“Binaural beats change brainwaves and induce temporary states of deep relaxation, or awareness, depending on the needs of the person. They help to calm the mind and mimic the body’s natural brainwaves – without any negative side effects.”
Scott Hutchison-McDade is a sound therapist, meditation guide and yoga practitioner based in Scotland. He works with an amalgamation of sound and recognized auditory healing frequencies to incite specific reactions in the brain.
“It’s a very organic approach and I think that’s why it works. The wonderful thing about binaural beats is you can choose the experience and cater [the sound]. Some people require a deep sense of calmness and relaxation, some need mental motivation and clearer thinking. For example, you may have a big project to undertake and you don’t know where to start – binaural beats can help get you in the zone.”
The benefits of sound therapy are well documented. Specific soundwaves are thought to boost energy, reduce headaches and chronic tiredness, lessen anxiety, improve confidence, ease frustration, promote mental clarity, improve overall mood, enhance communication skills, break down emotional barriers, increase motivation, encourage an open mind, improve attention span and concentration, and lessen irritability.
Hutchison-McDade explains that “binaural beats” is an approach to auditory therapy in which the brain becomes gently and thoroughly engaged.
“The sound currents are delivered through headphones. Each ear receives a slightly different frequency, simultaneously. When this happens, the brain perceives a third sound frequency based on the difference between the two tones. The brain then follows the new frequency and produces brainwaves at the same rate of hertz [Hz].”
Our brains operate in approximately five different brainwaves states: Gamma, Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta waves. During the day, we tend to function in a predominately alert state (Beta). Beta state is helpful when interacting with our environment and meeting demands at work but it can also lead to a buildup of stress and tension. At the end of the day, when this frequency of constant stimulus is no longer required, it can be a struggle to switch our minds and “change states.” Over time this can have negative effects on our mental and physical wellbeing.
“It amazes me when I see the benefits of binaural beats fused with ancient yogic/yoga practices,” said Hutchison-McDade. “The results are truly phenomenal – each person’s experience is unique. It seems to target just what the person needs. People are visibly relaxed and almost floating afterwards. There are lots of reports of reduced pain and anxiety along with improved sleep after the experience.”
Each of our default brainwave settings serves a specific purpose – generating cues for our body. Waking up, getting ready for bed, entering deep sleep – or running from danger. Hutchison-McDade says that while the majority of us are not sprinting, pell-mell, from anything particularly vicious these days we do face a great deal of external stimulus, causing stress. This accumulates and triggers that internal live wire – once crucial in protecting us from danger.
“By tricking the brain into producing the selected brainwaves, on demand, we can influence how we feel,” he noted. “It’s almost like you press a reset button and for 30 minutes your brain generates pre-selected brainwaves. The experience temporally alters the brainwaves we produce and can make us feel physically and emotionally recharged and refreshed. Once the experience is over and the audio feed has stopped, the brain reverts back to generating the brainwaves appropriate for the given task and time of day.”
Hutchison-McDade believes taking time in the day to disengage is paramount. Incorporating sound therapy into his days has relieved him of chronic insomnia, anxiety and depression. He offers advice for anyone interested in test-driving auditory therapy.
“It’s important to approach binaural beats – any therapy – with an open mind,” stated Hutchison-McDade. “When you’re listening, focus your awareness on your breath notice the inhale and the exhale. Let go of expectations and take time to simply be part of the experience.”