Isochronic tones are a modern and scientifically proven form of brainwave entrainment technology.
By definition, brainwave entrainment occurs when the brainwave frequency duplicates that of the stimuli, whether it's audio, visual or tactile. This effect can be seen on an EEG (Siever, 2003).
The best isochronic tones take into account two needs: the physiological (the actual brainwave response) and the psychological (how readily you relax and accept the sounds).
High quality isochronic producers take care of the physiological effect. However, choosing the right tone to match your listening preferences is a personal choice. In this article we'll look at the effects of isochronics, how they change your level of awareness, and where to find the best isochronic tones for lucid dreaming.
"Findings to date suggest that BWE [brainwave entrainment] is an effective therapeutic tool. People suffering from cognitive functioning deficits, stress, pain, headache/migraines, PMS, and behavioral problems benefited from BWE."
~ Huang & Charyton, 2008. Alternative Therapies. Volume 14.1
In recent years, I've used isochronic tones to induce states of calm relaxation, dissociative meditation and the hypnagogic state. This is valuable practice for lucid dreaming and also enables me to enjoy other kinds of borderland sleep phenomena, including:
The primary goal of listening to entrainment is to relieve stress and experience a good, deep meditation. I recommend all lucid dreamers practice meditation on a daily basis - so if you're not skilled or practiced in the art, then brainwave entrainment can be considered your helping hand.
Initially, isochronics promote feelings of relaxation and dissociation. You experience dissociation every day when you exercise, watch a movie or read a book - it's all about being drawn into the moment and forgetting about your daily worries.
When you meditate, dissociation is enhanced to greater depths; it silences your unhelpful mental chatter and tunes you into more peaceful and profound insights.
Entering this mindful state on a daily basis is a healthy practice for mind and body. The benefits are actually something I find difficult to describe. I could say frequent meditation makes me feel more focused, happy and calm in everyday life but this doesn't begin to convey the difference it actually makes.
Meditation is also the gateway to altered states of awareness, during which you can have lucid dreams, out of body experiences, mystical experiences, creative insights and more. It's like a natural mind trip, available to every conscious human being in the world.
Isochronic tones create states of meditation with evenly spaced pulses of a single tone to create a brainwave entrainment effect. Unlike binaural beats and monaural beats, the interference pattern is created outside of the brain so it's not necessary to wear headphones (although you can if you prefer).
Isochronics are a powerful form of brainwave entrainment because the contrast between the sound pulses and the silence is more pronounced. The effect excites the thalamus and causes a frequency following response, where the brain internally recreates the frequency and this dictates the level of conscious awareness.
The effect of isochronic tones can be heightened further with visual entrainment. In 1999, scientists doubled the relaxation effect on the brain with eyes-closed photic entrainment. However, this requires special equipment (light and sound machines) and most people can experience a deep, meditative effect through listening alone.
The best isochronic tones are thought to comprise a pure tone (also called a sine wave) with a frequency of 150-180 Hz. This stimulates the brain (the physiological effect) while keeping within a comfortable listening range for most people (the psychological effect).
I find the best isochronic tones are mixed with white noise or harmonic sound effects to disguise the regular pulsing. Water sounds, such as rainfall, ocean waves, waterfalls and running streams are ideal. However, synthetic sounds like guitar distortions can also be used if you find waterfall sounds are too hippy.
Isochronic tones have hit the mass market in recent years and there are plenty of YouTube videos and smartphone apps cashing in on the appeal. However the motivations of the makers and the technical medium used means they are generally of poor quality.
To seek out the best isochronic tones, look up a reputable vendor like Transparent Corp which offers Mind WorkStation: computer software to create your own isochronic tones. The company is actively involved in neural stimulation research and clinical studies, and their software is compatible with EEG, biofeedback and mind machines.
What do blind people dream about? Can they "see" in their dreams? Take a look at scientific studies into the dreams of the blind, colorblind, and black-and-white dreamers. In 1999, dream researchers at the University of Hartford analyzed 372 dreams of 15 blind people. They found that both the congenitally blind and those who went blind before five years old did not have any visual dreams at all. That's because our dreams are made up of real world experiences and our innermost thoughts, anxieties and desires. So for someone who has never perceived images or light (or can't remember any) their dreams simply can't manifest visually.
Not long ago, scientists at Frankfurt University discovered how to produce lucid dreams with electronic stimulation. It was a world first. And - astonishingly - it worked in non-lucid dreamers 77% of the time. Now you can buy the same technology for yourself. The foc.us V2 - which delivers the proven optimum 40 Hz transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) - was originally developed to increase working memory in video gamers and improve sleep.
As technology continues to move us towards more immersive dreamlike experiences, one can only wonder what digital wonders lay just beyond the horizon of tomorrow. We may also question just how the future of virtual reality will impact the study and practice of lucid dreaming. Are we, perhaps, the last generation to whom lucid dreaming will maintain an appeal?
Jeremiah Morelli is a whimsical fantasy artist and visual storyteller. He places conceptual fairytale creatures in vivid dreamscapes to capture the imagination. He's also a school teacher, and amazingly finds the time and motivation to create this huge gallery of artwork. Such light and dark fairytale paintings make beautiful places to visit in your lucid dreams.
Inspired and named for the notion of Flatland, artist and photographer Aydin Buyuktas has created a series of works where "a space of surprises creates a space that creates surprises." Based on photos of Istanbul, Buyuktas explains: "We live in places that most of the times don't draw our attention, places that transform our memories, places that the artist gives another dimension; where the perceptions that generally crosses our minds will be demolished and new ones will arise. These works aim to leave the viewer alone with a surprising visuality, ironic as well as a multidimensional romantic point of view."
Experts agree that everyone is capable of having lucid dreams. Dreaming itself is a normal function of the mind. We all dream every night, even if we don't remember. And we all achieve conscious awareness while awake every single day. So what does it mean to combine these states? Why, the amazing ability to have conscious - or lucid - dreams. Sounds simple, doesn't it? So why do I keep hearing from people who say they can't achieve their first lucid dream?