On of the rather powerful technologies that I have found for entraining particular brainwave states is the light-sound machine. These use not only the binaural sound beats in stereo headphone, but also flashing goggles that stimulate the visual fields. Due to the flashing lights it is important that individuals with seizures should probably not use these devices, or if they do, they must choose the color of the light goggles carefully: refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Please discuss the use with this technology with your own neurologist if you fit in this category.
These devices range from the quite simple to the technologically sophisticated. Some, such as the newer David Paradise units also may include cranial electro stimulation if preferred. A number of them allow for audio input from your favorite music to be included in the sound portion of the experience. The newest versions of the devices actually allow the sounds from music to alter the light frequency for stunning visual effects.
These devices have multiple built in programs for specific brainwave pattern entrainment, and allow for the download of additional programs from the manufacturer. Some even have a computer interface program that allows for you, the user, to create your own programs. Note: for those of us Apple users, none of the companies have direct Mac compatible software or even downloads, although some of them allow Windows emulation software to allow for this function.
MindLightz is one of the newest versions which you can use from an iPhone or iPad based software, just buy their goggles and download the software.
An exciting element for personal change is the ability to record self suggestions to play as an audio track with some of the devices. Check this out as a possibility before purchase to find the ease of bringing in an audio track.
It seems that the effectiveness of creating some form of binaural beat technology was discovered on a practical level long before modern technology. The traditional Tibetan “Tingsha” cymbals or bells were slightly off pitch of one other to create form of sound wave prominent only when both bells sounded. These are commonly used in various meditation retreats announce the beginning of a meditative practice or to create a sacred space with sound.
As with many of these technologies, test the bells first to make sure they provide a relaxing and positive experience for you as an individual. They are a highly portable means of producing a clear sound that many find conducive to meditative practice.
Tibetan bowls also produce unique sound frequencies which may aid in reaching a deeply relaxed state. Some of these come in sets with tones specific to particular energies of the body.
Over the course of time, sometimes months to years, meditative practice allows the diligent student the ability to remain consciously aware at different rates of brainwave activity than that of waking state [beta]. It has also been observed that various types of drumming, from tribal to raves, provide a rapid access to trance states based upon the rhythm combined with overpowering volume of sound. In some manner these sounds alter brainwave state through a process usually referred to as entrainment. Once a particular brainwave state is achieved in this manner, it becomes easier to access the state without necessarily having to use the technology again.
For the individual wishing to experience a more solitary experience of binaural beats than tribal drumming, there are several options, ranging from CDs to light-sound machines. Robert Monroe studied the ability of sounds provided at slightly different pitches to cause an entrainment of brainwaves which related to the difference between the sound frequencies in each ear. This technology is designed to entrain brainwaves to more rapidly move into the frequencies often associated with meditative experience: low alpha to mid-theta. Most studies have suggested that people do not become reliant on these methods to reach meditative states. Rather, the technology can help them reach the states initially, but is not required to return to those same brain states in the future.
Interesting information from the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology regarding meditation and gene expression: