[reprinted from my former site How to Tune a Human, May 3, 2007]
As described in the “What are Brainwaves?” article, the popular term “brainwaves” comes from the electrical operation of the brain, which as it operates, causes quick voltage fluctuations in the different parts of the brain.
::: FROM DEEPLY ASLEEP TO WIDE AWAKE
For convenience, brainwaves are described by their frequency, or how fast they’re waving. This is convenient because generally speaking certain frequencies correspond with certain mental states that we know.
- “Delta“ — Varies from .02 to 4 Hz (cycles per second). This is usually associated with deep sleep.
- “Theta“ — Varies from 4 Hz up to 8 Hz. This is dreaming sleep, and also when you’re daydreaming, or visualizing, or using the imagination
- “Alpha“ — 8 Hz up to 13 Hz. When you’re relaxed, but awake.
- “Beta“ — 13 Hz up to 30 Hz. Your usual waking state.
- “Gamma“ — 30 Hz up to 60 Hz.
So the simple way to look at this is: Different frequency = Different consciousness.
:: DOES ‘ENTRAINMENT’ MEAN GETTING ON THE TRAIN?
In a manner of speaking, it does mean ‘getting on the train!’
By using flashing light, or pulses of sound, or even pulses of electrical (magnetic) fields that are near to the frequency at which the brain is operating, the brain can be persuaded to change it’s “speed.” It’s not that we somehow tricked the brain into doing such a thing. It’s that research uncovered the fact that the brain will, on its own, do that very thing.
Imagine back, back to the dawn of time, and the tribe is gathering and the drums are pulsing. If in fact the drums are pulsing at just about the right speed, then the brainwaves of the folks there will start following right along at the speed of the drums.
If the drums speed up, everybody becomes more alert. If the drums slow down, then people may start going into “slow-brain” states such as trance and imagination. Perhaps the wailing song of the chanter tells a story of the past, and perhaps the tranced-out tribal members can see the story as if it were now.
We also now know that we could use flashes of light. Probably the flickering firelight has put many a traveler in the wilderness into a trance, but with computer-driven light bulbs we have more control over the frequency.
The brain “follows” the entrainment frequency, and just slides into sync with the frequency of the pulses of light or sound. And so, in a sense, the brain does get on the train, the train being driven by the pulses of light or sound.
And since your brain will naturally follow, this gives you a way to lead your brain.
Lead it where?
Lead it where you want to go!
::: CHANGING YOUR CONSCIOUSNESS
This means you can choose your state of consciousness simply by listening to pulses of sound. The lifetime practice of a Tibetan Monk may enable him to enter deep states of meditation. Putting on your headphones can take you to the same place, and you need not spend a lifetime to do so.
Is this cheating?
No, it’s just learning.
Is your state of “meditation” less effective or less real than such a state accomplished by years of practice?
As far as we can tell, accomplishing a change of consciousness by listening to sound files produces the same beneficial effects, has the same refreshing feeling, and causes the same gradual increase of calm and focus in your daily life.
In fact, because listening to soundfiles is so much easier, it would appear that any human can make greater progress and achieve greater benefit, because you can access the benefits more easily and more deeply than by traditional methods.
::: WHAT BENEFIT DO YOU GET?
Medical experiments have proven that using brainwave-entrainment soundfiles can increase your body’s levels of Serotonin (helps with depression,
The use of brainwave entrainment frequencies has in theory been medically proven to increase our own levels in beta-endorphins (relieves pain and makes you feel good), serotonin (helps with depression), nor-ephenephrin (an energizing neur0-transmitter), and additionally can help your body release more Human Growth Hormone, which heals injuries, builds muscles, and keeps you younger and more energetic.
::: ONE CAUTION
Although listening to the beating of the drums is fairly harmless, overdoing it when listening to sound files has led some folks to report a headache. It’s probably about the same thing as doing too much exercise when you first start an exercise program. However, move forward more reasonably — following the directions, in other words — and you should enjoy the warm and relaxed feeling it can provide.
You should *never* use brainwave entrainment while driving a car or operating machinery, just like you shouldn’t take sleeping pills while driving a car or operating machinery. When driving you need to be maximum alert, and using brainwaves to make you deeply relaxed just then wouldn’t be a safe thing to do.
The one true caution would be if you have any reason to suspect a history of epilepsy or seizures. As you probably know, those who suffer from epilepsy can have the condition triggered by many different things, and in some cases, pulses of sound might be the wrong thing to do. However, if you are free of this debilitating illness, brainwave entrainment by listening to sound files is perfectly safe, as is traditional meditation.
In fact, it’s more than safe.