In 1956, the famous neuroscientist W. Gray Walter published the results of studying thousands of test subjects using photic stimulation, showing their change in mental and emotional states. He also learned that photic stimulation not only altered brainwaves, but that these changes were occurring in areas of the brain outside of vision. In Walter’s words:
... Several studies have looked at the possible effects of binaural beats within the alpha range on cognitive abilities. A significant improvement in cognitive processing, as measured by the Stroop Effect exercise, was found by a BB stimulation of 10.2 Hz frequency (Cruceanu & Rotarescu, 2013).Carter and Russell (1993)exposed 8 to 12 year old boys with learning disabilities to 8-week long 10 and 18 Hz BB stimulation sessions, and they found an improvement in Raven's progressive matrices and in a subtest of auditory sequential memory (Carter & Russell, 1993).McMurray (2006)assessed the effect of 7 and 11 Hz BB on alpha brainwave activity, working memory, and attention in healthy elderly people, who are known for experiencing gradual decrease in physiological alpha activity. The 2 minutes exposure to BB resulted in an altered electrical activity in the brain. ...
There is a solution, which, although you may not have heard about it, has been around (and scientifically tested!) for decades now. By using binaural beats, you can ease your brain from its active state into a more restful state simply by listening to a different frequency wavelengths of sound in each ear. Because two different wavelengths are entering through two different entrances (your ears), that difference is perceived as a “beat” (though it may sound like a warble to some) that resonates at the frequency equal to the difference. The brain will entrain (match) itself to the beat produced by the difference in wavelengths. If the difference between the two wavelengths is less than seven hertz, your brain will fall into a state of deep relaxation, also known at the theta range.
Sit in easy pose or posture with a straight spine. Bring arms comfortably to the sides of the body with the elbows bent. Hands in fists with the thumb over the last three fingers, facing forward. Forefinger or Jupiter finger up straight. Hold the Jupiter finger very straight, tight and stable, without tensing the rest of the arms and body. The forearms should be perpendicular to the ground. During the meditation check the position and move the elbows forward as needed to maintain the position.
Thanks for the coupons, I had originally looked into these cd’s after my doctor recommended them, but my mom wound up buying them for me for Christmas (she didn’t know about the coupons I had!) Anyway just listened to Equisync II today for the first time, I was in such a state as to where I didn’t know if I’d fallen asleep or not! I hadn’t but was in such an amazing place.
James Austin, a neurologist, began practicing Zen meditation during a visit to Japan. After years of practice, he found himself having to re-evaluate what his professional background had taught him. "It was decided for me by the experiences I had while meditating," said Austin, author of the book "Zen and the Brain" and now a philosophy scholar at the University of Idaho. "Some of them were quickenings, one was a major internal absorption an intense hyper-awareness, empty endless space that was blacker than black and soundless and vacant of any sense of my physical bodily self. I felt deep bliss. I realized that nothing in my training or experience had prepared me to help me understand what was going on in my brain. It was a wake-up call for a neurologist."
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.
Similar to research into state changes in brain function, older studies make more specific claims about trait changes in meditators versus non-meditators. Changes to the alpha wave were indicated to be a trait, as well as state, phenomena. Studies have reported an increase in the specific frequencies expressed in the alpha range, increased alpha band power, and an overall slowing (reduction in frequency) in EEG activity in experienced meditators versus less experienced meditators while meditating. The alpha blocking phenomena, observed as a state change in brain function, was investigated as a possible trait change as well. One study that examined a variety of meditation techniques tried to show that alpha blocking was affected by the long term practice of meditation by testing response to auditory stimuli. Review works, however, comment on inconsistent findings as well as a lack of repeated results in this, and other studies. They further remark that, similar to observations in brain state changes, only general assertions can be made about brain trait changes: some change in the electroencephalographic profile exists but with some inconsistency. It is also important to note that these trait changes were observed during meditation, and although it does indicate that a practitioner’s electroencephalographic profile is modified by the practice of meditation, these EEG studies have not yet shown changes in non-meditating brains, even of experienced meditators.
Cvetkovic D, Simpson D, Cosic I (2006). “Influence of sinusoidally modulated visual stimuli at extremely low frequency range on the human EEG activity“. Conference proceedings : … Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Conference 1: 1311 – 4. doi:10.1109
One larger and more recent randomized and controlled trial looked at the use of binaural beats in 291 patients admitted to the emergency department at a hospital. The researchers observed significant decreases in anxiety levels in patients exposed to audio with embedded binaural beats compared to those who listened to audio without binaural beats or no audio at all (headphones only).
Sleep issues are becoming much more of a common problem. I think it's great to look at alternative ways to help with insomnia and other sleep related issues, especially when they don't involve the need to take medication. Something proved to be effective is 'Sleepstation' a UK based organisation who use CBT techniques to cure insomnia. Their online sleep therapy course is brilliant and very convenient as it's delivered online. Their website is definitely worth a look if you're having sleep issues
Theta brainwaves in the frequency range of 6 to 9 hertz are known as thalpha waves because of their proximity to alpha waves. They are seen during states of high suggestibility, during hypnosis, and during paranormal experience and are also connected to an increase in human growth hormone (HGH) levels and higher blood flow to the brain. Theta brainwaves sit between the realms of the subconscious and conscious mind, making them an especially useful brainwave state for developing creative thinking, working through emotional problems, and integrating subconscious and conscious experience.
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.
Critics, like Owen Flanagan, PhD, believe that Hanson, and those like him, are overextending the results of current scientific studies. In his book Bodhisattva’s Brain: Buddhism Naturalized, Flanagan presents a more conservative viewpoint of current scientific research and cautions readers against the seemingly exciting results of recent studies. Flanagan does not believe current science supports the idea that positive emotion can be strengthened in the same way that stroke victims can recover use of limbs with use. Flanagan does acknowledge that meditation may be beneficial in some way, but the mechanism of how meditation affects the brain is still clouded. Similarly, Awasthi argues that Meditation is non-specific to the research studies showing clinical efficacy in some cases, though mechanisms remain unclear. Flanagan and Hanson use many of the same scientific studies to attempt to support their differing viewpoint, but both authors identify the need and importance of future studies investigating meditation.
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.
Business executive and radio producer Robert Monroe started experimenting with brainwave entrainment and has a series of powerful out of body experiences using it. In 1971 he published his cult classic “Journeys Out of the Body” sharing his experiences. He later created one of the first audio entrainment companies called Hemi Sync, alongside the Monroe Institute of Applied Sciences.
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.
You can experiment with the length of time you listen to the binaural beats to find out what works for you. For example, if you’re experiencing high levels of anxiety or stress, you may want to listen to the audio for a full hour or longer. Remember, you must use headphones for binaural beats to work. You may also want to listen with your eyes closed.
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.)
But we don't need any studies to tell us that different people can listen to different kinds of music and be affected. A lot of people who work out have a workout playlist on their iPod that keeps them energized. Some people listen to certain music to help them fall asleep. The Muzak company has built an industry on relaxing music that will keep people in the mood to shop. Music does affect our mood, and so we already have every reason to expect binaural beat recordings to produce the same effect. Different people may find certain binaural beats to be relaxing or energizing. But, we've never found any reliable indication that a binaural beat's connection to our brain is any deeper or more meaningful than any other music track. We do know for a reasonable certainty that specific claims made by most sellers of binaural beats are not credible, and that there is no reason to think that the effect they're claimed to produce will work for you.