Hello everyone! Just wanted to take a second to thank you for reading through my first article.
When deciding on a topic to research, I wanted to look into something we could all benefit from. The definition of meditation is: “a precise technique for resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state.”¹. The practice dates back as far as 1500 BCE by the ancient Vedas of India². Well that’s enough history, the point of this article is to discuss a more modern style of meditation…Music. More specifically the use of binaural beats.
Keeping it simple, brain cells use electric currents to communicate with other brain cells, these electric patterns are termed, brain waves. There are five basic brain waves: gamma, beta, alpha, theta and delta. Each wave is measured in the frequency unit: hertz (Hz). The following visual represents brain wave measurements:
Just A Quick Summary:
Gamma Waves: This pattern is a fairly new concept, but is associated with heightened performance of the brain. In other words, you are in “the zone” and will have super focus, concentration, and productivity.
Beta Waves: Most of the day, one is in the beta state. In this state, one is alert and focused. With extended states of being in a beta wave, one may feel stress or anxiety. Basically, if one does not sleep, they will most likely become stressed and anxious. Sleep is the bodies’ way of restoring normal brain wave patterns.
Alpha Waves: This is the bridge between being conscious and unconscious. Generally, whenever one closes their eyes, they enter the alpha state. The alpha state relates to relaxation, visualization, and creativity, which is why many desire this state for meditation.
Theta Waves: The theta state is the drowsy feeling one gets as they begin to fall asleep or when in a light sleep. This is also one of the more desired states for mediation purposes as it induces deep relaxation.
Delta Waves: This is the state one’s brain goes into while in deep sleep. This is also how our brain helps to restore us both physically and mentally. Sleep is crucial to keeping a normal brain wave pattern.
With the basic science understood, we can discuss how binaural beats work. For reference, the definition of binaural beats is: a term given to a measured change in brain activity when presented with audio stimulus. When a person is presented with a stereo sound of two different tones – the brain produces a response, which is hearing and responding to the difference between the tones, not the actual tones themselves.³ When the brain is presented with two tones of different frequency, it creates a tone that is the difference in the two. The difference in the two tones is the binaural beat. The beat alone can alter one’s brainwaves and change one’s mood. As the diagram shows below, by playing a tone of different frequency in each ear, the brain creates a binaural beat. For example, if one plays a 130 Hz tone in the right ear, and a 120 Hz tone in the left ear, the difference results to 10 Hz which relates to the alpha brain wave.
How to do it?
There are a couple of factors that go into meditating with binaural beats. The first thing to consider is why you are meditating. Are you trying to relax? Sleep? Get into “the zone”? Luckily there are plenty of free videos online that are there to help. I recommend Eric Bartel‘s YouTube channel. There are multiple videos on his YouTube channel that I have personally used. The next factor is that you must use headphones, more specifically ones that can play the frequencies given off in the music. I use Audio Technica ATH-M50 studio headphones which hit very low and high frequency while offering a crisp sound (This company doesn’t sponsor me, but I really want them to, so if you’re reading this contact me 😉 ). The last thing to consider are your surroundings. In order to optimize the effects of the meditation, one should lie down, close their eyes, turn the music to a moderate volume, and set the lighting to as low as desired to be relaxed.
Trying it out for myself
In order to truly understand how it works and feels, I had to try it out for my fellow explorers. I found that it really does work almost instantly. As mentioned earlier, I used a couple of videos from: Eric Bartel in order to see how it would change my mental state. Around one minute into a video, I could feel my heart rate slowing down. Nearly five minutes into the video, I could feel myself falling into a very relaxed state where all I could concentrate on were the ambient sounds in the video, added to take away from the loud noise of the binaural beat. After listening for around ten minutes, I took my headphones off because I began to feel tired. In my opinion, it really does work, but only if you can block out other surrounding distractions. As described in the last section, I had to ready myself for meditation. In my case I used studio-grade headphones, sat down on my bed, and turned on low lights. All of the videos I have chosen are meant to be relaxing, thus shifting my brain into the theta and alpha states (as stated in the videos’ description). I look forward to trying out different ranges and exploring more of what binaural beats has to offer.
Interested in reading more into this topic? check out these references:
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STAY TUNED EXPLORERS