Updated: Apr 24
Did you know that there is an audio technique of meditation called "brainwave entrainment" that can help you to quickly get into a state of deep meditation? You can listen to your meditation on your phone with a pair of headphones using an audio track that you can purchase from my recommendations below.
Regular meditation practice is challenging for most people, which can lead to giving up on a meditation practice altogether. Brainwave entrainment makes meditation easier for people who want to enter a meditative state without so many years of patient practice.
I have been a meditator for the past ten years and in this article, I share the three meditation programs that I have tried. This article shares my personal experience with the following programs in the interest of providing you with options to regulate your anxiety with brainwave entrainment.
The History of Brain Wave Entrainment
In the 70s biophysicist, Dr. Gerald Oster found a way to help rewire the brain to move into the correct state of consciousness for peak mental operation called "Brain Entrainment". Dr. Oster shared this discovery in his article “Auditory Beats in the Brain,” published in the October 1973 issue of Scientific American.
Oster discovered that when two tones with similar but different frequencies were played in a person’s two ears, the person’s brain integrated the two tones to create, and “perceive” the third sound. He called that third sound the binaural beat. He discovered that these binaural beats can also be used to develop the brain’s ability to enter the deeper meditative alpha, theta, delta states. In this way, your brain can be entrained to relax, meditate or sleep by adjusting the frequency of its brain waves. Another major advantage to this process is that the effort it takes for the brain to synchronize the two sounds, forces the two hemispheres of the brain to work together more efficiently, reinforcing and enhancing their natural communication process through whole-brain communication which contributes to heightened intuition.
Four Brainwave Patterns
Beta (14-30 Hz)
~ Concentration, arousal, alertness, cognition
~ Higher levels associated with anxiety, unease, feelings of separation, fight or flight
Alpha (8-13.9 Hz)
~ Relaxation, superlearning, relaxed focus, light trance, increased serotonin production
~ Pre-sleep, pre-waking drowsiness, meditation, beginning of access to the unconscious mind
Theta (4-7.9 Hz)
~ Dreaming sleep (REM sleep)
~ Increased production of catecholamines (vital for learning and memory), increased creativity
~ Integrative, emotional experiences, potential change in behaviour, increased retention of learned material.
~ Trance, deep meditation, access to the unconscious mind
Delta (.1-3.9 Hz)
~ Dreamless sleep
~ Human growth hormone released
~ Deep, trance-like, non-physical state, loss of body awareness
~ Access to the unconscious and “collective unconscious” mind.
Brain entrainment is just one of many approaches to mental, behavioural and emotional health. Traditional talk treatments such as cognitive, behavioural, somatic and holistic therapies should always be considered. However, I’ve found that brainwave entrainment can work well in tandem with most psychotherapy approaches.
Reducing Anxiety And Stress
Many popular brain entrainment programs offer a series of audios that cover the full spectrum of frequencies required for brainwave entrainment. To get into a deep state of relaxation your brainwaves need to reach a theta or delta state. Binaural beats can help calm your nerves, reducing your overall stress and anxiety levels. A Canadian study, published in the January 2001 edition of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine demonstrated that subjects who listened to theta and delta frequency binaural beat audios showed a significant reduction in anxiety levels.
Benefits of brainwave entrainment meditation include: a) A lowering of situation-specific and overall stress levels b) Improvements in cognitive function and creativity c) Easing of negative emotions d) An overall sense of peace and well-being
Not all programs are created equal, and not all audios have the same level of expert research and development to ensure you are using a high-quality product. Free binaural beats tracks on YouTube can create side effects like headaches. There is also such a thing as “too much” brainwave entrainment. If you are just starting to meditate 15-30 minutes is best. However, some programs have audios for as long as an hour and this is best suited for people who have been meditating for a long time.
Here are three brain wave entrainment programs that have tried over the past ten years. Presently, I am using Holosync for my daily meditation practice. Please visit the listed websites to try the free samples to see which meditation programs feel right for you.
The Zen12 Programs offer up to 12 months of support, with 4 new meditations each month, all timed at 12 minutes each. Zen12 maintains that 12 minutes of meditation is enough. This meditation music has a high production quality with spacious ambient music. If you have not meditated much in your life, this would likely be a good place to start.
My personal experience: I find these short meditations are good when I need a small break, but I do prefer to do a one-hour deep meditation.
Lifeflow by Project Meditation - Beginner to Intermediate
Lifeflow uses a slightly different approach to Brain Entrainment. It’s based on Isochronic Tones and Monaural Beats instead of the Binaural Beats that differ in each ear as discussed above. The main difference being is that Monaural Beats are easier to listen to with speakers as you don’t need to create a tone differentiation in the brain.
My personal experience: While I quite like the Lifeflow program, and it is much gentler than Holosync, in my experience I have found that it does not take me into the deeper states of meditation like Holosync does.
Holosync by Centerpointe - Intermediate to Advanced
The Holosync program takes much longer to complete than other programs. This is an advanced Brain Entrainment program consisting of 13 different levels beginning with an introductory track called "Prologue."
This program can take up to ten years to finish, and each session takes a full hour to complete. Also, in the recordings, the sounds never change. You will hear Tibetan singing bowls and rain throughout the entire ten-year program, but it is pleasant sounding. My personal experience: This program has been powerful in my experience, but it does take an hour a day to do. This program has felt calming to my nervous system, and it has supported deep emotional healing for me over the past ten years. Because this brain entrainment program can feel quite strong at times, it might be best to try the milder programs above if you are a beginning meditator.
Please Note: This article reflects my personal experience with three brainwave meditation programs. This post is not sponsored nor am I an affiliate for any of the aforementioned meditation companies.