Binaural Beats to “Retrieve Your Destiny”
I think I first heard of binaural beats when I was looking for guided meditations on Youtube a few years ago. In fact, I’d first heard of them when I discovered a meditation on “Retrieve Your Destiny,” by Kelly Howell.
Before that, I had no clue what a theta wave was, or why I would even care. Or other brainwaves.
But now, everything’s changed.
Science. Personal development. Discovery. Learning. Growing. Thinking. Meditating.
(Please note: though I mention several products in this post, none of these are endorsements or affiliates. I’m just recounting my experiences as they relate to meditation and how they have helped – or not helped – me so that perhaps they can help you.)
What Are Binaural Beats?
You know what optical illusions are, right? Binaural beats are sort of like “auditory illusions.”
When you’re in your normal waking state, your brain is in a beta state. Essentially, it emits beta waves.
When you sleep, your brain emits delta waves.
In meditation, your brain can move into an alpha or a theta state (or other states, as well).
And when you experience that feeling of “being in the flow”? Your brain enters into a gamma wave state.
(I also think this gamma state is what those monks are in when they’re sitting in the snow meditating with little more protection than their robes. They’re generating heat.)
These are all different levels of consciousness, or brainwave states.
With binaural beats, you can actually change your brainwaves to induce these other states of mind.
(I know this may sound like wacky-quack, but please bear with me for a few moments and keep reading. I have personal experience with this that I’ll share.)
All these brainwaves – alpha, beta, theta, delta, gamma – they are all different frequencies of wavelengths. Gamma waves are the highest energy (with the shortest wavelength) and theta waves have the lowest energy (and the longest wavelength).
Think about that “lulling” feeling you get when you’re at the ocean and listening – just listening to the breaking waves. Now, think about when you listen to classical music – it’s usually a relaxed feeling right?
It’s all very natural. Your brainwaves actually change. It’s called brain entrainment. (Not entertainment, as I’d read for years! This may be why I initially dismissed all this brainwave technology.)
Entrainment is when an object (organic or otherwise) syncs up to another wavelength.
Interestingly, this practice existed in ancient cultures. They knew that drumbeats could induce meditative states. They knew even then that they could induce different brainwave states.
Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch scientist observed this kind of synchronicity with clocks nearly 400 years ago in 1665. He noticed that all the pendulums in a single room would synchronize (but would swing exactly opposite each other). They all fell into the same wavelength, even when one was disrupted – it would fall back in tune with all the other pendulums.
Scientists never knew why until recently. They determined that sound waves are what are responsible.
This phenomenon has repercussions in biology when cells in the heart sync up to produce a heartbeat, or in economics, electronics and beyond.
To illustrate this point, take a look at this video where 32 metronomes all sync up that are started at different rates. It only takes about 1:55 for them all to sync up.
If you can, watch the whole thing. It’s actually pretty mesmerizing to watch – and notice how you feel as you watch, especially after all the metronomes sync up.
Science has advanced enough that you can re-create this phenomenon with your brain using headphones and brainwave sound technology. Headphones allow you to hear two different sound frequencies at the same time.
This is where binaural beats come in. Basically, sound at different wavelengths enters each ear and your ears adjust for the difference in frequency. This difference is what causes your brain to sync to that energy wavelength. Your brain interprets that difference as a wavelength – an extra wavelength, or a binaural beat.
For example, let’s say you listen to a sound frequency at 102 Hz in one ear and 106 Hz in the other. The difference is 4 Hz.
The brain interprets that 4Hz as the separate beat.
If you look at the chart, theta waves fall into the 4 Hz wavelength which can induce a theta brainwaves state.
How’d you feel after watching that video? I’m willing to bet you weren’t thinking, “Okay, I’m going to get up and do aerobics now!” and more like, “Huh…I watched those metronomes all sync up in relaxed silence.”
After about a minute, you start hearing a rhythmic beat, even though not all the metronomes are lined up.
I don’t know what the exact beats per minute was once they all lined up, but I’m guessing it was around 4 – 4.5 beats per second. You can interpret those as wavelengths and 4 – 4.5 wavelengths per second as a theta wave.
Watch out…your brain has been entrained. 🙂
My Early Experiences with Binaural Beats
Honestly, I wasn’t entirely sure that this technology worked. But, in Kelly Howell’s video (it has since been taken down on YouTube), I listened to it daily for about 4 weeks. It helped to induce a meditative theta wave state.
I wouldn’t say that I made breakthroughs in meditation, but I also didn’t know nearly as much about meditation back then, how you’re supposed to sit, and I certainly wasn’t good about keeping my mind focused. (Well…even now I still have trouble with that – but that’s normal.)
When I listened to the video, I’d sit in my chair at the computer, and fall asleep half the time. (Theta waves are that brain-state between being conscious and asleep – twilight sleep, if you will.) I’d let my mind wander and get caught up in all the things I wanted to be doing.
Still, as I listened (not watched) to the video, I would envision what sort of destiny I wanted for myself. This was back in 2012. I knew I wanted several things to happen: I wanted to move to a house closer to town (we were so far out and so isolated that if I stayed home for two weeks, it was entirely possible to not see another human being besides husby) and I wanted to be doing more creative work and providing myself with a better income.
I had some different ideas about how I’d actually realize those goals, but honestly, by mid 2015, all of those things happened.
The scientist in me could argue ’til the next blue moon as to whether this video had anything to do with it.
Since that time, I’d gotten better at regular meditation, I’d practiced mantras, created vision boards and finished my master’s degree. Something was going to change, doncha think?
But, this was my first experience with binaural beats. I kind of liked it.
I’d spoken with some friends who have listened to similar tracks and music. One friend said that she’d listened to a delta wave track and had some crazy dreams with some really good sleep.
I haven’t listened to one, but I could imagine that.
I decided that because I did like that first Kelly Howell video (which was on Youtube for free until they took it down – and, well, it’s a good argument for offering free items on the internet: it gets people interested in what you’re doing), I went over to the Brain Sync website and decided to try a gamma wave soundtrack called Pure Focus.
It’s an hour long and when I wanted to concentrate on something – especially early in the morning – I’d play this with headphones.
My phrase for it? Auditory caffeine.
Can I just say that I actually can’t listen to it every day? The ocean sounds are soothing, but the other sound frequencies in the background always seem to get me into a “caffeine buzzed” state, even though I don’t drink coffee. (The matcha tea I enjoy has its own caffeine, but is processed very differently.)
So…I became convinced that brainwave entrainment worked.
But I left it there.
I always sort of felt like technology didn’t really have much of a place in meditation, you know?
While this might be a bit of a “purist” philosophy, I always felt like my own sense of “being in tune with the world and with myself” was greater without using binaural beats than with them.
The Podcast That Is Making Me Try Again
As many of you know, I listen to podcasts on my way to work. I listen to everything from online business development to marketing to being an artist to self-publishing as an author.
(The incredible hours of education that I have given myself make my current one hour and ten minute commute quite worth it for the moment. All those recordings are what led to this website, truth be told.)
One podcast I listen to is the Unmistakable Creative. I happened upon an episode called, “The Keys to Personal and Professional Growth” with Salim Ismail. I didn’t really know who Salim was, but the episode content brought me back to binaural beats recently.
Salim talked about how it can take over a decade of regular meditation (I’m assuming he meant an hour a day!) to achieve the profound brainwave states that monks exhibit: those gamma states where they feel euphoric bliss, along with the relaxed theta states and the creative alpha states.
But, he mentioned how science has advanced so much that brainwave entrainment technology can shortcut the amount of time it takes.
It sort of turned me back onto the idea of binaural beats again.
Now, I will be the first to say that technology isn’t everything. And, to be sure, there’s more to life than just focusing on scientific studies.
To me, achieving these different brainwaves states organically is the most noble, humble and spiritual route one can undertake.
I think of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Dalai Lama, Gandhi, and Mother Theresa who all used prayer and meditation to become the world-changing best version of themselves.
I’ve been meditating a long time, though.
What if I could help myself be better at it?
What if I could help myself be even more creative and innovative?
What if I could derive energy from some of these brainwave states?
What if I could do a little experiment to help my own meditative journey?
What if I could help myself grow even more in terms of personal and professional development?
My Meditation Experiment
I went back to Kelly Howell’s Brain Sync website (again, this is not an endorsement or affiliate; this is the one website I knew of where I could reliably purchase brainwave entrainment music and guided meditation).
I purchased the following four mp3 tracks:
- Deep Meditation
- Relieve Anxiety
- Clear Wave Creativity
- High Focus
Why those four in particular?
I’ll be honest: one of the reasons I started meditating so much is that my job is really stressful.
It’s also incredibly rewarding and I work with so many people to whom I might affect their lives.
It’s grant-funded (I have no idea if I’ll have a job after June 1 – we have to wait to hear the status of a new grant we’re applying for). I manage and schedule nearly 35 people each week. These college students all tutor and supervise anywhere from 35-50 elementary school children learning English each day.
I am also the liaison between four agencies to make sure we’re following all policies and procedures effectively. I plan field trips, fundraisers and parent nights. I have daily conversations with parents regarding their child’s successes and behaviors. Those are my main tasks, with smaller tasks all in place to pull off these larger ones.
Meditation has really helped me keep a level head and keep my stress in check with regard to all these activities. This is why I’m such a big advocate of it.
I meditate quite imperfectly, but I still reap so many benefits from it.I sometimes feel like I could take on the world and have a calm, collected presence. Click To Tweet
Well…maybe not the whole world. I just love using a little hyperbole sometimes.
There are times, however, when I just can’t turn my brain off at night. Sometimes events from the day fill me with angst. So…I bought the Relieve Anxiety mp3 track.
I do want to continue my spiritual meditation practice. Thus, I got the Deep Meditation track.
Since I do a lot of drawing, writing, coloring and painting, the creative tracks might serve me well. In fact, as I type this, I’m listening to the Clear Wave Creativity track. And, actually, I’m feeling like I’m plugging right along with this post.
I haven’t tried the High Focus track just yet. If it’s anything like the Pure Focus one, I will reserve that for when my energy is feeling a little low. You really do get a buzz from it.
The Experiment Outline
- Listen daily
- Listen for 8 weeks
- Interpret results
Each track that I purchased came with instructions.
The Deep Meditation instructions say to listen daily for 6-8 weeks to experience “untold depths of inner peace” and “the energy centers in your body are opened and energized,” and the “results are profound.” You’ll have an “improved ability to concentrate, increased creativity, greater clarity of thought, enhanced access to emotions and heightened states of well being.”
The Relieve Anxiety instructions say to “ideally listen before bedtime”. This mp3 has theta waves and subliminal messaging, as well. Messages like, “My peace of mind is sacred, sacrosanct, and blessed,” and “Right here, right now, all is well,” are just two of the many subliminal messages. The theta waves make your brain slow down and because you can’t really hear the subliminal messages, your conscious mind can’t block them.
I have no idea if these statements are really true or not. I’m a bit skeptical, but I’m definitely very open to it.
So here’s what I’m going to do:
Since the Deep Meditation instructions suggest 6-8 weeks of daily listening, I will listen every day for the next eight weeks.
I’ll listen in the mornings when I first wake up and before doing any other activity. It uses “Window Frequencies” that were scientifically developed to induce “Hemispheric Synchronization.”
I’m not sure if that means this mp3 has theta waves or alpha waves or both, or what really happens with hemispheric synchronization, but I find it all very interesting.
The Relieve Anxiety instructions do not have a suggested length of time to listen, but to eliminate the variable of different time lengths, I will also listen to that for eight weeks. (The other sets of instructions I downloaded suggest anywhere from 4-8 weeks of daily listening, so I figure that will apply here, too.)
I’ll listen to this before bed, preferably before I get so tired that I’ll immediately fall asleep.
There are a few things to keep in mind with this experiment:
- I don’t usually meditate one hour per day. More recently, I do 30-40 minutes. So…getting in another half hour at night in my already-busy schedule is going to be interesting.
- Meditating on one’s own one hour per day is said to have quite noticeable benefits even without brainwave entrainment.
- This is not an entirely scientific experiment. It’s more of a “holistic” approach.
- I will listen to the creativity tracks any time I’d like for work or for other creative tasks.
Reporting and Updates
I’m looking forward to this. I’m not sure in what ways I’ll really change.
I will keep a log of short notes after each session to record how I feel or what happened. I figure if I can document my progress, I might notice patterns in what I’m feeling/thinking/doing.
I’ll use standard meditation position: spine straight wth legs crossed and hands cupped together on my lap.
I hope to improve my meditation and insight abilities. I also hope to improve my own ability to garner greater clarity and creativity.
Perhaps everything will seem the same after eight weeks. Because I have meditated over a long period of time, will I really see more benefit? That is an interesting question.
It’ll also be interesting to see if you, the reader, notice any differences in my writing or in the ideas with which I use for different posts. And if so, might you try it, too? Have you tried brainwave entrainment?
I wonder if I’ll be more efficient. More compassionate. More innovative.
I do not intend to do this indefinitely – just for eight weeks as the instructions suggest.
I also hope that it will help me speed along my own meditation practice to help me clear my mind better and/or get into a meditative state more effectively.
I’m not as interested in the “shortcut” idea to better meditation, though if it works and I’m a better meditator after this, I’ll let you know.
So, we’ll see.
I will report back to you in 8 weeks. I officially started on Saturday, Jan. 7th. I will conclude on Saturday, March 4 and report you to all on Monday, March 6, 2017.
Deep Meditation instruction PDF (obtained once I purchased from the Brain Sync website)
Relieve Anxiety instruction PDF (also obtained once I purchased the mp3 from the Brain Sync website)