Hearing With Your Brain More Than Your Ears
Written by Alexandra Chauran. Copyright(c) 2009, Binaural Chakra Balancing, all rights reserved. Originally published as "What Are Binaural Beats" 10/15/2009 in Binaural Chakra Balancing.
Of course, you hear with your ears, but it is your brain that does most of the work! As the vibrations from the air are translated into your interaction with the world of sound in your brain, many tricks can be played along this pathway, from the sort of perceptual filtering that causes you not to listen intently to the background noise of a fan until somebody points it out to you, to even auditory hallucinations! When Heinrich Wilhelm Dove played two distinct tones at the same time that were very close to each other in frequency in 1839, he noticed that the human brain will perceive a throbbing beat, even though no beat is actually being played by the instrument! It wasn’t until 1975 that Robert Monroe first discovered that a beat of 4 Hz could induce an out-of-body experience that binary beats found a purpose in changing states of consciousness during meditation.
Our brain waves have their own natural frequency. When we’re in a state of heightened brain activity, such as a brain surgeon performing a delicate maneuver, or a high school student taking a driver’s test, our brain’s Gamma waves zing along at 40 Hz or more! Most of your busy work day is probably in the Beta range of 13 to 40 Hz, while if you relax before bed with a warm beverage your brain may drop to the 7 to 13 Hz Alpha waves. As you drift into your dreams in bed, your Theta waves are 4 - 7 Hz, while your deepest Delta sleep state sinks below 4 Hz.
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to drink a magical elixir to drop down a few stages if we have trouble turning the chattering Beta mind off during meditation? Binaural beats are a magic potion for your ears! The perceived frequency of these beats actually causes your brain waves to mimic and match them in a process called frequency following, just as a child might naturally mimic his or her parent. Over time, you can get your brain familiar with these stages with brain entrainment using binaural beats until you have the control to do it yourself!
For example, if you were to listen to a binaural beat that you perceived to be of a frequency above 40 Hz, your brain waves would automatically scramble to keep up, and you’d find yourself energized and alert! If you then got tired of being jumpy and wanted to calm down, you could simply play binaural beats that you perceived to be at a frequency lower than 13 Hz. Your brain waves would smooth out and settle down, allowing you to drift quietly into a meditative state free of the rushing thoughts of your work day.