These days people have lost their connection with many powerful elements of energy and nature, sound being one of them—as a means of healing and brain entertainment.
Although sound therapy may be familiar to those who do some spiritual practice, its benefits are still largely underestimated by modern society. Those who don’t have time or inclination for spiritual work may consider it too far out.
If you make sound therapy exercises a part of your daily (or at least weekly) routine, it may bring some fresh tides into your sense of wellbeing, where “being present” is not something lofty or requiring tons of inner stamina, but rather a natural state of mind when you feel relaxed, tuned in, sensitive, thoughtful and psychic.
Isn’t it ironic then, that this natural state has been treated as unnatural for most of human history?
Tuning into yourself is personal for everybody, and you don’t need daily yoga, meditations, mantras and esoteric readings to start. For some people, signing up for the “inspirational quotes” pages on Facebook may be the kickstarter. Here is another simple trick to get your mind closer to the quiet state.
Sometimes people become so stressed, rigid and merged with their hectic pace that they literally reject anything that could calm them down, eventually even losing track of what initially triggered the stress. But even for these people, binaural beats can form an invaluable tool to make them feel different and strip some strain off their nerves.
Even listening to binaural beats twice a week for a start will help you discover the potency that they can manifest for the emotional state, brain and body. This is an ancient knowledge which has been utilized for centuries by our ancestors.
What Is a Binaural Beat?
A binaural beat is the tone (or frequency) perceived by the brain when two different tones very close in pitch are sent to the listener’s ears simultaneously and interfere with one another, resulting in them producing a third tone which is the difference between their pitches. The pitch difference is usually very insignificant (no more than 30 HZ), but once recognized it becomes a low-frequency pulse for the brain and makes it follow this pulse.
To illustrate: 550 HZ is being presented to your right ear and 560 HZ to the left ear simultaneously. The difference of 10 HZ will be the binaural beat caught by the brain.
Why do we call it a beat? Because the lowest frequency the human ear can detect as a sound is 16 HZ. Everything lower than that will be perceived as rhythmic pulsation (we literally hear something like “wah wah”) while the brain follows the frequency.
There are not many activities in everyday life where a human brain engages both hemispheres to work synchronically to produce a certain result.
However, there are special exercises to develop the ability to synchronize the two halves of the brain. A good example of a situation where the brain has to switch on both hemispheres at maximum capacity is when one interprets a foreign language.
I studied simultaneous interpreting at university, while my thesis work was dedicated to the cognitive understanding of the process. Based on my research and personal self-observation during the interpretation process, I found that it’s actually not so much about language proficiency as it is about refined brain behavior, which integrates many conscious and unconscious strategies in parallel to automatize the process as much as possible - making it a brain skill more than a foreign language fluency.
However, this is an extreme condition for the brain to function in, and although being very stimulating and benevolent for the neural connectivity, it can hardly be recommended as a meditation practice. Although similar to meditation practice, exercising your brain in such an unusual fashion can give you great re-charge and feeling of light euphoria accompanied by relaxation, which lots of simultaneous interpreters experience at the end of the day.
But more relaxing tools are out there, amongst which we find binaural beats. Extracting the binaural beat, in a similar fashion as the interpreter extracting language meaning, is an activity that synchronizes your brain, but in this case in a much more affordable and pleasant manner than conference interpreting.
Since the brain can only hear one tone at a time, both hemispheres start working in synergy to extract this one tone out of the two, thus immersing the whole brain in synchronization (with certain brainwaves dominating).
Binaural Beats and Brain Waves: AlteredStates
As we know, the length of the brain waves defines its mental state. Ancient shamans and healers knew a lot about the magic of repetitive drumming and chanting as a means of revitalizing the connection not only between the brain halves but between the human brain and body and the unconscious too.
Ancient music was often much more diverse in terms of harmonics, sometimes incorporating the copied rhythms of nature?—?animals running, winds blowing and ocean sounds, for example.
It was also charged with lots of psychoacoustic tricks. For example, many ancient tribal drum rituals used a rhythm of 4.5 beats per second to evoke the trance-like condition; the human brain reflecting it back at the same frequency started producing theta waves (4–8 HZ).
This length of brain wave is associated with deep meditation, trance states of mind, access to the unconscious, REM sleep and increased creativity. The 4 HZ binaural beat is probably the most famous one among people well-acquainted with the topic.
It is through theta waves that the brain can heal our painful emotions, become insightfully creative and intuitive, feel more compassion and develop extraordinary learning abilities. The frequency of theta waves also increases melatonin, a hormone which is not only vital for healthy sleep, but also for the immune system’s proper functioning, especially in women.
Robert Monroe, the father of out-of-body experience (OBE) research and founder of the Monroe Institute, along with brilliant physicist and ex-Nasa employee, and author of the book My Big Toe, Tom Campbell, has proven that the 4 Hz binaural beat encourages OBEs and remote viewing.
These are also the waves which dominate in your brain the minute you are about to wake in the morning. Have you ever noticed that reflecting on many life situations in this freshly awakened state of mind gives you a very different perspective and a more complete understanding of things, often with access to the compassionate part of yourself?
Typically, your brain is functioning on beta waves frequencies (14–40 HZ: concentration & alertness) so it will take you some time to get to the frequency of 4-8 HZ. You will have to surpass the alpha waves first (8–14 HZ: relaxed focus, light meditation). If you are inexperienced in meditation it may take you longer, even with binaural beats.
As Tom Campbell says. “Once you are in the 4 Hz theta state that is your goal, stay there for a half hour to two hours?—?that’s enough. You are in this physical reality for a reason. Do not use this as an escape. It is a tool, as is meditation itself, for teaching you to eliminate the noise in your mind …”?
(By the way, if you have never heard interviews with Tom Campbell before, I highly recommend them. Apart from plenty of fascinating thoughts and knowledge derived from his own out-of-body experiences, Tom himself has a voice timbre and a manner of speech that hypnotizes you.)
However, 4 HZ is not the only binaural beat frequency that you should explore. Another frequency is 7.83 HZ; known as the Schumann Resonance, which is the frequency of the earth. While some people consider it to be a “new age” rumor, others refer to scientific evidence that the 7.83 HZ frequency has benevolent psychological and physical effects on the human brain, including increased learning abilities and feelings of balance and grounding. It also forms a natural feedback loop with the human mind and body.
If your mediation skills are good enough to let your brain drop to the frequency around 8 HZ (this is, in fact, the lower edge of alpha waves that occur during the state of light meditation or relaxation) you naturally feel better and more in sync.
The Schumann Resonance frequency is said to triple the bioenergetics field of the body, working as a counter-effect to the “discharging” of your electromagnetic field that occurs naturally with age.
Listening to Schumann Resonance binaural beats can also train your brain to access the “window frequency” between the two states?—?alpha and theta waves—?a so-called “bridge” where many inner processes are more crystallized and you can become a conscious observer of your own emotional states.
Slowing the brain’s waves by binaural beats pushes the brain to recognize itself on a higher level when both hemispheres communicate with each other. By doing so, the brain constructs neural connections of a new kind and teaches itself to be more flexible and develop plasticity. The synchronization of hemispheres at the alpha/theta bridge can also be well familiar to you in the form of non-linear, vivid visionary images we sometimes experience right before falling asleep. These pieces of information are often very hard to translate into linear meaningful sentences?—?again because the state of mind where you put the information into a linear structure demands different brain wave frequencies. However, if you acquire the skill of remembering and converting those visions into meaningful units, they will often give you deep insights and extraordinary creative perspectives.
Where To Start If You’ve Never Done This Before?
I’d advise you to start with frequencies coherent to your present state, so that your brain attunes more steadily. In fact, all brainwaves are pulsing within your skull simultaneously all day long, but certain frequencies prevail. Therefore, non-ordinary conditions of mind should not be your main goal at the very start but, rather, your mind itself should be an object of observation. With that said, the clear and focused mind is also quite an unusual condition.
Moreover, for an inexperienced person only listening to the “mind-altering” frequencies (without focusing on relaxation, breathing exercises and some other techniques) may at first not be enough to pass the threshold, since the natural processes of homeostasis and mental “noise’ will be your barrier to relaxation and dipping into the new states of mind. Instead, it may only make you sleepy.
So, you probably want to check different applications of beta waves first—that is, frequencies that are more “mundane” and put your brain into the optimal state for performing the tasks required—concentration, increasing memory abilities, focus, and so on.
Always keep in mind that the first and foremost purpose of binaural beats is to balance your brain. Science proves that your heart sends more signals to your brain than the brain to your heart, so the more balanced the brain is, the more capable it is to recognize the messages of intuition.
Small children (before 7 years old) function mainly on alpha and theta waves, but in adulthood we naturally forget this. Because of the high variety of external stimuli and the speed of living we switch to faster beta waves.
Interestingly enough, animals function predominantly on theta waves with their eyes open, which explains the remote viewing abilities of many animals. For example, domestic pets often sense their owners’ location and wild animals remote trace for their prey.
Due to the nature of its origin, binaural beats should be listened to with ear- or headphones to ensure that the different frequencies enter your left and right ear, rather than being played over a loudspeaker, when the frequencies mix in the air and your ears pick up the frequencies already mixed together.
In addition, the duration you choose should be 10 minutes minimum. Although passive listening will also affect your mind, it’s a good idea to help your brain attain the desired condition through focused intent.
There are scores of resources now on the web providing you with all kinds of high-quality audio files with binaural beats, both pure or overlaid with some ambient music or chanting. Some of them are free (Youtube provides them in abundance) and some are not. Hemi-Sync, for example,??is a brand created by Robert Monroe to produce binaural beats with different music collections for different states of mind. There are also some websites where you can generate the beat yourself.
My personal experience is that pure beats are much more powerful than those integrated into some ambient and relaxing music. Also, as a side note, these ambient tracks mostly embody alpha or theta waves, so it may not be a particularly good idea to listen to them while driving.
Choose Your Beats Wisely
Listening to the binaural beats is absolutely safe (which is scientifically proven) but you better choose your beats wisely depending on what you are looking for.
If you do some work in front of the computer with your headphones on, then some ambient track with low alpha waves incorporated (you usually hear the binaural beat track as a slight hum) will make you unfocused, although more insightful. This means it may be OK for some creative writing, but not for statistical analysis. If you try listening to theta frequency binaural beats while reading, it may well cause confusion, fatigue or dejection?—?again, because they are not natural for concentration.
Delta waves (0.1–4 Hz) will merge you into sleep very fast (from my personal experience), but not if you are too agitated when you start listening to them. If this is the case, listen to the faster waves first.
Delta waves are known for deep trance conditions, hypnosis, deep sleep (no dreams), but also anti-aging, increased immune functions, self-healing, and the “one with the universe” condition, often referred to as samadhi.
How About Faster Waves?
It is interesting that lower frequency waves have been given much more attention in the research than the higher ones. I have not found much substantial research on the higher beta waves (starting from 20-30 Hz) orgamma waves (30-100 Hz).
For example, while 15–20 Hz waves are known to be connected to focus and increased mental ability, especially that of mathematical nature, it is also associated with euphoria and pineal gland stimulation (20 Hz especially ). 20+ Hz and up to 40 Hz (higher beta/gamma waves) are also mentioned in the contexts of meditation for stress relief, astral projections, very high energy—but also fatigue.
At the same time, 25+ Hz (and up to 40 Hz) frequency waves were observed in Tibetan Buddhist Monks on transcendental meditations. 33 Hz is said to be the Christ consciousness frequency as well as the inner frequency of the Egyptian pyramids (I like this coincidence) and is linked to hypersensitivity.
Going a step higher from there, 35–40 Hz are found to be linked to very intense brain activity, when the entire brain is connected and engaged in complex processing of the information in its different parts. However, this is not the type of condition described as beta waves, but rather a highly sensitive perception and processing of information, the so-called “Aha! moment.” Usually, in such conditions, the body gets profoundly relaxed while the brain is in the state of highest concentration.
These waves don’t last longer than a second or two and are found to be immediately preceded by alpha waves over the right visual cortex. In other words, the brain calms its imagery perceiving function for a moment before the insight burst. An analogy here would be someone closing his eyes for a moment when deepening for complex problem-solving.
Gamma waves can be linked to states of epiphany and sudden insight as opposed to the analytical problem solving where beta waves will be observed. This also explains why these waves usually last only a second and were detected to emanate from the right hemisphere, the creative part of the brain, responsible for assembling together the pieces of the whole and shifting between mental states.
State of The Brain On DMT
DMT, short for dimethyltryptamine, is not only the most powerful psychedelic substance humans can experience but also the one that is naturally produced in the human body. It is known as a “spirit molecule” for its compelling mystical characteristics and effects.
This article wouldn’t be complete without looking into the brain function on DMT in correlation with brain waves. A small study was conducted in 2005 observing two participants’ brain waves on ayahuasca.
The results were astonishing?; ?the brain waves detected were 36–44 Hz and 50–64 Hz—full-speed brain synchronicity. Later, MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) repeatedly cited gamma waves as connected to the ingestion of ayahuasca—that is, the brain on externally provided DMT.
As this article unfolded, I was listening to alpha wave binaural beats and enjoyed the whole process a lot. Hopefully, you enjoyed reading it and maybe will try to integrate the magic of binaural beats into your life.
Tune in! Be present, be “in-phase.”
With her thesis work in neurolinguistics Alexandra’s (Sasha’s) main interests lay on the intersection of linguistics and cognitive science, as well as altered states of consciousness. She has been in business consulting and coaching for 10+ years, helping emerging companies and conscious entrepreneurslaunch and grow. In her work she is also studying the most resourceful and creative states of the human body-mind (or state of flow) and how accessing them helps people recognize and realize their talents.
explore psychedelics and their therapeutic uses in two entertaining and informative talks from SAND 18 and 19
Taking a long view of life on Earth, Robin Wall Kimmerer explores how mosses—ancient beings who transformed the world—teach us strategies for persisting amid a changing climate.
The connections between Quantum Physics, Daoism, and Nonduality in this interview with the Italian physicist
Inspired by Yuval Noah Harari' is an experimental short film featuring over 260 strange and spectacular images, generated by 13 different A.I. algorithms.
How does our biology give rise to the experience of consciousness?
Every creature lives within its own sensory bubble, but only humans have the capacity to appreciate the experiences of other species. What we’ve learned is astounding.
Comparing the foundational base of Blackfoot knowledge to quantum physics to an attentive audience at The Banff Centre as part of the Indigenous Knowledge and Western Science: Contrasts and Similarities event.
A well-documented feature of trauma, one familiar to many, is our inability to articulate what happens to us.
An exploration of a groundbreaking assertion of a new paper published in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
A talk from SAND 15 exploring the brain, perception, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, panpsychism, and more.
The meaning of death and dying in a death-phobic culture and more on Sounds of SAND Episode 2
Susana Martinez-Conde gives her understanding of perception, brains, reality, memory, experience, music, aesthetics, and language from her experience as Laboratory Director of SUNY Downstate Medical Center
All of our ancestors and most of our relatives are immortal. We aren't. How come?
Stephen LaBerge discusses lucid dreaming techniques, Nisargadatta Maharaj, consciousness, and awareness.
Vikram Zutshi In Conversation With Evan Thompson This article was first published at the Sutra Journal…
Let’s start with Anaximander, who said everything forming in Nature incurs a debt which it must repay so that other things may form, which I see as the essence of evolution and a fascinating take on Dying to Live.
Please enter your email and we’ll send you instructions to reset your password