Image by Stefan Keller, Pixabay
2019 was a year of meditation for me, I did some form of meditation for quite a while last year, so I can vouch for its wonderful benefits for your wellbeing. However, at some point I stopped meditating, mainly because of work related stresses that were overwhelming. Now I’m in a better place, I wanted to start meditating again, however, I really struggled not only to start, but to actually meditate. I started about 5 or 6 weeks ago, but found it very difficult, my mind never stops racing, I also found myself checking my watch to see how long I had left, I felt agitated and impatient. So I gave up!
Then, I discovered ‘Binaural Beats’, now I have been listening to Solfeggio meditation music for quite a while on and off or rather whenever I felt like it. But, I have recently started listening to Binaural beats almost daily for a few weeks now and for the first time in a long time my anxiety has clearly reduced, it’s still there mostly in some form, but its intensity has greatly reduced. Yes, it may be in my head, but who cares? it’s working. I am a novice and learning all the time, but I feel if more people knew about Binaural beats, so many could benefit.
Here is what I have discovered so far about Binaural beats, although I’m still learning.
What are Binaural Beats?
A binaural beat is an auditory illusion created when two slightly different frequencies are listened to. These frequencies create a third tone, which doesn’t actually exist, but it fools your brain in to hearing it, hence the term auditory illusion.
It is claimed that listening to binaural beats alters your brain waves, known as brain entrainment, it does not alter the physiological structure of the brain. Binaural beats are supposed to give you the benefits of meditation with much quicker results.
Some of the Claimed Benefits of Listening to Binaural Beats
- reduced anxiety
- reduced stress
- pain Relief
- increased relaxation
- promotes a positive mood
- promotes creativity
- increased focus and concentration
- improved memory
How to Listen to Binaural Beats
- You must use stereo headphones, one in each ear, as binaural beats work by sending slightly different frequencies to each ear, having one earbud in will be useless.
- Don’t have binaural beats too loud, just have at a volume that is comfortable for you.
- Lay back and relax (or sit up)
- You can listen to Binaural beats on Spotify, or buy MP3s Amazon Music, I got the Binaural Meditation album free, because I have Amazon Prime, this is absolutely beautiful. But often I just listen to You Tube, I have a saved playlist of meditation music.
How Often and Duration of Listening Time
I recommend building your listening time up slowly, and I do not recommend listening to more than 1 hour a day, others may disagree. I usually listen to 30 minutes in the morning, usually when I’m still in bed before I start my day and another 30 minutes, again when I’m in bed before I go to sleep. You do need to listen for a minimum of 7 minutes because I believe this is how long it takes for your brain to synchronise the different frequencies, I read this somewhere.
As everyone is different and some brainwaves are stronger in some than others, I recommend using your intuition, be aware of how you feel during and after listening to binaural beats. If something doesn’t feel good, stop listening, find something that makes you feel whatever it is you want to feel; relaxed, sleepy or focused etc.
If you want to feel relaxed, take your time listening to different binaural beats to find one or two that you enjoy. I have listened to some where I find it extremely difficult to listen too, maybe I was overstimulating some brainwaves that just didn’t need it. Listen to your emotions and body, then you can’t go wrong.
When You Will Start to See or Feel the Benefits?
For me, I noticed a reduction in my anxiety within about one week, whether that was a direct result of listening to Binaural beats or I believed it was helping, either way my anxiety and stress levels reduced and continue to do so, I am feeling better every day.
Who should NOT listen to Binaural Beats:
- You have a heart condition or have a pacemaker
- You have seizures
- You are taking tranquillisers
- You have a mental or personality disorder, unless approved by your health care professional.
- You are pregnant
- You are working, driving or operating heavy machinery
Types of Binaural Beats
Delta frequencies (1-4Hz) for relaxation and deep sleep
Theta frequencies (4-8Hz) reduce anxiety, relaxation linked to REM sleep, induce meditative states and creativity
Alpha frequencies (8-13Hz)
Beta frequencies (14-30Hz) for alertness, focus, concentration and improving memory
Gamma frequencies (30-100 Hz) Although, it is the 40 Hz frequency that is said to improve cognition, memory, attention, and mood.
The scientific evidence around binaural beats is minimal or inconclusive. Whilst there is evidence that meditation is beneficial. If binaural beats have a meditative effect, it is not inconceivable to think Binaural beats would be beneficial too. Regardless, if it works for you, then do it, even if it’s a placebo, does it matter? as long as it works for you.
The number of scientific studies is relatively low with small numbers of subjects, results are mostly inconclusive, although some studies show some moderate improvements. A meta-analysis of 20 studies showed a modest improvement in attention span, dampening anxiety and pain relief.
Findings of this study revealed ‘Our meta-analysis adds to the growing evidence that binaural-beat exposure is an effective way to affect cognition over and above reducing anxiety levels and the perception of pain without prior training, and that the direction and the magnitude of the effect depends upon the frequency used, time under exposure, and the moment in which the exposure takes place.’ See here for access to full report
For me personally, I feel it is doing me good. I have always found meditation difficult, as my mind has a hard time focusing and for this reason, I stopped doing it for quite a while. However, I find with binaural beats, I find it easier to focus on the sounds, particularly when concentrating on the beautiful music and sounds within it. I can also do other things whilst listening (except operate machinery or drive). For me, my anxiety has reduced in its intensity, sometimes it was pretty unbearable, now I do have short periods of complete relaxation, something I haven’t experienced for a long time.
As someone who has a very disorganised mind, who flits from one thought to the next constantly, I feel my mind is clearer, I can focus more. I don’t think it is a miracle cure, however, I do feel it is beneficial for me, so it maybe for others too.
For me, listening to binaural beats is just part of my habit stacking methods of taking better care of myself, along with healthy eating, exercise and other self-care methods. This year has been all about me ….. and COVID-19 obviously!