All techniques, whether mantra, focus on the breath, contemplation of a koan, or any other, are simply the vehicles we use to take us into (hopefully) a meditative state. Put another way, the purpose of repeating a mantra is not to get proficient at repeating a mantra. The purpose is to take us to a meditative state where the mantra slips away and is no longer necessary.
So if you are interested in using brainwave entrainment music in your own recording, do so with the knowledge that it can only help to improve the quality of your work. But please don’t feel as though your recordings will be insufficient without it (some people do worry about this - unnecessarily). My advice is that if you ever find yourself in a situation where the music you love the most is not available with brainwave entrainment frequencies, don’t ignore your intuition and discard that music. When you find that piece of music that brings your recording to life, go with it whether it has brainwave entrainment frequencies or not. The quality and feel of the music itself are the most important factors.
Brainwave Entrainment is an assisted form of meditation using pulses of sound. Entrainment is a process of synchronizing two different beats to become harmonious. Brainwave entrainment works by pulsing a different sound in each ear to stimulate the brain into altered states of consciousness. Examples including Binaural Beats and Isochronic Tones, which are best experienced with headphones to assist with relaxation, deep sleep and focus.
A study by Tina Huang, PhD, and Christine Charyton, published in the September 2008 issue of the journal, Alternative Therapies examined the results of twenty previous studies measuring the effectiveness of brainwave entrainment for improvements in cognitive dysfunction and deficits, stress reduction, pain management, migraine and headache control, pre-menstrual syndrome, and behavioral difficulties, and all showed significant improvement in symptoms using entrainment techniques.
Infra-Low brainwaves (also known as Slow Cortical Potentials), are thought to be the basic cortical rythms that underlie our higher brain functions. Very little is known about infra-low brainwaves. Their slow nature make them difficult to detect and accurately measure, so few studies have been done. They appear to take a major role in brain timing and network function.
If mind-consciousness is not the brain, why then does science relate states of consciousness and mental functioning to Brainwave frequencies? And how is it that audio with embedded binaural beats alters brain waves? The first question can be answered in terms of instrumentation. There is no objective way to measure mind or consciousness with an instrument. Mind-consciousness appears to be a field phenomenon which interfaces with the body and the neurological structures of the brain (Hunt, 1995). One cannot measure this field directly with current instrumentation. On the other hand, the electrical potentials of brain waves can be measured and easily quantified. Contemporary science likes things that can be measured and quantified. The problem here lies in oversimplification of the observations. EEG patterns measured on the cortex are the result of electro-neurological activity of the brain. But the brain's electro-neurological activity is not mind-consciousness. EEG measurements then are only an indirect means of assessing the mind-consciousness interface with the neurological structures of the brain. As crude as this may seem, the EEG has been a reliable way for researchers to estimate states of consciousness based on the relative proportions of EEG frequencies. Stated another way, certain EEG patterns have been historically associated with specific states of consciousness. It is reasonable to assume, given the current EEG literature, that if a specific EEG pattern emerges it is probably accompanied by a particular state of consciousness.
“Binaural beats are not very noticeable because the modulation depth (the difference between loud and quiet) is 3 db, a two-to-one ratio. (Isochronic tones and mono beats easily have 50 db difference between loud and quiet, which is a 100,00-to-1 ratio). This means that binaural beats are unlikely to produce an significant entrainment because they don’t activate the thalamus.”
Binaural beats are the playing of two sine waves of close, but not the same, frequency into different earpieces of a set of headphones. The "beat" is heard as the brain tries to process them as a distinct sound, while taking into account the constructive/destructive interference. It is said to migrate brain waves to be closer to that frequency, like a sort of biological resonance, which is true. Of course the same can be said for listening to relaxing music help you relax, up tempo music to help you feel energetic, etc...
Tracks that move from alpha to theta can be a perfect vehicle for transitioning from a hectic day into a relaxing and rejuvenating sleep. Beginning with alpha waves takes you into a light but still alert meditative mind state where the difficulties of the day can be resolved and put to rest. Later, theta waves go deeper into the unconscious, preparing you for sleep and dreams.
The mantra technique as taught by Michael at Project Meditation is an excellent example of an outward technique. Since the vast majority of people have somewhat active minds, this mantra technique is a good bet for most of us. Even mantra techniques have some differences. Some require rigid concentration while others are more relaxed, such as Michael’s technique. There are some that use chanting which is helpful for a person whose mind is hyperactive.
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.
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.
Synchronized brain waves have long been associated with meditative and hypnogogic states, and audio with embedded binaural beats has the ability to induce and improve such states of consciousness. The reason for this is physiological. Each ear is "hardwired" (so to speak) to both hemispheres of the brain (Rosenzweig, 1961). Each hemisphere has its own olivary nucleus (sound-processing center) which receives signals from each ear. In keeping with this physiological structure, when a binaural beat is perceived there are actually two standing waves of equal amplitude and frequency present, one in each hemisphere. So, there are two separate standing waves entraining portions of each hemisphere to the same frequency. The binaural beats appear to contribute to the hemispheric synchronization evidenced in meditative and hypnogogic states of consciousness. Brain function is also enhanced through the increase of cross-collosal communication between the left and right hemispheres of the brain.
Everyone knows stress can cause you to lose sleep. Unfortunately, lack of sleep is also a key cause of stress. This vicious cycle causes the brain and body to get out of whack and only gets worse with time. Make sure to get the doctor-recommended seven to eight hours of sleep. Turn the TV off earlier, dim the lights, and give yourself time to relax before going to bed. It may be the most effective stress buster on our list.
That’s why it’s so important to find the proper stress relievers to maintain a strong quality of life. The eight stress relievers above — exercise and yoga, meditation/healing prayer, acupuncture, a nutrient-dense diet, cognitive behavioral therapy, spending more time in nature and being social, keeping a journal and using adaptogen herbs and essential oils — can help you maintain a good mood, remain calm and better handle your day-to-day stress.
While a practical understanding of brainwaves has been around for as long as people have been singing, chanting, and drumming, a scientific view of the electrical activity inside the human brain was not published until 1924 when German psychiatrist Hans Berger developed a machine for sensing and recording activity in the brain by attaching small electrical sensors to the scalp of his patients and recording the resulting electrical activity. Berger’s inventions and discoveries were built upon the earlier work of Richard Caton who published animal studies on brainwave oscillations in 1875.
The mechanism for this is that when your eyes or ears are exposed to a particular frequency of pulses or beats, the thalamus first distributes this information to the entire brain, including the visual and cerebral cortex where neural activity begins to synchronize to the incoming frequency, producing hemispheric synchronization and a balance of brainwave activity across the brain.
SPEAKER: You know those people who always seem to be smiling? What's their secret? Turns out a lot of the smiles come from saying sayonara stress. Want in on that action? Well, here are three ways to stress less so you can smile more. First up, play your stress away/ why should kids have all the fun? Your boss might not let everyone out for recess, but you can find 15 minutes every day to do something you really enjoy. Go to a driving range. Play ping pong, cards, or board games. Just keep it friendly. Remember, winning isn't everything. Number 2. Give it up for pet power. Have you ever seen anyone looking stressed when playing with an adorable puppy? Neither have we. Interacting with animals has been proven to lower stress in almost everyone. Simply petting a dog or a cat lowers your blood pressure considerably and reduces levels of the stress-causing hormone cortisol. So pet your pooch. Don't have a pet? Borrow a friend's, or visit a local shelter for some much-needed cuddle time. And the number-one way to stress less? Laugh it off. How does laughter love thee? Let us count the ways. Laughter fills your body and lungs with oxygen. It makes your brain release Mr. And Mrs. Happy Hormones, the endorphins. It bolsters your immune system and helps you, well, be well. It also helps your brain release natural pain relievers, and may even stop painful muscle spasms. It's true. He who laughs best stresses less. So learn to play, adopt a stray, and laugh away. You'll feel great. And it will show.
To get a full answer you should really get in touch with the owner of the app, because it does really depend on how their track is constructed and how they intend it to work. I have one 50-minute sleep track which takes you down into delta (http://www.mindamend.com/shop/sleeping-and-dreaming/sleep-induction-isochronic-tones/) and that is designed to just get you to sleep, so you just let play until the end. If you played that track on repeat it might make you jump and wake you up, as the track begins at a higher frequency. I have another 8-hour sleep track which is meant to be played all throughout the night (http://www.mindamend.com/shop/sleeping-and-dreaming/deep-sleep-8-hour-sleep-cycle/). So it does depend on the individual track you are using.
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.
This simple app doesn’t have tons of bells and whistles, but by being just a one-screen app it doesn’t drain your battery or interfere with other apps you might be running. The interface is straightforward and lets you input exactly what binaural beats frequency you want to achieve. This is a great app if you know exactly what you want and you don’t want anything to get in the way of that.
As to the second question raised in the above paragraph, audio with embedded binaural beats alters the electrochemical environment of the brain. This allows mind-consciousness to have different experiences. When the brain is entrained to lower frequencies and awareness is maintained, a unique state of consciousness emerges. This state is often referred to as hypnogogia "mind awake/body asleep."
When stress overwhelms your nervous system, your body is flooded with chemicals that prepare you for “fight or flight.” This stress response can be lifesaving in emergency situations where you need to act quickly. But when it’s constantly activated by the stresses of everyday life, it can wear your body down and take a toll on your emotional and physical health.
Alpha: Alpha brainwave patterns are associated with a state of wakeful relaxation. Slower and lower in frequency (between 9-14 hertz), alpha waves are dominant when we’re calm and relaxed, but still alert. Alpha waves are associated with states of meditation (your yoga class probably puts you in an alpha state), and also with our ability to be creative.
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.
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.
“In order to get into a flow state, you have to calm a part of the brain, the posterior cingulate cortex, which is the source of what brain scientists call the default state, which is the non-focused state,” says Harris. “At any rate, it turns out that Holosync [binaural beats], when you listen to it, [calms that part of the brain] and so does traditional meditation. It’s just Holosync does it faster and more easily and more effortlessly. It turns down the posterior cingulate cortex and it enhances the other part of the brain that, when it’s enhanced, you can easily go into a flow state.”
If you’re operating in Alpha mode, you’ll feel very present and in the moment. You might be somewhat reactive to the world around you, but you’ll feel like you have time to process what’s going on rather than just react on instinct. This is a wonderful state to achieve when meditating or doing something that requires coordination, focus and learning.
2. The other thing you cannot afford to do is evaluate whether or not a technique is having an effect based upon having (or not having) any of those superficial, irrelevant, distracting phenomena discussed above, like face flushing, seeing light swirls, having sensations of this, that or the other thing, etc. Those kinds of phenomena will just lead you down the wrong path and steer you away from the true benefits of meditation. If you’ve already fallen into the trap of this sort of conditioning, using something like the Release Technique, the Sedona Method, or even EFT can be helpful in breaking established conditioned associations.
“A quite different phenomenon results when stereophonic earphones are used and the signals are applied separately to each ear. Under the right circumstances beats can be perceived, but they are of an entirely different character. They are called binaural beats. . . . Binaural beats require the combined action of both ears. They exist as a consequence of the interaction of perceptions within the brain.”
Deep breathing is an easy stress reliever that has numerous benefits for the body, including relaxing muscles and quieting the mind. Breathing exercises are especially helpful because you can practice them anywhere. Perhaps more importantly, they work quickly so you can de-stress in a flash. The karate breathing meditation is a great exercise to start with, and this basic breathing exercise can be done anywhere to help you reverse your stress response, get back to being more proactive (rather than reactive), and face stress with greater resilience.
Cortisol is an arousal hormone, stimulating alertness and attention. Cortisol levels rise and fall in connection to circadian rhythms—cortisol levels rise to their peak levels first thing in the morning, just in time for you to be active for the day. Too-high cortisol levels are associated with insomnia, as well as more time spent in light sleep, rather than deep sleep.
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)