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.

♥  I'm an ADHD high school student and I've found that this sound really helps me to get my homework done. Normally, I would be up very late writing essays and studying for tests because I can't sit down and focus on them, but this helps me to focus and also keeps me awake even late at night so I can continue to work. I love this site and I know I'll use it for a long time!
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.

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.
Recent research at the University of Lisbon finally uncovered the reason for the 350 year-old mystery, finding that the resonance of sound is the mechanism for entrainment of swinging pendulums and ticking clocks, and it seems likely that the energy transferred by sound is also responsible for other observations of entrainment, including brainwave entrainment.
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.
People who handle stress well tend to employ what stress experts call an "optimistic explanatory style." They don't beat themselves up when things don't work out in their favor. So instead of using statements that catastrophize an incident, like "I'm a complete failure," they might say to themselves, "I need to work on my backhand." Or they'll transfer blame to an external source. Rather than saying, "I really blew that presentation," it's, "That was a tough group to engage." Replace the word "expect" with "hope." Expectations can only be used for those things over which you have the greatest personal control. You can expect to quench your thirst with a drink of water. You cannot expect to get the job you just interviewed for. You can hope to get it.
In physics, entrainment is the process of two oscillating systems coming to assume the same periodic rhythm, such as is observed when two clocks slowly synchronize their ticking and tick together in harmony after some time. Pendulums also achieve this same synchronicity when swinging in close proximity to one another, a phenomenon first observed and written about in 1665 by Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch scientist.
Brainwave entrainment music can be used almost anywhere and anytime, making this mood and self-improvement method versatile and flexible enough to do at work, while traveling, or at other times during the day. When used in the workplace during short rest periods, brainwave entrainment techniques can enhance concentration, communication, and work productivity.
Isochronic tones work by influencing your brainwave activity and they can’t directly affect the body. That said, the brain does control the body, so sensations and feelings can sometimes be felt in the body after stimulating your brainwave activity. Some people who are new listeners of this type of audio can sometimes feel tingling sensations in their body. Not everyone feels this and these sensations usually stop once you get more used to using the audios. Isochronic tones are considered as a safe technology. However, sometimes they can leave you feeling temporarily fatigued, especially if you listen to them for an extended period (hours) when you first start using them. If you felt fatigued, I would recommend using them for a much shorter period while you are getting used to them and ensure you are well-hydrated.
The binaural-beat appears to be associated with an electroencephalographic (EEG) frequency-following response in the brain (3). Many studies have demonstrated the presence of a frequency-following response to auditory stimuli, recorded at the vertex of the human brain (top of the head). This EEG activity was termed "frequency-following response" because its period corresponds to the fundamental frequency of the stimulus (Smith, Marsh, & Brown, 1975). Binaural-beat stimulation appears to encourage access to altered states of consciousness.
Gamma waves are the fastest of the brainwave frequencies (high frequency band of brainwave activity) which signifies the highest state of focus possible. They are associated with peak concentration and the brain’s optimal frequency for cognitive functioning – the 40 Hz frequency corresponds to a Schumann resonance band and many scientists, including Nobel Laureate Sir Francis Crick believe that it may be the key to the act of cognition. The Gamma state relates to simultaneous processing of information from different brain areas; information passes very rapidly.
I have many new age, meditation, classical and jazz cds that I use for relaxation. This Steven Halpern cd is now my favorite one. I can listen to it for hours on end while I read, write, use the computer, or just veg out on the couch at home or lounge at the pool. I especially love the tracks with the ocean wave sounds mixed in with the electronic music. I definitely am in the theta brain wave state while listening to it, and I know that's the reason it is so much more soothing than any other cd that I own. It is really great for eliminating any anger or anxiety that I may be feeling. I believe it's also improving my sleep. I give this cd the highest possible recommendation!
People who handle stress well tend to employ what stress experts call an "optimistic explanatory style." They don't beat themselves up when things don't work out in their favor. So instead of using statements that catastrophize an incident, like "I'm a complete failure," they might say to themselves, "I need to work on my backhand." Or they'll transfer blame to an external source. Rather than saying, "I really blew that presentation," it's, "That was a tough group to engage." Replace the word "expect" with "hope." Expectations can only be used for those things over which you have the greatest personal control. You can expect to quench your thirst with a drink of water. You cannot expect to get the job you just interviewed for. You can hope to get it.
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.
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).

These sounds in these musical tracks are presented through monaural beats, binaural beats, isochronic tones, or a mixture involving combinations of all three of these modalities, described in detail below. Choose alpha brainwave tracks for calming anxiety and relaxing body and mind, and choose theta tracks for help in getting to sleep and for bringing hidden feelings to the surface. Some people also report out-of-body type experiences when in theta brainwave states.
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.
^ Trost W. and Vuilleumier P., Rhythmic entrainment as a mechanism for emotion induction by music: a neurophysiological perspective. In The Emotional Power of Music: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Musical Arousal, Expression, and Social Control, Cochrane T., Fantini B., and Scherer K. R., (Eds.), Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press; 2013, pp213–225.
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