Brainwave Entrainment & Bilateral Stimulation

Brainwave entrainment and bilateral stimulation can help reduce the symptoms of:

  • Stress
  • Fatigue, bodily or mental
  • Mental overwork, overthinking
  • Stuck emotions or thought-patterns needing to be processed
  • Bodily or mental-emotional trauma

“Brainwave entrainment” is the use an external stimulus to synchronize brainwave oscillations in ways that are measurable in QEEG. Auditory entrainment is the use of specific sound frequencies and combinations of auditory stimuli to alter brainwave activity. If you’ve ever heard of “binaural beats”, these are a subset of the fascinating technology known as brainwave entrainment or BWE. The form of BWE that will discussed here and which is employed at Source is auditory entrainment.

Just to toot my own horn a little, in 2012 I wrote my Bachelors thesis (in Psychology) on “Brainwave Entrainment: An Impetus for the Future of Medicine”, a lofty and lengthy meta-analysis of all of the scientific literature on BWE to date. At that time, there were only a total of 30 published research articles on the phenomenon of BWE. Now, a quick Google Scholar search of the term “brainwave entrainment” pulls up over 800 results.

I have been experimenting with binaural beats, isochronic tones, and other forms of BWE for ten years. Soon after beginning using alpha and beta brainwaves while reading, I realized that this was a technology that would have change the course of my childhood had I known about it sooner. Focused attention while reading was always something I struggled with growing up. BWE gave me the ability to read with focus and clarity like I’d never experienced in my life. I knew then that this was something I should take seriously, so I went on to study it academically while in my undergraduate program and continue to study it to this day.

How does it work?

 If I were to clap my hands while standing next to you, a certain portion of the temporal lobe of your brain would “light up” in response to the neural input coming in through your auditory sense. If I were to clap my hands at a specific rate, say six times per second (6Hz), then your brain would be “lighting up” at the rate at which I’m clapping my hands (on top of the “light show” that is all the rest of your neural activity).

Neurons fire. They fire at a range of different rates based on what they’re processing. These neural firings are collectively and colloquially known as “brainwaves”. When you look at the range of frequencies produced by the firing of the neurons in the brain, certain patterns begin to emerge. We now know that certain states of consciousness are associated with brainwave patterns that fall into certain frequency ranges. For instance, if you are reading this it means you are awake and that the dominant range of brainwaves in your noggin are in what’s called the Beta range, which ranges from 16-31Hz (depending on who you ask). It’s important to note that none of these delineations are hard-fast and that it’s more helpful to think of these things as existing on a spectrum. If you want to know more about brainwave frequencies, check this out or just ask me.

In the entrainment literature there is something called a “frequency following response” where the entrained frequency is induced in nearby neurons and spreads to other areas of the brain – like synchronous fireflies. If more of your neurons are firing within a given frequency range, then you are more likely to experience the states of consciousness that are associated with that brainwave frequency range. It is really that simple.

There is an old axiom from the early days of neuropsychology that goes: “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Think about the implications of this regarding what your mind is processing while a majority of your neurons are all dancing to the beat of the same drum.

Bilateral Stimulation

I have been experimenting with home-made BWE for ten years, but it wasn’t until recently that I discovered the magic of bilateral stimulation. “Bilateral stimulation” simply a means of facilitating harmony between the left and right hemispheres of the brain by stimulating one side of the body (and thereby the brain) and then the other, alternating back and forth. This could be as simple as tapping your feet from left to right.

This technique is employed in therapies like EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprogramming) and EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique, “Tapping”) to facilitate communication between the hemispheres. Elevated states of consciousness during prayer or meditation are often associated with a balanced synchrony between the left and right. When the left and right hemispheres are talking appropriately, there is a sense of balance and of peace.

The sounds I use for BWE with bilateral stimulation phase from left to right to encourage this cross-talk. They also employ Pythagorean intervals in an A Major chord (A=216Hz) (more on my fascination with Pythagorean intervals on my sound healing page, or go straight to the Geesink & Meijer meta-analysis here). This particular set of intervals entrains the brain to a set of Gamma frequencies. Gamma brainwaves are used in high-level cognitive processing and frontal-lobe activity in general. It has been demonstrated in EEG studies that frequent meditators have higher base-level Gamma power in their brains.

In effect, what the BWE sounds I use do is encourage the left and right hemispheres to process information at a deep level. In sessions with me there is often a sense of peace and relaxation – some experience deep states of meditation or spontaneous visualizations. Many clients fall asleep. This is encouraged! They often wake up feeling refreshed and alert.

Ready to try it for yourself?

Cholesterol: One of Your Body’s Most Important Molecules

Cholesterol gets a bad rap.

Many people don’t realize how incredibly important cholesterol actually is.

In order to get a handle on how important it is, let us reverse engineer our understanding of cholesterol by first looking at the side effects of suppressing cholesterol synthesis with a statin drug:

  • Increased risk of developing cancer [1]
  • Increased risk of developing diabetes [2]
  • Increased risk of developing cataracts [3]
  • Increased risk of erectile dysfunction [2]
  • Increased risk of kidney failure [3]
  • Increased risk of liver dysfunction [3]
  • Increased risk of cognitive impairment [4]
  • Increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease [5]
  • Increased risk of developing mood disorders, depression, and anxiety [6]
  • Increased risk of developing myopathy/neuropathy [3] (including a nasty-sounding condition called statin-induced nectrotizing autoimmune myopathy [3a])
  • Increased risk of contracting herpes zoster [7] and increased risk of infection after stroke [7a]
  • Increased risk of developing CoQ10 and Vitamin K2 deficiency [8]
  • Increased risk of developing coronary artery disease and aortic calcification (very ironic) [2, 8]

If decreasing the concentration of a single molecule in the body could cause all of these problems, then it must be vital. Indeed, cholesterol is one of the most important molecules in animal biology.

Let us look at some of its functions:

  • Cholesterol is the precursor to all sex hormones. If you want testosterone, estrogen, or progesterone – you need cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is the precursor to Vitamin D. If you want to make Vitamin D from the Sun – you need cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is necessary to make bile salts. If you want to be able to digest fat (or burn fat) and have a healthy gallbladder – you need cholesterol.
  • Cholesterol is necessary for a healthy immune system. You need it to fight infection.
  • Cholesterol is necessary for a healthy nervous system. It forms part of the myelin sheath. 25% of the cholesterol in your body is found in your brain.
  • Cholesterol is necessary for wound healing and for the body to repair itself.
  • Cholesterol is embedded in every cell membrane in your body and is required for proper cellular function.
  • Cholesterol is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial (it can kill MRSA).

There is a reason why women’s cholesterol can double or sometimes even triple while they are pregnant – cholesterol is a necessary building block of life.

The more cholesterol you eat, the less your body has to work hard to produce it.” – Dr. Natasha McBride

Your liver makes 2,000 mg of cholesterol per day. Being a compound only found in animal products, when you eat cholesterol (like from an egg or from butter) the cholesterol is absorbed directly and goes exactly where the body needs it. Eating more cholesterol does not cause elevated cholesterol, it simply allows the liver to occupy itself doing all the other things your liver does.

Well then what does cause elevated cholesterol? This is the 40 billion dollar question.

We now know that what causes abnormally high cholesterol is chronic inflammation, chronic infection, and chronic stress. From an Oriental Medicine perspective, the liver is producing extra cholesterol to bring more yin to the blood in order to cool the blood or to supplement yin. Cholesterol is actually trying to save your life.

When there are glycation end-products (little bits of oxidation) floating around the blood stream, it damages the vessel walls. These bits of oxidation are caused by inflammatory lifestyle and high-carbohydrate diets. Cholesterol, being necessary to repair tissue and for cell-wall integrity, comes to save the day. This is how increased inflammation leads to increased cholesterol.

It is important that we treat elevated cholesterol as a symptom of chronic inflammation rather than a disease in-itself. Once you bring inflammation down, the body’s natural intelligence can regulate cholesterol levels on it’s own.

Elevated cholesterol may also be a sign that you need to get in the Sun! Cholesterol is required for Vitamin D synthesis – one of the (other) most anti-inflammatory substances in your body. Cranking out more cholesterol may the body’s way of reaching for the Sun.

If you have high cholesterol, one of the first lifestyle changes you should make (as we all should) is to reduce oxidative stress on the body. This means, for most people, stopping the consumption of high-carbohydrate and processed foods (especially trans fats). Certain foods, like nightshades, can also contribute to chronic inflammation. It also means stopping inflammatory habits and lifestyle choices (see my articles on plastics and microwaves). Exercise and movement have been shown to normalize cholesterol levels as well (see Qigong).

Here is a great video that can help carry your understanding further:

I hope this article has been informative and even eye-opening for you. If this information is relevant to you or to someone you know, please share it.