Binaural Beats: How to Heal Your Mind and Body
Guest post by Beth Rush
You might instinctively turn on music when you want to alter your mood. Who hasn’t experienced a moment of pure joy when their favorite song came on the radio during the commute home from a rough day at the office? There’s no doubt sound has the power to affect the human experience — however, can it heal?
What are these incredible sounds and what makes them unique and ameliorative? How can you incorporate them into your life? Here’s how to heal your mind and body with binaural beats.
The French physicist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove discovered binaural beats in 1839 — they’re far from a new phenomenon. When Dove presented two different frequencies separately to each ear, he found the brain tried to reconcile the differences in signals. This mesh creates an independent third signal or beat, existing solely within your brain.
The binaural beat is the difference between the two contrasting frequencies. For example, if your right ear listened to a frequency of 440 Hz while your left ear heard one at 444 Hz, your brain would create a 4 Hz tone.
The magic occurs in your brainstem, specifically your superior olivary complex. This region synchronizes activity among the brain’s many neurons, creating brain waves. Your superior olivary complex also comes alive when you listen to binaural beats. These tones change your brainwaves, influencing various mental states like emotion and mood.
Conflicting evidence exists regarding the efficacy of binaural beats. Some researchers believe your mental state when you listen to them influences the effects as much as the tones themselves. For example, listening to frequencies intended to spark creativity could increase your brainwaves too much if you’re already in an agitated, alert state, inducing anxiety or even panic.
However, most scientists assert there’s no danger in experimenting with these tones and some subjective reports indicate impressive results.
Science can see the way binaural beats influence your brain waves. They can detect your response on an EEG — a test detecting changes in neural activity.
How can you use binaural beats for healing trauma or physical ailments? The best process is to use earbuds to create two separate tones in each ear. You can find binaural beat recordings using specialized equipment to recreate the 360-degree sound experience. This process replicates two different frequencies playing on either side.
You should try to induce delta waves when using binaural beats for physical healing. These are associated with deep sleep, recovery and pain relief, meditative states, cortisol reduction, DHEA increase, and access to the unconscious mind.
Your goal is a 1 to 4 Hz tone to induce this state. Interestingly, the lowest sounds on the solfeggio frequency scale are also associated with healing chronic pain.
One technique many find successful is listening to delta-wave-inducing binaural beats when lying down to sleep. Your body will continue to hear the healing waves while you rest. You might even find you enjoy the best slumber of your life if you can find a pair of earbuds that let you sleep comfortably on your pillow.
Another option is listening to binaural beats while submerged in the bath. The water’s warmth will induce deep relaxation in your muscles. Furthermore, the echo chamber created in the enclosed space allows the tones to resonate throughout every cell. This method may be particularly effective if you have widespread pain from arthritis or fibromyalgia.
Binaural beats also impact mood and cognitive function. You can use them for a bit of extra oomph to power through those last hours of your workday. In this instance, you want to choose tones between 14 Hz and 100 Hz to induce a beta or gamma state. Beta states keep your attention focused and help you problem-solve, while gamma sparks creativity and inspires memory recall.
Your best bet is to start on the lower end of the frequency spectrum, especially if you have anxiety. Some practitioners have reported feeling panicky after experimenting with higher-frequency binaural beats.
You can also use binaural beats to help you heal from trauma by retraining your default reactions to stressful situations. People who have endured past trauma experience greater excitement in their HPA axis when exposed to similar stimuli in the future. For example, a soldier with PTSD may react violently to the sound of fireworks.
You should work with a qualified therapist to use binaural beats for healing trauma. They can guide you through mentally revisiting the event to examine how it influences your current physiological responses to certain stimuli. Listening to 4 Hz to 14 Hz frequencies while you complete this process can help calm your nervous system when you otherwise feel highly triggered.
Your practitioner can lead you through guided visualization exercises where you envision yourself reacting more calmly and rationally to future triggering events. Your brain will come to associate the tones with relaxation and you can use a recording to help you mitigate your responses the next time panic threatens.
Music can affect the human spirit. However, can certain tones heal it? Plenty of research suggests they may. Why not include binaural beats for physical healing in your treatment protocol?
You can also use binaural beats for healing trauma. Employ the techniques above and enjoy the sweet sound of improved mental and physical health.