Getting your brain to do what you want is perhaps the hardest thing to do. There are times you want to sleep but your mind is constantly racing from one thought to the other which keeps you wide awake.
There are also times you just want to lie down and relax but your restless mind can’t let you. It is also pretty difficult to concentrate and be productive, among other desires, since your brain is not able to follow along.
Binaural beats meditation is a type of meditation that uses sound technology to help you reduce the constant mental chatter as well as mind wandering and bring about the mental states that help you sleep faster and better, relax and even become more productive.
What is Binaural Beats Meditation?
This is the practice of meditating with the help of the sound technology called binaural beats to enhance the quality and experience of meditation.
This means taking on your daily meditation practice while listening to an audio recording with your headphones with different sound frequencies in each ear.
Binaural beats are believed to be auditory illusions that work on the brain and help you relax, sleep and easily get into meditative states.
A new tone is “created” in your brain when a tone in one ear has a different frequency to the tone played in the other ear. This new tone is what is referred to as a binaural beat.
Imagine you are listening to sound that is played in your right ear at a frequency of 110 Hz (Hertz) and in your left ear the frequency is at 120 Hz. The difference in the frequencies is 10 Hz. This difference is what you brain will get into flow with, which is the binaural beat, together with the other 2 tones in your ears.
For this science to work, there are certain conditions that have to be met. First, the two tones have to be played in different ears, not the same.
Listening to these tones changes the state of your mind and encourages you to sleep, meditate or relax.
How Binaural Beats Meditation Works
In order to know well how binaural beats work and how they influence the brain, we need to look at a certain aspect of the brain known as brain waves, and a form of brain science called Brainwave entrainment.
Brainwave entrainment is the bracket under which you will find binaural beats. This science is known to use music tones created with different frequencies to help influence the brain to get into a certain desirable state.
They help you get into different mental states such has relaxation, focus, concentration, sleep, state of productivity, happiness, calmness and even the meditative state, among others.
Binaural beats as well as isochronic tones and monaural beats are created to help with this.
Brainwave entrainment makes it possible to influence the brain wave activity that goes on in the brain.
The brain is known to have electrical activity going on as brain cells communicate. The electrical activity creates different patterns called Brainwave patterns.
When studied under the EEG (electroencephalography) machine, the brain was found to have 5 brain wave patterns that indicated different states of consciousness (3).
These patterns include:
1. Delta brain wave pattern (less than 4 Hz) – This pattern is associated with relaxation and deep sleep that has no dreams.
2. Theta brain wave pattern (4 Hz to 7 Hz) – This pattern is linked to light sleep with rapid eye movements (REM), meditation, creativity and relaxation.
3. Alpha brain wave pattern (8 Hz to 13 Hz) – This pattern is associated with relaxed wakefulness and also occurs when you meditate lightly. It’s when you start meditating, when you become calm, relaxed but still alert.
4. Beta brain wave pattern (14 Hz to 30 Hz) – This pattern is linked to focus, concentration and alertness. We are normally in this state during the day. However, when this pattern persists, we become stressed and anxious.
5. Gamma brain wave pattern (30 Hz to 50 Hz) – Although it’s still under study, this pattern is believed to be linked to high level focus, concentration and productivity. Zen meditation is one of the practices found to bring this pattern (4).
How it is Different From Traditional Meditation
Binaural beats meditation is unique in that it helps you get into deep meditative states faster when you begin meditation. By encouraging formation of the brain wave patterns that are seen when one is in a deep meditative state, you are able to have a more productive and engaging meditation session.
With traditional meditation, it takes a fairly long time to get into these states. Beginners may take months or even years of consistent meditation to achieve the deep meditative state, where you are calm and relaxed, yet wakeful.
The mind is always dominated by racing thoughts and it is often difficult to bring it to quietness immediately you start meditating. And even though binaural beats are not able to entirely quiet the mind, they are far more effective when combined with personal effort compared to doing it the traditional way.
Benefits of Binaural Beats Meditation
Studies on binaural beats are still ongoing and some studies that have been already done require more trials, however, the research on them so far reveal encouraging results of the great potential to help with various areas of the mind and body (5).
Some of the benefits that have been linked to using binaural beats include:
1. Improving the quality of sleep (6)
2. Increasing the ability to fight physical and psychological stress (7)
4. May help with headaches and migraine (9)
8. Handling tinnitus (16)
9. Enhancing the experience of meditation (17)
Taking Caution With Binaural Beats
Binaural beats are generally believed to be safe for use by everyone. However, it is always good practice to consult with a doctor before using any music and other resources that have been made using binaural beats.
This will help confirm if you are fit enough to use them, health wise. Since they influence brain wave patterns and electrical activity in the brain, there is a group of people who may be negatively affected by this. Some of these people include those who:
* Suffer from epilepsy or wear a pacemaker as it could cause seizures
* Have irregular heartbeats as it may interfere with the rhythm of your heartbeat
* Have any serious mental illnesses or have suffered brain injury
* Children below the age of 18 and pregnant women
* Experience any kind of negative effects while listening to the binaural beats no matter how mild they are. Effects like dizziness, headache or nausea.
If you experience any effects while meditating with binaural beats, please stop using them immediately and seek medical help. Also, if you feel they are not helping your meditation sessions be better, feel free to stick to the traditional meditation.
It is also important to note that you should never use binaural beats or brainwave entrainment products while operating serious machines or when you are driving.
How to Use Binaural Beats
Here are some steps to follow to make good use of binaural beats:
Step 1: Choose the right binaural beats for yourself – There are many binaural beats out there that offer different sets of benefits listed above. You first need to decide which of those benefits you want to enjoy from binaural beats. It could be improved sleep, better meditation, relaxation or any other.
Once you settle on the benefits, you should get yourself the beats that offer those benefits. You can get them in many places.
For free beats, you can check out meditation websites and apps such as Insight Timer or YouTube. For high quality beats that are designed for specific benefits, you should consider purchasing from producers such as Zen 12, Brainev, Equisync, Brainwave shots, Holosync, Sleep salon, Nitrofocus, Brain salon or any other that you find to be your right fit.
Step 2: Get a pair of headphones
Step 3: Find a quiet place that has got few to no distractions
Step 4: With your headphones connected to the device that has the binaural beats, put on your headphones and play the music.
Step 5: Listen to the music for a good deal of time as you meditate, relax, sleep or do anything that is related to the benefits you are looking for.
Step 6: Give yourself time as you listen to the beats. Feel free to experiment with different time periods ranging from 5 minutes to 1 hour or more based on the kind and quality of benefits you are after. Find the right time period that works for you. For instance, if you are trying to overcome high levels of stress, you may want to listen longer than someone who has lower levels.
Make sure you follow the instructions that come with the binaural beats that you will be using.
Avoid using the binaural beats while carrying out demanding tasks that are not related to what the beats have been designed for.
Also, remember to be patient as you use them. We are all different and we respond differently to various things including binaural beats. It may take some time before you get to see the full benefits.
Most importantly, when it comes to meditation, remember that binaural beats only help you get into meditative states. But you have to put in the effort to do the meditation yourself. It sets the pace for meditation for you and then you will have to get involved in the session.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) on Binaural Beats Meditation
Question: What things should I keep in mind when listening to binaural beats with my headphones?
Answer: You should make sure that you set the sound levels of your headphones at a good volume. Avoid setting it too high (above 85 decibels) since listening to such high volume for a long time can use loss of hearing (18).
Question: Can binaural beats cause destruction of the brain?
Answer: Binaural beats only work on the brain waves which means they can only affect the brain waves, not the entire brain.
Question: Do binaural beats work for everyone all the time?
Answer: As with every product out there, they don’t work for everyone all the time. Results differ from one user to the other. There are some people who find them quite useful, others fairly useful and others fail to get desired results. The only way to know how well they work for you personally is by trying them out yourself.
Question: How do brainwave entrainment music tones sound like?
Answer: Most of the time, it is hard to hear the binaural beats playing as they are combined with other beautiful sounds to make the music interesting to your ears.
To be honest, practicing meditation can at times be disappointing, time-consuming and difficult, which makes most people call it quits.
And with the good deal of human studies done on binaural beats, it seems like in the near future, this could be a really reliable tool for meditation as well as for handling stress, anxiety and other unwanted mental states.
And while they have not been the perfect fit for everyone, they are showing massive potential in helping with sleep, relaxation and getting into a state of meditation.
However, as said, it is always important to speak a doctor or a health care specialist before using them so that you are sure they are a good fit for you.