Entrainment is a term originally derived from complex systems theory, and denotes the way that two or more independent, autonomous oscillators with differing rhythms or frequencies, when situated in a context and at a proximity where they can interact for long enough, influence each other mutually, to a degree dependent on coupling force, such that they adjust until both oscillate with the same frequency. Examples include the mechanical entrainment or cyclic synchronization of two electric clothes dryers placed in close proximity, and the biological entrainment evident in the synchronized illumination of fireflies.
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.
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.
The power and manifold benefits of meditation are well documented, its practice dating back to prehistory where it was used mainly for religious or spiritual purposes. With our growing knowledge and understanding of the functions of the brain it seems both logical and practical that we should develop ways of tapping into this power and using it to our advantage.