Thursday, April 21, 2016
Today we will enter the fascinating world of Binaural Beats. Let's start out with a bit of introduction for those that have never heard of this odd auditory phenomenon and the reported benefits that they provide. In a nutshell, our ears are used to hearing the same sound from a slightly different perspective. This assumption that our brain makes when listening to two distinct, slightly different, pure tones results in what is called a Binaural Beat.
What does that mean? Let's say you put on a pair of headphones and I play a 193hz tone in your left ear. Now in your right ear, I play a tone at 197hz. The difference between the two tones on their own is almost indistinguishable. When played together, however, something interesting begins to happen. Your brain compensates for the difference in the two tones and the result is a wavering tone that makes up the difference between the two pure tones. So playing a tone of 193hz and a tone of 197hz, results in you hearing a modulating 4hz tone that doesn't really exist. It is actually generated by your brain. Studies have shown that listening to these modulating tones can actually help you bring your own brain wave frequency in line with the frequency you are hearing in your head. Due to this, Binaural Beats have become a tool used in meditation, astral projection, accelerated learning, intense concentration, etc.
There are five different frequency ranges to discuss that can be generated using Binaural Beats and these frequency ranges match up with the wave frequencies found in our brains.
The first is Delta. Delta waves are usually associated with deep and dreamless sleep. These are the slowest of the wave frequencies and live down in the 2hz to 3hz range.
Next up are Theta waves. Theta waves are associated with deep meditation, deep relaxation, and NREM sleep. Theta waves range from 4hz to 7hz.
Alpha waves are associated with a state of mind conducive to conscious relaxation, pre-sleep, or pre-sleep drowsiness. This is also the range that your brainwaves fall into when you are dreaming. Alpha waves range from 8hz to 13hz.
Beta waves are the frequency that is associated with concentration and cognition. They range from 14hz to 39hz.
Finally, there are Gamma waves. These are the fastest and are found in the mind when you are actively problem-solving or using intense concentration and perception.
There are countless videos on YouTube that contain Binaural Beats. I would caution you, however, I have run across several that are not true Binaural Beats; audio files where the sound really is modulating rather than relying on your brain to create that synchronization of the two tones. There are also several apps out on the Android Market that can produce these tones. My personal favorite is one called "Beat Player". It was inexpensive and offers a lot of flexibility, presets, and the ability to save your own presets for later use.
What is this "Hemi-Sync" that I have heard of?
Interesting story I was told during my week at the Monroe Institute:
Robert Monroe was a pilot and during his career, he witnessed instances where the engine on one side of the plane and the other side of the plane were slightly out of tune. The result was this modulating, wavering tone that filled the gap between these two tones. What's more, this modulating tone was a danger to pilots because it would often result in them falling asleep at the wheel. This observation of the effect sound could have on the human consciousness stuck with him and during his career in the radio business, he began experimenting with this phenomenon. His primary goal at first was to use it to induce learning while asleep. This later was to evolve and become part of Bob's method for teaching other how to reach the out of body state. Today this is known as "Hemi-Sync".
So what is the difference between Hemi-Sync and Binaural Beats? It basically comes down to production. Hemi-Sync uses Binaural Beats, but layers them, covers them with pink noise, and either adds Bob's voice as he provides guided meditations and exercises, or music where the root note lines up with the Binaural Beat's tone so the actual modulation is difficult to hear. The idea is that these various added components make it easier to listen to these tones for long periods of time, increasing the benefit that they provide.
Other Sound Technology:
Graham Nicholls, another well-known phase practitioner, has created his own variation of sound to assist in projecting. He calls his product "Infra-liminal Sound". This again starts with the use of Binaural Beats, but then it adds a phasing stereo quality and patterns that speed up and slow down over the hour of audio. His goal was to produce a sound that would help practitioners get closer to the state required for astral projection by playing audio that is reminiscent of the sound and sensations that can be experienced.
Does it Work?
I have used them all and I can tell you that all three have their strengths. First, Binaural Beats are easy to tweak to fit your desired state of mind, especially with an app like Beat Player. They are also not hidden by any pink noise, white noise, or music and I find that this leads to them being more potent. They can get me into a deep meditative state much more quickly than something like Hemi-Sync. That being said, they are difficult to listen to for hours on end, so if your goal is to listen to something all day at work, you would be better off with Hemi-Sync. The Wave CD's produced by the Monroe institute are great for guided meditations. I personally love Bob's voice. I listen to him guiding me through his exercises and always find myself wishing I could have met this remarkable man. Infra-liminal sound is probably the least well-known. The real benefit I have found with this is the stereo phasing effect that Graham uses. In my other posts, I have mentioned how powerful imagined movement can be when trying to reach the vibrational stage. I use Graham's Infra-liminal sound during the day to practice that imagined sense of movement. The stereo sound gives his audio a real sense of motion and adds to the efficacy of visualization practice.
When it actually comes to projecting, I have heard many people swear by these audio technologies. I have to say personally that I find them great for meditation and practice, but when I am projecting, my goal is to disconnect myself from all physical ties to this world and that includes my sense of hearing. Having these sounds play in my ear tends to keep me too focused on the physical. If you have trouble projecting while listening to these sounds, I would recommend using them for 15 to 30 minutes prior to your projection attempt as a meditation to get you closer to that desired state of mind. I find that this is far more effective.