In order to understand brainwave entrainment you first have to understand something about brain waves and electroencephalograms (EEG). Neurons are cells that communicate with each other through electrical conduction. When a neuron fires it creates a small electrical and magnetic field. These fields are far too small to measure by placing electrodes on the scalp, or even on the surface of the brain. The only reason we can detect the electrical fields of the brain is because many neurons are firing together – in synchrony. All brain waves that are measured by an EEG, therefore, represent a large group of neurons firing together.
Most of our Royalty Free brainwave entrainment music uses an audio technology known as "binaural beats". These binaural beats are embedded in the music in order to bring about desirable changes in brainwave activity, thereby encouraging various states of relaxation, deep meditation or sleep. When played with headphones, you may be able to hear the binaural beats as a subtle pulsing sound beneath the music.
The thing about conditioning is, it doesn’t matter whether the conditioned response is pleasant or unpleasant, desirable or undesirable. The process of conditioning works just as well both ways. You went looking for any indication you were getting an effect by using entrainment and you happened to have an unpleasant experience that you focused on. To the mind it is irrelevant whether it was pleasant or unpleasant. One way works just as well as the other. But the fact remains; it was your general expectations that resulted in a specific situation of conditioning.
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.
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.
Cory Allen [b. 1982] is a composer and mastering engineer living in Austin, Texas. His work focuses on the cultivation of human perception with the intent of altering the listener's state of consciousness. Allen's music is deep, patient, meditative, highly-conceptual and often composed by implementing self-organizing structures, rule-based performances, set pitch classes and a wide variety of instruments.
From a brainwave entrainment effectiveness perspective, it’s my understanding that the response from isochronic tones stimulation starts to diminish over 30Hz and that 40Hz is about the limit for using them. So from what I’ve read on the topic a 100Hz beat wouldn’t work, probably because it’s too fast for the brain to process and synchronise with it.
All of this is entirely understandable, even somewhat predictable. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes counter-productive. Such experiences, while having a certain feeling of solidity to them, are largely the product of our desires and expectations. Did your face get flushed? One look in the mirror confirms it did. Was this caused by the entrainment? No, it was not. It was the result of what was sought after and what was expected or even hoped for.
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.
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.
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."
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. :-)
Some people deny there is any such thing as “spiritual”. Atheists, secular humanists, etc., do not as a rule accept the concept of the existence of things “spiritual.” For them the benefits of meditation are largely physical and/or emotional in nature. It is not my intention to dispute or attempt to change their views here. What I can say is that they are free to skip over any mention of things spiritual and focus on the physical/emotional aspects. Meditation is a broad enough discipline to encompass all these areas of our existence.
Now I’m in the market for two extra tracks to have some variety. I have narrowed it down to a couple of ones including muscle relaxation which is theta and delta. I have a hard time relaxing my body. The last time my muscles where relaxed was after intensely cleaning my stove. I don’t want to clean every time I want to relax, even though my house will be spotless ;).
There are general recommendations for stress management that can be applied in most situations. However, keep in mind that there are individual differences and preferences, so a “cookie cutter” approach should be avoided when making recommendations. A comprehensive stress management program will include specific techniques prescribed on an individual basis, but general stress management recommendations are presented in Table 2.
^ Bittman, B. B., Snyder, C., Bruhn, K. T., Liebfreid, F., Stevens, C. K., Westengard, J., and Umbach, P. O., Recreational music-making: An integrative group intervention for reducing burnout and improving mood states in first year associate degree nursing students: Insights and economic impact" International Journal of Nursing Education Scholarship, Vol. 1, Article 12, 2004.