Say what?? ok apologies in advance, this is quite a long post to explain so grab a strong coffee and a couple of matchsticks for your eyes…….
So, I was researching different types of meditation recently (I know, I really should get out more on a Saturday night!) and I came across this subject of binaural beats. I had vaguely heard of it before and just thought it was “white noise” and nothing more peaked my interest. How wrong I was.
So, what the hell am I droning on about now?
Well, in a nutshell, binaural beats are a particular kind of sound that stimulates your brain’s activity to help with concentration, memory, fears, confidence, gets your creative juices flowing etc. It’s similar to self-hypnosis where you listen to someone sending you to sleep while calmly affirming to your mind that you can be more positive or affirming or that you can quit smoking. Self-Hypnosis is very very effective and I’ve used it from time to time at night as I sleep. However, binaural beats don’t change your mindset but rather your actual electrical activity in your brain. It sort of re-wires it to create a desired effect for the good.
Ok, so just quickly in case you’re asking this question: what is the difference between mind and brain? Aren’t they the same thing? Not really. Your brain is a bit like the hardware of your computer with all the components and wiring and electrical activity. Your mind is basically the software that you install into it. It’s very easy to change your mindset – become more positive, learn a new language, become more confident and as I said above this is where hypnosis can be incredibly powerful. However, your brain is so much more complicated, wired up, genetically engineered from genes, DNA, can be dramatically altered through injury or severe illness etc. More of that below.
So, imagine you’re tuning your digital radio into one radio station and then you tune your other digital radio beside it into another station. What’s the difference between the two radio “frequencies”? That is what your brain is working out – the different frequencies – in the two different stations. Interestingly though, the difference in these two binaural sounds received by your brain is the same frequency that your brain produces when you also meditate. So the same electrical impulses your brain creates when receiving the binaural beats is the same creation made when you are in a meditative state. Fascinating isn’t it??
I know. My brain actually groaned when I began researching this. I was like
I find the brain absolutely fascinating. I am definitely not the most intelligent person around but I am hooked on how powerful and transformative your brain and your mind can be to fantastic consequences so although my brain hurt taking all of this in, I was still like
as I was reading up on all of this.
Ok, so, here is a bit more science but it helps to understand exactly what binaural beats sound like and how they affect your brain.
So, like I said our brain creates electrical impulses that make our thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. In our brain we have cells called neurons and when there are a lot of neurons en masse they fire off all together in the same rhythm so you could say they synchronise and this is what creates our brainwaves. So, maybe imagine dancers en masse do street dancing or dancers en masse do ballroom dancing or maybe ballet. They all synchronise to create different rhythms.
There are different brainwaves that occur when we do certain activities. Here is an explanation of our different brainwaves and then the youtube videos illustrate the different binaural beats that are most effective for the particular activity we are doing or for that particular brainwave occurring.
- Theta Waves: When we are dreaming, feeling intuitive or again when we’re meditating. Also these brainwaves help increase our memory, help us become more creative and helps our subconsious: https://youtu.be/BWYyGMuZSgc
- Alpha Waves: When we’re peaceful, eyes closed and in a lovely happy place, but also when we’re activating our memory, trying to organise our thoughts, trying to visualise or learning something new. My Alpha waves must have shot off the scale when I was learning about binaural beats then!!!! Hahahaha https://youtu.be/7cHjaJRl1Qo
- Delta Waves: This is the slowest brainwave and occurs when we are in deep sleep, deep meditation or are in a healing place https://youtu.be/HuhuUa2XYac
- Gamma Waves: these are the fastest brainwaves linking information from different parts of our brain, helping with cognitive behaviour, ideas and also spirituality. https://youtu.be/EVPLIZotdrg
- Beta Waves: Relates to our consciousness and reasoning. Problem solving, complex thinking, motor control i.e. walking, bending, blinking, running etc, anxiousness and judgment. Basically, the brainwaves we need to function everyday – moving, thinking, problem solving but also occurs when we’re highly stressed or agitated https://youtu.be/z-tf5Iu5io8
I find these sounds really creepy if you just sit and listen to them. Like background music to a 1960s sci-fi alien film!!!!!
In case you have no idea, if you had an EEG – Electroencephalogram…yeh stick to saying EEG instead! – an EEG is basically a test to see how your brainwaves are working and to find out if there any problems that are causing illnesses or abnormalities. An EEG graph basically looks like this.
Ok, so, as you know, our brains are utterly fascinating, complicated organs. Statistics show that we all potentially have approx. 70,000 thoughts PER day!!! but, apparently, most of us have about 80% negative thoughts per day.
I think that’s so sad.
We need to get happy!
Negativity and stress changes our brainwaves but it also creates serious illnesses and health conditions that can greatly impact our lives. Think about that. Your negative thoughts are affecting your health. Ok, ok, there are of course genetic contributions, unforeseen accidents or unpredictable situations that also play a major role in our health but aside from the physical occurences, our internal thoughts affect our health too.
So, these binaural beats can really help calm our thoughts, calm our anxieties, help us be more positive etc. by changing our brainwaves to aid our stress, aid our concentration, improve our memory etc. I don’t want to keep banging on about this (as you know I am a big fan of meditation!!!) But one of the most incredibly effective ways of banishing negativity and calming anxiousness is through meditation. That alone changes your brainwaves and listening to binaural beats regularly will, over time, seriously help to “re-wire” your brain and contribute to your health overall. Just saying…….google it yourself. Read up on it. I’m just the messenger here.
This is all fascinating right? But who “invented” binaural beats?? Where the hell did they come from anyway??
Heinrich Wilhelm Dove was a meteorologist, born in 1803 in Prussia (now Poland). In 1839 he discovered binaural beats when he essentially put a big hose to a speaker and the other end to a patient’s ear and then another big hose to another speaker and the other end of that to the patient’s other ear! So the patient was receiving two different “beats” as I’ve explained above. This discovery was called “brainwave entrainment”. It was a huge fascination at the time but nothing really came from his experiements.
Then 134 years later (grow a beard while I’m waiting……) Dr. Gerald Oster realised that this small fascination by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove could actually be groundbreaking in the treatment of several health issues. Oster was a biophysicist and in 1973 he wrote a paper in the Scientific American journal that created further research into binaural beats. Basically, Oster discovered that several of his “patients” whose brain could not interpret the binaural beats accurately were actually suffering from Parkinson’s illness. Oster gave them a week of binaural beats therapy, treating them to regular beats and after a week the patient’s brain was amazingly able to now interpret the beats accurately!!
Parkinson’s is a disorder that affects the part of the brain relating to movement hence why Parkinson’s sufferers shake and find movement so difficult. Deep in our brain there’s a section called the Substantia Nigra. Some of the cells there make dopamine – this helps carry messages around your body such as scratching your armpit, throwing your dirty socks in the laundry basket or running for that train when you’re late for work!
When the dopamine is efficient your body moves well and as it should do but Parkinson’s occurs when the cells in the Substantia Nigra section start to die off. You can’t replace them once they die so the dopamine “postmen” can’t carry messages to tell you to run, scratch, throw, blink etc.
So, how do binaural beats help Parkinson’s?? I mean why am I even bringing this up? Because Parkinson’s is such a great example of how binaural beats can help our health. When we’re in a very relaxed state – like when you have a massage or are in bed so cosy and sleepy and content, the Alpha and Theta brainwaves (check that list above for reference) improves our memory, our coordination and essentially our moods which is amazing for sufferers of Parkinson’s.
My mother has Parkinson’s so when I read this I was l literally like…
My mother also has Alzheimer’s too. Get this…in Alzheimer’s there is a protein called beta-amyloid that collects in the spaces between the neurons which creates a plaque like substance. So, imagine plaque forming on your teeth. Those little yellow bastards clinging onto your teeth like ivy growing on the front of a house! Apparently, gamma brainwaves (again, refer to the list above) halt the immune system to get rid of these plaques!!!!
However, fascinating this subject is your brain is probably cracking like the shell of an egg at all this information. There is SO much more I could go into, it literally is fascinating reading! If you want to know more, I found this facebook group called Binaural Beats Sound Therapy. Out of all the results that came up, this group seems to have the most up to date posts and information and the most subscribers so could be really interesting to follow.
One last point. If you want to start listening to binaural beats regularly, how do you do it? How often? When?? Well, as I said above, ideally you should only listen to them with headphones on – or earbuds are good too – because of the two different sounds / frequencies coming into your ears. Without headphones, the different frequencies will just arrive into your ears “in a stampede” so won’t have the same effect. So just prepare yourself as if you’re going to meditate – sit in a quiet space, turn your phone, tv etc off, do some deep breathing and put your headphones on. You can do it in bed, on a beach, in the park, anywhere but please DO NOT listen to these while driving or just before driving. It will impact your concentration so please be sensible.
You can listen to them for just 10 minutes or 30 or an hour. As it’s such an intense sound for your ears I wouldn’t advise listening for more than an hour or if you’re listening in bed you’ll probably just fall asleep anyway.
How often should you listen to binaural beats? It’s like meditation. Some people meditate every day, twice a day, once a week, once a month, it’s up to you. Over time you will see results. You’ll be re-wiring your brain. It’s not pulling a rabbit from a hat. Be patient. If you start to notice results or if you get bored of listening to the same beats over and over and over, this may mean your brain is really working and you may need to move on to another beat for another purpose. Keep at it. Experiment.
For me, I’ve tried it and found it deeply relaxing to listen to at night and I always fall asleep. This is completely fine.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, it’s been fascinating researching it. Please do leave me a comment or a like or follow my blogs. I’d love to hear your comments or thoughts.
Be happy, be positive, have fun!