Joe: The Journey soundscape took a lot of work. I wanted to bring in the very best of what I knew about brainwave entrainment and to make the best brainwave entrainment product—with the best entrainment technology—that I possibly could. So, there are all sorts of things going on in Journey to provide a sound bed to support the experience of expansiveness and also communicate elements of the heart-based work I talked about earlier. (See part I of this interview, A Guide to Transpersonal Meditation.)
The main point is, you can be asleep while listening to any of them, but you won't be awake to feel anything. If you fall asleep while a beta binaural beat is playing, you may start to get anxious and start sleeping restlessly, you may even have a bad dream. This is because too much use of the higher beta range is associated with anxiety and stress, it's the “fight or flight” response you will experience.
One can also learn to control and slow down their brain waves through various neurofeedback technologies such as electroencephalograph (EEG), galvanic skin response (GSR), and heart, pulse and breath rate monitors. These devices measure stress and relaxation parameters and then "play" back the signals to the user so they can use the signals as a beacon to guide and "steer" themselves into a relaxed state. This takes some time, work and discipline but is much quicker than learning meditation.
A newer alternative to binaural beats is isochromatic tones. These are tones that are interspersed with periods of brief silence, creating a similar effect to binaural beats but without the two frequencies playing in different ears. Because isochromatic tones do not need headphones, they are gaining popularity as the newest method of brainwave entertainment.
Some studies have found that binaural beats can affect cognitive function positively or negatively, depending on the specific frequency that’s generated. For example, a study of long-term memory found that beta-frequency binaural beats improved memory, while theta-frequency binaural beats interfered with memory. This is something for scientists to continue to examine closely. For people who use binaural beats, it’s important to understand that different frequencies will produce different effects.
Hi EJ, at the moment, there hasn’t been any research to give an indication of how long you should or shouldn’t listen for. Over time, I’ve seen people use my tracks for longer and longer. I started off providing 30-minute study tracks, but through demand, I extended them to 3-hours. I know from the many thousands of comments I’ve had on YouTube that a large number of people play those 3-hour tracks on repeat, or listen to different ones, one after the other throughout the day. I’ve also seen apps where you can play tracks like mine on continuous repeat. So it’s common for people to listen to them all day while they are studying.
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.
These are very similar to binaural beats, except that instead of the audio being fed through two different channels containing two different tones, monaural beats put both tones together on a single channel. The difference is that instead of your brain producing the effect of cancelling out the wave and producing the low frequency beat, it instead mixes in the air where it is perceived by the ears, with no brain processing involved.
“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.”
Earlier evidence out of UCLA suggested that meditating for years thickens the brain (in a good way) and strengthens the connections between brain cells. Now a further report by UCLA researchers suggests yet another benefit. Long-term meditators have larger amounts of gyrification ("folding" of the cortex, which may allow the brain to process information faster) than people who do not meditate. A direct correlation was found between the amount of gyrification and the number of meditation years, possibly providing further proof of the brain's neuroplasticity, or ability to adapt to environmental changes.
Binaural beats are considered auditory illusions. For a binaural beat to work, the two tones have to have frequencies less than 1000 Hz, and the difference between the two tones can’t be more than 30 Hz. The tones also have to be listened to separately, one through each ear. Binaural beats have been explored in music and are sometimes used to help tune instruments, such as pianos and organs. More recently, they have been connected to potential health benefits.
Meditation and its effect on brain activity and the central nervous system became a focus of collaborative research in neuroscience, psychology and neurobiology during the latter half of the 20th century. Research on meditation sought to define and characterize various practices. Meditation’s effect on the brain can be broken up into two categories: state changes and trait changes, respectively alterations in brain activities during the act of meditating and changes that are the outcome of long-term practice.
♥ At 56, I have tried many a thing. The default setting of Binaural Beat Machine does make me very relaxed. But it's not what it does on the moment, pleasant as this might be. It is the quality of the sleep, when I use it for half an hour before going to bed. I sleep a deep, restful sleep. I use it during day-time meditation as well, and the clear-mind feeling about an hour later is wonderful!
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 therapy that slows brainwave activity, helping to produce low frequency waves, is likely to aid relaxation and sleep. But it’s not only lowering brainwave frequency that binaural beats may offer to sleep and relaxation. A small study (19 people) has found that exposure to binaural beats is associated with changes to three hormones important to sleep and well being:
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.
"Spontaneous wandering of the mind is something you become more aware of and familiar with when you meditate," continues Ellingsen, who is an experienced practitioner. "This default activity of the brain is often underestimated. It probably represents a kind of mental processing that connects various experiences and emotional residues, puts them into perspective and lays them to rest."
Other research by Paul Ekman, of the University of California San Francisco Medical Center, suggests that meditation and mindfulness can tame the amygdala, an area of the brain which is the hub of fear memory. Ekman discovered that experienced Buddhists were less likely to be shocked, flustered, surprised or as angry as other people. Flanagan believes that if the findings of the studies can be confirmed they could be of major importance.
The I-Doser claims it can emulate prescription drug-like effects by listening to MP3's, to get stoned. This is largely a moral panic by parents who flunked science fueled by the eternal quest by teenagers to get stoned, and stupid ones convincing their friends it works. It is really more of wishful thinking and making yourself disoriented by playing discordant sounds really damn loud. If you want to experience it yourself, you can always listen to Bjork Captain Beefheart dubstep.
A more extensive study of over 100 participants who were undergoing general anesthesia for a day procedure, reported a decrease in pre-operative anxiety. The participants in this study listened to 30 minutes of binaural beats before surgery, but the researchers noted that people experiencing high levels of pre-operative anxiety could listen to binaural beats for up to 1 hour before anesthesia to reduce levels of anxiety.