It starts as a melodic lift. A light violin with a breezy harp symphony. It’s ominous, a definite synthesizer.
The vibrations from the ear pulsate through the rest of the body. The air in the room has a certain lightness to it, drifting into the nostrils refreshingly. Each limb sinks further into the comforter, but, as the notes get higher, the body lifts to the sky and sinks back.
The sound of the instruments get louder and reverberate stronger in the ear canal and drums down to the core of the stomach.
But movement is far from occurring. Let loose now, work after.
This lovely instrumental is a binaural beat. It may not be all that well-known or understood, but the odd time someone drifts into the uber depths of YouTube, binaural beats can be found in people experimenting with different frequencies.
Binaural beats were invented in 1839 by physicist Heinrich Wilhelm Dove. Dove found that if two different tones are heard from the right and left ear, they create a third sound that is only heard in the brain. This musical phenomenon can be manipulated to focus attention or induce relaxation.
Quantum Focus is Donald Currie’s creation. He is a hypnotist with a practice of his own located in Toronto. Quantum Focus is a binaural beat that induces a beta state – this includes improved focus and overall positive cognitive state. Scribe decided to test it out; a Torontonian was given a binaural beat and their reactions were observed. They experienced Quantum Focus for the first time and shared their findings.
Amelia Albuquerque, 20, an auto mechanic based in Toronto, experienced binaural beats for the first time in high school for a class experiment.
“I remember feeling sleepy,” she says. “I felt really weightless … I felt really euphoric.”
Albuquerque listened to the audio for a little more than 12 minutes. Her back was tense at first, but near the end she was happy to say she could not feel her body.
Dr. Bernhard Ross has researched binaural beats for many years now with Toronto’s Rotman Research Institute Baycrest. He is also a medical biophysics professor at the University of Toronto and has researched binaural beats for over seven years.
Ross says there are four brain waves that binaural beats can create: beta, which is the conscious, awake state; alpha, which refers to the focused state (this is the state that someone who is driving or studying is ideally in); theta, which is the deep profound relaxation state that is ideal for meditation; and delta, which is the state of sleep.
To create the aimed brain wave, a binaural program will send one tone to the right ear and another completely different tone to the left. The brain takes these two tones and produces a third tone that induces one of the four brain waves, says Ross. This process is referred to as frequency followed response.
The only possible health hazard related to binaural beats is listening to the tones on loud volumes for long periods of time, which applies to regular music as well, says Ross. The worst case scenario is a listener goes deaf, but this is rare.
Currie opened his practice, located by Yonge St. and the Davisville subway station, in 2008 and has worked in the hypnosis field for 13 years. Currie uses the power of binaural beats to support his hypnosis sessions and programs. Earlier in life, Currie was exploring methods to better himself and his future life. He stumbled across binaural beats and started using them as a personal tool and noticed there were huge shifts in his mental state. His focus and concentration levels were heavily affected, he says.
“It’s almost like creating a laser-like focus,” says Currie. After his positive personal experience, Currie was inspired to incorporate binaural beats into his use of music for effective hypnotic results.
The only bad effect that Currie can think of when it comes to the use of binaural beats is that “someone may get too relaxed.” Binaural beats are the same as any song in this sense.
The binaural beats assist people in achieving a deep, relaxed, hypnotic state where positive hypnotic suggestions can be made, says Currie. This enables the listener to more readily accept these suggestions, “so it absorbs effectively,” he says.
Currie does a one-on-one session with clients and then gives them a program that has hidden binaural beats. In fact, binaural beats on their own “sound annoying,” he says. The music makes the binaural tones more digestible.
Even though binaural beats haven’t become the family doctor’s go-to prescription, they do have many perks. They help release serotonin and other happy brain chemicals and create focus and concentration. In fact, they can help listeners increase their threshold for stress, says Currie. Moreover, a body that experiences more theta brain waves is proven to naturally heal itself, he says.
Parth Bhatia, 20, a social service student at Seneca College, has listened to binaural beats before, but never used audio to help him meditate or focus. He says the Quantum Focus sounds were meditative and soft.
It sounded “kind of like a rainfall,” says Bhatia. At the beginning he was confused, but as the sound played he was able to relax. As he awoke, he says he was teetering between “half asleep and dreaming.”
“I feel like if you listen to this for over 20 minutes you would be out of this world,” he says.
Gurman Randhawa, a 16-year-old student of Louise Arbor Secondary School, had never listened to a binaural beat. After her experience, she called the sound soft and soothing.
“I felt calm and more present in my head,” she says. She was more concerned about what everyone else was doing and saying in the room, but started to become more centered and focused on herself as she got deeper into the audio. She took the headphones off after 20 minutes.
Right when the vibrations from the binaural beat seem too strong, the synthesizer makes way for the comedown. The airiness becomes evident again as the melody brings back the awareness of the room. Calm and collected.
A sound mind – in just 20 minutes. It appears to be the best substitute for a trip to the gym, a walk around the block, raiding the fridge or resorting to drugs when it comes to relieving stress and relaxing. Take a productive break. Search for a binaural beat, grab the headphones and head for a comfy couch.