The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled. – Plutarch
We all know our brain has two hemispheres. And the right side is creative and emotional, and the left side is rational and fact-based. Binaural beats are an auditory illusion created when two different tones, with less than 40Hz difference, are sent to different ears through headphones. A third tone is created that sets up a vibration between hemispheres. This acts as a sonic bridge to connect the two sides which allows us to meditate and calm the mind. Standing beside the ocean you’ll experience natural binaural beats with the roar of the waves mixing with the winds. When you search for “meditation” music you will find music that sets up a binaural beat between hemispheres. Rhythmic chanting, drums, church organs, orchestras all have the same effect to varying degrees. Aesthetic Chills, or Frisson (French for shiver) are a pleasurable response to satisfying sights or sounds.
Skin tingling with chills, goosebumps, and dilated pupils are signs of aesthetic chills. The chills are felt as waves rising up the back – sends shivers up your spine; or the hairs stand up on the back of your neck. If you have ever listened to a large pipe organ you have experienced aesthetic chills. In fact, the organ is designed with a key stop called the “Vox Angelica” the Angelic Voice. This is produced, just like a binaural beat, by tuning two pipes with slightly apart to create a third wavering tremulous tones. In music tremolo is producedby sounding two notes of slightly different pitches to produce prominent overtones. For instance you’ll a lever attached to the bridge on electric guitars that is called the tremolo arm – or as we like to call it – the Whammy Bar. In the Blues this tremolo is called a “Blue Note” – slippin’ and slidin’ between tones like a snake.
Brainwaves are neural oscillations. Just like sound waves or light waves, brainwaves have a frequency and amplitude. We all are familiar with brainwave scans, either personally or in movies. People are hooked up to a monitor and it shows various levels of “activity”. But recent scientific research has shown that this is not how brainwaves actually function. It’s only when groups of neurons synchronize their rhythms does it show up on the monitors as an intentional activity – thought directed. 95% of your brain’s activity is unconscious, and doesn’t show up on brain scans. Scientists dismissively call this “background noise”. They only measure activity related to external stimulation and average out the background noise. That so-called noise is your consciousness, not the brainwaves.
The fact is your mind is actually a deep ocean of potential not based on linear models but more closely related to fractal geometry. Our consciousness is in flux, or as researchers call it spontaneous fluctuation. You are experiencing that right now, as your mind wanders while you read and dozens of issues are being mulled over in your subconscious. When you dream or have a creative insight, you experience this also. Our consciousness does not have a centralized control center. You can see an example of this playing out on the shore. The ocean waves (subconscious) roll in and begin tumbling and rolling as they hit the sands (consciousness) and a pattern emerges in swirling waters and sea foam. But the pattern returns to the vast ocean. Thoughts or insights coalesce and dissipate in rhythm with the deep. And you can just chill out.
Entrainment describes the tendency for one entity to resonate synchronously with another in response to a dominant frequency of vibration. Entrainment is a concept from the study of complex systems. Say you have two or more things which are vibrating at different frequencies or rhythms. If you place them near one another where they can interact, they will independently adjust their rhythms and begin to oscillate with the same frequency. If you are ever at a laundromat, you can see this happen as several dryers will begin to synchronize their cycle. In nature you’ll see this with fireflies syncing up their flashes like a beautiful light show.
In 1666, the Dutch physicist Christiaan Huygens invented the pendulum grandfather clock. He noticed that if he set the time and put the pendulums with different frequencies, they would synchronize over time and begin to swing with the same rhythm. Scientists say this occurs because it conserves energy. It takes less energy to be in harmony with the surrounding environment. You can observe this phenomena all around you. Plants, animals, your brain – all are entrained to the 24-hour light/dark cycle. Animals synchronize breeding and sleep cycles. Flocks of birds, bats, schools of fish all synchronize their movements with the environment around them. Our emotions are entrained to the emotions of the people around us. If you are in a room of happy, laughing people, will lift the spirits of most everyone in the room.
Sadly, our minds can become entrained to more negative perceptions of our world. These can manifest as anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. We develop negative patterns in our thinking and those become the default perceptions for our life. This happens to me less now than in the past. For years, I was haunted by anxiety simmering just below the surface always ready to boil over. I am able to free my thoughts more now and let the world and people around me simply be what they are and not internalize negativity. To do this I find ways to tune my thoughts to the unconscious rhythms resonating with my spirit. Whether wandering in nature, creating art or listening to the beats, going with the flow, drifting in the flux of “background noise” makes my soul dance. Our physical reality is created by particles resonating to create matter itself. And our spiritual reality is created by our spirits resonating with the vibrations of the universe.