Using Brainwave Entrainment to Meditate

Image credit: nasrulekram

Image credit: nasrulekram

Meditation has so many benefits. It can open up the mind, relax your body and spirit and can improve your general outlook for the day.

Yet so many people have difficulty in reaching that true state we know as “meditation.” Random thoughts sneak in no matter how you try to eliminate them (and in fact, they can be MORE intrusive the more you try). And your beta brain wave (fully alert) mind is simply not used to emptying entirely; it seems to rebel during your meditation session.

How to overcome these naturally built-in issues? One process is called brainwave entrainment. By using a professional, high-quality entrainment program, you will actually encourage your brain to follow its own natural, physical processes that lead to a state of meditation.

What is Brainwave Entrainment?

Brainwave entrainment – or simply, brain entrainment – means utilizing one or more of your senses to get your brain to follow a certain pathway. The most commonly used sense for this process is the sense of sound.

In sound-based brainwave entrainment, tones are played in your ears at certain rhythms. Generally, these are played in such a way to reduce the Hz (frequency) of the tones from fully-alert beta to alpha, a slightly dreamy, deeper and slower state than beta.

Many of these tones can not actually be “heard” by the ears. However, your brain senses them and, due to their rhythmic nature, begins to follow them. This process causes your brain to automatically follow, and to slow its activity from beta to alpha.

Effortless Meditation

Brainwave entrainment can be utilized to create a variety of effects. A program may direct your brain to become more creative, happier, even better at sports. And yes, there are programs aimed specifically at creating a meditation state.

The beauty of brainwave entrainment is that it causes the brain to bypass your natural (beta) tendency to analyze, to notice outside sounds, smells and tactile (touch) sensations – without any effort on your part. And since taking away the concept of “effort” is itself tantamount to achieving a meditation state, this produces a “double whammy” effect that makes your brain naturally go into deep meditation.

Using Brain Entrainment to Achieve Meditation

Choose a great program and a very good set of headphones. Then make sure you do the following:

Choose a completely undisturbed time. Wait until the kids are in school or playing at a friend’s house, make sure the dog is walked and put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door.

Eliminate distractions. Turn your phone off. If your computer gives you sound alerts, turn off the volume or shut the computer down for the duration of the session. Close the door and windows to cut down on outside distractions you can’t control.

Open your mind…and relax. Relaxation is your best ally when using brain entrainment to achieve a meditation state.

Don’t “try.” Allow the tones to wash over you. Don’t concentrate hard and don’t expect any specific feelings to come up. Don’t keep saying to yourself, “Am I in a meditative state yet?” Just allow the tones to do their own work.

Repeat the process once or twice a day. You may actually notice the positive effects of meditation throughout your day before you actually recognize the feeling during a session. So don’t be discouraged – just allow the tones and your brain to do their own work, while you lie back and reap the benefits of a meditation state of mind. Enjoy!

Why Meditation Works to Calm Your Mind

You’ve heard of meditation as a mind-calming exercise. Is that really true? If so, how does the whole process work?

Image

Don’t worry – you don’t have to actually sit on a mountain (though it can’t hurt!). Image credit: Moyan_Brenn

The answer: yes, it can and does. The reason is two-fold. On the one hand, meditation empties and clears the mind of thoughts that might otherwise create or elevate panic (and often do during one’s highly alert and active day). On the other hand, studies are showing that labeling emotions before “letting them go” during meditation helps decrease anxiety. Let’s take a closer look at these ideas.

1. The goal of meditation is to stop all thought.

Meditation’s primary goal a majority of the time — and its basis throughout ancient history to the present — is on emptying the mind.

Anyone who has tried this knows just how deceptively hard it is to do. It’s along the lines of that old educational exercise, “For the next three minutes, DO NOT think about an elephant.” Most people find their minds darting back to that darned elephant over and over again. That’s because it’s actually harder not to think than it is to think. That’s just how our logical, compartmental minds work.

2. “Not thinking”: difficult, but not impossible.

Our minds also work by making associations. One thought tends to lead to another. Unfortunately, when stress enters the picture — and for the average person, it often does — these “strings of thoughts” create stimulation in the brain that is definitely not desirable.

In other words, it ends up being as snowball effect: the more you worry, the more stress registers in your brain, and the more stress that’s bouncing around in your brain, the more you’re stimulated to worry and have other negative feelings.

3. So what can you do about it?

Image

Don’t shake things up – “see” your thoughts, then move on. Image credit: Hatchibombotar

The cure? Stop the cycle dead in its tracks by teaching yourself not to think. Spend 5 minutes each day at a quiet time to sit and literally not think. At first this will be hard — your brain will be fighting to put every feeling you have into words. Don’t fight these thoughts; acknowledge them, give them a mental nod and allow them to pass on through.

As you get better at the process (and you will), work up to 10 minutes a day, then 15.

Some people find their best results doing two 10-minute or two 15-minute meditation sessions a day. Find what works for you.

4. Paradoxically, acknowledgement also decreases anxiety.

The second half of the mind-calming equation would seem to be the exact opposite of the above: it involves addressing your thoughts. But actually, these two factors work closely together during the meditation process.

Have you ever noticed that the monster in a horror movie is always scarier when you can’t see it? That’s because our imagination naturally takes over, attempting to fill that gap (invisibility/lack of knowledge). And our imagination is going to create potentially far worse, more stressful scenarios than the inevitable reality in an attempt to cover all the bases.

5. It’s psychological and biochemical.

Conventional psychology has long relied on actively addressing issues and stressors in order to make them smaller, so to speak, in our minds. That takes away their power over us. Now scientists are saying the “acknowledgement” part of the meditation process (just before letting the thought go) is an essential part of the process of producing that sense of calm.

Check out this study for more information on the actual study and its results. In short, the scientists found that when thoughts entered the minds of the meditating subjects and they acknowledged them before letting them “flow through” and dissipate, a key element was addressed, namely that putting a name to negative emotions directly calmed the brain.

6. Don’t “overfocus.”

Don’t confuse this with overfocusing on negative emotions. According to studies, this will bring back the very effect you don’t want: more brain confusion and more stress. Simply acknowledge the thought you’re having, give it a mental nod, and allow it to flow through and on past you. Visualize this happening easily and effortlessly.

I hope you find this as fascinating as I did while researching it. As an avid meditator, I’m always interested in the psychology behind why it works (and it does). Good luck on your journey and may you find peace and enlightenment all the way.