Brain Entrainment – Part 2

Meditation by a lake image for Meditation in Music blog entry: “What is Brain Entrainment - Part 1”

After understanding what are the main mental states, how they are measured and the fact that some people are able to switch between them willingly, we are going to talk about ancient and modern technologies to harness them.

First, we need to understand that our brain is constantly recording and responding to external stimuli. As it receives information trough all our physical senses like touch, smell, taste, sight and hearing, inner feelings, pain, pleasure, etc, and like a computer, it elaborates them to come up with effective responses to successfully adapt to the environment and survive.

Imagine for example our ancestors reacting with fear or alarm (beta state) when hearing a lion's roar a they were asleep (theta or delta states). The sound would have been perceived through their ears and processed by their brains, resulting in their mental state quickly switching to survival mode, with adrenaline, sharp attention and muscular coordination, allowing them to either run away or fight the impelling danger.

Utilizing this natural phenomenon the opposite way, spiritual traditions from all cultures have adopted sounds like chants and rhythms, or visual tools from candles, to colors, to sculpture and architecture in order to deliberately drop our brain states from beta to alpha, theta and delta waves. They discovered it is desirable to enter a calmer state of mind in order to better reflect about the most profound questions and challenges that life presents, and that a sense of peace and deepen connection with everything arises during the experience.

Techniques we still use today include mantras, prayers, fasting, martial arts and yoga, sweat lodges, attention to breath, music and dance, just to name a few. What they all have in common is that they use input in the form of repetitive actions to affect brain output rhythms, which in turn creates the desired inner shift in consciousness.

During most recent times, neuroscientists have come up with a very effective new system called brain entrainment, being entrainment the action of synchronizing an organ or organism to an external cycle. By exposing our brain to a sound or a flashing light pulsating at a specific speed, they demonstrated it is possible to recreate the same rhythm in the predominant brain waves.

Especially sound brain entrainment has become very popular for its ease of use as it can be quickly downloaded from the Internet and stored in an iPod to conveniently listen to it through earbuds or headphones, helping reduce or eliminate tension and stress form hectic lives, improve athletic performances, or deepen spiritual experiences such as meditation or prayer.

© Daniele Spadavecchia 2013