Smartphone magic: binaurals

It’s hard to say whether two people being high might experience highs in the same way. It’s such a personal, internalized, difficult to communicate process. Two people can point to a color and agree it’s called blue, but one person might see it as the other person sees green (and call that blue) while the other person might perceive blue as glowing scarlet… but also call that blue. Highs and lows might function the same way – on a politely socialized guess. What I call high, you might also call high, but simply feel it as “really awake.” I’m writing about what works for me. It might work for you – but I could well have no conception of how, why, or what you experience.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers gave me my first high. Preparing for a pep brand practice after a spectacularly rotten day, I popped in a tape issues before the days of Under the Bridge. Within moments, I found my adolescent hormones elevated from their usual somewhat hyperactive state, thanks to exposure to Freaky Styley.   No music before had changed my mood quite like that. Damn – music really could induce a high. I stayed high for the next four hours, no caffeine added. I finally understood why some develop a slavish devotion to various musicians. Alas, this did not lead me down the spiral to deep fandom – my literary promiscuity also extends to music.

For several years after that, highs were either not chased, or chased in controlled ways. Much of what prompts my seeking nowadays comes from acute sinus pain, lower back pain, frequent migraines and an emotional environment that needs a good sweeping.

This, along with a Smartphone finding its way into my hands, led me down the path of digital meditation tools to binaurals. Despite my own religious proclivity for woo, there’s a lot of stuff like orgone machines and ear coning that I put in the “slightly dippy”  to “that’s your ear” category. In the right circumstances I’ll try them, but without a significant guarantees of safety I won’t pursue them.

Binaurals have lived in that category for a long time. My trouble meditating, sleeping and focusing on writing prompted me to give binaurals an honest try as the only reasonable alternative to hypnosis. While hypnosis is certainly effective for correcting these things especially in an experienced meditator, it requires full attention to work at all – and with my workload, full attention isn’t something I can really give most of the time. Rather than stress myself out more by listening to recordings or finding a professional to tell me to “Just relax, take a deep breath,” I pursued the road of abstract digital noises that did not immediately throw up fantasies of choking the person telling me to “just relax” as though relaxation is an easy, natural state for anyone.

I’ve found three programs in the Google play market all under the same market umbrella that I use. Some still falls too far into woo for my personal boundaries of skepticism (DNA repair? Really? Wouldn’t more Botox  users be all over that?) Some of it, on the other hand, works.

Two are closely combined, from the same programmers: Binaural Beats and Brainwave Tuner.   Of the two, I find Binaural Beats the more useful – it labels clearly almost all the purposes behind the sounds played. Most of what I use is Power Nap and Airplane travel aid; I do end up using the Brainwave Tuner more concentration/mental refreshment. I haven’t been inclined to test out Lucid Dreams or Astral Projection. First, doing these things takes sufficient time commitment. Second, I’m not sure how well this would work without building some foundation skills prior to listening to the tracks.

The other program I use is Brainwaves -T.U.S. The program does a few annoying things on a technical level, like boots you over to some internal payment system that’s completely unnecessary if connected to Google Play. It also drains battery and stays on repeat unless you explicitly set a timer beforehand. You have to purchase individual tracks which are high-priced (you can get similar items for 99 cents apiece from Google music) but they do package things together quite well. I’ve used mainly the binaural for sinus issues – and as comfortable as I am admitting it, it works for me. The only downside is that it’s intended for someone laying down. It also doesn’t allow the listener to cue multiple files from different programs – so I’d have to have a very disrupted night’s sleep or a disrupted day’s work to get through all the files I might want to.

I feel like there is something too binaurals but boy do we lack the data for them right now. What I write here is anecdotal, just one more way to use the smart phone in spiritual or alternative health practice. So far, it seems harmless – here’s hoping it actually is.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers band members in 1986...
The Red Hot Chili Peppers band members in 1986. From left to right: Jack Irons (drums) Flea (bass), Anthony Kiedis (vocals), Hillel Slovak (guitar). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)