One of the therapist’s most important responsibilities is to continually monitor and evaluate promising new treatment approaches. In recent years, I have spent a great deal of time focusing on what are called Brain Entrainment Neurotechnologies like Holosync, Lifeflow, OmHarmonics, and Zen12 which I’ve found to be an enormously useful complement to traditional therapeutic methods.
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The science of neurofeedback, teaching people to change their brainwave patterns to help them deal with pain or serious brain-related issues, is viewed as a viable and useful discipline by many respected medical authorities. For example, the American Academy of Pediatrics considers neurofeedback to be a top-level treatment for ADHD. It has also been used with positive outcomes for conditions as diverse as seizures, strokes, addiction, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
The most common method of conducting neurofeedback, sometimes called neurobiofeedback, involves the use of an EEG (electroencephalograph) machine to map the electrical brainwaves emanating from the scalp’s surface. The information from this use of brainwave neurotechnology allows doctors and patients to view the effect of specific outside visual or auditory stimuli, and “train the brain” to achieve the changes in brainwaves necessary to alter behaviors or sensations.
As a wellness professional, I have watched as neurofeedback gained growing acceptance as an important advance in treatment methods, and as a therapist, I have watched the successful application of the same techniques as therapeutic tools to help patients deal with their real emotional, spiritual and mental health needs.
It is, of course, unrealistic to expect patients (or their therapists) to deal with complicated EEG technology and the major expense it entails. For that reason, a simpler and cheaper technology is required if the process of neurofeedback is to be used in day-to-day life. That technology exists, and it is called “brainwave entrainment.”, often also called “binaural beats“.
Therapists have found that it is extremely useful in helping people reduce stress, deal with their emotional issues and achieve contentment in their everyday lives – and it doesn’t have to be done in a therapeutic or controlled environment.
Three of the most popular brain entrainment programs developed to aid people with brain entrainment (which I’ll explain in more detail shortly) are Centerpointe Holosync, Project Meditation Lifeflow, OmHarmonics by Mindvalley, and Inspire3’s Zen12 programs. Let’s take a look at what they do and how they work.
If you want to read about my experience and review of these 4 programs, you should see this article here.
The Benefits of Brain Entrainment
The theory behind brain entrainment not only makes sense scientifically but logically as well. EEG studies repeatedly show a correlation between abnormal brain waves and serious conditions like epilepsy and strokes, as well as less-serious but treatable issues like sleep disorders. That is why neurofeedback is a valuable tool used to teach the brain to better regulate its activity, thereby mitigating or eliminating the medical issues.
There is little doubt that emotional distress is closely associated with brain activity. So it would certainly follow that “returning” the brain through brain entrainment, to achieve a calmer and more peaceful state, should work wonders to relieve stress and improve overall brain condition. There has not been a lot of rigorous scientific research proving the efficacy of the process yet, but the studies that have been done, anecdotal evidence – and the results I’ve seen personally – are overwhelmingly positive.
Here are some of the more specific benefits which have been seen from the use of brain entrainment systems like OmHarmonics, Zen12, Holosync, and Lifeflow.
- Healthier sleep patterns and more restful sleep each night
- A greater ability to relax and meditate (in fact, some describe brain entrainment as a form of meditation)
- A lowering of situation-specific and overall stress levels
- Improvements in cognitive function and creativity
- Easing of negative emotions which affect health and happiness
- An overall sense of peace and well-being
If that sounds like a panacea – that’s exactly what it can seem like for some people who find themselves mired in emotional difficulties. For others, brain entrainment is simply a tool to help them boost their personal levels of happiness and satisfaction. And I’ve found from research and empirical testing that it works, particularly for those who are trying to overcome intermittent or random emotional problems which interfere with optimal daily functioning and performance.
I’ll explain the science behind this brainwave neurotechnology after a disclaimer. As a therapist, I think it’s important to make clear that brain entrainment is just one of many approaches to mental, behavioral and emotional problems or impairments. Traditional talk therapy, as well as other treatments such as cognitive, behavioral and holistic therapies, should always be considered. However, I’ve found that brain entrainment can work well in tandem with most of those approaches, in addition showing impressive results when used on its own.
How Brain Entrainment Works
I’ve already mentioned that brain entrainment programs such as Holosync, Lifeflow, OmHarmonics, and Zen12 work to alter brain waves and keep them at desirable levels. There’s some interesting science behind that simple explanation.
Not surprisingly, it’s impossible to explain the concept of brainwave neurotechnology without giving you a little information about brain waves. I’ll keep the discussion at a level that’s easy for everyone to grasp, but feel free to skip this section if you’re only interested in the pros and cons of OmHarmonics, Zen12, Holosync, and Lifeflow and don’t care about how they work.
Let’s start with how the brain functions, or more importantly, how it communicates. There are billions of nerve cells in the brain, known as neurons. The neurons constantly send information to each other via small bursts of electricity; that’s how the brain functions from second to second. All of the concurrent messaging being done by billions of neurons produces a total level of electricity that can be detected by the EEG machine mentioned earlier, and the pattern of electricity produced over time is known as a brain wave because when viewed on a monitor, it looks like a wave.
Binaural Beats Frequencies Explained
The frequency with which brain waves move through a complete cycle is measured in Hertz (standing for cycles per second, and abbreviated as Hz). Scientists have determined that there are four primary levels of brain activity as measured by brain waves, and they’re labeled with Greek letters:
- Gamma: higher states of consciousness, bliss. Frequency between 25 and 100 Hz though 40 Hz is typical.
- Beta: The brain’s normal state when a person is awake and alert (40 Hz – 14 Hz)
- Alpha: The level of brain activity when a person is awake but fully relaxed (14 Hz – 8 Hz)
- Theta: Brain waves produced when a person is in deep meditation or light sleep (8 Hz – 4 Hz)
- Delta: Brain activity when a person is in a deep sleep (4 Hz – 0.5 Hz)
- Epsilon: Some of the lowest possible frequencies – at below 0.5hz. Deep into consciousness, it facilitates spiritual and awareness expanding experiences.
In other words, when someone is awake and active, their brain waves are moving “faster” (going through 14 – 40 full cycles per second) than when the person is relaxed or meditating (4 – 14 cycles per second). That’s where brain entrainment comes into play; an outside stimulus that can “slow down” brain waves can move the brain from a state of focus and alert to one of full relaxation.
It’s possible to use visual stimuli to change the state of brain activity but the easiest way to do it is through auditory means. Best brainwave entrainment programs such as Holosync, Lifeflow, Zen12, and OmHarmonics, among other brain entrainment programs, use sounds to alter the frequency of brain waves in order to induce a calmer, more relaxed state.
There’s one problem, however. The audio required to alter brain waves exists at low frequencies such that humans can barely hear it, or not at all. That has led to the use of an ingenious sound delivery technique for brain entrainment, known as “binaural beats.”
Using Binaural Beats to Train the Brain
The initial research into binaural beats was done way back in the 1970s by biophysicist Gerald Oster. He unveiled it in his article “Auditory Beats in the Brain,” published in the October 1973 issue of Scientific American. In a nutshell, he discovered that when tones with similar but different frequencies were played into each of a subject’s two ears, the person’s brain integrated the two tones to create and “perceive” the third sound, even though that sound was at such a low frequency that it couldn’t be heard naturally. He called that third sound the binaural beat.
Here’s an example. Imagine a sound with a frequency of 250 Hz played into one ear, and a sound with a frequency of 260 Hz played into the other ear. One side (or hemisphere) of the brain would recognize the 250 Hz sound, and the other hemisphere would recognize the 260 Hz sound. The two hemispheres would then work together to resolve the difference, which is when the brain would perceive the third, 10 Hz binaural beat – the difference between 260 Hz and 250 Hz. This tendency of the brain to adjust a dominant frequency to match the binaural beat is known by scientists as the “frequency following response.” Importantly, while a 10 Hz sound can’t be heard naturally it is a perfect frequency for brain entrainment.
There’s another major advantage to the process. When synchronizing the two sounds the two hemispheres of the brain are forced to work together, reinforcing and enhancing their natural communication process through the creation of additional “circuits” between them. This is the brain training I’ve referred to; the use of programs like Holosync, Lifeflow and Deep Catalyst, which are based on binaural beats, train the brain to communicate and function better. The beats can also be used to develop the brain’s ability to enter the beta, alpha, theta and delta states. In this way, a person’s brain can “learn” how to optimally relax, meditate or sleep by adjusting the frequency of its brain waves.
This isn’t just theory. A study conducted at Duke Medical Center and published in the January 1998 issue of Physiology & Behavior found that binaural beats are able to entrain brain activity, increasing the subjects’ mood and psychomotor performance while potentially affecting their states of consciousness positively.
A Canadian study reported in a January 2001 Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine article showed that subjects who listened to theta and delta frequency binaural beat tapes showed a significant reduction in their anxiety levels. And a September 2005 article in the British journal Anaesthesia reported on a random, controlled study that showed anxiety before surgery decreased by enormous margins when patients listened to binaural beat audio before their operations.
As I’ve mentioned, there hasn’t been the same volume of scientific research on brainwave neurotechnologies that we normally see for long-standing therapeutic techniques like psychotherapy. I have no doubt, though, that as time goes on we’ll be seeing more “mainstream” confirmation of the effectiveness of binaural beats for brain training, stress relief and other of the other benefits I’ve discussed.
Holosync, Lifeflow, Zen12, OmHarmonics – Which to Choose?
My role as a therapist does not include making product recommendations so I cannot tell you which of these brain entrainment products you should choose, just as I wouldn’t tell my patients what product to purchase. All I can do is give my honest opinion of each.
To start with, from my experience they all work – and work well. They are all easy to use with a standard device such as your smartphone (iPhone, Android etc.) and headphones or earbuds, and from my observations and experience, they each produce the same general benefits.
They help increase the ability to relax and/or focus as desired and live a calmer life while reducing stress and even making it easier for some people to fall asleep at night without the use of sleeping aids. There are no negative effects to either that I can report. Of course, since you can’t actually hear binaural beats, there’s no way to tell if there’s any difference in the actual performance of each program. You can only go on results, and both produce.
However, there are two significant differences to be aware of if you’re deciding between Zen12, Holosync, Lifeflow, and OmHarmonics. Holosync takes much longer to “complete” because there are thirteen different levels in the program (some people need as many as ten years to finish the entire regimen), and each listening session takes an hour if you listen all the way through.
Holosync is also significantly more expensive, almost $180 for the standard version. Lifeflow is also a steep expense, at $670 for the ten-level program. We’ve all heard about Mindvalley by now. Their OmHarmonics program is the runner up in our comparison of best brainwave entrainment programs. Zen12 is the cheapest among these 4 programs. It’ll cost you only $87. You can also use our code, and save an additional $50. You can grab it here along with 4 free tracks.
Take a look at our comparison table below:
For those starting out with brainwave entrainment I suggest that you pick a Zen12 program. It’s a great, high-quality product to begin with. It comes with a 365-day money-back guarantee. So you can discover if you like this different method of meditation without spending much money. Learn more about it here.
Whichever program you choose, you’ll likely discover that binaural beats technology can work wonders for your mood, stress levels, and happiness.