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What are Brain Waves?

Brain waves are electrical activity patterns caused by the neurons of the brain communicating with each other. Brain waves can be detected using sensitive medical equipment such as an electroencephalogram (EEG) monitor. Brain waves provide an indication of the mental state of an individual. In other words, the appearance of brain waves is directly connected to what a person is doing, thinking or feeling. The different Brain states are: Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta, Delta. You have your own unique brain wave patterns that function habitually. Some of these brain wave habits are useful, and others need some fine-tuning. When your brain is functioning efficiently, your brain waves are “in sync” with your activity, but stress or lack of sleep can interfere with this natural harmonious relationship. To restore this harmony, at Gaia Meditation, we have developed a wide range of audio programs, including meditation music, relaxation music, sleep music and plenty other Sound Healing programs.

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Brain states, brainwave frequencies

WaveFrequency RangeAssociated Mental StatesAssociated Sleep StatesAssociated meditation types
Gamma> 40 HzInspiration, Higher Learning, Focus –Compassion, Altruism (Buddhist)
Beta13-40 HzAlertness, Concentration, Cognition –Ecstasy and Intense Concentration
Alpha7-13 HzRelaxation, Visualization, CreativityPre-sleep or pre-wake drowsinessZen and Transcendental
Theta4-7 HzMeditation, Intuition, Memory, HypnosisLight-sleep (somnolence)Deep state; Reprogramming, Self-hypnosis
Delta< 4 HzHealing, Sleep, Detached AwarenessDeep-sleepDeepest state (Yoga Nidra); Healing

Gamma waves are the fastest of the brainwave frequencies (high frequency band of brainwave activity) which signifies the highest state of focus possible. They are associated with peak concentration and the brain’s optimal frequency for cognitive functioning – the 40 Hz frequency corresponds to a Schumann resonance band and many scientists, including Nobel Laureate Sir Francis Crick believe that it may be the key to the act of cognition. The Gamma state relates to simultaneous processing of information from different brain areas; information passes very rapidly.

The Gamma state relates to expanded consciousness and spiritual emergence. Researchers discovered that Gamma was highly active when in states of universal love, altruism and the “higher virtues”. In particular, high Gamma activity was found during Buddhist meditation of compassion.

Gaia Meditation Gamma programs are specifically designed to: stimulate cognitive functions, help for higher learning and greater focus, improve IQ, expand consciousness and inspiration. The Dalai Lama meditates 4 hours every morning, which must stimulate his Gamma activity in a tremendous way. However, even if you have never practiced meditation, our Gamma waves programs will take you easily and rapidly to the Gamma brain state.

Scientific research findings on Gamma stimulation:

  • Enhancement in cognitive functions: improvement in mental processing speed after 6 weeks of Gamma stimulation1:
    • Information processing speed and visual motor coordination – improvement in score: 6.9 to 10.6 (+53.6%)
    • Freedom from distractibility – improvement in score: 13.2 to 17.5 (+32.6%)
    • Visual short-term memory and sequencing ability – improvement in score: 6.0 to 8.2 (+36.7%)
    • Arithmetic/number ability and short-term memory – improvement in score: 6.2 to 8.3 (+33.9%)
  • Reduction in frequency of migraines after 30 days of Gamma photic stimulation: 53% of subjects* reported decreased migraine frequency (32% “much less” and 21% “somewhat less”)2

* subjects whose headaches were usually preceded by warning signs

Source:

1 Olmstead R. Use of auditory and visual stimulation to improve cognitive abilities in learning-disabled children. J Neurother. 2005;9(2):49-61.

2 Noton D. Migraine and photic stimulation: report on a survey of migraineurs using flickering light therapy. Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 2000;6(3):138-142.

Beta waves are the most common and most prevalent in the brain. These are the brain waves of alertness, dominating your normal waking state of consciousness. The Beta state relates to “fast” activity with neurons firing abundantly, in rapid succession, with attention focused directly towards cognitive tasks and the outside world. Beta activity is engaged in focused mental activity, problem solving, judgment and decision making. New ideas and solutions to problems flash like lightning into your mind.

Beta activity is quite important. In fact, many people lack sufficient beta activity, which can cause mental or emotional disorders such as depression, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and insomnia.

In meditation, Beta waves have been noticed only in very experienced practitioners when in a state of ecstasy and intense concentration.

Gaia Meditation Beta programs are specifically designed to: stimulate cognitive functions, help for active concentration with high focus, improve emotional states and energy levels.

Scientific research findings on Beta stimulation:

  • Reduction in feelings of fatigue after 7 weeks of Beta wave stimulation ; POMS* Fatigue Score: from 8.250 to 5.147 (-34%)1
  • Improvement in focus and attention: +81% on WISC-3 Freedom From Distractibility** scales (vs. no significant change in control group)2
  • Improvement in grade reading level (Grade Equivalent) by +0.6 grades, in only two weeks for students who received Beta stimulation (vs. +0.2 grades only for control group)3
  • Improvement in academic performance: +0.62 points in mean GPA in one semester, for a group of 8 university level students who received Beta stimulation (vs. -0.22 points for control group)4

* Profile Of Mood States – psychological rating scale used to assess transient, distinct mood states.

** test used to identify children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (WISC: Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children)

Source:

1 Howard CE, Graham LE, 2nd, Wycoff SJ. A comparison of methods for reducing stress among dental students. J Dent Educ. 1986;50(9):542-544.

2 Patrick GJ. Improved neuronal regulation in ADHD: An application of 15 sessions of photic-driven EEG neurotherapy. J Neurother. 1996;1(4)27-36.

3 Joyce M, Siever D. Audio-Visual Entrainment (AVE) program as a treatment for behavior disorders in a school setting. J Neurother. 2000;4(2):9-25.

4 Budzynski T, Jordy J, Budzynski HK, Tang H, Claypoole K. Academic performance enhancement with photic stimulation and EDR feedback. J Neurother. 1999;3(3-4):11-21.

Alpha is the resting state for the brain; it is “The Power Of Now”, being here in the present. The Alpha state is the relaxed state of consciousness essential to stress reduction. It is intensely pleasurable: you are awake but relaxed and not processing much information, with a sort of floating feeling. According to Alpha researcher Dr. Joe Kamiya, the Alpha state is “something like letting go of anxieties”.

Alpha is also considered as an integral part of the relaxation process before sleep. In fact, when you get up in the morning and just before sleep, you are naturally in this state. When you close your eyes, your brain automatically starts producing more alpha waves.

The Alpha state is also a relaxed state of consciousness essential for high levels of creativity. Prolific alpha producers are noted among artists, musicians, athletes and intuitive persons.

Alpha brain waves are the most prominent during meditation, particularly noted in Zen Meditation and in Transcendental Meditation (TM).

Gaia Meditation Alpha programs are specifically designed to: induce deep relaxation, help for visualization and heighten creativity. With our Alpha waves programs, you can begin experiencing the benefits of alpha biofeedback training right now.

Scientific research findings on Alpha stimulation:

  • Significant reduction of number of patients who reported pain/discomfort during an endoscopy procedure (-90% of patients with alpha stimulation vs. -15% of patients without stimulation)1
  • Significant memory improvements: increase in proportion of words accurately recalled during alpha stimulation (during 10.2 Hz stimulation, the experimental group outperformed the control group by 15%)2
  • Significant reduction of stress and anxiety as measured by the STAI* scores (after 35 minutes of alpha stimulation)3

*The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory – a widely used self-test for measuring anxiety

Source:

1 Nomura T, Higuchi K, Yu H, et al. Slow-wave photic stimulation relieves patient discomfort during esophagogastroduodenoscopy. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006;21(1 Pt 1):54-58.

2 Williams, J., Ramaswamy, D. and Oulhaj, A., 2006. 10 Hz flicker improves recognition memory in older people. BMC Neurosci. 7, 21.

3 Ossebaard HC. Stress reduction by technology? An experimental study into the effects of brainmachines on burnout and state anxiety. Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2000;25(2):93-101.

Theta is very subtle. It is one of the most elusive and extraordinary brain states you can explore. Theta is a state of somnolence with reduced consciousness; you are neither fully awake nor asleep yet. It is also known as the “Twilight state” or “Stage 1 Sleep” which you normally only experience fleetingly as you wake or drift off to sleep. In the Theta brain state, your senses are withdrawn from the external world and focused on signals originating from within.

Theta brain waves occur most often in sleep but are also dominant in deep meditation. Theta is known to be a dreamlike state with vivid imagery, intuition and information beyond your normal conscious awareness. This state of mind is excellent for psychic experiences to occur, as well as astral projection and extended remote viewing. To reach this state without falling asleep while meditating takes practice.

Theta is also a very receptive mental state that has proven to be useful for hypnotherapy, as well as for self-hypnosis using recorded affirmations and suggestions.

Gaia Meditation Theta programs are specifically designed to: help induce self-hypnosis states, improve memory and advanced meditation.

Scientific research findings on Theta stimulation:

  • Rapid hypnotic induction: after 5 minutes of photic theta stimulation, 78% of subjects were in a state of hypnosis1
  • Reduction of anxiety scores from 43.1 to 24.3 (average self-reported anxiety scores before/after 20 theta sessions across one month), i.e. by -56.4%2
  • Improvement in ability to meditate3

Source:

1 Kroger, W. S., & Schneider, S. A. (1959). An electronic aid for hypnotic induction: A preliminary report. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 7(2), 93-98.

2 Le Scouarnec RP, Poirier RM, Owens JE, Gauthier J, Taylor AG, Foresman PA. Use of binaural beat tapes for treatment of anxiety: a pilot study of tape preference and outcomes. Altern Ther Health Med. 2001;7(1):58-63.

3 Faber, P. L., et al. “Scalp and intracerebral (LORETA) theta and gamma EEG coherence in meditation.” International Society for Neuronal Regulation, Winterthur, Switzerland (2004).

Delta brain state is related to the unconscious or super-conscious mind. Delta waves are the slowest of all five brainwave frequencies. These brain waves are generated in deep sleep and in very deep meditation. In the sleep cycle, the deepest of sleep states is called “Slow Wave Sleep” (SWS). In this phase, the brain begins producing very slow, large Delta waves. The deeper the sleep, the higher the amount of delta waves. This stage plays a vital role in health and well-being, especially because healing and regeneration processes are stimulated in this state. In the Delta state, you do not dream, you are completely unconscious.

However, very experienced practitioners of meditation are able to enter a Delta state and maintain consciousness at the same time. Yoga nidra or “yogi sleep” is a sleep-like state which yogis report during their meditations. This lucid sleeping state is among the deepest possible states of relaxation while still maintaining full consciousness (“super-conscious mind”). In this state, experienced yogis are able to regulate their body temperature and heart rate.

Gaia Meditation Delta programs are specifically designed to: improve sleep and healing process. Effects happen at a very deep subconscious level, ideal for powerful reprogramming. If you’re in lack of sleep because you’re a busy business man or because you have insomnia etc., a few hours of our Delta waves programs will trick your brain into thinking it had all the restorative sleep it needs.

Scientific research findings on Delta stimulation:

  • Improvement in sleep quality and fatigue reduction for 58% of subjects who used Delta stimulation nightly for one month1
  • Headache relief: after 5 minutes of Delta wave stimulation; 14 subjects out of 15 were cured2
  • Reduction of anxiety by 26% (as measured by STAI*) after 30 minutes of Delta stimulation and music (vs. reduction of anxiety by 11% only with music alone)3

* The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory – a widely used self-test for measuring anxiety

Source:

1 Siever, D. (2002) “The Rediscovery of Audio-Visual Entrainment Technology.”

2 Solomon GD. Slow wave photic stimulation in the treatment of headache-a preliminary report. Headache. 1985;25(8):444-446.

3 Padmanabhan R, Hildreth AJ, Laws D. A prospective, randomised, controlled study examining binaural beat audio and pre-operative anxiety in patients undergoing general anaesthesia for day case surgery. Anaesthesia. 2005;60(9):874-877.

What is Brainwave Entrainment?

At Gaia Meditation, we use the technology of Brainwave Entrainment in our audio programs (relaxation music, sleep music, meditation music…) to help you coordinate your brain waves according to your desired objectives.

Brainwave entrainment is a method which utilizes frequencies of the brain in order to create specific desired thoughts and behavior. In other words, brainwave entrainment is used to induce different brainwave states related to: enhanced focus, relaxation, sleep induction, meditation, etc. With the help of a specific stimulus, aural (audio), photic (visual) or the combination of the two, we naturally induce the brain to respond by synchronizing with the stimulus frequency; this is called the “frequency following response”. The assumption is that the human brain has a tendency to change its dominant Electroencephalography frequency (recording of electrical activity along the scalp) towards the frequency of a dominant external stimulus. This is why we also talk about “brainwave synchronization”.

At Gaia Meditation, we favor aural stimuli with the utilization of specific frequencies embedded in audio tracks.

Entrainment is a principle of physics which appears in biology, chemistry, neurology, medicine, astronomy etc. It is defined as the synchronization of two or more rhythmic cycles. In the seventeenth century, Dutch scientist Christian Huygens found out that by placing two unsynchronized clocks side by side on a wall, they would slowly synchronize to each other in a very accurate way. The clocks were the first example of spontaneous synchronization, a phenomenon found throughout nature from cells to the Solar System.

A potential and generally desired result of brainwave entrainment is hemispheric synchronization. It refers to a state when the brainwave pattern of the right and left hemispheres become alike. It is said that a person with similar activity in both hemispheres tend to be happier, more optimistic and more emotionally stable and less prone to mental illness. Studies found that increased levels of synchronization are found naturally in people who meditate regularly and people who are very happy with their lives in general.

Brainwave entrainment effectively pushes the entire brain into a certain state. It is a great way to lead your mind into states that you might usually have difficulty reaching, allowing you to experience what those states feel like.

At Gaia Meditation, most of audio programs including relaxation music, sleep music, meditation music etc. use the technology of brainwave entrainment (or “brainwave synchronization”) with powerful binaural beats and isochronic tones. Our audio tracks utilize pure and precisely tuned sound frequencies which will drive your brain activity (consciousness) into your desired state: Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta or Delta.

Binaural beats, or binaural tones, are auditory processing artifacts (apparent sounds) resulting from the stimulation of the ears with two different sound frequencies. In fact, when two different vibrations are delivered to the brain separately through each ear, using stereo headphones, the two hemispheres of the brain function together to “hear” and perceive not the external sound signals, but a third phantom signal. This resulting signal, discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm Dove, is called “binaural beat”. The effect on the brain waves depends on the difference of each tone. For example, if a sound frequency of 300 Hz is played in the left ear and 307 Hz in the right one, then the binaural beat would have a frequency of 7 Hz (“frequency following response”) which corresponds to the Alpha brain state, generally associated with relaxation, visualization and creativity. The beating tone is perceived as if the two tones mixed naturally, out of the brain. For the binaural beat effect to occur, the difference between the two frequencies must be small (less than or equal to 30 Hz), otherwise, the two tones will be heard separately, and no beat will be perceived.

Research shows that binaural beats can literally drive brain activity into specific brain states (Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta or Delta). Without any effort and naturally, you would have your brain activity to synchronize with the binaural beat; it will become organized and coherent, and eventually, the left and right hemispheres of your brain will start to be balanced creating a very unique state called “hemispheric synchronization” (equal frequency and amplitude of the wave forms in both hemispheres). This extraordinary brain state is very powerful and normally unattainable without this kind of stimulation. Through the entrainment of brain waves, binaural beats can influence the brain in a very subtle way, inducing states of relaxation, sleep, meditation, creativity…

Isochronic tones are the newest technological advancement in the field of brainwave entrainment. Isochronic tones are regular beats of a single tone. In fact, an isochronic tone is a tone that is being turned on and off rapidly at regular intervals, creating sharp and distinctive pulses of sound. This effect called “Amplitude Entrainment” tends to excite the thalamus and causes the brain to generate the same frequency brainwave (“frequency following response”) as the tone. The thalamus, vital structure lying deep within the brain, has multiple important functions: it is involved in sensory and motor signal relay, and the regulation of consciousness and sleep. Therefore, the use of isochronic tones is a very effective way to induce a desired brainwave state.

To be audible and efficient, isochronic tones must be above the frequency of 4 Hz.

Comparison between binaural beats and isochronic tones

Binaural beatsIsochronic tones
Discovered in 1839 by Heinrich Wilhelm DoveNewer brainwave entrainment technology
Two different tones delivered separately in each earSeparate pulses of a single tone
Lower entrainment effect? (Thalamus not stimulated)Stronger entrainment effect? (Thalamus stimulated)
More effective in lower frequency zones (Alpha, Theta, Delta) -> good for hypnotic & relaxing effect, meditation…More effective in higher frequency zones (Gamma, Beta) -> good for memory training and IQ improvement
Headphones requiredNo headphones required but recommended

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