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.
Exercise can be an effective component of a stress management program for many individuals and should be recommended to help those who are dealing with acute, acute episodic, or chronic stress. An advantage of incorporating exercise into a stress management program compared with other stress management techniques is the well-documented physical and psychological health benefits of exercise. However, it is important to remember that exercise is only one component of a stress management program, and there might be situations that require assistance beyond the expertise of a fitness professional, especially in working with individuals who are experiencing acute episodic or chronic stress. Although exercise might be effective in helping an individual feel calmer who is dealing with these types of stress, it will not solve the problem of major chronic or regular stressors. It may be necessary to refer these individuals to resources who can help them to address their stressors, such as a psychologist or other health care providers.
The advice “take a deep breath” may seem like a cliché, but it holds true when it comes to stress. For centuries, Buddhist monks have been conscious of deliberate breathing during meditation. For an easy three- to five-minute exercise, sit up in your chair with your feet flat on the floor and hands on top of your knees. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply, concentrating on your lungs as they expand fully in your chest. While shallow breathing causes stress, deep breathing oxygenates your blood, helps center your body, and clears your mind.
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.
From a strictly physical/emotional viewpoint, the benefits of meditation include (but are not limited to) such things as greater resistance to stress; less physical illness and improved resilience when illness does occur; better quality of sleep and increased recovery during sleep; a generally magnified sense of well-being; a sharper, clearer mind; increased capacity for learning; improved functioning in daily life; more harmonious relationships; greater control over emotional states, and more.
Because the brain filters and interprets reality in a split-brained way, we tend to see things as separate and opposed, rather than as connected and part of the oneness spoken of by the great spiritual teachers (and, in the last few decades, by quantum mechanical physicists). Thus, at a deep level, the dual structure of our brain, in conjunction with brain lateralization, predisposes us to see and experience ourselves as separate from, and often in opposition to, the rest of the world—instead of experiencing the elegant interconnectedness between us and everything else. Our childhood associations and programming build on this inborn tendency by training us to seek this and avoid that, to move toward pleasure and away from pain, to do good and not bad, and so on. The greater the lateralization in the brain, the greater the feelings of separation—and the greater the feelings of separation, the greater the fear, stress, anxiety, and isolation.
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.
The body responds in essentially the same way to made-up imagery as it does to real experiences. Positive, relaxing images can be an effective tool for relieving stress. Try it for yourself with this Guided Imagery podcast from our Founder and Director Dr. James Gordon, or check out Dr. Gordon’s book Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression for dozens more techniques, including scripts for guided imagery exercises.
way of describing it—at both theta brainwave frequencies. And then there are also 40-Hz gamma frequencies, the frequency that came through a lot when the Dalai Lama sent some Buddhist monks to have their brain waves studied as they were meditating and doing loving-kindness practices. Gamma is associated both with heightened awareness and also with loving-kindness practices, metta practices.
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.
♥ Imagine a really bad ringing in your ear and the pain that it brought along or when your ear was throbbing with pain. Can you remember the sound coming from that ear? Probably not, since the pain was probably far more memorable. This sounds very similar to that, but it is not at all painful. Quite a unique experience, really. Try it out, but you need to be wearing earphones and have the volume up.
♥ I found the Binaural Beat Machine to be my #1 focus tool. I have ADD/ADHD and am too easily distracted when I really want to focus. I turn on the binaural beats using the 16b preset for focus and turn down the volume so it's just barely present to my ear. I couple it with some classical music and am able to focus on what I want for extended periods. This literally has changed my life. Thank you!!
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.
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.
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.
When you're having a hell of a day—good or bad—checking out for 10-15 minutes is revitalizing. Find a place where you can be alone (and definitely ditch the cell phone)—the attic, the bathroom, a quiet cafe, a big oak tree—and wipe the slate clean for a few minutes. Do whatever it is that relaxes you: Meditate, read a novel, sing or sip tea. It's crucial to take just a few minutes everyday to de-stress. It's not how much time you allot, but being consistent that's important.
We may use the term “to meditate” as a convenience, but always keep in mind, what is really meant is that we enter into a state of meditation. It’s an important point to distinguish because if we get caught in the trap of regarding meditation “as a verb” it leads into all sorts of problems and misunderstandings. If a person incorrectly believes meditation is a verb, they generally also confuse whatever technique they use to arrive at a state of meditation as being meditation in and of itself.
“…humans have always been intrigued by the possibilities for influencing mental functioning that emerge from combining rhythmic sound and rhythmic light stimulation. Ancient rituals for entering trance states often involved both rhythmic sounds in the form of drum beats, clapping, or chanting and flickering lights produced by candles, torches, bonfires, or long lines of human bodies passing before the fire and chopping the light into mesmerizing rhythmic flashes. From Greek plays to Western opera, our most popular entertainment forms have made use of combinations of lights and sounds. Some composers, such as the visionary Scriabin, actually created music intended to be experienced in combination with rhythmic light displays.”
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.