinary meditation tool Journey to the Center of the Self. Here, in an interview with John Dupuy, CEO of iAwake Technologies, Joe describes the amazing complexity of the brainwave entraining soundscape he created to both accompany his deeply inductive, 30-minute, guided meditation on the first track of Journey, and also stand alone as a music-only track that holds you in a profoundly relaxed, still, yet clear place on the theta/delta border. To find out all that went into the making of the inductive guided meditation on the first track of Journey, see A Guide to Transpersonal Meditation: Journey to the Center of the Self, part I of this interview.
Second, brainwave entrainment is a workout for your brain. This means you have to gently ease your way into the process. I recommend that you begin with the 30 minute Alpha Light Meditation for a few days as your meditative component. Also listen to IQ Increase and Beta Relaxed Focus one time each during your day as you work, commute, run errands, etc.
Theta: This brainwave pattern is associated with deep relaxation and with some stages of sleep, including the lighter stages of non-REM (NREM) sleep. REM sleep itself is mostly composed of beta wave and other activity that’s similar to an alert, waking brain. Deep meditation produces theta waves, which are slower and lower frequency (between 5-8 hertz) than Alpha waves. That murky barrier between sleep and wakefulness, when you’re drifting in and out of sleep, and your thoughts feel dreamlike and difficult to remember? That’s a theta-dominant state of consciousness.
Slightly higher-frequency entrainment can lead to hyper suggestive states of consciousness. Still higher-frequency EEG states are associated with alert and focused mental activity needed for the optimal performance of many tasks. Perceived reality changes depending on the state of consciousness of the perceiver (Tart, 1975). Some states of consciousness provide limited views of reality, while others provide an expanded awareness of reality. For the most part, states of consciousness change in response to the ever-changing internal environment and surrounding stimulation. For example, states of consciousness are subject to influences like drugs and circadian and ultradian rhythms (Rossi, 1986; Shannahoff-Khalsa, 1991; Webb & Dube, 1981). Specific states of consciousness can also be learned as adaptive behaviors to demanding circumstances (Green and Green, 1986).
The Delta brainwave is experienced by us every night in dreamless sleep. It is also experienced by advanced yogis and monks who can enter the Delta frequency during deep meditation. This frequency assists in both emotional and physical healing, as well as enhanced immune functioning, significant stress reduction, and even anti-aging benefits. The Delta frequency is a terrific way to experience deep repair on the physical, emotional, and psychological levels.
Hello Jason, this is an unusually thoughtful discussion. Thank you for all your expertise and your kind manner of presenting and moderating it. I’m wondering if you have any experience with this: ever since I’ve been exposed to theta wave music, without headphones, I have found it irritating. And this is in spite of the fact that when I was first handed a CD by someone I knew well and trusted he was so confident I’d love it It didn’t occur to either of us that I might not. This happened again recently, which is about 10 years later, when I heard it playing overhead at an acupuncture clinic. I felt restless and even irritated, unable to zone out, which is unusual for me, during the treatment. I realized that the quality of my irritation was similar to what I’d felt listening to that CD a decade ago.So I asked if it was theta wave music and she said yes. The acupuncturist said that some people, but a vast minority, really dislike the music. She said that the few people who dislike it are not simply neutral, but actively dislike it. And she also said, but most people like it a lot. I’m just wondering what kind of factors might be present that would make a person feel so irritated by this music?
Entrainment is a phenomenon by which some external sensory stimulation synchronizes brainwaves differently than the native rhythm. The most obvious example of this is photic driving – during an EEG the subject will have a strobe light flashed before them at various frequencies. The purpose of this is to see if it will trigger seizure activity. In many normal subjects the brain wave rhythm in the occipital lobes, which is the visual part of the cortex, will match its frequency to the frequency of the strobe light. This specifically is called photic driving, but the phenomenon in general is called entrainment.
A warning: Be sure to listen to these two tracks no more than twice each per day. Any more and your beta-thought centers can have TOO much energy in them, causing you to feel like you are on a stimulant. Some people may only be able to listen to each track once per day without feeling over-stimulated. That's fine, just go with what works for you. Sometimes less is more when it comes to brainwave entrainment. Don't push too hard trying to force-grow your brain cells. :-)
Most of the tips we’ve suggested provide immediate relief, but there are also many lifestyle changes that can be more effective in the long run. The concept of “mindfulness” is a large part of meditative and somatic approaches to mental health, and has become popular in modern psychotherapy. From yoga and tai chi to meditation and Pilates, these systems of mindfulness incorporate physical and mental exercises that prevent stress from becoming a problem. Try joining a class.
Ever wish a stress superhero could save you from the tension of traffic jams, chaotic meetings, arguments with your spouse, or a toddler’s tantrums? Well, you can be your own stress-busting superhero. Using your senses, you can tap into the power to reduce the impact of stress as it’s happening and stay in control when the pressure builds. Like any skill, learning how to ease stress in the moment takes time, experimentation, and practice- but the payoff is huge. When you know how to quickly relieve stress, you can stay calm, productive, and focused, no matter what life throws at you.
Hi Ulka, thanks for your compliment on my article. Unfortunately, I haven’t come across any studies or much discussion about the problem with habituation and isochronic tones and how to overcome it. The consensus among experienced users is to regularly change the frequencies and music soundtracks you listen to. Adding music to the tones does change the waveform you are stimulated with, so that’s one of the main reasons why I provide different soundtracks for my isochronic tones sessions. I have released some tracks which use amplitude modulations in the music, instead of isochronic tones. It might be worth giving them a try if you haven’t already. I have them in a playlist on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lj5tHl2cuWw&list=PLveg0IEcZWN6OIRZyLkv0BJADY7Q6xFCl.
When you play two separate frequencies in each ear, say 140 Hz and 149 Hz, the difference in frequency is 9 Hz. Your brain compensates for this difference and a third tone of 9 Hz is experienced. This will result in your brain being lowered or raised and tuned into the desired frequency. This is how binaural beats are produced. Headphones are essential for this to work.
You’ve heard me talk before about how sound can make a difference to sleep. Patients often tell me that they fall asleep to relaxing music, they seem to find it really helps them let go of active thoughts and quiet their mind—which, like yours probably does, tends to race from one thing to the next all day long (aka I can’t turn off my brain syndrome).
When delta waves are present, our awareness of the external world decreases and shuts off. People with ADD have problems with delta waves occurring when they are trying to focus, and focus and attention become increasingly impossible with stronger delta waves. Studies show a reduction of anxiety, improvements in insomnia, and elimination of headaches when people engage in sessions of delta brainwave entrainment.
Why do you like to do these things? “I can escape from stress on my bike. My time on the bike gives me time to problem solve and consider all sorts of things. There are no interruptions from technology so it’s a peaceful time for me. I get to enjoy just being outside. This will sound crazy but sometimes I can ride for miles and not even remember the actual riding since I was ‘lost’ in my thoughts.”
A 2008 study at Hofstra University played two different binaural beats and a control sound (a babbling brook) to patients with high blood pressure. There was no difference between the groups. In one small study from Japan that was published in the Journal of Neurophysiology in 2006, they played various binaural beats to nine subjects, and observed the resulting EEGs. They found great variability in the results. Their conclusion was that listening to binaural beats can produce activity on the human cerebral cortex, however the cause was more likely a conscious auditory reaction and was not correlated to the frequency of the binaural beat. However, a 2005 study published in Clinical Neurophysiology found that they were able to induce a desired frequency in the EEG matching the phantom beat frequency encoded in a binaural beat, however this was with a single subject and was neither blinded nor controlled.
... Several studies have looked at the possible effects of binaural beats within the alpha range on cognitive abilities. A significant improvement in cognitive processing, as measured by the Stroop Effect exercise, was found by a BB stimulation of 10.2 Hz frequency (Cruceanu & Rotarescu, 2013).Carter and Russell (1993)exposed 8 to 12 year old boys with learning disabilities to 8-week long 10 and 18 Hz BB stimulation sessions, and they found an improvement in Raven's progressive matrices and in a subtest of auditory sequential memory (Carter & Russell, 1993).McMurray (2006)assessed the effect of 7 and 11 Hz BB on alpha brainwave activity, working memory, and attention in healthy elderly people, who are known for experiencing gradual decrease in physiological alpha activity. The 2 minutes exposure to BB resulted in an altered electrical activity in the brain. ...
The exact technique that will be right for you is something you have to discover for yourself though. There is no universal way to pinpoint which technique is best for you with 100% accuracy. You may need to try out several until you find the one that really resonates with you. One way is to do a bit of research on a variety of techniques. Usually you will find one or more of them seem to “draw” you to them. Pick one of those techniques as your starting point.
So, what we’re doing is combining these two parts, the awakening of complete stillness and deep relaxation with the rhythmic sounds, and embedding all frequencies within the music from right at the upper limits of human hearing to the lower limits. There is multi-level entrainment within Journey—I’ve layered in everything I know about audio brainwave entrainment into this track.
Writing or talking about the things that prey on you—in a diary, with friends, in a support group or even a home computer file—helps you feel less alone and helpless. One study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at people who had either rheumatoid arthritis or asthma— conditions known to be stress-sensitive. One group chronicled in a perfunctory manner the things they did each day. The other group was asked to write daily about what it was like, including fears and pain, to have their disease. What researchers found: People who wrote at length about their feelings had far fewer episodes of their illness.
Words could be great stress relievers. One technique to quell sudden stress is to repeat a phrase from which you draw power and strength. “Think positively about releasing what is bothering you by repeating a positive mantra that uplifts you such as, ‘I am at peace,’ ‘All is well,’ ‘I choose to think thoughts that serve me,’ or ‘I love and believe in myself fully,’” says Carol Whitaker, life transformation expert and the author of Ridiculously Happy! The Secret to Manifesting the Life and Body of Your Dreams. “This too shall pass” is another good one. Repeating a mantra is actually a type of meditation that can make you more resilient to stress—some studies show it can actually alter your brain’s neural pathways. You can place reminders of your mantras near the places you tend to get stressed, like your work space. “I actually keep a file on my computer of great quotes and inspiring sayings. So when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life’s struggles, I clip them to my screensaver, post them on my social media, and even print them out to put on my refrigerator or desk,” Dr. Serani says.
The phenomena of brainwave entrainment was first described in the scientific literature in 1973 by Gerald Oster in results published in an article in Scientific American entitled, “Auditory Beats in the Brain”. He showed that a specific brainwave could be induced when a person heard two separate, but closely related, sound frequencies, one in each ear. He discovered that when the frequencies heard by each ear differed by about 10 hertz, the brainwave pattern of the person hearing the sound would synchronize to the difference between the two frequencies. For example, if the person heard a 410 hertz sound in one ear and a 400 hertz sound in the other ear, their brainwaves would stabilize at the difference between the two, or 10 hertz. This technique is called binaural beats, and it is a fundamental principle of brainwave entrainment methods.
But the notion of changing brain waves is a very appealing one, from a marketing stand point. People can visualize brain waves and we like synchrony. Also, in the computer age, we understand the notion of “programming.” We also have been prepped for the future by movies such as The Matrix, where people could master Kung Fu in minutes by simply “downloading” the knowledge. This gives the whole notion a superficial plausibility. But the science just isn’t there.
Hi Et, In all the feedback and studies I’ve read and looked into over the years, I’ve seen lots of feedback from people talking about how they don’t like the sound of the tones, or they find them irritating in some way. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any particular reason why one person likes it and the next doesn’t. It’s a bit like normal music, one person’s sweet symphony is another person pneumatic drill. It’s common for people to find it weird and maybe annoying at first, which is how I felt in the beginning. But usually after a few listens you can start to get used to it and appreciate the sound, and especially the feeling it gives you. Personally, I think it can help if you try to embrace the sound, psychologically speaking beforehand. It can also help to have the sound playing at a very low volume, to begin with, then building it up as you get more used to it.
Gamma brainwaves possess the highest frequency we know of. In this state, our brainwaves are so harmonious that many people report feeling elevated states of consciousness, even spiritual experiences. This frequency is often experienced by monks, nuns, yogis, and experienced meditators. Gamma frequencies also enhance memory, awareness, and mental processing.
This is an extreme example, naturally, but the idea holds true even in situations that are not as extreme. This ties in very closely with Point #4 above. When you’re wishing to combine meditation and brainwave entrainment, if you’re practicing a meditation technique but not really paying attention to what you’re doing, or perhaps you are performing the technique wrong, whilst allowing your mind to drift off to wherever it takes you, it should come as no surprise that the entrainment track is not helping you achieve a state of meditation. That’s because in fact you aren’t really trying to enter meditation or because you’re specifically engaging in activities that prevent you from getting there.
In a recent national survey, 44 percent of adults said stress had caused sleepless nights at least once in the previous month. All that tossing, turning and staring at the ceiling can leave you feeling tired and more stressed the next day. If you’re caught in this vicious cycle of anxiety and insomnia, there’s good news: Simple stress relief techniques can help you sleep better and feel calmer.
When we are mentally active various groups of neurons will be firing and the EEG will look like a jumble of different waves at different frequencies. When we are in a relaxed state, however, our brains settle into a steady rhythm – when fully awake this is the alpha rhythm, which as a frequency of 8-12 hz and other recognizable features. When drowsy our brainwaves slow to the theta range, 6-7hz, and when in deep sleep into the delta range, 4-5hz.
According to a recent study published in the British journal Heart, slow or meditative music is a proven stress buster, so set your dial to a soothing station during your commute. And, if you're stuck in a traffic jam, sneak in this quick exercise: Grab your steering wheel and clench the muscles in your fingers, arms, shoulders and back. Do this until your muscles begin to tremble (about 45 seconds), then release. You'll produce a wave of relief in your upper neck and arms all the way down to your fingers. Just make sure your foot is on the brake when you let go of the wheel! (FYI: pink noise is the newest tool for reducing stress.)
Meditation builds on deep breathing and takes it a step further. When you meditate, your brain enters an area of functioning that’s similar to sleep, but carries some added benefits you can’t achieve as well in any other state, and meditation actually allows you to build greater resilience toward stress over time. Also, the focus on the present moment keeps your mind from working overtime and increasing your stress levels, and from engaging in destructive mental habits such as rumination. Here's an article on different types of meditation to help you get started.
When you hit a tuning fork, tuned to a particular sound frequency such as the note B, and hold it close to the strings of a guitar, you will notice that the B string on the guitar will vibrate because it has entrained on to the same frequency of the tuning fork. Interesting enough, the other strings will not vibrate. Only the one with the same tuning as the tuning fork.
American Heart Association: "Four Ways to Deal With Stress."; PubMed Central: "Psychosocial and Psychophysiological Effects of Human-Animal Interactions: The Possible Role of Oxytocin."; NIH News in Health: "Can Pets Keep You Healthy?"; Cleveland Clinic: "Want a Healthy Heart? Laugh More!"; HelpGuide.org: "Laughter Is the Best Medicine."; Association for Psychological Science: "Power Posing: Brief Nonverbal; Displays Affect Neuroendocrine; Levels and Risk Tolerance."; Harvard Business School: "Power Posing: Fake It Until you Make It."; IZA.org: "The Effect of Sexual Activity on Wages."
When your mind is all over the place, organizing your thoughts into a quick to-do list can help transfer the burden from your brain to paper. But for some people, seeing a long list of tasks can increase stress. Miller has another idea: a “stressor and action” sheet. “Fold a piece of paper in half length wise, and on the left column write ‘stressor’ and on the right hand column write ‘action,’” she says. “You will find as you write down thoughtful action steps to the things that are stressing you out, you regain authority over circumstance.” These are the signs you’re more stressed than you realize.
Entrainment is a physics principle in which one rhythmic system falls in synchrony with another rhythmic system. If you’ve ever found yourself moving your body to the beat of your favorite song, then you’ve experienced entrainment in its most basic form. Besides music, this principle can be found all around you, probably more than you realize. Here are a few examples: