The brain contains millions of specialized cells called neurons. When neurons send signals to each other, electrical energy is created that can be measured on the scalp with the use of a special voltmeter called an electroencephalogram (EEG). These brainwave oscillations were first measured by Richard Caton in studies with animals and published in 1875 in the British Medical Journal. Since that time, other researchers have discovered that intentional brainwave synchronization is possible: People can induce a particular brainwave frequency for improving mental and physical health.
Each brainwave frequency is associated with a particular state of consciousness, and all are needed at different times. Beta brainwaves occur at frequencies between 13 and 30 hertz and are the frequency present when people are wide-awake, alert, and using their analytic mind. When the brain remains in beta for too long, anxiety, stress, and even paranoia can result. On the other hand, a lack of beta waves has been associated with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and an inability to focus the mind.
Brainwave frequencies between 8 and 12 hertz are called alpha waves. When experiencing alpha waves, a person feels relaxed but alert and open to insight. Alpha waves are created when someone is engaged in light meditation and also in the early stages of sleep. Alpha waves are intermediate brainwaves between the conscious and unconscious mind and are also common in people engaged in creative activity.
Gamma wave are those between 30 and 60 hertz. These brainwave are the least common for most people, but studies of Buddhist monks engaged in deep meditation have found that they are experiencing gamma waves. Gamma brainwaves are associated with feelings of deep compassion and empathy.
Theta waves and delta waves are at the slower end of brainwave oscillation, occurring between 4 to 7.5 hertz and .6 to 3.5 hertz respectively. Theta is the brainwave of REM sleep when dreaming happens. Delta wave are those present when someone is in a sound and dreamless sleep. These waves can also be experienced when awake through the use of meditation and brainwave entrainment music that cause brainwave synchronization to these frequencies, resulting in a reduction of stress, healing of mental trauma, and deep physical relaxation.
In 1973 the neuro-scientist Gerald Oster published a study in Scientific American showing that a particular brainwave state could be created by having a person listen to two different frequencies of sound in each ear. He found that if one ear heard a frequency of, for example, 500 hertz, and the other ear heard a frequency of 510 hertz, the brain of the listener would achieve a brainwave oscillation of 10 hertz, the difference between the two sounds and corresponding to the alpha state. This effect is known as binaural beats, and any brainwave state can be created using this technique. Binaural beats are now being incorporated into relaxing musical tracts to assist people in achieving a desired brainwave frequency.
In September 2008 a meta-study was published in the research journal Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine examining the results of 20 experimental studies on brainwave entrainment. The researchers reported that brainwave entrainment was shown to significantly improve symptoms of migraine headache, insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, and stress. This meta-study helps confirm the validity of using brainwave entrainment for positive physical and mental health outcomes.
Brainwave entrainment to a desired frequency is simple to achieve by using stereo headphones for listening to tracts of sound or music that incorporate binaural beats. Pregnant women and people with seizure conditions are the only ones advised to check with a physician before using these sounds. For everyone else, there is no risk in listening to brainwave entrainment music or pure binaural beat sounds.
Many people desire to become more effective in controlling their state of mind. The mind and body are not really separate but are two facets of our total being. Our thoughts and emotions effect our bodily functions and can promote either disease or health. Likewise, the condition of our body can greatly influence our state of mind. Brainwave synchronization through the use of binaural beat sound tracts is a simple way of quickly tuning the mind to a beneficial brainwave frequency for deeper sleep, stress reduction, emotional healing, and overall improvement in physical and mental health.
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