Think of waves on the ocean, constantly moving, sometimes lapping gently at your feet as you walk on the shore and sometimes crashing violently against the rocks. They seem variable and complicated. If you threw a beach ball into the waves, though, you’d see it going around in a circle at a speed that was fairly steady. Faster some days and slower on others, but not changing wildly. Those are the real waves.
In your brain, too, there are waves. In the complex interplay of thoughts and feelings and ideas, plus all the work your brain does keeping your heart beating and your lungs breathing, an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine can discern and measure waves. Waves of any kind are measured in hertz (Hz), which is the number of cycles they go through each second. There are five different kinds of brainwave, identified by their speed, in (Greek) alphabetical order:
- Alpha brain waves, at 7-13 Hz, are the relaxed brain state associated with meditation and with creativity. They’re associated with healing and with intense learning.
- Beta waves, 13-40 Hz, are ordinary brain waves. When you’re awake, thinking, solving problems, and moving around, your brain is using beta waves.
- Gamma waves, over 40 Hz, are the brain waves associated with a very alert state of consciousness. Older EEG devices couldn’t measure this brain state.
- Delta waves, less than 4 Hz, are the waves seen in deep sleep and unconsciousness.
- Theta waves, 4-7 Hz, are right between sleeping and waking. They are seen in REM sleep, hypnosis, deep meditation, and trance states.
Essentially, a theta wave state allows you to bring the power of your unconscious mind into your conscious world. Theta brainwaves can be harnessed for astral projection or used for healing.
The problem is, theta waves normally occur as you fall asleep or begin to wake. It’s very difficult to hold yourself in that state, let alone to accomplish anything while you’re in that state. If you practice and concentrate and work yourself into a theta brain wave, chances are you’ll simply fall asleep.
Here’s where binaural beats come in. Binaural beats train your brain waves into a particular frequency without your having to work on achieving the associated state of consciousness. With binaural beats, you can create theta waves in your brain while you remain awake.
In a theta wave state, your mind isn’t full of chatter. It’s like turning off the constant hamster wheel in your mind that tells you that you ought to be a certain way, or that you probably won’t succeed at your goals, or just that you musn’t forget to take a pencil to the test tomorrow. You are in a really relaxed state, a receptive state in which your creativity doesn’t get drowned out by worries, insecurities, or petty concerns.
This feels great, of course, but it’s more than that. You can concentrate better, learn more easily, think of new ideas and solve problems, and tune into your spiritual being when your mind is in a theta brain wave state. The constant tension and turmoil associated with ordinary waking life is stilled, leaving your brain receptive and unencumbered.
This is a large part of what’s so restful about sleep. With binaural beats, you can have the effect without giving up awareness. You’re still yourself, with your own personality and decision making capacity. You’re just able to use those things without the distractions of the ordinary.
People who use binaural beats to induce a theta wave state report feeling relaxed, at ease, and creative for days afterwards.