If you suffer from chronic inflammation, pain or illness, you already know how stress impacts your struggle for wellness. While you can’t eliminate stress, you can lower and mitigate stress by making healthy choices and learning how to manage your body’s response to stress by accessing relaxing brainwave states, such as alpha and theta.
WHAT ARE BRAINWAVES? The brain uses electromagnetic energy to function, forming waves that can be measured in an EEG (electroencephalogram), and expressed in cycles per second, or Hertz (Hz). There are four main ranges of brainwaves: beta, alpha, theta, and delta.
BETA, 13-40 Hz, are produced when we’re awake, attentive, excited, concentrating or conversing.
ALPHA, 7 to 12 Hz, are present when you’re in a relaxed, receptive state, during light meditation or hypnosis, or whenever you close your eyes. Alpha is a mildly euphoric, creative state.
THETA, at 4 to 7 Hz, are associated with deep meditation and hypnosis, daydreaming, intuition, spiritual experiences, dreaming while sleeping, and high levels of creativity. Theta state is the realm of the subconscious mind. It’s known to boost immunity and is more intensely euphoric than alpha. Most people experience theta waves for a few seconds before falling asleep and just before awakening. Theta state is often described as a healing, problem-solving state.
DELTA, the slowest brain waves, range from 0 to 4 Hz. Delta brain waves are experienced only during very deep, dreamless sleep; this is a healing, restorative state.
HOW DO BRAINWAVES AFFECT WELL-BEING? Alpha and theta brainwave states stimulate neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and endorphins in the brain. These neurotransmitters:
- regulate mood
- decrease pain
- improve sleep
- provide feelings of self-esteem
- increase relaxation and calm
- boost the immune system
- produce euphoria
Some ways you can change your brainwave states for healing and well-being are:
- controlled breathing – smooth, even breaths with slightly longer exhale than inhale
- Lucia #3 light/audio stimulated brainwave entrainment
- floatation therapy at a float spa near you
- neurofeedback training
- auditory brainwave entrainment
- connecting with nature
- sharing hugs and cuddles
- engaging in focused, creative activities
Find out what works best for you, and treat yourself to some form of relaxation at least once a day for best results.
Three Types of Auditory Brainwave Entrainment
Whether you’re interested in healing trauma, managing stress, sparking creativity, or enhancing cognitive or sports performance, Auditory Brainwave Entrainment (ABE) is a tool that may boost your success. ABE is safe and effective for most people*, and it can help you to reach states that might otherwise be elusive; allowing you to experience altered states of consciousness associated with feeling relaxed, calm, and focused.
Binaural beats require the use of headphones to entrain the brain waves. A different tone is played in each ear; for example, a 300Hz tone is played to one ear, and 310Hz played to the other. Your brainwaves will begin to resonate at the difference between the tones (10Hz, below normal hearing range).
Binaural beats stimulate hemispheric synchronization at the brain stem. Although the most well-known type of ABE, they are less effective for brainwave entrainment than the other types; they affect less of the cortex and they don’t work well without headphones.
Monaural beats use two frequencies to create a single pulsing beat that is heard on the same speaker or ear, eliminating the requirement for headphones or stereo. For example, a frequency difference of 20Hz between the two tones played on the same speaker would create a perceived 20 Hz “monaural” beat.
Monaural beats stimulate the basilar membrane, a different area of the cortex than binaural beats. Monaural beats are more effective than binaural beats for brainwave entrainment, but the down side is that they interfere more with whatever music or background sound they’re embedded with, creating a less pleasant audio experience.
Isochronic tones, considered the most effective form of audio entrainment, create the most enjoyable audio experience. Isochronic tones are regular beats of a single tone that is pulsed and embedded into a narrow frequency band of music. Just one frequency band of the music oscillates, leaving the rest of the music untouched.
Isochronic tones are commonly combined with binaural beats and/or monaural beats in one audio composition. Because isochronic tones do not require the use of headphones and they are often not noticeable to the listener, they can be effectively used in a wide variety of settings, including in floatation tanks equipped with a speaker.
*Please note, while ABE is safe for most adults, there are some exceptions. Those who should not use ABE are: people under the age of at least 18 – some recommend 26 – because the brain is not yet fully formed until age 18-26; pregnant women; people with epilepsy or who are prone to seizures; people who have pacemakers.
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