One of my favorite parts of my job, is what I like to call ‘research.’ Such as an email I recently received from SenSpa’s spa director regarding their latest treatment called Binaural Brainwaves. She described it as ”simply transformative.” Her entire quote was, “In the 17 years I have been managing spas, this is stand out treatment. I felt so very clear after the experience, like someone removed my head, shook all the problems out of it and then put it back on my neck. I highly recommend this treatment for anyone with stress. It was simply transformative.” The description read: Take a voyage through the restorative stages of brain wave activity with the innovative Binaural Brainwave Massage Journey. Therapeutic massage and Reiki are combined with sound healing, delivered via headphones, using specific soothing 528mghrtz rhythms that work to induce alpha, theta and delta brain wavelengths which are associated with meditation, intuition, insight, day dreaming, healing and sleep.
I was intrigued. And in the name of research, made an appointment for the next day.
The treatment was designed by Markus Hawkins, a classically trained violinist and award winning composer, who also happens to be a Reiki Master and massage therapist. Markus is visually impaired and sound is a huge portion of his healing techniques. He uses this heightened sense to focus on client’s breath and well as verbal cues to gauge the therapeutic session. Markus also brings in tuning forks as another sound element – to create change in the body through healing frequencies.
As Markus explained how everything worked, I understood most of the words –but the larger concepts gave me pause. Basically he said, “People don’t calm down much or as easily as they once did, which is why he created this treatment.” He explained that sound is actually geometry, and I was reminded of those YouTube videos of salt and sand taking on geometric shapes when introduced to sound waves. And then the Japanese study showing the emotional capacity of water. When I was in high school, my step mom, gave me a cassette tape that reminded me of whales singing that was supposed to help me achieve some type of mental clarity. Hence, he was sort of speaking to the choir. But here’s where he lost me. Markus integrates 6 particular tones, which I found online called “The 6 tones of Creation God’s Healing Frequencies.” These six tones are said to, Liberate Guilt and Fear, undo situations and facilitating change, repair DNA, work on connecting/relationships, help expression toward solutions, return on to spiritual order. On top of this, Markus also added subliminal messaging that would fade to the background and then reappear throughout the treatment. The voice is a woman, reading from a book he describes as ‘dated’ but a gem for positive thought called the Book of Gratitude. So given Markus’ convincing theories and my desire for some clear –headedness, we embarked together on the Binaural Brainwave Massage Journey.
Besides for the slick sound ear phones (they don’t cover your ear, just rest at the base) the format was just like a normal massage. He adds aromatherapy and instead of Enya my head was full of health, mindfulness inducing tones and sounds. After the treatment I felt light and aware and of course rested after the massage. Markus told me that many times his clients have said, “I feel like I can see better, or hear better—or I suddenly realized ___.” I’d like to go back for more, and in the meantime I did a bit of research to understand just what he was talking about.
Brain Waves 101 from a website called, Lunarsight.com:
Brainwave Ranges -In talking about brainwaves, they are typically broken up into ranges, each range being associated with different mental states. The five common brainwave ranges are listed below (although I really simplify what they’re associated with here – for more specific mental states these ranges are associated with, consult the brainwave frequency list itself.)
Delta Range – 0.5 to 4 HZ (associated with deep sleep)
Theta Range – 4 HZ to 8 HZ (seen in dreaming sleep, and other mental states where the mind is wandering, like daydreaming and imagining)
“A person .. driving on a freeway & discovers .. they can’t recall the last five miles, is often in a theta state–induced by the process of freeway driving .. [It’s] .. a state where tasks become so automatic .. you can mentally disengage from them.” brain.web-us.com/brainwavesfunction.htm
“[Our dominant brainwave] edges down toward theta when we go into trance.” enformy.com/dma-chin.htm
Alpha Range – 8 to 13 HZ (relaxed but awake)
” [There is] .. more alpha wave functioning when we listen (but it edges up into beta when we do extremely active listening, as in the cocktail-party effect when we consciously narrow attention to one voice amidst a babble.)” enformy.com/dma-chin.htm
Beta Range – 13 HZ to 30 HZ (normal awake state/aware)
There is an abundance of betawave functioning when we speak .. enformy.com/dma-chin.htm
Gamma Range – 30 (??) HZ to 60 (??) HZ (associated with consciousness – the brain stops producing gamma waves when we’re put under for anaesthesia, for example)
“Gamma rhythms appear to be involved in higher mental activity, including perception and consciousness. It seems to be associated with consciousness, eg it disappears with general anaesthesia .. Synchronous activity at about 40Hz appears to be involved in binding sensory inputs into the single, unitary object we perceive.” [INT] brain.web-us.com/40hz/default.htm
Note that there’s a LOT of disagreement over where Beta range ends and Gamma range begins. (hence the question marks)
As we were walking back to the locker room, I contemplated the activity my brain waves had just experienced. Markus quietly said in what I thought was a perfect summation of the experience, “Frequencies,” he smiled, “are something we should all be tuning into.”
Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.