Brainwave Entrainment 101
Using sound and light to guide the mind into quieter, healthier states.
"I have little doubt that brain entrainment technology is a highly effective means of inducing changes in consciousness. Brain entrainment, at least within my own research, has shown itself to be virtually foolproof and does indeed facilitate whole brain experiences. The early indications are strong that this now-developing technology will profoundly revolutionize both our concepts of, and interaction with, our consciousness . . . The evolution of human consciousness is a tangibly manipulable process. We can control our destiny - . It would appear as though brain entrainment will be among the technoIogies leading the way." -Dr. Harrah-Conforth
Learn to use the powerful nature of sound to help balance your mind. This an evolving resource for musicians, yoga & meditation instructors, reiki & massage practitioners and anyone else who would like to learn more about brainwaves and entrainment techniques using sound and light.
Is this real?
The first step in understanding brainwave entrainment is overcoming our healthy but incorrect skepticism about sound & light pulses positively influencing our brainwave states. The science behind brainwave entrainment, its ability to naturally influence the mind in healthful ways, and its power to deepen our meditation practices has been peer tested repeatedly with great success for many of years. Today NASA provides their astronauts with sleeping eye masks which use light pulses to help the astronauts maintain a healthy sleep cycle. In fact, entrainment is a universal phenomenon which humans have been experimenting with since the dawn of time. We have always altered our minds by way of percussive & melodic phrasings in our music as well as the surrounding influence of the rich ambient pulses of nature. Machinery influences our minds daily as well. That fan mounted to the ceiling, the hum of an automobile, the buzz of a refrigerator, or the squeal of the desktop computer all have pronounced rhythmic pulses that can change our brainwave patterns unpredictably. B.W.E. is an evolved way of taking back power over our own mental frequencies. Now that technology can more closely observe that which our ancient cultures have always intuitively suspected, we can continue to get even more precise with these new tools and advanced techniques. Let’s dig a little deeper into what brainwave entrainment is and what it may soon become.…
*Hz: a measurement of how many pulses are occurring per second. (1 hz = 1 pulse per second) (4 hz = 4 pulses per second,) etc…
*EEG: An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test that detects electrical activity in your brain using small, metal discs (electrodes) attached to your scalp. Your brain cells communicate via electrical impulses and are active all the time, even when you're asleep. This activity shows up as wavy lines on an EEG recording.
Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta & Epsilon.
*Gamma: 25-100 Hz - Appear during higher processing tasks such as problem solving in a complicated situation. Theoretically these are the frequencies of our consciousness. They seem to disappear while under anesthesia. EEG studies on expert meditators reveal higher Gamma activity before and during observed meditations.
*Beta: 12-20 Hz - The active and alert mind. Fight or flight mode. Most common while we’re awake. Too much Beta activity can disrupt sleeping patterns and lower the immune system significantly. If someone is suffering from depression or ADHD, adding Beta entrainment can possibly help them balance a mind that was producing too much Alpha activity.
*Alpha: 7-12 Hz - Alpha is a relaxation and creativity filled brainwave. Many artists, deep thinkers and musicians have been observed as having higher Alpha activity. You can quickly dip into the Alpha brainwave state by simply closing your eyes. Elite athletes have also been observed as having higher Alpha levels during performance.
*Theta: 4-7 Hz - This is the very cusp of our relaxed conscious state and our dreaming subconscious state. Theta waves typically arrive during our sleep cycles and sometimes during moments of deep relaxation. Wild and uninterpretable thoughts often fly through the mind evoking groggy curiosities as you slip into this state. Yoga Nidra aims to suspend participants here to evoke the benefits of Theta waves.
*Delta: 0.5-4 Hz - These visit us briefly each night if we are able to sleep well enough and they leave us feeling well rested. Delta waves decrease in activity as we age, particularly in men. There are a wealth of benefits associated with this brainwave state such as triggering the body’s natural healing systems, feeling rested after sleep and regenerating our immune system. Empathy is also theorized to originate from this wave.
*Epsilon: 0.5-0 Hz - Another mysterious wave which is observed at higher levels in the EEG results taken from seasoned meditators. This brainwave moves along in syncopation with our Gamma waves. It is theorized to hold together our body’s parasympathetic (rest & digest) rhythms.
Common methods of brainwave entrainment:
*Isochronic pulses: are regular beats of a single tone. They are the newest form of sonic entrainment and are considered the strongest sound based technique due to the depth of the pulses They are also monophonic so they can be listened to on any playback system and always have the desired effect.
*Monaural beats: are similar to Isochronic pulses in that they are regular beats of a single tone but the notes fade in and out of each other creating a smoother, slightly shallower pulse. These can be experienced on any playback system as well and still have the desired effect.
*Binaural beats: are regular beats of two tones with slightly different frequencies panned left & right and can only work with the use of headphones. The pulses are strangely perceived in the brain and not actually heard with the ears. A sonic mirage of sorts. Binaural beats are extremely shallow pulses and have been scientifically observed as the weakest form of sonic entrainment.
*Light pulses: Light waves were the original entrainment technique and they are the strongest entrainment tool available. Where sonic entrainment can usually take 8-12 minutes before the brainwaves sync, light pulses can entrain the mind in half that. Light and sound entrainment used together are extremely powerful wellness tools.
*Haptic pulses: are vibrational pulses felt through the skin and body. This is a relatively new field of study but my personal work with vibroacoustic devices leads me to theorize that this method is just as valid as any of the other entrainment techniques discussed.
Light waves, sound waves and brain waves can all be measured in Hz which means that we are able to synchronize them together through a technique known as brainwave entrainment. For instance, a person who may have trouble sleeping can apply brainwave entrainment with sound or light to help their mind find the neural pathways to their Delta brainwave states or someone else suffering from depression might not be experiencing enough Beta brainwave activity. By applying Beta entrainment with light or sound this person may well be able to take control of this and introduce more Beta activity to the mind. The main factor in gaining meaningful results with this type of treatment, like most treatments, is actually putting in the work. Taking the short 10-30 minutes a day to fully coalesce with our healthier rhythms can help us become our better selves. Please keep in mind that it is unsafe to operate heavy machinery while experiencing entrainment due to drowsiness. If you have any medical conditions such as pregnancy, epilepsy, a heart condition or brain injuries please consult your doctor before using any type of brainwave entrainment. There are no known reports of people being harmed by entrainment but it’s best to err on the side of caution when dealing with your health. Children with still developing minds should not engage in practices with brainwave entrainment.