Theta waves have a frequency between 4 and 7.5 hertz, making them slower than more wakeful alpha but faster than the dreamless slumber of delta. Theta brainwaves are the frequencies of nighttime dreams and REM sleep when the brain goes through bursts of activity and eye movement. People also experience theta waves in a state of light sleep, deep relaxation, during meditation and prayer, and when daydreaming. Theta waves produce an experience of inward wakefulness where we become disengaged from the outside world while engaging in inner activity. At the lower frequencies of theta, sleeping states are experienced, and at the higher range of frequency, awake relaxed states are experienced.
The name of the game (and by game, we mean mind hack) is binaural beats. Binaural beats refer to the event in which two similar — but not identical — frequencies are played in different ears through headphones. For example, you might have a 300 Hz tone playing into your left ear, and a 305 Hz tone playing into your right ear (hence the need for headphones, since it’s important for the different sounds to be heard in isolation). Your brain will hear those two tones, yes, but what it will also pick up a 5 Hz tone – the difference between the two frequencies – which is actually too low for our ears to hear. So what’s happening here is not that your ears are suddenly picking up a tone that they couldn’t prior, but instead, your brain is producing the tone; you are perceiving it, not actually hearing it. The resulting noise that you will hear is a steady rhythm, about 4.5 beats per second. Your brain, in the process, will actually emit brainwaves at the frequency of the synthesized tone.
♥ I've suffered from patches of insomnia throughout my life, extending from a few days to dragging on for several weeks, and no amount of the usual proper "bedtime ritual" normally recommended, calms me, as my brain is overactive. Layering combos of the Binaural/Bilateral sounds right before sleep effectively resets me, allowing me to sleep like a normal human. I can't express enough gratitude!
OK – so some of this is pretty common marketing hype. Consumers have become almost numb to such hyperbole. But still we see some of the common – almost ubiquitous – elements of pseudoscientific scams. The company claims that the device is “effort-free”, that the results are “rapid and long-lasting,” that it is the “most effective” method of its kind, and that it is useful for a broad range of applications (hey, why limit the market). I am used to such hype about dishwashing detergent, but find it intolerable when applied to a pseudoscientific device with medical applications.
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).
The brain state changes found in meditators are almost exclusively found in higher-order executive and association cortices. This supports the notion that meditation increases self-regulation and attentiveness. Recent studies have also investigated how these changes may alter the functionality and connectivity of the default mode network, which is a hypothesized network of brain regions that are active when an individual is engaged in internal tasks such as daydreaming.
At the beginning of May, I decided to change over to EquiSync because it’s much cheaper and let me experience the deeper levels sooner. At best, my blood pressure has been down to 66 and after cups of tea and food, back up to 76-80 which is regarded as acceptable. I was able to achieve these wonderful results in less than 6 months of daily practice of meditation using audio-beat technology.
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.
Binaural beats work by playing a different tone in each ear, and in the process the brain creates a “phantom tone” which is the difference between the two tones (for example if you play a 300 hz tone in one ear and a 310 hz in the other ear the brain will produce a 10 Hz phantom tone.) If this phantom tone is 10 hz the brain will gradually be led to a dominant brainwave frequency of 10 hz (this has been measured by EEG devices). If the tone is 7 hz the brain will gradually be led to a 7 hz dominant frequency, and so on.
♥ 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.
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.)
Pure tones played together interfere with each other when they are close in pitch but not identical. When each tone is sent to a different ear, there will not be any physical interaction between the waves, yet your brain still creates an interference inside your head: the so-called binaural beat. In order to create a binaural beat, each ear must receive its dedicated signal. Therefore, binaural beats only work through headphones.
But what would be the point of generating a beat that was at the same rate as a certain brainwave frequency? First, consider that these frequency bands relate to different states of awareness. Delta is seen in deep sleep, theta in lighter stages of sleep, alpha when we are relaxed with eyes closed, and beta when we are awake and alert. Second, the main idea behind using binaural beats to help a person relax and sleep is that of entrainment. Entrainment means that a biological process is matched to some external stimulus. For example, our circadian clock is entrained to the day/night light cycle and helps the body organize physiological processes in an appropriate way over the course of the day. A repetitive sound at the frequency of a certain brainwave band could theoretically cause the brain waves to be entrained to that frequency and thus help induce the state associated with that brainwave band. This could have therapeutic utility.
Let’s say you’re listening to a sound in your left ear that’s at a frequency of 132 Hertz (Hz). And in your right ear, you’re listening to a sound that’s at a frequency of 121 Hz. Your brain, however, gradually falls into synchrony with the difference — or 11 Hz. Instead of hearing two different tones, you instead hear a tone at 11 Hz (in addition to the two tones given to each ear).
In the 1980s, a researcher in Japan, Tsuyoshi Inouye described how light stimulation creates synchronization of brain hemispheres. Since then, other researchers have detailed the positive effects of hemispheric synchronization including a 1984 study by researcher Dr. Gene W. Brockopp stating that hemispheric synchronization resulted in improved intellectual functioning as well as improvements in long-term memory, and these effects are cumulative over time.
Because of the way they are created, there may be a positive benefit from listening to binaural beats without considering the brainwave entrainment aspect, but I haven’t seen any research on that. I first discovered brainwave entrainment through binaural beats about 10 years ago now, but they didn’t do anything for me. So I’ve never been a regular user of them. I believe isochronic tones are a more effective way to produce hemispheric synchronisation because they produce a much stronger response in the brain
Further research in the mid-1990s examined claims that binaural beats can provide the listener with an experience akin to that of taking recreational drugs, stop them from smoking, help them lose weight, and other similar claims (often referred to under the umbrella term “brainwave entertainment”). Unfortunately, at this time, science has not been able to definitively prove that these claims are true, although there is, in some cases, powerful anecdotal evidence suggesting that for some individuals, these beneficial effects are very much a reality.
After nearly two years of daily use of this brainwave meditation and brainwave technology, I began to enjoy a quality of life–without medication–that once seemed quite impossible for me. I do not say this lightly. Not only did I enjoy a fulfilling life, I also experienced what seemed like significant development in self-concept, values, interpersonal skills, creativity, accelerated learning, intuition, ability to handle stressful situations, self-esteem, sense of purpose, and social awareness.
Given that brainwaves control and connect such a vast range of human experience from thought to feelings to actions, it is easy to see how the deliberate control of brainwaves can affect mood, behaviors, motivation, and even physical health. Brainwave entrainment is a safe, simple, and scientifically proven method for quickly guiding the brain into a beneficial brainwave frequency to facilitate healthy sleep, lower stress, heal emotional problems, and improve physical health.
There’s a growing body of research suggesting that binaural beats can reduce different forms of anxiety, from mild to chronic. One especially interesting study looked at the effects of binaural beats on anxiety among patients preparing to undergo surgery—a life circumstance that is pretty anxiety provoking for most anyone. Over a period of six months, patients spent 30 minutes on the day of their surgery listening to binaural beats. Compared to patients who listened to a soundtrack that did not include binaural beats—and patients who received no “beats” therapy at all—the binaural beat listeners experienced significantly greater reductions in their anxiety levels.
Slip on your headphones, close your eyes and turn out the lights. Within minutes you’ll feel like your brain is being massaged. Soothing Delta frequencies, associated with deep restorative sleep, and subliminal messaging for deep sleep are masterfully woven into gentle music. As your brain cells resonate and your brainwaves entrain with Delta waves, you start to slowly swirl and drift. Delta binaural beats help wash away pestering concerns, allowing you to fall into deep sleep states that bring the refreshing slumber your body and mind need for health, happiness and optimum performance.
Binaural beats are an auditory illusion where two oscillators, slightly detuned from each other, are played simultaneously with one perceived by each ear. The human brain mixes the audio from each ear, and the listener perceives a "beating" effect that isn't actually there. This is a well-studied phenomenon that has gained the interest of audiologists and neurologists, but it's most famous for being picked up by the alternative medicine community as a way to get high.
Binaural beats were discovered in 1839 by a German experimenter, H. W. Dove. The human ability to "hear" binaural beats appears to be the result of evolutionary adaptation. Many evolved species can detect binaural beats because of their brain structure. The frequencies at which binaural beats can be detected change depending upon the size of the species' cranium. In the human, binaural beats can be detected when carrier waves are below approximately 1000 Hz (Oster, 1973). Below 1000 Hz the wave length of the signal is longer than the diameter of the human skull. Thus, signals below 1000 Hz curve around the skull by diffraction. The same effect can be observed with radio wave propagation. Lower-frequency (longer wave length) radio waves (such as AM radio) travel around the earth over and in between mountains and structures. Higher-frequency (shorter wave length) radio waves (such as FM radio, TV, and microwaves) travel in a straight line and can't curve around the earth. Mountains and structures block these high-frequency signals. Because frequencies below 1000 Hz curve around the skull, incoming signals below 1000 Hz are heard by both ears. But due to the distance between the ears, the brain "hears" the inputs from the ears as out of phase with each other. As the sound wave passes around the skull, each ear gets a different portion of the wave. It is this waveform phase difference that allows for accurate location of sounds below 1000 Hz(9). Audio direction finding at higher frequencies is less accurate than it is for frequencies below 1000 Hz. At 8000 Hz the pinna (external ear) becomes effective as an aid to localization. In summary it's the ability of the brain to detect a waveform phase difference is what enables it to perceive binaural beats.
Over the centuries people have discovered that repetitious rhythms such as the beating of a drum at a single tone, or chanting, or other methods for producing a single, repetitious rhythm, have been known to produce certain states of consciousness whether deep relaxation, trance, a state of meditation and so on. The rhythms used basically changed the brainwave state of the person listening as long as that person remains open and receptive to the rhythms.
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.
♥ I've beeen training in self-hypnosis for a while (under supervision and for a reason) and found that the 8-4 Hz beats put me very quickly in a deeply relaxed state. Definitely the thing! With the timer, I can shut them for the real self-hypnosis. I haven't tried the other beat generators yet, but this one works much better than I expected and clearly does the job. In a few words: I'm impressed!