By studying the way that waves interact with other waves, researchers have found that even low-powered oscillations can have enormous effects on standing waves, physical structures, and even the human brain. The principle which describes this particular wavelength interaction is known as resonance. When you resonate with something, you are emitting a wave signature which is "in sync" with it. By applying a constant resonant frequency to a standing wave, you can intensify, reinforce, and prolong the standing frequency of that wave. Researchers posit that by applying these concepts of resonance to waves emitted by the brain, it is possible to induce altered brain states. These current methods of "brainwave entrainment" are based on discoveries made by the 19th century inventor Nikola Tesla the electrical pioneer who developed the alternating current system of electricity that is currently in use all over the world.
Tesla first realized the massive potential of resonant waves in 1898 when he performed a simple experiment with an electromechanical oscillator the size of an alarm clock. He attached the device to an iron pillar that ran down through the center of his lab into the foundation of his building. His plan was to let it simply tap away until he could produce a significant vibration in the pillar. However, Tesla was unaware that the vibrations from the oscillator were being conducted through the iron pillar down into the substructure of the city. Just as earthquakes are normally the strongest at a short distance from their epicenter, nearby buildings shook and windows shattered while Tesla's lab remained unaffected. Without rapid police intervention, Tesla may have let the oscillator run all night as buildings crumbled around him.
In a later experiment using the same principle, Tesla clamped an oscillator to one of the exposed ground floor beams of a half built ten-story steel building. As Tesla told reporters later that day:"In a few minutes, I could feel the beam trembling. Gradually the trembling increased in intensity and extended throughout the whole great mass of steel. Finally, the structure began to creak and weave, and the steel workers came to the ground panic-stricken, believing that there had been an earthquake. Rumors spread that the building was about to fall, and the police reserves were called out. Before anything serious happened, I took off the vibrator, put it in my pocket, and went away. But if I had kept on ten minutes more, I could have laid that building flat in the street. And, with the same vibrator, I could drop the Brooklyn Bridge in less than an hour."
"The principle cannot fail," Tesla would say. He understood that a steady frequency of tiny waves would eventually create enormous ripples if they were timed just right. What Tesla demonstrated was a principle of resonance known as entrainment - the ability of a frequency to cause a less powerful frequency to fall into rhythm simply by placing the two frequency emitters in close proximity. In other words, if you take an electrical oscillator with a power rating of 10 watts that is oscillating at a frequency of 1000 cycles per second (cps), and place it next to an oscillator with a power rating of 1000 watts vibrating at a frequency of 5000 cps, eventually the slower oscillator will be entrained to vibrate at 5000 cps because of the more powerful electromagnetic field created by the 1000 watt oscillator.
Monroe's Big Discovery
Recent research regarding the mind-altering possibilities of Tesla's entrainment principle have been undertaken by Robert Monroe, the founder of The Monroe Institute in Faber, Virginia. A student of engineering and human physiology, Monroe's interest in human consciousness began in 1956 when he set up a small research and development program in his New York based radio company. The research was initially designed to determine the feasibility of learning during sleep, but in 1958, an astonishing result emerged.
By experimenting with the effects of sonic frequencies on the brain, Monroe successfully isolated a little-known state of awareness which was totally separated from the physical body. The research team called it an Out-of-Body Experience or OBE a term which has since become a generic description for many unexplainable mind states. The sonic principle he was using was already known to electronic engineers as binaural beat frequency modulation a key concept used in all radio receivers today. However, it was Monroe who took this idea from the field of radio-electronics and applied it to bioelectronics. He called his discovery Hemispherical Synchronization, or HemiSync for short.
To achieve these novel mind-states, Monroe recorded two channels of audio data using a stereo tape recorder. On one channel he recorded a frequency of 200 cps, and on the other channel he recorded a frequency of 208 cps. When he played the recording back through a pair of stereo headphones, what Monroe discovered was that while one ear heard the 200 cps tone, and the other ear heard the 208 tone, the brain interpreted the tones as an eight cps frequency, and began to entrain itself to that frequency. In other words, the brain could only distinguish the eight cps difference, and this frequency was powerful enough to entrain brainwaves.
The Neural Radio
Normally, the two hemispheres of the brain vibrate at different frequencies, but Monroe discovered that they could be easily synchronized. He also found that when both hemispheres were entrained to vibrate right around eight cps, creativity, intuition, and a tendency towards extrasensory perception all increased dramatically.
Research has shown that the human brain operates at a wide range of frequencies, but generally stays in four major levels of awareness known as beta (13 to 30 cps), alpha (8 to 12 cps), theta (5 to 7 cps), and delta (1 to 4 cps). The highest level is beta, and in this state the brain is active and very awake. This state is usually associated with intellectual thought and verbal expression. When you are talking up a storm, your brain is vibrating between 13 and 30 cps.
The alpha level is the next state down, and it is associated with a much more relaxed, calm, and creative waking state. A nice alpha level can be achieved with a simple meditation of slowing your breathing. As your breathing slows, other body functions including your brain frequencies will begin to relax and slow down. When you are completely relaxed but not yet asleep your brain hums at around 8 to 12 cycles per second. 8 or 9 cps is considered a very creative state, marked with contemplative thought and increased intuition.
Moving down the awareness scale we arrive at the theta frequencies, and a very interesting set of frequencies they are. This 5 to 7 cps range is where dreams, deep hypnosis, ESP, out-of-body projections, channeling, and other odd mind phenomena start to pop up. Somewhere in this range lies what is called the hypnagogic state that twilight-zone of consciousness on the border between being awake and being asleep. This is grey area where conscious and subconscious start to overlap. Most of us only get quick, half-remembered glimpses into this realm as we are going to sleep or waking up. However, with Monroe's techniques of brain entrainment, this theta state can be sonically induced allowing the entrainee to have extended periods of theta exploration.
The last level of brainwave activity is the delta range, and these frequencies are usually only associated with deep, dreamless sleep.
Entrain Your Brain
For those of you who would like to experiment with binaural beat entrainment, you can request a catalog of tapes from the Monroe Institute at the address following this article. Over twenty years of electronic research has enabled the Institute to design hundreds of binaural beat tapes containing as many as a dozen frequencies layered over one another. For the computer-savvy among you, there are also ways to experiment with binaural beat entrainment using a home computer. All you need is a sound card, a modem, and a pair of stereo headphones.
If you have Internet access, you can try downloading audio files of binaural beat frequencies from either Brown Feather's Hideaway (Link No Longer Working) or Brainwave web sites. Both of these sites contain binaural beat frequencies for downloading. The frequencies are denoted by their focus number, such as F1 (focus one), all the way up to F26 (Focus 26). These are designations given by the Monroe Institute to denote the different levels of effects attained by the use of their tapes. Please be aware that the audio files found at this site are simple dual stereo frequencies such as 200 cps and 208 cps, and are not of the same quality as the actual Monroe tapes. For those of you who wish to construct your own multilayered frequencies, there are several programs available for downloading on the net (see Syntrillium's Cool Edit).
For those of you who like to go way out there, you can also try experimenting with a technique called Harmonic Resonance. This involves the entrainment of your brain to resonate with the frequency of any planet in the solar system, even the Sun. More information on this planetary resonance can be found at the Brainwave web site mentioned above, or you could check out a book called Cosmic Octave by Hans Cousto. He is widely regarded as the pioneer of this particular field.
Well boys and girls, there you have it. Thanks to Monroe, the simple principles of resonance and entrainment can now be used to alter your consciousness. Of course, these principles can also be applied to anything which emits a distinct wave frequency which is just about everything there is! Science has yet to top out on the ingenious application of these concepts, and therešs no reason why you too can't spend endless hours of fun messing around with your brain.
Ron Turmel is a computer consultant. He is currently living in Baltimore MD, but will soon be moving back to his home state of California. He may be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tesla: Man Out of Time, Margaret Cheney The Cosmic Octave, Hans Cousto Brainwave Spiritweb The Monroe Institute
Prentice Hall, NJ c1981
Life Rhythm, Mendocino, CA c1988
62 Roberts Mtn Rd.
Tesla: Man Out of Time, Margaret Cheney
The Cosmic Octave, Hans Cousto
The Monroe Institute