Have you ever put your head on the pillow expecting to go to sleep only to find that your thoughts seem to increase or speed up? Extensive scientific research has shown that when it comes to insomnia, music is a powerful ally and effective tool. Want to strengthen your spiritual connection too? Binaural beats might be your answer.
What is BBT?
The term “binaural beat” refers to the brain’s tendency to hear the difference between two similar tones that are played in opposite ears as one new tone. Our ears hear tones in terms of hertz (Hz), or cycles (the number of times a wave repeats itself) per second. Beats played at frequencies that are characteristic of brain wave frequencies are both audible and thought to facilitate alterations in our predominant brain-wave state.
"It is said that we have 30,000 thoughts per day so our mental processing is truly critical for optimal health," says Kristin Petrovich, co-founder of själ skincare and an expert in the intersection of Eastern and Western medicine. "Binaural beats are a great way to modify or adapt our brain wave frequencies into a positive, relaxed state; they can help regulate hormones, reduce cortisol, increase melatonin and provide for clearer thinking. I often listen to them while running, at work, before sleep. I have even left them on I my house to help clear energy."
Riding the wave of health?
But can music, whether explicitly snoozed-minded or not, actually help us sink into slumber and relax? According to science, it can go some way to help. Sort of like the serenity that comes with watching a flickering fireplace, audio tones that produce synchronized beats, can calm an agitated mind.
Binaural beat technology (BBT) was discovered in the early 1800s, but it's only in the last four decades that they have been touted as tools for reducing stress, improving sleep, enhancing concentration, and even fostering altered states of consciousness. In the ‘70s and ‘80s, BBT audiotapes were primarily found in more esoteric venues, such as New Age bookstores and retreat centers dedicated to consciousness exploration. One such center, the Monroe Institute in Virginia, is well known for their use of Hemi-Sync recordings, which feature BBT.
Train your brain
Learning to train the brain and focus our attention is crucial to thriving and cultivating a peak performance in any endeavor. There are five major categories of brain waves, each corresponding to different activities. Lulling the brain into a meditative state enables us to move from higher frequency brain waves to lower frequency, which activates different centers in the brain. There is no “best” state to be in; however, at different times we will understandably want to be able to shift into one that is appropriate to the task at hand, whether sleeping, working on a project, or relaxing.
It’s important to add that this latest rigorously scientific work comes on the back of generations of in-the-field experiential data that music therapists and health workers have been creating and collating for decades. Music doesn’t just have the potential to make you feel better, it can really improve mind, body and spirit. As for me, I've been playing around with BBT for a few months now, and my friends keep asking if I'm feeling more relaxed? To an extent, yes, although you would be surprised what an ecstatic cacophony emerges from your mind when there's nothing around to distract it.