It’s becoming incredibly popular now and for good reason, but what are binaural beats exactly?
What are binaural beats?
Simply put, binaural beats are made by bringing together two different sound frequencies to create what we hear to be a single tone. For example, when you listen to a sound wave of 435hz in your left ear and 420hz in your right ear, your brain hears an imaginary tone. The sound your brain perceives is called the ‘binaural beat’. It is a very low frequency tone which you don’t actually hear.
You can listen to one which I had specially composed here for free on YouTube.
Many studies have shown the powerful effect of listening to binaural beats, but essentially this ‘trickery’ of the brain can induce states of calm, relaxation and quiet within us. It works by breaking up the existing chatter within our brains, stopping the continued brainwave frequency of the stress of our day, the worries and the fears and shifting us into a frequency of peace. Binaural beats are therefore listened to often when individuals need help sleeping, for stress relief and relaxation. They can also be used to heighten alertness and focus – this happens when the imaginary frequency is much further apart.
When I first asked ‘what are binaural beats’, it was in a meditation forum and so many responded that they actually use it to assist in their meditation practice. Since then, I have personally listened to binaural beats in my own meditation time and find that the results are incredibly powerful. Where sometimes it can take me 10-30 minutes to quieten the noisy thoughts in my brain, when I play binaural beats music in the background, I reach the stillness and quiet within me much quicker.
So how does it actually work?
The effect of binaural beats was actually first come across in 1837 when a physicist named Heinrich Wilhelm Dove discovered that you could induce different feelings in patients by using different sound frequencies.
Known as the process of ‘entrainment’ (in other words ‘tuning of the brain’), brainwave patterns alter when exposed to different sound waves – in fact, the brainwave patterns adjust to align with the frequencies it is hearing.
So what frequencies induce what effect?
The higher and faster the frequency, the more awake, alert and reactive you feel. The lower and slower the frequency, the more restful, relaxed and sleepy you feel.
Associated with high levels of reaction and engagement, Beta waves are ideal for those wanting to produce a lot of energy, be active, engaged, very aware of their surroundings, and indeed reactive to them!
Good for: Dance and physical movement, awakening energy and fire within yourself, problem solving where high-intensity is needed.
Associated with wakeful relaxation. Alpha waves are ideal for those wanting to be present in the moment, being aware of your surroundings but perceiving/absorbing it in a very calm way.
Good for: Meditation, yoga, creative activities, creativity.
Associated with the dreamworld, the surreal and lucid dreaming. Theta waves are ideal for those who wish to drift off to sleep, or engage in deep meditation practice. It is in this Theta state that one accesses the subconscious mind and the inner wisdom found within ourselves.
Good for: Deep meditation, lucid dreaming, receiving insights, going to sleep.
Associated with deep sleep, regeneration and healing. Delta waves are very slow, low-frequency brainwaves and are ideal for those wishing to reach deep (stage 3 and 4), NREM sleep.
Good for: Deep sleep, healing (especially important in the recovery from illness or chronic stress/anxiety).