Guest blog by Jim Barrett – Serenity Community Member
Some form of meditation is practiced by many cultures and different cultures have developed many different ways to help its practitioners archive the desired mental state. A very common form of assistance is one that enhances the mental rhythms of meditation.
While it is unlikely that early Shamans and Holy people knew much about brainwave frequencies and functions, they early on recognized that certain beats and rhythms seemed to affect them profoundly. The easiest method of providing these beats and rhythms was with a drum and indeed, some form of drum or similar percussion instrument is found in most cultures. Meditators today have many options and technologies to help them get to that place we go when we Sit and the process of entrainment is one of them.
Entrainment is the method of using sound frequencies to lead our brain to a particular mental state by providing it with the frequencies that it will give off when in the desired state. As an example, the brains of many meditators begin to generate alpha waves when they reach a deep meditative state. These waves are timed at about 8 to 12 cycles per second. Alpha state entrainment will provide the brain with sounds in the 8-12 cycles per second rate with the goal of leading the brain into that state in which it will begin to generate brainwaves in the same range. When successful, the brain is led into that deep meditative state one is striving for.
The problem is that most brainwave frequencies are below the typical human hearing threshold, particularly of adults whose threshold usually gets higher and higher with age. Getting our brains to hear these rhythms requires more than just beating on a drum.
There is a process in the science of sound that shows us that if we mix two tones together we will produce the two individual tones, the sum of the two tones and the difference between the two tones. For our purposes, if we hear a 200 cycle tone in our left ear and a 210 cycle tone in our right ear, our brain will be able to perceive the 10 cycle difference harmonic and react accordingly. The 200 and 210 cycle tones are very audible to our ears and the 10 cycle tone is in the middle of the alpha band and may lead the brain into a deep meditative state. Since the desired sounds are below our hearing range they are often called sub-audible tones (not to be confused with subliminal messages, which may be covered in a future blog). We could also have two drums, at two different beat rates, providing our ancient Shamans with the same results.
When sleeping, the brain generally settles into delta wave activity which is in the 1 to 4 cycle per second range. By the methods discussed above, we can provide the brain with delta waves and often encourage the brain to fall asleep. Theta waves, about 4-8 cycles per second seem to lead to deeper sleep, and when sustained while awake cause a deep meditative state that is often very creative and intuitive.
Many recordings that use entrainment recommend the use of headphones for experiencing the full effect of the technology. It is important to note that if the recording was created specifically for use with headphones listening to it without headphones can be disorienting and perhaps confusing.
I have used many different entrainment recordings but my favorites are generally from Brain Sync (www.brainsync.com), created by Kelly Howell. With a wide variety of titles to choose from and free downloads to try, I have always found them to provide good quality recordings that work for me. This Serenity link; will lead you to some of those recordings we like the most.
Jim – Serenity Community Member