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What Is Brain Wave Entrainment?

Would you like to listen to a CD, and have it transport you easily and quickly to a meditative state? Do you like the idea of getting all the proven benefits of meditation, without the self discipline and work normally required? I do, and I've tried the new brain wave entrainment products. Guess what? They work!

What is brainwave entrainment? To answer that question we have to look at what brainwaves are and what the various frequencies indicate. Then we can better understand how brainwave entrainment recordings work. So let's get started with a basic explanation of various states of consciousness which we are all familiar with, even if we did not previously have the names for them.

Based on the dominant electrical frequencies in your brain at any given moment, you are in one of four different states of consciousness. These are (from wide awake to sound asleep) the Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta states. The frequencies associated with these are measured in hertz, which represents how many cycles-per-second there are in the electrical activity. Here is a brief explanation of each state in terms of what we normally experience.


When you are wide awake the beta rhythm is usually dominant. This state of consciousness is associated with brainwave frequencies ranging between 14 and 30 hertz. In a beta state you are normally alert and your eyes are open. Anxiety caused by thinking too much has been associated with frequencies at the upper end of the range.


The alpha state is one of relaxed alertness, and occurs when frequencies are between 8 and 14 hertz. You can sometimes enter this state in less than a minute by simply letting the tension out of your body and closing your eyes. Some research shows that you are more creative when in an alpha state, and these frequencies are associated with daydreaming as well.

This is perhaps the state of consciousness which is most relevant for our purposes here, because meditation begins in the alpha range of frequencies. With a few minutes of instruction almost anyone can meditate well enough to reach this level. Deeper levels of meditation, which can continue into the theta and even the delta brainwave frequencies, take a bit of practice or a good entrainment product to help you along.


When your dominant brainwave frequencies are between 4 and 8 hertz you usually feel very drowsy, because this is the first stage of sleep (some would consider alpha states as first, but they do not necessarily come with drowsiness). In fact, most of the time adults who are in this state are asleep. On the other hand, for reasons which are not entirely clear the theta state of consciousness is common in children when they are daydreaming.


This state is defined by brainwave frequencies below around 5 hertz (it overlaps with theta patterns). Some who have a lot of practice meditating can stay awake even with frequencies in this range, but normally a person is in deep sleep when in a delta state.

Now, it was noticed over the centuries that music could relax people, but once it was discovered that some pieces of music were actually inducing an alpha state in people, the effect was looked at more scientifically. Then, once it was clear how brainwave frequencies are associated with states of consciousness, the next step was the development of products that could alter our brainwaves more effectively and consistently than music does. Soon we no longer had to look for just certain pieces of classical music. We could slap on headphones and listen to almost any type of music, and as long as the right beats and pulses were embedded in the background we would be effortlessly transported into a more relaxing state.

What brainwave entrainment does is guide your brain activity, slowing down or speeding up the electrical frequencies according how the beats are embedded in the recording and what you want to accomplish. Most of the time the goal is to slow that brain down for purposes of meditation. Normally all you have to do is relax and listen to the recording using stereo headphones. With a good brainwave entrainment product you can achieve a theta state, for example, while sitting up so you do not fall asleep. These became very practical and useful when portable CD players with came to market, and even more so now that MP3 players are so common. You can literally be in a meditative state in a matter of minutes and almost anywhere.

If you decide to try brainwave entrainment, there is a link to our current recommendation somewhere below.

States of Consciousness:

Here is a quick guide to the basic states of consciousness according to the brainwave frequencies most often associated with them:

Beta (14 - 30 hertz) - Dominant rhythm when awake, alert or anxious, with eyes open.

Alpha (8 - 14 hertz) - Relaxed alertness; normally is induced by closing the eyes and relaxing.

Theta (4 - 8 hertz) - Drowsiness, first stage of sleep; not common in awake adults, but common in daydreaming children.

Delta (below 5 hertz) - Deep sleep.

They sure seem to work easily for me. Two products in particular put me in a peaceful state unlike any other music or meditative practice. Studies will prove the effects (some have already), and disprove the wilder claims of some of these products. Given the results I experienced, however, I won't wait for the research, any more than I would have waited a hundred years ago for proof of the existence of vitamin C before I'd continue eating limes to cure scurvy.

Our current recommendation: The Meditation Program.

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Steve's Recommendations:
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The Meditation Program

My favorite at the moment, because they are as powerful as my Holosync CDs, but I got all eight levels at once, and they have interesting background music/sounds.

Binaural Beats

You can buy one CD at a time here, which makes this a good choice if you want to try out brainwave entrainment for the first time (they cost somewhere around $30 or so). But you may want to just spend a bit more and get a more complete program.


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