That all said, we are all different and have our own different limits. So I generally advise that you just be aware of how you are feeling, and if you feel like you are getting a bit fatigued from it, it’s probably time to stop or at least take a break. When listening over long extended periods, I recommend that you keep yourself well-hydrated. Your brain needs a good supply of water to function well, especially if you are studying hard and increasing your brainwave electrical activity.
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.
Besides scientific literature, some authors have written of the promising research on meditation in books targeted for general audiences. One such book, Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson, PhD shares the current scientific research and investigations into meditation. Hanson, a neuroscientist and researcher, explains to readers the scientific studies in plain language and discuss the impact of the results. Hanson’s main argument is that positive emotions, like love can be strengthened through meditation in a neuroplastic manner, citing dozens of scientific studies to support this claim. Hanson’s viewpoint is representative of a larger popular movement to study and embrace Eastern phenomena including meditation in the Western world.
Participants were experienced practitioners of Acem Meditation, a nondirective method developed in Norway. They were asked to rest, eyes closed, for 20 minutes, and to meditate for another 20 minutes, in random order. The abundance and location of slow to fast electrical brain waves (delta, theta, alpha, beta) provide a good indication of brain activity.
Because the mind and body are a single system, changing our brainwaves and spending more time in harmonious, relaxed, and restorative mind-states also affects our physical health. Physical health then reinforces our mental-state, and a feedback loop of either positive or negative processes becomes established. Research studies have shown beneficial effects of using brainwave entrainment for treating migraine headaches, premenstrual syndrome, and for managing physical pain.
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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.
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.
Theta: This brainwave pattern is associated with deep relaxation and with some stages of sleep, including the lighter stages of non-REM (NREM) sleep. REM sleep itself is mostly composed of beta wave and other activity that’s similar to an alert, waking brain. Deep meditation produces theta waves, which are slower and lower frequency (between 5-8 hertz) than Alpha waves. That murky barrier between sleep and wakefulness, when you’re drifting in and out of sleep, and your thoughts feel dreamlike and difficult to remember? That’s a theta-dominant state of consciousness.
In the meta-analysis performed by Fox et al., several sources of bias were indicated which bring into question the validity of meditation studies which use neuroimaging. Fox et al. suggests a publication bias may be leading to the over-reporting of significant results. Despite this, however, Fox et al. found "consistent differences in prefrontal cortex and body awareness regions" in "areas key to meta-awareness..., exteroceptive and interoceptive body awareness..., memory consolidation and reconsolidation..., self and emotion regulation..., and intra- and interhemispheric communication..." and that changes were significant with "moderate" global median effect size and "consistent and medium-sized brain structure differences."
All brainwave frequencies are useful and beneficial at certain times – there is no brainwave that is intrinsically better than another. However, by deliberately choosing to attain a particular brainwave state, a corresponding mental state can be brought about at the same time. For example, a working person who has been in an overly alert beta brainwave pattern for many hours can quickly shift their mind and body into a relaxed state by listening to a few minutes of brainwave entrainment music for inducing alpha or theta brainwaves.
"Wow! I have been doing this Awakening Kundalini guided meditation every morning for about two weeks now. I am a yoga teacher and I have never experienced energy like this before! Every morning, I feel a surge and abundance of endless vital energy nourish my mind, body, and soul. The sounds, theta waves and guidance are perfectly combined to gently awaken the sleeping serpent confirmed by the exquisite sensations experienced. " --Katarine
Binaural beats is a method where two sound waves of different frequencies are introduced into each ear. These frequencies when processed by the brain cancel each other out, creating a whole new frequency. So if we had a tone of 500 Hz in one ear and a 510 Hz tone in the other, the result would be a 10 Hz tone. So while a 10 Hz tone couldn’t be directly heard, using binaural beats we can create that tone inside our brain.
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.