For those meditation enthusiasts among you, chances are you’ve probably heard about brainwave entrainment, and some of the benefits and effects this incredible technology can provide the mind, body and soul.
However, with so much conflicting and unsubstantiated information out there, it’s hard to know which “facts” can be trusted. In this article, I’ll explain what brain entrainment is, how it scientifically alters brainwaves, and some of its proven benefits – including its ability to induce deep relaxation.
What is Brainwave Entrainment?
The brain is a mass of neurons, each taking part in storing, retrieving and transmitting electrochemical impulses, information, colors, images, sounds, smells and tastes. Given the lives most of us lead, we are exposed to incredible amounts of information, daily.
With brainwave entrainment, different areas of the brain are stimulated, allowing for the awakening and subsequent release of various stored material. In a sense quieting the mind for clearer thought and process.
So what exactly is brainwave entrainment?
The term “entrainment” is borrowed from physics and simply means the tendency for two vibrating bodies to lock into phase so that they vibrate in harmony.
So what if this same phenomenon could be repeated in training the brain to lock into the vibrations of an outside stimulus?
Many scientific studies have shown that this is in fact possible. For centuries people have been using outside rhythmic stimulus in the form of drumbeats, chants and singing to induce various feelings.
When the brain is stimulated with pulsed sounds (neuroelectrical activity via the nerves originating from the ears), the overall activity of the brain will respond to and align with these pulses. By selecting the desired rate, the brain via the frequency following response (entrainment) can be naturally induced towards the selected brainwave state.
What science is proving is that the applications for this technology are unlimited.
How Does Brainwave Entrainment Work?
Our brains produce “sweeping” electrical charges. These charges create rhythms known as brainwave patterns.
Brainwave patterns are commonly grouped into four different categories, each of which are associated with various states of mind, and when targeted through brainwave entrainment, can produce improved, altered states of being. The four categories include:
1) Beta waves – these are quick waves of 13 to 30 times per second (Hz). Beta brainwave patterns are generated naturally when we are awake and alert.
2) Alpha waves – these exist between 8 and 12 Hz. Alpha waves usually occur during rest (e.g. when the eyes are closed) while in deep relaxation, meditation or when quieting the mind. Alpha waves are the desired results of experienced meditators.
3) Theta waves – these waves exist between 4 and 7 Hz. This state is commonly referred to as the dream or “twilight” state. Theta is associated with learning, memory, REM sleep and dreaming. Memory development is also enhanced while in this state. When in a theta brainwave state, memory is improved (especially long-term memory), and access to unconscious material, insights and creative ideas is increased.
4) Delta waves – these brainwave patterns usually occur when we are asleep. As we fall asleep the dominant natural brainwave becomes delta. Delta waves are the slowest waves ranging from .5 to 3 Hz.
The Benefits of Brainwave Entrainment
Research has shown that by stimulating different brainwave ranges, the benefits can extend to improving learning, memory, creativity, motivation, relaxation, sleep, focus, energy levels and problem solving – while decreasing stress and pain levels.
For example, by stimulating the theta range, this appears to accelerate learning. Whereas using brainwave entrainment in the alpha brainwave range may result in benefits similarly found with Zen or Transcendental meditation.
These benefits also extend throughout the body to improve breathing patterns and higher physical energy levels, in addition to promoting an improved outlook on life, better performance in both sports and career, improved relationships and increased workplace satisfaction.
One of the most valuable benefits of regular use of brainwave entrainment is that we are able to experience and recognize the various states of consciousness. With practice, we can learn how to re-create these states.
Deep relaxation is another major benefit resulting from the brains cortical frequency following response while using brainwave entrainment. As the brain tends to mimic the rate of frequency it is exposed to, thus allowing it to enter into that brainwave state, this helps explain why this technology can produce benefits commonly found with meditation.
All brainwave states serve important mental functions, and with today’s lifestyle, returning to a peaceful way of being is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve and maintain for any period of time. This continual stress or alerted state causes disease in the mind and body, which is why it’s paramount for us to relearn or retrain ourselves to get back to these healthful and rejuvenating states.
If you’d like to experience what brainwave entrainment is all about, why not download Digital Coffee, a free brain entrainment audio from our new meditation app, Omvana.