Meditation calms the mind and alleviates stress. Unfortunately, not everyone can find time to sit quietly and “breathe in through the nose, and out through the mouth.”
But there’s a type of meditation that’s gaining traction with both medical professionals and wellness practitioners. It’s called binaural beat brainwave technology, and with this style of meditation, there’s no silence allowed.
“Binaural means two frequencies coming in through the ears, one in each side,” said Dr. Trupti Gokani, a board-certified neurologist and founder of the Zira Mind and Body Center in Glenview. “How it works, is each side of the brain gets stimulated with a certain sound or beat. The difference between the frequencies creates an imaginary beat that takes the brain into the theta range, which is where you are calm and coherent.”
Like most meditations, you can do the binaural beats anywhere, anytime. There are apps and Youtube videos that specialize in just this type of sound therapy. But you do need a set of headphones to get the full effect of the treatment, said Gokani, because otherwise the sounds won’t alternate from ear to ear, which is the trick to getting the binaural benefits. Activating each side of the brain can also release unhealthy belief systems and patterns, Gokani said.
“The brain can get dominant on one side so when the programs that are negative, such as the sabotaging ‘The world is out to get me,’ start to run, that’s usually the left, more logical, analytical, fact-based side of the brain. When the brain gets more in alignment, it can stop the pattern of negative thinking, which is a beautiful thing,” Gokani said. “We need to stimulate the right side, which is the creative, more spiritual and connected side, and these modalities can start that process.”
Gokani said the brain connectivity process can even make things “more harmonious” for the physical body. “When the brain is connected, our physical body feels better. If the brain is having symptoms like anxiety, fear, depression, anger, it’s because the brain is operating in kind of an incoherent, non-synchronistic way. I’m actually trying these different rhythms with my migraine patients right now. Hemi-Sync is another one I’m trying.”
Hemi-Sync is a process using binaural beats and audio guidance technology that was created by Robert Monroe after decades of studying sound patterns on human consciousness. While Monroe died in 1995, his research lives on through courses and audio meditations through The Monroe Institute in Virginia.
“You can hook someone up to an EEG and actually see that there’s a physical response happening in the brain because it takes your consciousness and focuses it like a laser beam,” said Garrett Stevens, chairman and president of Hemi-Sync. “Some of the people who have come to the Monroe Institute over the years have been Buddhist monks, and lots of them say ‘I wish I’d known about this earlier’ because to achieve states of consciousness that might take years of sitting on cushions some people can achieve in eight minutes.”
Binaural beat and Hemi-Sync meditations vary in length (a few minutes to an hour) and type (guided with speaking, un-guided with no speaking.) Stevens’ Hemi-Sync site has even catalogued the meditations by category.
“Bob Monroe created these recipes some time ago through hundreds and thousands of trials,” Stevens said. “The general recipes are sleep, relaxation, wellness, creativity, manifestation and meditation.”
Binaural beat technology has also been proven to help with soldiers suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
“There was actually a study that was done in 2017 that was funded by Walter Reed National Military Medical Center that focused on treating vets with PTSD using binaural beat technology and it produced statistically significant positive results on all four factors that were measured,” Stevens said.
Patty Avalon, who has been a teacher at the Monroe Institute since 2000, said participants have also reported an increase in their intuitive and creative abilities after using the meditations.
“The left [brain] hemisphere and the right [brain] hemisphere basically offer very different gifts,” Avalon said. “In our culture we don’t use the right hemisphere in our everyday lives because we live in a culture that has us get up at six in the morning and we go to work and it’s very regulated. So if you can get a technology like this that helps to activate both sides of the brain simultaneously — you have access to your more creative and intuitive self.”