Even the most adept and practiced meditation gurus have come across it in their journey: the big wall. The noise. The constant hum of the mind, agitating, moving, winding, pulsing, keeping your mind from that smooth, clear, comforting slate of meditative calm.
It’s funny that something seemingly so simple is actually so complex. You don’t need money, props, or anything of the physical world to do it, and yet so many of us have trouble reaching the state we desire when we sit down to practice meditation. Perhaps you meditate often, and fancy yourself great at it, though you just can’t seem to reach that state of clarity and bliss today. That’s ok. The mind is intricate, and we don’t always have every last ounce of control.
However, sometimes the need for that special state of calm is urgent. In times of stress or unease, it may be the hardest time to meditate, even though you need it most. In moments like these, turn to sound.
While sound baths are the most beautiful, loving, transportive way to reach bliss by sound waves, queuing up a meditative or healing frequency on your favorite streaming platform can be just as effective in helping you reach your zen goals, among other things.
Different frequencies of sound intensity and specific Hz (hertz) can have a great impact on our cognitive state. Not all frequencies have the same effect. The most commonly known brain waves that frequencies can produce are Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. Delta waves are below 4hz, and occur in the brain during sleep. Theta waves are between 4-7hz, and are also associated with sleep, but also deep relaxation like hypnosis, meditation, and visualization. Alpha waves occur when we are relaxed and calm, Beta waves occur in the brain when we are actively thinking, solving problems, or being physically active, and Gamma waves are when we are the most active—the fastest brainwave—think high-intensity situations.
Essentially, we want to be somewhere between Theta and Alpha if we want to reach a meditative state, so frequencies that fall between 4-13hz are within the right frame of sound. And sound is incredibly powerful. A popular way to consume these frequencies is via Binaural beats, which by definition, means of or relating to both ears. It’s when a slightly different frequency is played in each ear, traveling independently to the part of your brain that gathers sound data.
This is what can trigger your brainwave state. For example, this study by Frontiers in Neuroscience explains that “when a sinusoidal pure tone of 250 Hz is presented to the left ear and a 256 Hz is simultaneously presented to the right ear, amplitude modulation with a frequency rate of 6 Hz is perceived by the brain,” which lands us in the deeply relaxing Theta brainwave. This allows us to reach a state of calm for meditation or positive visualization, and even help lull us to sleep when we are experiencing stress or anxiety. In fact, the low and melodic humming or chanting done by Buddhist monks is meant to invoke Gamma brainwaves for deep, long meditation sessions.
If you’ve looked up the sounds of these frequencies and find them to be at first unnerving, don’t get discouraged. Beginners can find more song-like variations of healing frequencies for a smooth transition, where the essential base beat contains the frequencies for calming and healing brainwave experience, with relaxing, soft, spa-like instrumentals playing over it for a smooth transition.