Brain Wave Entrainment – Teach Your Brain to Relax
Our amazing and complex brain is driven by electrical waves that vibrate at different frequencies. The speed of these frequencies determines our state of awareness, from deep sleep to high alert, causing our heartbeat to slow or speed up accordingly. What if you could harness the velocity of these waves and alter the frequencies at will? Would it be possible to control how alert or calm we feel to better manage our mental and emotional state? Many scientists believe the answer is yes.
To understand the possibilities, we must first understand how brain waves work. All sound frequencies produce unique waves, measured in Hertz (Hz). The brain generates several different frequencies. Faster vibrations make us more alert, and the slowest occur during deep, dreamless sleep:
* Delta – less than 4 Hz. Profound sleep, no dreams
* Theta – 4 to 7 Hz. REM sleep, active dreaming
* Alpha – 7 to 13 Hz. Awake, in a state of deep relaxation
* Beta – 13 to 40 Hz. Actively awake, thinking, concentrating, using cognition and memory
* Gamma waves – over 40 Hz. High mental alertness, fight or flight, active problem-solving
Our bodies access natural regenerative processes when we are in the deepest sleep stages. Profound relaxation also rejuvenates and energizes us. When we experience stress over an extended period, however, the brain enters a heightened state of readiness called the flight-or-fight response. This stressful condition causes a chemical reaction that is extremely damaging mentally, emotionally, and physically, leaving us vulnerable to emotional and physical illness. For healing of brain and body to occur, we need our brain to generate low-frequency waves and enter a deep relaxation state.
How do we enter that state of profound, healing relaxation? Popular techniques include meditation, yoga, music, or trance. Controlling the frequency of brain waves, however, involves something called brain entrainment. Entrainment evokes the EEG (electroencephalographic) frequency-following response in the brain. This can be illustrated with tuning forks. If one is struck and begins to vibrate at 440 Hz and brought near another tuning fork, the second will also begin to vibrate at 440 Hz.
The entrainment response in the brain is very powerful and will respond to many different stimuli. Repetitive drumming is used in native rituals to entrain the brain to a trance-like state; Buddhist monks use repeated sounds or words to enter profound meditation; and strobe lights can trigger brain changes, including seizures, in some people. A method of brain frequency entrainment currently being researched is binaural beats. This is an effect created when two audio tones of slightly different pitches are heard by right and left ears simultaneously. The brain responds by altering wave patterns, becoming entrained to a new frequency. Proponents of binaural beats suggest that this effectively allows listeners to slow brain waves to a lower, meditative state, where the brain can access the body’s regenerative powers.
The concepts underlying brain wave entrainment are important. If we want to achieve better health and reduce stress, we need to find ways to assist our brain to achieve a balanced state of relaxation where heart and mind can be healed and energized. Reduce stress and teach your brain to relax!