SHARON CARNE, SOUND WELLNESS INSTITUTE
This month, I am excited to share with you how effectively specific types of music and sounds can help you reclaim your brain!
Chronic stress keeps you locked in the emotional part of your brain and unplugs you from access to the logical, thinking part or your brain. It’s like being stuck in a Drama Queen loop with no exit! In addition, there is mounting evidence that chronic stress causes brain damage.
Here’s an excerpt from an article called, “Chronic Stress Can Damage Brain Structure and Connectivity,” by Christopher Bergland in Psychology Today.
“Chronic stress has the ability to flip a switch in stem cells that turns them into a type of cell that inhibits connections to the prefrontal cortex, which would improve learning and memory, but lays down durable scaffolding linked to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.”
-Christopher Bergland in Psychology Today
If you are struggling with a high level of stress, extremely busy days and too much drama, it is essential that you reduce the stress and regain access to the thinking part of your brain. To be honest with you, your sanity and your life depend on it!
The U.S. Center for Disease Control has stated that more than half of all deaths of those under 65 are due to stress. And to top that off, the World Health Organization has stated that stress is the epidemic of the 21st century.
The reason I’m bringing all this up is that there are many sounds that will not only reduce your stress levels, they will give you your brain back! Here are three tips to explore to help you do that.
Tip 1: Entrain the Brain
Entrainment is natural and automatic to the human being. “Entrainment is the synchronization of organisms to an external rhythm.” (Wikipedia). This response particularly applies to music.
For example, when you walk into a grocery store, there is always music playing. It takes only minutes for your heartbeat to match the beat of the music. This is an automatic response of the human heart to rhythm in music. You can’t turn this off. It happens even if you’re ignoring the music playing in the store.
A racing mind and a racing heartbeat often go together. When you choose music with a slow beat, the heartbeat will slow down to match it. Since the heartbeat, breathing and brainwave rhythms are all intimately connected, a slower heartbeat will encourage the mind to slow down and become quiet.
The reverse of this process is also true. When you slow down the mind, the heartbeat slows down. Music with brainwave entrainment frequencies focuses on directly changing the brainwave state to quiet the mind, which also results in the body relaxing deeply and easily.
Here is an explanation of how it works. A frequency, for example, of 440 Hertz is placed in the right ear only with headphones. A frequency of 448 Hertz is placed into the left ear only. The result is that the brainwave state shifts into the frequency of the difference between the two sounds, quickly and easily. In this example, the difference is 8 Hertz, which is in the Alpha brainwave state range. The listener shifts into a meditative state effortlessly. And the body responds with deep relaxation.
There is a great deal of music available that has brainwave entrainment frequencies embedded into the sound to stimulate a change of brainwave state. Two of my favorites who produce this kind of music are Hemi-Sync and Dr. Jeffrey Thompson. Both Hemi-Sync, through The Monroe Institute, and Dr. Thompson have conducted research for decades to understand how these frequencies affect us.
Tip 2: Push the Restart Button
Old Tibetan singing bowls are ancient brainwave entrainment tools that also help to quiet the mind. Because of the way that Tibetan bowls are made, they naturally resonate at multiple frequencies. This leads to the very apparent wavering sounds when the bowl is played. These wavering sounds entrain the brainwaves and help to calm the mind.
Singing Tibetan bowls also work like the restart button on your computer. Sometimes, when things just aren’t working on the computer, a restart is all it takes to get it humming along properly. The body and energetic field do the same thing with the right Tibetan bowl. When the sound stops, the body and field reset to their original healthy and harmonious state. This stimulates the natural, healing response of the body.
Sound goes through you. In fact, it goes through you faster than it goes through the air. As the sound of the bowl travels through your body, it creates a movement in your atoms and molecules that can loosen up emotional blocks, allowing them to dissipate. It can also loosen up tight muscles, quiet the constant chatter in the mind and so much more.
Tip 3: Listen to the Birds
Meditation is a powerful way to calm the incessant chatter in the mind. One of my favorite ways is what I call a Sound Mindfulness Meditation. Mindfulness is a practice of noticing what is in the present moment.
The sound meditation has a long history in the Buddhist and Taoist traditions and there are several ways to experience it.
One of the simplest ways is to listen intently to the sounds around you. I love birdsong, so on my daily walks, I listen intently to the sounds of the birds around me. As I walk, I thoroughly experience the songs as they fill my ears and being.
If I get distracted, I simply return to listening to the birdsong. If there is any emotional response, I notice it then return to listening to the birdsong. When my walk is done, my mind is refreshed, clear and focused.
This journey of life we share with each other is so full of wonders and delights. Look for them and you will find them all around you! ▪
Sharon Carne is a best-selling author, international speaker, sound therapist, publisher, musician and recording artist. From 1988 to 2016, Sharon was a faculty member of The Conservatory, Mount Royal University.