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Month: April 2019

Map is not the territory: where language meets mindfulness

Map is not the Territory: Where Language meets Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness suggests attention towards elementary sensory experience in the present moment.

Quite often we imply that being verbally silent is the ideal setting for practicing mindfulness.

However, there is something very important, and not less primary than observing the body-mind in this practice

First time I heard about mindfulness 12 years ago, I was a student of theoretical linguistics department. This was nothing close to meditation or spiritual discipline. In fact, it was a lecture on General Semantics

Semantics studies the meaning of words and thus is thought to be a part of linguistics. However, it’s a huge and fascinating field, reverberating in many other areas.

If you think about a “word” as a separate unit, you will see it can only seem “separate” in the dictionary. Once it is taken out of the dictionary into a written or especially live speech it becomes something else. Its meaning changes, expands, contracts becomes nuanced or generalized …sometimes it vanishes completely.

Moreover, once it is vocalized, the word becomes inclusive of your present experience, i.e., your body, senses, and even the listener.

As opposed to what it is in the dictionary, even the simplest “Yes” can become vast because of the tons of contextual information, which goes with it. This is indeed when less is more.

General semantics studies the total mind-body neurology included in our language.

Alfred Korzybski, the founder of general semantics, said that the main reason why he started it was the so-called “time — binding” aspect of language, which is a fundamental human capacity to pass on information in time, from generation to generation (1948).

Being also a brilliant engineer Korzybski was posing a question: why is this that structures built according to the mathematical descriptions and sketches, made by engineers, endure for ages. And in case they collapse the errors can be easily identified

While other types of “man-made systems” which rely on language including human relations, can fall apart very quickly or become extremely complicated and traumatic within the time span of one conversation.

And the “errors” are often impossible to trace back.

It leads to an uncomfortable realization that the language we use to interact and reach out to each other is much less efficient than the language of mathematics and geometry. Math passes over a neurophysiological aspect.

Indeed lines and figures don’t include senses, past experiences, intonations and personal evaluation of whatever they are conveying.

Human language is vice versa 100 % “neuro — semantic”.

Map is not the Territory

For ages, humans have been demonstrating that despite our awesome brain potential, we don’t take advantage of it most of the time.

Our language as a response to what we perceive is intimately defined by our nervous system.

However, we continue ignoring this understanding and often rely on the high — level (almost vocabulary) meaning of the words when talking and listening to each other.

The basic postulate of General Semantics, which was later exploited by a couple of other adjacent fields including psychotherapy: The map is not a territory.

Indeed map only depicts a limited number of objects and details of routes, and not necessarily reflects all the relationships between them, the atmosphere of the territory, the nuances that we explore when we are at the new place.

The map is also an offshoot of human imagination, and personal perspective, i.e., a map — maker decides the features to include, the purpose of the map, and the scale of it.

Map is only an abstraction, but if it is correct, it has a structure similar to a territory and fulfils its purpose.

General semantics transfers this analogy to language. Our language behaviour can be thought of as a map of our experience. And our verbal expression of what we think and feel should reflect the” true territory” of this actuality as near as possible because sometimes these maps last long….

Taking into account our neurophysiology and the enormous amount of information we receive from our senses before we speak, a pre-verbal level of our experience is already a neurological “snapshot” delivered to us by our brain in the most affordable abstraction.

This snapshot represents only a fraction of “what is going on” and is largely defined by our “cognitive repertoire,” i.e., things we already know and have a reference to.

All sensory data that we receive is only available to us after our nervous system recognises it and finds a word (or a label) for it.

Then the words we choose to express our “contact with the world” are the next level of portraying the present moment.

When verbally articulating our feelings and thoughts we are, basically, extracting another map out of the “neuro” — map. Furthermore, abstracting on the level of words by nature involves evaluation (conscious or not).

With that said — what we put into words is an abstraction of what our brain registers as an experience, which is also an abstraction of our initial sensory input, which is also NOT THE SAME as the actual event.

Abstracting is a natural process of our body-mind system.

General Semantics teaches how to be conscious of several levels of abstracting with verbal being the final one.

When Maps are Messed Up

Most of the time we are not conscious of how our verbal maps are being born. General Semantics outlines two basic deviations in our language behaviour connected with this: identification and bypassing.

The experiences of what we are receiving through our human neurology are unique.

And even though what we receive is already “edited” by our organism, how we put it into words “reduces” it even more.

“Identification” is basically a “failure” to discern the gap between the sensory experience and the verbalisation of it.

Or “whatever we may say something ‘is’ obviously is not the ‘something’ on the silent levels” as Korzybski put it (1948).

The main idea here is that each minute we experience an abstraction of something else.

“Bypassing” is when we are focusing on the message instead of a person.

As if words had their own meanings.

We forget that the verbalization of one’s experience is only a “map” and it has no definite way of interpretation. Bypassing is also assuming that what one is speaking and what the other is hearing is directly equivalent.

Our verbal maps would serve us better and not destroy us, if we were conscious of these two “features” of our language behavior, especially when we engage in some emotional conversations.

Every day we are “drawing maps of our territories” by expressing ourselves through language.

Look at how many distortions happen at the level of our maps when we don’t pay enough attention to where our responses come from.


Every day we produce numerous so-called “maps without territories.”

These maps represent our process of self –talk and accidental hijacking of our brain by emotions when the mind starts producing monologues that refer to emotions only and have “no territory” of the actual event.


We have a tremendous tendency to apply “old maps” to the new territories…General Semantics views these cases as distortion in time and space, which any normal human demonstrates in varying degrees.

When unconsciously using an old map for the new territory we diminish our observational sensitivity by finding an old pattern of thinking and the “relevant” body-mind (and hence verbal) reaction in response to the new scenery.

Unconscious of reacting to a new event as if it had the same quality as the situation from the past we create a loop where the whole new experience is defined by “an old map.”

Making silent levels consciously observed (or provoking neurological delay), we give ourselves space to feel the ambiance of a new experience, recognize it and consequently “ask” for a different resolution within us, or a new map.


We distort other peoples’ maps by assuming more than listening.

We adopt other peoples’ maps by copying someone’s language without any insight into the “territory” of their experience but because we like the language and apply it offhand to our own unknown territories. This is especially true when we speak or listen about experiences that are not physically observable.

We get lost in each others’ maps. We go 180 degrees in two different directions while sitting at the same table and talking in front of each other.

An interesting observation was made in some Neuro — Linguistic Programming exercises utilising “map — territory” principle, that indeed when two people have very different “maps” (read: “understanding, way of thinking”) for “the same territory”, it is very unlikely that they will meet, even physically.

This is yet another way of looking at why our paths meet or diverge during lifetimes.


Although many of the outlooks Korzybski laid out provoked initial ambivalence at that time and couldn’t be appreciated broadly, later the Gestalt Therapy’s principles were built on it.

Today as people become more interested in conscious living, mindfulness is a part of our culture.

And yet the exquisiteness of thought, which permeates all the work of General Semantics, even today brings lots of subtle understandings of our nature in the pursuit to become mindful and more intimate with ourselves.

Many important conversations between us happen without words, but when words are inevitable — let’s prolong the silence before we speak.

Let’s appreciate our human nature of abstracting and learn how to listen to the NEW experiences that are wanting to come through when we are talking to each other…

Even a millisecond can change the world … and some words endure with us forever …

All rights reserved. The full version of this article is also published on Medium. Join me there.

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Culture of “mass market” and understanding personal brand

Culture of "mass market" and understanding personal brand

The domain of “helping people to wake up” has turned into the inflating market. And it will only continue to grow in the next few years. 

Whether you are a counselling psychologist, a life coach, an embodiment facilitator, a spiritual teacher or a healer — you are in human2human sector. 

If you self- promote, create landing pages, deliver regular emails into personal Inboxes and post on social –media channels with popular hashtags, there are only two options why you are doing this. 

  1. You want to sell something. 
  2. You want to change something. 

In the first case you are a business. In the second you are a brand.

Businesses deal with customers. Brands deal with humans.

And since you are in the domain of working with people one on one you have to be a brand, not a business.

Use it as a temporarily framework to see why it is a resourceful shift in how you perceive yourself in your professional domain.


First of all, we are all “metaphors” in other people’s heads.

Sometimes these metaphors become so powerful that they become “brands”.

Being a brand means that when people think of you they strongly attribute certain qualities to “the way you do it”.

If you ask them “what is it that you love most?” The majority will name completely immeasurable qualities. Many will say something like “It’s just her!”

Which is not to say that they love YOU. And it also doesn’t mean that they love a number of techniques you are supposed to teach. They certainly appreciate it a lot, but this is not what they LOVE.

What they love is something that their limbic system recognised as “this is for me”. It is the level where we are deeply rooted about our important choices. It is the level of beliefs — and not the level of behaviour. It is also the level at which people love your unconscious competence — and not your expertise.

Unconscious competence is that which drives geniuses. It is that competence, which you yourself can’t break down into a process. It is that competence, which puts you into the flow state. And it is that competence, which makes people look at you and think: “ I just love the way you do it”. But on the back of their minds they think: “Geez.. how are you doing it!”

This means that if tomorrow you start teaching how to crochet instead of how to “become who you are” these people will say: “This is gonna be incredible! Sign me up!”

When this happens than professionally you have become a brand and people know your signature.

It doesn’t mean that tomorrow you have to try the new thing to see if this happens. 100% the opposite — brands are being born in the narrow niche.

Brands take time, because they take trust. You can’t quite put it into a strategy- you are just doing what you are doing. But if all of a sudden you disappear — people start missing you …

When this happens — you have become “a brand”.

Although shedding light on some of your unconscious gifts can reinforce them and make them more fulfilling, you will never be able to measure what it is precisely that people love.

The major part of your unconscious competence will always be a mystery — and there is a reason for that…

However, what you can “measure” is PEOPLE who love it.

Why start with them?

Let’s look vice versa … what happens when you are not acting as a “brand”, and you are acting as “a business”. And you are “selling”, not “caring”. And you don’t have a feel for your audience. And you are for everyone…

Your "self-promotion" is generic…

Your landing page takes 5 minutes to scroll down. You have 15 references from clients who use the most generic language to express how you changed their life forever.

Once my eyes finally stumble at the prices of what you are offering I see the below:

Here my instinctual brain is supposed to send me signals to rush for my credit card until it’s too late to get to know you at a discounted price.

I scroll further down …

It is telling me about your education, your “breakthrough” story, and how much you want to make me free and abundant… And again the prices! Now the CAPS LOCK screaming into my eyes how lucky I am to have opened this email today. 

MONEY BACK GUARANTEED if I am not “satisfied”… 

And then the list of complex cognitive skills and “human states” I am supposed to develop as a result of this purchase… 

And (Post Scriptum): couple of spots left by INVITES ONLY …

You know what I feel?


For TWO reasons:

1. It takes too much of my time.

2. It says nothing about me. (Not in a direct way, it doesn’t support my view of authentic interaction. And I feel like I am being sold to).

By doing so you are acting as a “business”. You substitute yourself for a” value proposition”, me for a “customer” and that which is supposed to be an invitation — for an “advertisement”.

The gist of the advertisement is a constant interruption of someone’s private process without any selectivity.

Advertisement is aimed at peoples’ behaviour. Advertisements are for customers. Customers are people who select by price and forget you the minute your discount is no longer available.

The message you are sending by this “advertisement” is that you have no idea who you reach, and the people you reach have no idea why they need it. And since they have no idea, you have to flood their inbox and SCREAM INTO THEIR EYES so that they notice you. 

And once they notice they will go directly to this: 

And this : 

And hopefully BUY IT …

But most probably — not.

Coming back to brand …

Like elsewhere, in human 2 human domain brands are being born with time and the most powerful setting is your real presence. This is when you are not “doing anything” while doing the magic. People scan it on a visceral level. And when they buy” — they “buy” how you make them feel. 

They also buy “who they think THEY ARE WITH”. 

They “buy” a potential affinity.

That’s how people are buying brands not a product of mass market.

The cost of information is going down with a frantic speed. Everything is on the web. Simultaneously, the cost of time is going up because we have more and more distractions. The fact that someone has opened your email, or a landing page, or a video is already a contribution. You have grabbed their attention, the most valuable asset.

Attention is priceless. Distraction is very costly. Studies show it takes about 23 minutes for a human brain to refocus back on the process.

Be concise, creative, and intimate with your audience in the most intelligent way.

Intimate means that you KNOW me, not trying to seduce me. You speak my language, my images, and my beliefs. And appreciate my attention.

This is why I choose you.

And I don’t want a discount for this choice.


The abundance of transformational work and “awakening” options has already built an industry. Wether it will turn into a huge market place or preserve its uniqueness is almost out of question.

It feels like this trend is basically creating another layer of confusion under the label of “personal growth” or “waking up”.

But the hope is still there …

Whether your content is practical, lyrical, mystical, poetic, or anything else — people you are trying to reach will love it for their own reasons. Do you know WHY?

Even such “mass market” brand as H&M is using AI to look into people’s behaviour on social- media before taking an informed decision about which colours to put into a new collection.

Because getting to know these people is not a “marketing trick”. It’s a gesture of care.

1. Speak real language. INVENT your language. This is the best way to find YOUR audience. If our language is similar — I will hear you. If your language cracks me open — I will not forget you. Don’t copy what other people say. Copying other people’s “fixed expressions” lands nowhere.

2. People are processes. But metaphors are not. Our neurology “edits “other people in metaphors. Once you become a metaphor in someone’s head, it is very difficult to de-construct it. This metaphor will be a combination of all my deep impressions about you. Be yourself through all the mediums of interaction. Otherwise the metaphor of you will gain no trust. Brands are strong metaphors. (If you speak genuine language at a private session, why do I see you selling yourself with discounts on Facebook?)

3. Appreciate people’s time. You only need couple of seconds to make someone want to learn more about you. Be creative with these couple of seconds.

4. All the above doesn’t work if you think it is about marketing. Marketing per se doesn’t exist. Marketing means knowing your people. You will be surprised how it may change your narrative.

5. In human2human domain more then anywhere else you are looking to have your loyal audience. Loyal audience is a niche. Narrow down. Know your niche and take care of it.

6. Once again — narrow down. And serve your niche.

If you are in service of transforming people, but your self- promotion has no codex of authentic interaction, then you are almost responsible for creating a culture of mass market in the domain where the most valuable point is exclusivity.

As the Godfather of marketing Seth Godin said: “How many people is enough for you?”

Studies show that as many as 80% of the mass- market audience couldn’t’ care less if tomorrow they will not see your post on Facebook.

The nature of “being a brand” when you work with people one on one is 100% relational.

You as a brand are relational. There are no you without your people… even if there are only ten of them on Earth.

Get to know them.

“The more fulfilment exists in the least amount of options” 

— Matt Khan

Download a checklist to define psychographic of your authentic audience. 

All rights reserved. This article is also published on Medium. Join me there.

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focus and perspective

The Art of Focus and Perspective. And once again about the flow…

The Art of Focus and Perspective. And once again about the flow...

About a year ago, I was on a ferry to Montezuma in Costa Rica and listening to a lady from LA who was about to start her own company doing breath work classes but couldn’t work out how and where to start. She said she was “kind of going with the flow” for some time, but felt “it didn’t work”. As she was telling her story, she looked increasingly sad and anxious even though we were approaching one of the most luscious vacation spots in the world…

By the time this conversation was happening, I already had a pretty good experience of providing some consoling guidance in such cases.

And this was the first time in my life I realised that I knew so many people around me who were once “going with the flow and it didn’t work”.

The wave of “downshifting” lifestyle is still swelling and even more so due to so many areas becoming freelance worldwide. The advertising of doing “what you want from where you want” has become viral. While the new age interpretation of “letting go” and “non-attachment” leaves many wondering around the world with even less satisfaction from their own lives than ever. Solopreneurship can be virtual and thus viewed as “easy to play with”.

It’s amazing that even with the saying “going with the flow”, many don’t feel a sheer contradiction between what they say and what they think they say.

The flow itself means it is GOING TOWARDS something.

A stable controlling force is ALREADY in it. That’s why it is a FLOW, and not a SPLASH. Imagine a river? That’s what it is.

Going with the flow has a strong presence of an inner compass; it is going TOWARDS the attracting force. This feeling is always grounded.

You get to feel it by “endorsements” from the outer reality. By your inner authority saying “Yes” to what is happening.

It has become an incidentally adopted attitude among people seeking for their purpose in life that “going nowhere” means “going with the flow” and eventually, it will lead you somewhere, you just have “to embrace it”.

You DO have to embrace it. Acknowledging it gives you a chance to reevaluate your direction. The sense of “going nowhere” is a strong ally that helps you “turn” somewhere else. But making it “chronic” and embracing it repeatedly over and over again — is NOT ok. Unless you really enjoy drifting with whichever current will catch you first.

In the corporate world, you meet people whose illusionary “control over everything” makes life stagnant and extremely heavy. In the “downshifting communities”, you see the trend of getting carried away by every wind, covertly distressed about the future but with the illusion of “going with the flow’ while hiding behind misinterpretations of spiritual teachings.

Well … I’ve learned that sometimes, you have to feel the extreme before you understand the lesson.


Focus. Long-term or short-term?

Focusing has become a mantra among business and life coaches.

Nothing is wrong with it because it seems right and obvious.

Not obvious for many, however, is WHAT should be the point of focus.

Quite often, procrastination comes from not knowing whether to focus on the short — term or long — term goals.

Focusing on the short — term is not giving you the right perspective; a distant focus is not good for laying out the steps of your process.

Setting a goal or starting a business is a MINDSET. How do you focus without becoming “fixated”? I had been trying to figure this out myself as a head of business development for few companies with a long sales cycle and then doing business consultancy.

And I have found a vivid analogy to describe how it works for me.


Dance the focus.

I used to dance for many years. Although I was learning jazz not classical ballet, surely enough we had lots of ballet elements while studying. Our classical ballet teacher had to find some special language explaining elements to us since we were amateur in this genre. He was a good teacher so he prioritised the main principles over technique.

There is an element in ballet everybody loves called “fouette turns”. It is a rapid whirling of the body which is performed in consecutive spectacular series. I am sure everybody who ever saw 32 fouettes from Swan Lake performed was wondering how a human body could do it. As you can imagine, the moment the dancer is performing, everything is automatic in her process, the body is just doing it, and there is no thinking involved. And yet there is ONE element which is NOT automatic and has to be controlled by the dancer. This element is FOCUS.

There are TWO kinds of focuses in this process. One focus is inside of the dancer. It is the inner axis which is the NOW focus and it is the cohesiveness of her body with where she stands. It is the dancer’s main attention so that the movement continues to happen.

The other focus which has to be with the dancer is the DISTANT focus. It is OUTSIDE of the dancer and it has to be STABLE and FAR enough. The farther it is, the better.

It is a point BEHIND ANYTHING that can move in front of the dancer’s eyes. Yet it is visible. And yes — it has to be unchangeable till the end of the dance. This is dancer’s anchor; it is how the whole dance (not the movement) is happening. It is the attracting force, the point of return after each consecutive turn and before starting the new turn. The dancer doesn’t’ stare at it intensely as you can imagine. She keeps it in the “relaxed focus”. Her main attention is with the inner axis. But if this distant point moves — there is NO CHANCE the dancer will remain stable as she will lose balance and fall.

So it is the distant focus that actually keeps the present focus aligned. You are not in possession of this distant point. You neither can influence it somehow, nor move away at your will. It is there for you as long as you keep an eye on it.

The present focus, however, is being kept by you and is only there due to you.

Focus and Perspective. Distant and Now.

Your distant focus always comes first. It is not only the vision of the project you are launching, but your own mission behind it. Usually, it is intrinsic to your core beliefs. Many business strategy books are echoing Simon Sinek and suggest that it answers the question “Why” (Why am I doing this?). I find “the why” a bit too “open” and sometimes including the “past” into the scope of the answer which makes it less clear. Instead, asking “what” (makes me want to do it/moves me) is more linked to the present and future.

The idea of movement is already in the question so it will easily transmit into understanding whether you feel like doing anything at all.

Often, there will be several layers to your answer and you may end up with the list of “reasons”. A “map” of your reasons will give you a scope of your most important preferences at this moment as well as a better understanding of your project. If “enjoying it” is also among them, consider the distant focus of your project to be stable.

We are wired for seeking pleasure — not a single “big mission” will be enough if you are not going to enjoy it.

There is no need to say that if the distant focus changes every other day, you will be losing lots of energy on unnecessary steps towards nowhere.

Your short-term goal or focus comes as a response to your distant perspective and you become aware of it as long as you are present and willing to move.

If you are overanalysing in the attempt to decide which step to take first and what will happen next — you are not going to move, ever.

You WILL SEE the steps as YOU GO. And your first step is THAT which is right near you.

Even if you have a huge list of things to do — you can always sense the priority. As you do this, you will, in fact, find yourself in the new circumstances and see where it takes you next.

Lots of entrepreneurs are “trapped in the future”. The language they speak reveals it very easily. While planning ahead can be useful, insisting on how it SHOULD BE is useless.

Business plans are insanely overestimated. In the corporate world, many executives are obsessed with planning for the future without even understanding what is the best thing to do NOW. I was once consulting for a start-up company like this. After we made a comprehensive list of the “corrective actions” to their business model and unhealthy marketing budget, I received an email asking me to provide them with the revenue projections for the year ahead. I replied that there was no CONSCIOUS way to do it unless we start from what has to be corrected in the first place. They didn’t like this answer. “Give us the future. We don’t want to see what’s NOW. The future is BETTER.”

Enterprises (and people), where the real present circumstances are of primary importance and the business plan is of secondary importance, are always moving faster and in the right direction.

Very often your path towards something will be indirect but it can only happen if you let it happen.

Enjoy your focus and keep it flowing, not splashing…

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binaural beats

Binaural beats: extraordinary habit for your brain’s health and creativity

Binaural beats: extraordinary habit for your brain's health and creativity.

These days, people have lost their connection with many powerful elements of energy and nature; sound being one of them as a means of healing and brain entertainment.

Although for those who do some spiritual practices sound therapy may be familiar, its benefits are still largely underestimated by the modern society. Those who don’t have time or inclination for some spiritual work may consider it too far-out.

Although, if you make the sound therapy exercises a part of your daily (or at least weekly) routine, it may bring some fresh tides into your sense of wellbeing where “being present” is not a something lofty or requiring tons of inner stamina, but rather a natural state of your mind when you feel relaxed, tuned in, sensitive, thoughtful and psychic.

Isn’t it ironic then, how this natural state has been treated as very unnatural for the majority of human history?

Tuning into yourself is personal for everybody, and you don’t need daily yoga, meditations, mantras and esoteric readings to start. For some people, signing up for the “inspirational quotes” pages on Facebook may become a kick.

This article will point you toward yet another simple trick to get your mind closer to the quiet state.

Sometimes people become so stressed, rigid and merged with their hectic pace that they literally reject anything that could calm them down; eventually even losing track of what initially triggered the stress.

But even for these people, binaural beats can form an invaluable tool to make them feel different and strip some strain off their nerves.

Even starting by listening to binaural beats twice a week will help you discover the potency that they can manifest for the emotional state, brain and body. This is an ancient knowledge which has been utilised for centuries by our ancestors.


What Is A Binaural Beat?

A binaural beat is the tone (or frequency) perceived by the brain when two different tones very close in pitch are being sent to the listener’s ears simultaneously and interfere with one another, resulting in them producing a third tone which is the difference between their pitches.

The pitch difference is usually very insignificant (no more than 30 HZ), but once recognized it becomes a low-frequency pulse for the brain and makes it follow this pulse.

To illustrate: 550 HZ is being presented to your right ear and 560 HZ to the left ear simultaneously. The difference of 10 HZ will be the binaural beat caught by the brain.

Why do we call it a beat? Because the lowest frequency the human ear can detect as a sound is 16 HZ. Everything lower than that will be perceived as rhythmic pulsation (we literally hear something like “wah wah”) while the brain follows the frequency.


There are not many activities in everyday life where a human brain engages both hemispheres to work synchronically for producing a certain result.

However, there are special exercises to develop the ability to synchronize the two halves of the brain. A good example of a situation where the brain has to switch on both hemispheres at maximum capacity is when one interprets a foreign language.

I have studied simultaneous interpreting at university with my thesis work dedicated to the cognitive understanding of the process.

Based on my research and personal self-observation during the interpretation process, I found that it’s actually not that much about the language proficiency as it is about the refined brain behavior, which integrates many conscious and unconscious strategies in parallel to automatize the process as much as possible, ironically making it a brain skill more than a foreign language fluency.

However, this is an extreme condition for the brain to function in, and although being very stimulating and benevolent for the neural connectivity, it can hardly be recommended as a meditation practice.

Although similarly to meditation practice, exercising your brain in such an unusual fashion can give you great re-charge and feeling of light euphoria accompanied by relaxation which lots of simultaneous interpreters experience at the end of the day.

But more relaxing tools are out there, amongst which we find binaural beats. Extracting the binaural beat, in a similar fashion as the interpreter extracting language meaning, is an activity that synchronizes your brain but in this case, in a much more affordable and pleasant manner than conference interpreting.

Since the brain can only hear one tone at a time, both hemispheres start working in synergy to extract this one tone out of the two, thus immersing the whole brain into synchronization (with certain brainwaves dominating).


Binaural Beats and Brain Waves: Altered States

As we know, the length of the brain waves defines its mental state. Ancient shamans and healers knew a lot about the magic of repetitive drumming and chanting as a means of revitalizing the connection between not only the brain halves but also the human brain and body and the unconscious.

Ancient music was often much more diverse in terms of harmonics, sometimes incorporating the copied rhythms of nature — animals running, winds blowing, ocean sounds, etc.

It was also charged with lots of psychoacoustic tricks. For example, many ancient tribal drum rituals used 4.5 beats per second rhythm to evoke the trance-like condition; the human brain reflecting it back at the same frequency started producing theta waves (4–8 HZ).

This length of brain wave is associated with deep meditations, trance states of mind, access to the unconscious, REM sleep and increased creativity.

The 4 HZ binaural beat is probably the most famous one among people well-acquainted with the topic.

It is through Theta waves that the brain can heal our painful emotions, become insightfully creative and intuitive, feel more compassion and develop extraordinary learning abilities.

The frequency of Theta waves also increases melatonin, a hormone which is not only vital for healthy sleep, but also for the immune system’s proper functioning, especially in women.


Robert Monroe, the father of out-of-body experience (OOBE) researches and founder of the Monroe Institute, along with ex-Nasa employee, brilliant physicist and author of the book “My Big Toe”, Tom Campbell, have proven that the 4 Hz binaural beat encourages OOBEs and remote viewing.

These are also the waves dominating in your brain the minute you are about to wake in the morning.

Have you ever noticed that reflecting on many life situations in this freshly awoken state of mind will give you a very different perspective, more complete understanding of things and often access to the compassionate part of yourself?

Typically, your brain is functioning on Beta waves frequencies (14–40 HZ; concentration & alertness) so it will take you some time to get to the frequency of 4- 8 HZ. You will have to surpass the alpha waves first (8–14 HZ; relaxed focus, light meditation). If you are inexperienced in meditation it may take you longer, even with binaural beats.

“Once you are in the 4 Hz theta state that is your goal, stay there for a half hour to two hours — that’s enough. You are in this physical reality for a reason. Do not use this as an escape. It is a tool, as is meditation itself, for teaching you to eliminate the noise in your mind …” — Tom Campbell says.

(By the way, if you have never heard interviews with Tom Campbell before, I highly recommend them. Apart from plenty of fascinating thoughts and knowledge derived from his own out-of-body experiences, Tom himself has a voice timbre and a manner of speech that hypnotizes you.)

However, 4 HZ is not the only binaural beat frequency that you should explore. Another frequency is 7.83 HZ; known as the Schumann Resonance, which is the frequency of the Earth.

While some people consider it to be totally a ‘new age’ rumor, others refer to scientific evidence that the 7.83 HZ frequency has benevolent psychological and physical effects on the human brain, including increased learning abilities and feelings of balance and grounding; it also forms a natural feedback loop with the human mind and body.

If your mediation skills are good enough to let your brain drop to the frequency around 8 HZ (this is, in fact, the lower edge of Alpha waves that occur during the state of light meditation, or rather, relaxation) you naturally feel better and more in sync

The Schumann Resonance frequency is said to triple the bioenergetics field of the body, working as a counter-effect to the “discharging” of your electromagnetic field that occurs naturally with age.

Listening to Schumann Resonance binaural beats can also train your brain to access the “window frequency” between the two states — Alpha and Theta waves state — a so-called “bridge” where many inner processes are more crystallized and you can become a conscious observer of your own emotional states.

Slowing the brain’s waves by binaural beats pushes the brain to recognise itself on a higher level when both hemispheres communicate with each other. By doing so, the brain constructs neural connections of a new kind and teaches itself to be more flexible and develop plasticity.

The synchronization of hemispheres at the Alpha/Theta bridge can also be well familiar to you in the form of non-linear, vivid visionary images we sometimes experience right before falling asleep.

These pieces of information are often very hard to translate into linear meaningful sentences — again because the state of mind where you put the information into a linear structure demands different brain wave frequencies.

However, if you acquire the skill of remembering and converting those visions into meaningful units, they will often give you deep insights and extraordinary creative perspectives.

Where To Start If You've Never Done This Before?

I’d advise you to start with frequencies coherent to your present state so that your brain attunes more steadily.

In fact, all brainwaves are pulsing within your skull simultaneously all day long, but certain frequencies prevail.

Therefore, unordinary conditions of mind should not be your main goal at the very start, but rather, your mind itself should be an object of observation. With that said, the clear and focused mind is quite an unusual condition also.

Moreover, for an inexperienced person only listening to the “mind-altering” frequencies (without focusing on relaxation, breathing exercises and some other techniques) may at first not be enough to pass the threshold, since the natural processes of homeostasis and mental “noise’ will be your barrier to relaxation and dipping into the new states of mind. Instead, it may only make you sleepy.


So, you probably want to check different applications of Beta waves first, i.e. frequencies that are more “mundane” and put your brain into the optimal state for performing the tasks required, i.e. concentration, increasing memory abilities, focus, etc.

Always keep in mind that the first and foremost purpose of binaural beats is to balance your brain.

Science proves that your heart sends more signals to your brain than the brain to your heart, so the more balanced the brain is, the more capable it is to recognize the messages of intuition.

Small children (before 7 y.o.) function mainly on Alpha and Theta waves, but in adulthood, we naturally forget this. Because of the high variety of external stimuli and the speed of living we switch to faster Beta waves.

Interestingly enough, animals function predominantly on Theta waves with their eyes open, which explains the remote viewing abilities of many animals. For example, domestic pets often sense their owners’ location and wild animals remote trace for their prey.

Due to the nature of its origin, binaural beats should be listened to with ear- or headphones to ensure that the different frequencies enter your left and right ear, rather than being played over a loudspeaker, the frequencies mixing in the air, and your ears picking up the frequencies already mixed together.

In addition, the duration you choose should be 10 minutes minimum. Although passive listening will also affect your mind, it’s a good idea to help your brain to attain the desired condition through focused intent.

There are scores of resources now on the web providing you with all kinds of high-quality audio files with binaural beats both pure or overlaid with some ambient music or chanting.

Some of them are free (Youtube provides them in abundance) and some are not; for example, Hemi-Sync — a brand created by Robert Monroe to produce binaural beats had different music collections for different states of mind. There are also some websites where you can generate the beat yourself.

My personal experience is that pure beats are much more powerful than those integrated into some ambient and relaxing music. Also, as a side note, these ambient tracks mostly embody Alpha or Theta waves, so it may not be a particularly good idea to listen to them while driving.

Choose Your Beats Wisely

Listening to the binaural beats is absolutely safe, which is scientifically proven, but you better choose your beats wisely depending on what you are looking for.

If you do some work in front of the computer with your headphones on, then some ambient track with low Alpha waves incorporated (you usually hear the binaural beat track as a slight hum) will make you unfocused, although more insightful. This means it may be ok for some creative writing, but not for statistical analysis.

If you try listening to Theta frequencies binaural beats while reading, it may well cause confusion, fatigue or dejection — again, because they are not natural for concentration.

Delta waves (0.1–4 Hz) will merge you into sleep very fast (from my personal experience), but not if you are too agitated when you start listening to them. If this is the case, listen to the faster waves first.

Delta waves are known for deep trance conditions, hypnosis, deep sleep (no dreams), but also anti-aging, increased immune functions, self-healing, and the “one with the universe” condition, often referred to as Samadhi.

How About Faster Waves?

It is interesting that lower waves have been given much more attention in the researches than the higher ones. I have found not many substantial researches on the higher Beta waves (starting from 20 Hz- 30 Hz) and Gamma waves 30 Hz- 100hz).

For example, while 15–20 Hz waves are known to be connected to focus and increased mental ability, especially that of mathematical nature, it is also associated with euphoria and pineal gland stimulation (20hz especially ). 20+ Hz and up to 40 Hz (higher beta/gamma waves) are also mentioned in the contexts of meditations for stress relief, astral projections, very high energy, but also fatigue.

At the same time, 25+ Hz (and up to 40 Hz) frequency waves were observed in Tibetan Buddhist Monks on transcendental meditations. 33 Hz is said to be Christ consciousness frequency as well as the inner frequency of the Egyptian pyramids (I like the coincidence) and is linked to hypersensitivity.

Going a step higher from there, 35–40 Hz are found to be linked to the very intense brain activity, when the entire brain is connected and engaged into complex processing of the information at its different parts.

However, this is not the type of condition described as Beta waves, but rather a highly sensitive perception and processing of information, the so-called “Aha! moment”. Usually, in such conditions, the body gets profoundly relaxed while the brain is in the state of highest concentration.

These waves don’t last longer than a second or two and are found to be immediately preceded by Alpha waves over the right visual cortex. In other words, the brain calms its imagery perceiving function for a moment before the insight burst. An analogy here would be someone closing his eyes for a moment when deepening in a complex problem-solving.

With that said, Gamma waves can be linked to states of epiphany and sudden insight as opposed to the analytical problem solving where Beta waves will be observed.

This also explains why these waves usually last only a second and were detected to emanate from the right hemisphere, i.e. creative part of the brain, responsible for assembling together the pieces of the whole and shifting between mental states.

State of The Brain On DMT

DMT, short for dimethyltryptamine, is not only the most powerful psychedelic substance humans can experience but also the one that is naturally produced in the human body. It is known as a “spirit molecule” for its compelling mystical characteristics and effects.

This article wouldn’t be complete without looking into the brain function on DMT in correlation with brain waves. A small study was conducted in 2005 observing two participants’ brain waves on Ayahuasca.

The results were astonishing — the brain waves detected were 36–44 Hz and 50–64 Hz; full-speed brain synchronicity. Later, MAPS (Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies) repeatedly cited Gamma waves as connected to the ingestion of Ayahuasca (i.e. brain on externally provided DMT).

As this article unfolded, I was listening to Alpha waves binaural beats and enjoyed the whole process a lot. Hopefully, you enjoyed the reading and maybe will try to integrate the magic of binaural beats into your life!

Tune in! Be present, be “in-phase”.

All rights reserved. This article is also published on Medium. Join me there.

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