I am fortunate to be working with Deepak Chopra, M.D., and Dr. Rudy Tanzi, co-authors of the bestselling book Super Brain, on a technology called Brain Wave Entrainment. Deepak is very well known, but Rudy is an amazingly interesting person as well. He is the Kennedy Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and Vice-Chair of Neurology at Mass General Hospital. Rudy co-discovered three of the four original Alzheimer's genes and today runs the Alzheimer's Genome Project. He also plays the keyboards, including, at times, for Aerosmith. He is kind of a real life "Buckaroo Banzai."
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.
Alpha (12hz – 8hz) – Awake, but deeply relaxed. Simply closing your eyes will produce alpha brainwaves. This category is associated with daydreaming, visualization, imagination, light meditation. Brainwave expert Anna Wise called the alpha range the bridge between beta and theta. (More information can be found in Wise’ book The High-Performance Mind)
Hi Rona, thanks for your compliments on my videos and the music I use, I’m pleased you’ve found them helpful. Regarding the pulse-like sound you’ve been hearing, I’ve never had anyone report something similar to that before. I also haven’t heard anyone on brainwave entrainment forums mention it. That is very unusual and because I’ve never come across it before, I’m afraid I don’t know what would cause that.
Brainwave entrainment is a simple concept. It’s simply causing your brainwave frequency to align with some intended frequency in order to produce some intended result. It’s a way of modulating your brainwaves to resonate at a certain frequency. Being that there are certain dominant frequencies associated with different states of consciousness, this is being researched as a quick and effective way to induce states such as sleep, alertness, concentration, and even meditative and deep sleep states.
“Stress and sleepless nights are closely linked,” Buenaver says. “If you’re in pain, tend to worry, or are coping with a difficult situation in your life, you may have more stress hormones than usual circulating in your body. A poor night’s sleep adds even more. And those hormones may never be fully broken down. It’s like running an engine in fifth gear all the time.”
Stress can either be perceived as feeling good/positive or bad/negative depending on the context, and the body reacts differently to both kinds. However, where the body isn’t so clever is distinguishing between very serious threats (like being robbed or starved) and events that are stressful but not actually life-threatening. Unfortunately, whether a problem is very serious or not, the body usually has no way of knowing the difference− — anything that causes you to worry, anticipate, regret, overthink or panic can send your stress levels through the roof.
That said, I use binaural beats and isochronic tones to help me get over some hurdles, or as a pre-game to meditation. It’s far easier to go deep once my mind is operating on a certain frequency, or at least feels like it. It’s also way easier to get to that point than fighting my thoughts at times. Think of binaural beats and isochronic tones as heavy ammunition that you don’t always need, but is great to have in your arsenal when you really need it.
It may be that you had the volume too loud, but I would expect you to hear the effects of that straight after you’ve stopped listening, not on a day you haven’t used them. It might be something similar to muscle memory, where you suddenly remembered the sound and sensations it gives you as if you were hearing it again. I don’t know how long you’ve been using this type of thing for, but maybe it’s something that will settle down and disappear once you become more accustomed to the sound.
Binaural beats are created from two different continuous tones, which when sent separately to each ear create a single beat inside your head. Isochronic tones are basically a single tone which is switched on and off at regular intervals. Imagine a single continuous tone playing on a stereo system and you’ve got your hand on the volume switch. Then once per second, you turn the volume off for half a second and keep doing that every second. For half a second the volume is off, for the other half a beat waveform is formed. The beat is cycling once per second per second, i.e. at a rate of 1Hz.
Dealing with sudden stress—a phone call with bad news, a last-minute assignment from your boss, or an argument with your spouse—triggers a cascade of physical and mental symptoms that can be hard to stop. The first thing to do? Pay attention to your breathing pattern, and make an effort to start taking slow, deep breaths as stress relievers. “Breathing can change how we feel because emotions and breathing are closely connected,” says Emma Seppala, PhD, author of The Happiness Track and a Stanford University psychologist who’s done research on yogic breathing. “A revealing research study showed that different emotional states are associated with distinct respiration patterns.” In a follow-up study, participants actually started to feel the emotions that corresponded to an assigned breathing pattern. “This finding is revolutionary: We can change how we feel using our breath!” Dr. Seppala says. Deep breathing gets more oxygen to your brain and may lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Summaries from recent reviews on yoga or Tai Chi clinical trial interventions indicate that these mind-body types of exercise can be effective in reducing stress (7,14,17). The authors of these reviews suggest that the results should be viewed with caution because study quality was varied (7,17). However, it should be noted that reductions in stress reported in one review were similar to or greater than reductions from other types of commonly used stress management techniques (7).
How does brainwave entrainment work? Consistent, precisely engineered audio frequencies in the form of binaural beats cause the brain’s frequencies to match the stimulus. Your brain perceives two beats with slightly different frequencies (which are inaudible to the ear) through your headphones. It takes the difference between the two, and matches its own frequency to it. This is called the “frequency following” response.
Also, don’t you think that the inherent hemispheric synchronization using binaural beats might be a positive benefit within itself? While it’s true that the huge majority of us use both sides of our brains most of the time, it’s also true that many of us are a bit polarized to one side or the other in general, or when doing a particular kind of activity or focus. I’ve found stimulating a more equally and consistently whole brain activity has it’s own benefits other than the entrainment aspect.
Over the long term, traditional eastern methods (such as meditation and yoga) train your brainwaves into balance. Of the newer methods, brainwave entrainment is an easy, low-cost method to temporarily alter your brainwave state. If you are trying to solve a particular difficulty or fine-tune your brainwave function, state-of-the-art brain training methods like neurofeedback and pEMF deliver targeted, quick, and lasting results.
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.
♥ I admit that I do not know much about brainwaves and can be swayed by suggestion (ah, the fickle subconscious), but since using this machine and sort of hiding the noise with other sounds or my own music so it is not so obvious to me, it has helped me get through my email correspondences and other online tasks with the focus that I need. Thank you so much for making this!
“The great neuroscientist W. Gray Walter carried out a series of experiments in the late forties and fifties in which he used an electronic stroboscopic device in combination with EEG equipment to send rhythmic light flashes into the eyes of the subjects at frequencies ranging from ten to twenty five flashes per second. He was startled to find that the flickering seemed to alter the brain-wave activity of the whole cortex instead of just the areas associated with vision. Wrote Walter, “The rhythmic series of flashes appear to be breaking down some of the physiologic barriers between different regions of the brain. This means the stimulus of flicker received by the visual projection area of the cortex was breaking bounds— its ripples were overflowing into other areas.”
♥ I've suffered from patches of insomnia throughout my life, extending from a few days to dragging on for several weeks, and no amount of the usual proper "bedtime ritual" normally recommended, calms me, as my brain is overactive. Layering combos of the Binaural/Bilateral sounds right before sleep effectively resets me, allowing me to sleep like a normal human. I can't express enough gratitude!
Gamma waves are the most recently discovered brainwave, a discovery made possible by digital EEG technology. Gamma is associated with the integration of information from different areas of the brain, and having a good memory is associated with having a certain baseline of 40 hertz gamma activity. Low gamma activity is associated with learning disabilities and poor memory.
When explaining this to others they frequently respond with something like, “But I had no expectation or even any idea that my face might experience flushing. I didn’t even know that was possible. Now every time I listen to a particular entrainment track that specific face flushing occurs. If it is a specific phenomena, and it only happens when I use one certain entrainment track, doesn’t that prove it is the entrainment causing it?”
It is common for people to try entrainment thinking it is going to produce meditation just because they listened to a track. Often they come away disappointed, feeling that nothing special happened. They decide entrainment isn’t what they were led to believe it was. Or they decide meditation is vastly overrated and for them at least, ineffectual. Their disappointment has more to do with not understanding the principles listed thus far than it does with the effectiveness of meditation and brainwave entrainment.
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.)
A combination of strokes works well to relieve muscle tension. Try gentle chops with the edge of your hands or tapping with fingers or cupped palms. Put fingertip pressure on muscle knots. Knead across muscles, and try long, light, gliding strokes. You can apply these strokes to any part of the body that falls easily within your reach. For a short session like this, try focusing on your neck and head:
Unlike many traditional therapies for dealing with stress, anxiety, depression or cognitive impairment, entrainment does not require a focused effort from the person having the therapy, as the brain instinctively follows the frequency. This makes it a much more effective therapy for managing some of these challenging conditions, by automatically inducing a sense of relaxation and a reduction in negative physical and emotional patterns.
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.
This blog was created from an interview with Joseph Kao, creator of iAwake’s Journey to the Center of the Self, and iAwake’s CEO John Dupuy, by Heidi Mitchell, who has been working with John for 11 years as assistant and editor. John introduced her to Integral theory and practice and brainwave entrainment enhanced meditation in 2007. Heidi is also a freelance editor of nonfiction books, blogs, and web sites. She can be reached at www.heidimitchelleditor.com.
Stress is a significant individual and public health problem that is associated with numerous physical and mental health concerns. It is estimated that between 75% and 90% of primary care physician visits are caused by stress-related illnesses (2). Cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, immune system suppression, headaches, back and neck pain, and sleep problems are some of the health problems associated with stress (4,8). These conditions are some of the most burdensome health problems in the United States based on health care costs, the number of people affected, and the impact on individual lives. Extreme levels of stress were reported by 22% of respondents from the 2011 Stress in America™ survey, and 39% reported that their level of stress had increased during the past year (3). More than 80% of the survey respondents at the WorldatWork Conference in 2012 reported that stress moderately or significantly contributed to their health care costs (6).
“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,” says Niraj Naik, founder of Trpynaural, a resource for binaural tracks. “This will result in your brain being raised or lowered and tuned into the desired frequency. This is how binaural beats are produced.”
When stress attacks, it can feel like your whole world is crashing down. Remind yourself what’s good in your life with a quick gratitude round-up. “Studies show gratitude techniques like counting your blessings can be a significant stress reducer,” Dr. Serani says. “Gratitude research reports that those who utilize daily gratitude reflections have higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism, and lower levels of depression and stress.” Reminding yourself of the good things in life can put stress in perspective. “Studies show that cultivating an optimistic mindset can help you maintain a positive mood,” Whitaker says. “When you are positive and grateful, you are able to handle difficult situations better.” Just look out for these stress relievers that actually backfire.
Theta brain waves occur most often in sleep but are also dominant in deep meditation. Theta is known to be a dreamlike state with vivid imagery, intuition and information beyond your normal conscious awareness. This state of mind is excellent for psychic experiences to occur, as well as astral projection and extended remote viewing. To reach this state without falling asleep while meditating takes practice.
Brainwave entrainment also happens with the use of pulsating light, and visual and auditory stimuli are sometimes combined for additional effect and visual stimuli is used alone. Using brainwave entrainment techniques is safe for almost everyone, the exception being pregnant women and people who have seizure disorders who should check with their physician before using these methods.
The most common way to use a brainwave entrainment is for a short-term benefit, to help guide your brain into a particular mental state at the time you need it. In a similar way to how you might take a sleeping pill before bed to help you get to sleep, or maybe drink some coffee or an energy drink to help wake you up and give you a boost of energy.
Isochronic tones have only been proven to have an effect while you are listening to them, that’s why you won’t find me claiming anywhere that there are potentially positive long-term effects. Once the tones stop, your brainwaves are no longer being stimulated by the sound and so they stop being in sync with the tone frequency. For you to think you are still feeling the effects after all this time and from such a short time listening to them, I think it may be linked to anxiety. I know that some people who are new to this type of thing can build up a strong feeling of anxiety, after worrying about the potential effects brought on by fear of the unknown. I suspect the problem may be psychological with you worrying about the potential effects and keep repeating the experience from memory in your head. When you keep going over the same thing in your head like that and worrying about it, it’s easy to then spot other potential side-effects like how your nostrils and body temp is feeling, then making links back to that experience and labelling that as the reason. I think the best way to overcome this is to realise that the side-effects you are mentioning are completely unrelated, so there is nothing to worry about. These tracks are literally listened to for millions of hours a month on YouTube across loads of channels. If the effects lasted for a long time people would just listen for 5 minutes and come back in a couple of weeks. But people keep coming back to listen because that’s the only way to feel the benefit and effects…while you are listening to them. If you are unable to stop thinking and worrying about this on our own, I recommend that you speak to your doctor about it or a specialist in dealing with anxiety issues. I hope that helps.
At Gaia Meditation, most of audio programs including free relaxation music, free sleep music, free meditation music etc. use the technology of brainwave entrainment (or “brainwave synchronization”) with powerful binaural beats and isochronic tones. Our audio tracks utilize pure and precisely tuned sound frequencies which will drive your brain activity (consciousness) into your desired state: Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta or Delta.
A word to the purist here. This binaural beat generator offers ten carrier frequencies, but humans only have two ears! Therefore, carriers on this generator will produce amplitude-modulated beating patterns inside each ear canal. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as it increases the perception of the overall beating pattern, and helps our brain catch up with the binaural beat. This explains why this generator produces stronger beats than any other available. If you are looking for a pure binaural beat generator instead - one without any intra-aural interference but a weaker stimulus - try our Harmonic Binaural Beat Generator; its carriers have been set to distant frequencies, in order to suppress any amplitude modulation between carriers.
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: