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Binaural beats benefit your brain—here’s how to use it for supercharged focus, creativity, and zen

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Summary: Binaural beats are often used to enhance meditation. But there are more benefits to them than that. Here’s how to use binaural beats to your advantage.

Binaural beats may sound like a creation from Dr. Dre, but they’re actually a technology that has amazing benefits for your brain.

Whether you’re familiar with them or not, these beats can help your brain create some peace and facilitate productivity. And there are a few things you should know about how to use binaural beats.

What are binaural beats?

The word binaural means “having or relating to two ears.” When you hear two tones—one in each ear—of slightly different frequencies at the same time, your brain registers the difference as an auditory illusion of a third sound. 

For example, if you hear a sound in your right ear that’s at a frequency of 210 Hz and your left ear hears one at a frequency of 200 Hz, your brain processes the tone at the difference between the two—or 10 Hz. 

Those are binaural beats.

Binaural beats frequencies

There are two factors that need to be in play for the binaural beats to work properly: 1) The frequencies of the two tones have to be less than 1000 Hz, and 2) the difference between them shouldn’t be more than 30 Hz.

This brain wave entrainment (also referred to as brain wave synchronization) is designed to put your brain waves into the same activity state as when you are meditating using traditional methods. These states are made up of four:

Frequency bandFrequency rangeBrain states
GammaAbove 35 HzInsight
Beta12-35 HzConsciousness and reasoning
Alpha8-12 HzDeep relaxation
Theta4-8 HzLight meditation and sleeping
Delta0.5-4 HzDeep sleep

Why do you need it? Well, simply, because traditional meditation practices can be very difficult for the untrained mind. As a newbie, when your mind’s unable to hold its focus, chances are, you’ll miss out on the benefits for your brain.

Binaural beats help ease you into a meditative state quickly, so meditation can be an engaging tool for personal growth, relaxation, or spiritual practice.

What are the benefits of binaural beats?

Do binaural beats actually work? Yes, they do. And here’s a list of some of its reported benefits:

  • Decrease anxiety levels
  • Increase focus and attention
  • Elevates positive mood
  • Helps enter a deep meditative state
  • Improves sleep quality

Now, everyone is unique, and it may take some trial and error to find which frequency of binaural beats works for you. But nevertheless, if you’re down to using it, it’s freely available and relatively safe to try.

Do binaural beats work?

The great thing about binaural beats is that they’re beneficial for your brain. There are a number of studies, albeit small, to support the health claims, especially those related to anxiety, mood, and performance.

  • A 2011 study used binaural beats on emergency department patients. This randomized controlled trial showed significant decreases in anxiety levels in patients listening to audio with binaural beats than those without.
  • Another study conducted in 2019 looked into the effects of using autonomous sensory meridian response to induce sleep. Their results suggest that “auditory stimulus could induce the brain signals required for sleep, while simultaneously keeping the user in a psychologically comfortable state.
  • A 2020 pilot study explored the use of three binaural entrainment frequencies: 40 Hz, 25 Hz, and 100 Hz. The participants were assessed based on their cognitive abilities, mood, and memory. All three aspects were found to have improved with the use of a Gamma 40 Hz frequency.

While using binaural beats has its upsides, more research is needed to comprehend the full scope of benefits that they have.

Using binaural beats…is it safe?

There are no known dangers to using binaural.

That said, it’s highly advised to limit the time you use it—30 minutes is typically the recommended time length. Why? Because continual exposure to sound can put some people at a higher risk for hearing loss, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

One question regarding safety that often arises is: Can binaural beats damage your brain? The answer is no. While they can affect your brain waves and have the ability to alter the physiological state of your brain, they can’t damage your brain.

Binaural beats side effects

While listening to binaural beats is generally safe and there are no known side effects, it’s always good to be on the safe side.

And with that, there are certain groups of people that should avoid using them:

  • People who suffer from seizure disorders. The increasing or decreasing brainwave stimulation may trigger abnormal neurological impulses.
  • Those with pacemakers or with other heart problems. Binaural beats may be known to affect brainwaves, but they may also affect heart rhythm.
  • Those operating heavy machinery. Induced relaxation isn’t compatible with driving or using machines that require your full attention.
  • Children. Their brains are still developing and, therefore, aren’t encouraged to use binaural beats.
  • Pregnant women. For the reason above, those who are pregnant might want to steer clear because their fetus is still in the development stage.

If you’re in need of further reassurance, talk to your doctor before using binaural beats for any health reasons.

How to listen to binaural beats correctly

Using binaural beats correctly is as simple as eating pie. All you need is a pair of stereo headphones and binaural beat audio, like in the 6 Phase Meditation guided by Vishen, founder of Mindvalley.

6 Phase Guided Binaural Beats Meditation | Vishen Lakhiani

Here are a few more tips to get you started:

  1. Find a comfortable place free of distractions. It’s important not to listen to binaural beats when you need to do something that requires your full attention, like driving. Avoid any tasks that are mentally demanding because the meditative state is not conducive to quick, action-oriented critical thinking.
  1. Listen to binaural beats when you want to relax, quiet your mind, get your creative juices flowing, and engage your intuition. They can even help increase the potency of personal development work, such as affirmations and visualization.
  1. Be sure to give yourself enough listening time. The brain requires about seven minutes to entrain or fall in sync with the audio stimulus. Give yourself at least 15–30 minutes of listening time to experience the benefits.
  1. You can meditate with your eyes open or closed. Focus on a candle or an object to help focus your mind, or you can meditate with your eyes closed and focus solely on the music—experiment with both to see what works best. Beginners usually find eyes-closed meditation to be easier because there are fewer distractions.
  1. It’s best to use headphones for maximum effect. Why? Because for the binaural beats to work effectively, there need to be two tones—one for each ear—of different frequencies. Without headphones, there’s a high chance your ears will pick up both frequencies, and the auditory illusion will be gone.

Above all, be patient. Training and developing your brain take time.

Imagine you were an athlete and you wanted to run a marathon but wanted to skip the training. Good luck, right? So, if you’re looking for a transformational growth quick fix, you most likely won’t get it with binaural beats.

Ways to use binaural beats

Other than putting on your headphones and pressing play, there are several other ways binaural beats can be implemented:

1. In your meditation practice

[Meditation] has a very high objective–to take us away from this world of suffering into the world of happiness, joy, and bliss,” says Swami Nirliptananda, the former spiritual head of the London Sevashram Sangha. And binaural beats can help you get your brainwaves into the state of meditation easier.

From there, you can work on honing in on your intuition, self-discovery, or simply ‘be’ and enjoy the meditative experience with no agenda.

2. To help you sleep better

There are studies that show binaural beats induce delta activity in the brain and, therefore, lengthen deep sleep. This leads to:

  • Improved quality of sleep
  • Less sleepiness
  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Increased ease of waking up
  • Feeling refreshed in the morning

If you’re looking for an alternative to guided meditation or whale noises as you drift off to sleep, try listening to binaural beats.

3. As you study

You’ve heard of the Mozart effect, right? People who listen to Mozart’s work tend to score higher on various cognitive tests and demonstrate higher mental performance.

Binaural beats do the same thing—they help create synchronicity between the brain’s hemispheres and increase cognitive function. This helps you think more holistically. Instead of being predominantly a left-brain analyst or a right-brain creative, you become a whole-brain thinker.

And so, next time you need a little help studying more effectively, headphone up and press play.

Epic things start with you

Binaural beats are a great auditory tool to help with anxiety, mood, and cognitive performance. And the best part about it? You can just relax into it and let the beats (and your brain) do the work. 

Now, binaural beats are just the first step to doing epic things with your life. If you’re looking to go deeper with your personal transformation, head over to Mindvalley.

As a Member, you’ll have full access to quests (like The Silva Ultramind System with Vishen), interactive Live Calls with leading-edge teachers, and the Mindvalley Tribe. What’s more, there are also guided meditations with sound options—including binaural beats and relaxing ambient—to enhance your meditation experience, loops for sleep, focus, inner clarity, and more.

Welcome in.

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Watch the First Lesson of the Silva Ultramind System Quest

Dynamic Meditation with Vishen Lakhiani - Founder of Mindvalley

Feel sleepy while you meditate? That’s because you’re practicing ‘passive’ meditation. Dynamic meditation does the opposite of this - it actively exercises our brain waves to achieve crystal clarity, deep calmness and more energy on command.Watch it now for free

Written by

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. She brings a wealth of experience in writing and storytelling to her work, honed through her background in journalism. Drawing on her years in spa and wellness and having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
Vishen, founder & CEO of Mindvalley
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Vishen is an award-winning entrepreneur, speaker, New York Times best-selling author, and founder and CEO of Mindvalley: a global education movement with millions of students worldwide. He is the creator of Mindvalley Quests, A-Fest, Mindvalley University, and various other platforms to help shape lives in the field of personal transformation. He has led Mindvalley to enter and train Fortune 500 companies, governments, the UN, and millions of people around the world. Vishen’s work in personal growth also extends to the public sector, as a speaker and activist working to evolve the core systems that influence our lives—including education, work culture, politics, and well-being.

Picture of Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman

Tatiana Azman is the SEO content editor for Mindvalley and a certified life coach. She brings a wealth of experience in writing and storytelling to her work, honed through her background in journalism. Drawing on her years in spa and wellness and having gone through a cancer experience, she's constantly on the lookout for natural, effective ways that help with one's overall well-being.
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Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.

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Mindvalley is committed to providing reliable and trustworthy content. 

We rely heavily on evidence-based sources, including peer-reviewed studies and insights from recognized experts in various personal growth fields. Our goal is to keep the information we share both current and factual. 

The Mindvalley fact-checking guidelines are based on:

To learn more about our dedication to reliable reporting, you can read our detailed editorial standards.