Binaural beats are an auditory biohack designed to facilitate brainwave entrainment. The more we learn about brainwaves, the more we understand how important they are in generating desired states of consciousness. Typically brain waves are a reaction to optimize mental functioning for your current situation. For example, you are navigating the complex matrix of daily decisions, beta frequency is useful. If you need to surf a big wave or write your novel, Alpha frequency is helpful. If you are resting, theta frequency is most powerful. But it can be a slow and frustrating process to rely on environment alone to trigger these brain patterns. How many of us have struggled in relaxing or falling asleep after a stressful day? How many of us have struggled getting in the writing zone after dealing with the minutiae of daily life? Brainwave entrainment can help round the corners so you can reach your intent faster and more effectively.
Brainwave 101: Brainwaves are a measurement of the frequency that large groups of neurons are firing in your brain in order to communicate. They form pulses measured by a device such as an EEG in Hz. Here are the common brainwave states below:
How Binaural Beats Work: Just as neurons firing are measured with frequency, so too is sound. The technique to create binaural beats is to put one sound in stereo left at one frequency, and then the same sound at stereo right at another frequency. This means that there is an almost imperceptible difference in sound coming into your left and right ear. Hence the term bi (meaning two) and aural (of the ear). This technique creates an auditory phenomenon called beating. The size of the gap in frequency between the left and right ear will be the frequency of the beating. This is the target frequency for your brainwave entrainment.
Often times white noise (rain) is used in conjunction with these tones to help relax the mind and put it in a more malleable state. The result is that you can target a variety of different brainwave states that can yield varied benefits.
One uncontrolled pilot study showed that after 60 days of delta wave (deeply relaxing) binaural beats there was a decrease in trait anxiety (p = 0.004), an increase in quality of life (p = 0.03), and a decrease in insulin-like growth factor-1 (p = 0.01) and dopamine (p = 0.02) observed between pre- and post intervention measurements. (source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17309374)
Another study, this time with a control group, showed significant reduction in anxiety for pre-operative patients listening to binaural beats prior to surgery. (source: http://www.binbeat.com/images/binauralsandanxiety.pdf)
To say I was a little bit skeptical is to say that the the Pope is a little bit Catholic. I was given a very overpriced binaural beats CD (who uses CD’s anymore?!) and told to give it a listen if I wanted to relax. It sat in a drawer for months. But after finally being prompted to do a little research I found enough solid evidence to outweigh the standard debunking typically found on the web. So I burned the CD into my iTunes by using an old Mac tower at my house and I gave it a listen with my headphones in bed with my girl. To this day, I insist that I was wide awake and could hear everything. But Whitney insists that I was snoring like a lumberjack. Either way, after 30 minutes I felt like I had just gotten out of a float tank. I was rested, revived, and deeply impressed.
I duplicated this experience almost without fail. When the beats did fail, it was because of some type of brute force condition that was too strong to overcome. For example, I was really hungover (possibly still drunk) and that didn’t work. And another time, I was totally wired on caffeine. But barring that it was fool proof.
So I sent the track to my good friend and sound wizard Cory Allen to see what he thought. He was familiar with binaural beats, and not particularly impressed with my sample. I asked him if he could make some that were even better, and he didn’t hesitate to say yes.
When I received one of Cory’s tracks, designed to improve upon the effect of the track I had sent him, it literally felt like everything was normal and then my brain dove 1000 feet under the earth. I was so deeply relaxed I was even beyond the realm of sleep. I knew we had something pretty cool. There were 5 more brilliantly composed original tracks, each of which I have personally found to be effective in creating brainwave entrainment. And as a bonus, they are composed with a musician’s touch.
If you would like to hear samples or download these beats, check out the Binaural Beats page.
Podcast: Astral Snakes + Binaural Beats with Cory Allen