Binaural beats is known by some as the digital drug and others as brainwave entertainment. It is a way to induce a meditative state using technology and sound. It is prefect for beginners who feel like they struggle to get in the meditative zone. When I’ve tried them it literally feels like my brain is being massaged.
Similar to mantra meditation, the binaural beats gives your attention something to hook on to, a repeated sound. Although not exactly a new age thing, as sound meditation has been around in some sense for centuries. Many traditions and cultures use steady repetitive drum beats to induce a specific brain wave frequency (eg, playing at 4.5 beats-per-second induces a trance like state as the brain shifts in to a 4.5 frequency of theta. (See below.)
Binaural beats work by playing two different frequencies in each ear (so headphones are a must). The brain then attempts to align the different audio frequencies highlighting the difference between the two, so in some sense it creates a third that is located within the mind. For example when 420 Hz is presented to one ear and 425 Hz to the other, it’s 5 Hz that is perceived. During meditation your brain will reach a certain frequency and binaural beats assist in getting you there by playing the frequency in the track. It’s basically a short cut. Let’s take a look at the different brain wave forms we encounter in our lives.
The brain is made of billions of brain cells known as neurones that use electricity to communicate. When many of these neurones send signals the activity can be monitored and recorded using sensitive medical equipment like an electroencephalogram or EEG for short. What you see below are the brain wave patterns of each state of the brain that can be recorded.
Gamma (32 and above Hz)
Only recently discovered due to the help of modern photographic technology. It is the highest frequency we have recorded and is known as the state of peak performance, productivity and concentration. It allows us to process large amounts of information in a shorter space of time.
Beta (16-31 Hz)
Beta brain waves is what we spend most of our active waking moments in. It’s a state of alertness and is involved with the rational, reality driven left hemisphere of the brain. If you spend too much time in this state it can lead to stress.
Alpha (8-15 Hz)
To enter Alpha brain state you need just close you eyes. It’s associated with being relaxed during your waking state and can occur during light meditation or general light tasks including gardening or other automatic activities. It occurs when our minds wonder freely, like a day dream. It is said to be the bridge between the conscious and subconscious mind and synchronises our hemispheres.
Theta (4 – 7 Hz)
These waves occur as you are about to fall asleep. They can also be experienced during deep meditation. It’s associated with deep relaxation, day dreaming and creativity. It’s a trance like state that has even been used in meditation for centuries. Similar to Alpha we experience the whole brain functioning during this state.
Delta (Below 4 Hz)
The lowest frequency that can be recorded during deep dreamless sleep (NREM). During this state the body can heal itself by releasing various anti-ageing hormones including melatonin and DHEA. It is the state in which we are most connected with others, ourselves and understanding. It is the point closest to our subconscious allowing us to access universal psyche and mind.
Benefits in practical life.
Dr Oster, the man who brought binaural beats to the mainstream concluded in his research that:
“It is possible that hormonally induced physiological behaviour changes may be made apparent by measuring the binaural-beat spectrum.”
Now 40 years later, after much research by scientists and sound engineers there is an abundance of binaural sounds to listen to. Just type it into YouTube, although the best audio quality is advised. We can all use brainwave entrainment to achieve whatever result we desire. By targeting different brainwave frequencies we can induce the benefits of each brain state, whether to improve memory, focus, creativity, energy or just relax and relieve stress or heal. Different outcomes but all leading to a more positive sense of well being for the individual that listens.
I’ve used focus binaural beats meditation while studying and found that my concentration was massively improved during that session. I’ve also used sleep binaural beats when I have struggled with insomnia; works a treat, best sleep I’ve ever had. I have also used them to just relax during meditation and it allows me to go deeper than what I usually could.
As we know, the benefits of meditation are limitless for health, well being and success. However many people are put off by it as it can be quite a daunting practice to take up. It’s like anything though, it takes practice and binaural beats is a great way to induce the meditative state. It’s a tool that will give you a peek behind the curtain of what you can achieve with regular meditation practice. They have the ability to change brainwave activity and just one session was claimed to be helpful for attention, stress, pain, headaches and migraines. They can even increase sexual stimulation. Cheeky. What are you waiting for?