Although binaural beats entrain the brain, which essentially means there is nothing you need to do except slip on your headphones and relax, there are a few practical things you can do to improve your listening experience and maximize the benefits.
If you've purchased some binaural beats and are wondering how best to use them, this guide will give you my personal tried and tested tips.
And if you're yet to make a decision on where to download some great audios, you can check out my best stores post.
Some of the tips in this post could be applied to general meditating too, and relaxing even, and what you'll come to realize is that this practice is similar to meditation in a number of ways.
Let's get started.
How to Use Binaural Beats Like a Pro
1. Make Sure You're Seated Comfortably
For the most part listening to binaural beats resembles meditating – being relaxed and present and undistracted.
Of course, this isn't always true because some tracks can be listened to while working on a computer, or reading, but even then we do want to be in a “flow-like” state.
For the purpose of this point, let's say we are listening to a track designed for deep relaxation.
You don’t need to force yourself to sit cross-legged if you find it uncomfortable. This really isn't necessary, unless you want that full meditation experience and you are flexible enough to feel comfortable when seated this way. In which case, go for it.
Sitting in the traditional lotus position is positive because it helps properly aligns the spine (and chakras) and creates a well-balanced centre of gravity. But it’s pointless doing so if you feel irritated in this position because of long legs or general inflexibility.
Sitting down on a comfortable chair or bed, or even lying down, is fine.
However, try to lie down somewhere other than your bed. The reason for this is that you don’t want to fall asleep, unless of course you are using a track designed to help you sleep, in which case you can lie on your bed.
2. Wear Loose Clothing
Loose clothes are great for meditation in general because they feel freer. Tight garments can make sitting or lying down awkward, and also make you more aware of your clothing rubbing against you or restricting your body.
Anything that makes you feel slightly awkward or acutely aware of its presence can become a distraction, which is what we are trying to eliminate for optimum effectiveness.
If you have a favorite nightshirt or pair of slouch pants, put them on, as your mind will associate such items with comfort and relaxation. A comfortable loose top and some fisherman's pants (like those you get in Thailand) are my go to chill clothes.
Additionally, although tight to the skin, leggings/workout pants work well because the material is comfortable and flexible. If the room is warm enough, pair these with a light t-shirt or vest.
This information might seems a little over the top and detailed, but it's worth making the point that you don't want to be sitting with heavy layers on, or your work suit.
Quite often we rush to get things done, including activities where we are supposed to be relaxed; so we jump straight in and not think to change into something more appropriate. It's like going jogging with your jeans and a jumper on!
In summary: put on something comfortable and find a comfortable sitting position.
Let's move on.
3. Turn Off Digital Devices
At the very least you probably own a mobile phone, and if you’re like most people, you probably own a tablet and a laptop computer, too. Whatever digital devices you have, if they are likely to distract you during your listening session, turn them off.
In theory, you can listen to binaural beats while working, reading, gardening and other activities, but it depends on the purpose of the program. You should always behave in accordance with the outcome you want to achieve.
So if you want to concentrate deeply on your work, then you could listen to a focus-targeted program, and if you're listening to a program that induces a mindful state or reduces anxiety, then you will want to be in a relaxed position.
As a general rule, any program that targets relaxation, mindfulness, or healing should be done with minimal distraction, which segues nicely into my next point.
4. Let Others Know Not to Disturb You
There's nothing more annoying than being disturbed when you're in full concentration mode, and the same applies when you're deep into listening to something and enjoying the escapism. It's akin to being woken from a fun deep dream.
Consider that when listening to a binaural beats session we are trying to entrain the brain to a specific state. So if you get disturbed by someone, you will be interrupting this process, in the same way you would be if you were meditating.
So, if there is someone who is likely to disturb you, just let them know that you're doing a session for 30 minutes (or however long you choose).
5. Go Mobile to Escape
By default you'll probably download your tracks to your computer for permanent storage. You should then transfer the tracks to your phone, tablet, or mp3 player (or iPod) so that you have the option to listen anywhere you go.
This means you can go into the garden or to park in the summer, or to a cafe, perhaps. You'll want to do this for when you travel on the train or bus or go on holiday, too.
6. Set a Comfortable Listening Volume
Contrary to popular belief, turning up your binaural beats music won't make it any more effective. You just need to listen at the same volume you would to any other music.
It should be audible and comfortable: not too low and not too loud.
Meditation music and nature-inspired sounds like rainfall or ocean waves tend not to sound pleasant at a high volume anyway – unlike dance music which is designed to make you feel more energetic the louder you listen.
By design, this type of music is soft and relaxing and meant to be listened to at a comfortable volume.
7. Don't Try to Force Anything
By this I mean not trying to control thoughts or trying to force the process. Don't sit there waiting for something to happen because you'll just create anxiety around listening.
Just let go and listen and let the magic happen :). Enjoy the session as “me time”. This is something you're doing for yourself, something you look forward to, a mind sanctuary you escape to for a brain massage.
8. Make Sure You Like the Music!
It might sound silly but this is the most important tip on this list.
The fact is: the main reason binaural beats frequencies are usually laid under meditation-style music is because they aren't very appealing to listen to on their own.
The raw tones just sound like a constant frequency hum with a slight pulsation. The frequency playing determines the pitch and tone of the sound. Some people can dig it but for most it's annoying and actually repels rather than entices you to listen.
Equally, you'll find that some providers just lay the same low quality rainfall, rainforest-nature, or ocean waves sounds over the top. While this can work for some tracks, if the source sounds are not of high quality, it just doesn't sound very good – primarily because these sounds tend to have a lot of thin high frequency content.
Not to mention of course that you want some variation in sound design; you don't always want to be listening to the same sounds.
The key to a pleasant listening experience is obviously to enjoy what you are listening to. And my advice is to invest in high quality audio with a good sound design. The music should be relaxing and designed to complement and enhance the brainwave entrainment process.
The best producers of this genre of music know how to achieve that.
You can find out where I get my tracks from here.
I hope these tips on how to use binaural beats will come in handy. I guess it's mostly pretty obvious, but sometimes we ignore the obvious because we're convinced there must be more to something than there is.