Brain Entrainment – Part 1

Meditation by a lake image for Meditation in Music blog entry: “What is Brain Entrainment - Part 2”

There has been lately a lot of buzz on the web about brain entrainment. Many web sites claim incredible results available to those who venture into using their leading edge products such as mp3 downloads, CD's, special eye-glasses and even smart phone apps that use this new technology.

These web pages offer great amount of explanatory material using many terms derived form neuroscience literature and experiments, and descriptions from various spiritual traditions. While following them, it is easy to incur in Greek letters relating to certain measurable brainwave ranges connected with various inner states.
Since there are many different traditions and subjective depictions of human inner experiences though, understanding the connection with credible science or their actual benefits can be nebulous.

The first concept to grasp is the brain containing neurons which are specific cells part of the nervous system. They are connected to each other trough the ganglia which look like the branches of a tree radiating from the cell center, the nucleus. Such network produces constant electric pulses regulating the flow of information that travels through it. There are many different events happening at once in our brains needing to be synchronized with the system as a whole which creates predominant rhythmic patterns measurable with an electroencephalograph (EEG).

Science has classified four main modes in which our brain vibrates. Measured in Hertz, they correspond to how many pulses per second are present and are called beta, alpha, theta and delta waves from fast to slow respectively. They are objective and common to all brains, representing external effects in connection with inner states.

An inner state is the way we perceive ourselves and the three main ones are awake, asleep dreaming, deeply asleep with no dreaming.
While awake, we range from stressed, fearful or angry to active and EEG tests report predominance of beta waves. When we relax or before sleep, we are still awake but quieter and EEG readings show more presence of alpha waves. Theta waves abound during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep happening when we dream, and delta when our minds are so quietly asleep that we don't experience nor recall anything.

During our days and nights we shift through these four states spontaneously, but we could also recall them at will. Meditators and artists are often very skilled at doing so. Imagine punk music - for example - containing anger and adrenalin-driven content. The musicians express this type of inner feelings associated with beta brain waves and they are able to recreate it within themselves when they want. Expert meditators on the other hand are so good at calming themselves that can evoke alpha, theta and delta states even when not meditating.

© Daniele Spadavecchia 2013