Happy Doc Student Podcast

#34 Use Sound to Sleep and Study Better with Karen Newell

June 30, 2021 Episode 34
Happy Doc Student Podcast
#34 Use Sound to Sleep and Study Better with Karen Newell
Show Notes Transcript

Karen Newell is an author and specialist in personal development with a diverse body of work that rests upon the foundation of heart-centered consciousness. As an innovator in the emerging field of brainwave, entrainment, audio meditation, Karen empowers others in their journeys of self-discovery by demonstrating how to connect to inner guidance, achieve inspiration, improve wellness and develop intuition. She is co-founder of sacred acoustics and coauthor with Evan Alexander III, MD, of Living in a Mindful Universe. 

The Power of Sound

  • Sound has been used for millennia to heal
  • We are mostly water and water is highly impacted by vibration/frequency, so this makes sense
  • Certain tones can be very calming (like crystal bowls, tuning forks, or brass bowls – see links below)
  • If meditation is difficult for you, try using sound (think of it as training wheels)
  • Sound will help you pay less attention to the thoughts (that will always be there)
  • Research by Dr. Anna Yusim found a 26% decrease in anxiety levels, better sleep and better focus after using the technology for just two weeks (this pilot test used the Whole Mind Bundle)

Brainwave entrainment is moving the brainwaves to a particular state.

You might not find results with recordings on YouTube due to the way the sound is delivered (so give Sacred Acoustics a try – link below). 

Get the best results by using headphones or earbuds (so you are delivering the sound to each ear separately).

Brainwave states

Delta – sleep state 0-4 Hz

Theta – meditative state 4-7 Hz

Alpha – focused state 7-12 Hz

Beta – waking state 12-30 Hz

Binaural beats are used to deliver a different frequency to each ear. The difference between the frequencies creates the brainwave state. 

Sacred Acoustics uses binaural beats, monaural beats and harmonizes the frequencies so the sound is pleasing to the ears.

Bottom line: We all have a unique brainwave print (like a fingerprint). So different sounds will impact people differently. Don’t give up! Keep on trying. You might have results immediately, or it might take a few weeks. 

Connect with Karen Newell: Karen@sacredacoustics.com

Sacred Acoustics: https://www.sacredacoustics.com/

Podcast with Anna Yusim, MD: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1547113/7913662

Crystal bowl (root chakra): https://amzn.to/3gNrEiw

Tuning forks: https://amzn.to/3qjSaDd

Brass bowl: https://amzn.to/3qglfzv

Other resources available at: http://Expandyourhappy.com

YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZJ2EkKDtTbuC4C7FeM-69Q

Happy Doc Student Swag: http://Expandyourhappy.com

Support this free content by treating Heather to a yummy green tea: https://www.buymeacoffee.com/expandyourhappy

Order merchandise here:
Use code: HAPPYDOC15

Karen Newell:

And so just being able to feel, I'll say the vibrations in our body and then how those vibrations are connected to something larger. Sometimes that's really just the key to make people realize that there's more to our world than just what we see, what we hear, what we know from our five physical senses that there's something else out there

Heather Frederick:

You're listening to the Happy Doc Student Podcast, a podcast dedicated to providing clarity to the often mysterious doctoral process. Do you feel like you're losing your mind? Let me and my guests show you how to put more joy in your journey and graduate with your sanity, health and relationships intact. I'm your host, Dr. Heather Frederick. And this is episode 34. In this episode, I welcome Karen Newell, who is an author and specialist in personal development with a diverse body of work that rests upon the foundation of heart-centered consciousness. As an innovator in the emerging field of brainwave, entrainment, audio meditation, Karen empowers others in their journeys of self discovery by demonstrating how to connect to inner guidance. achieve inspiration, improve wellness and develop intuition. She is co-founder of sacred acoustics and coauthor with Evan Alexander III, MD, of living in a mindful universe. Karen. Welcome to the show.

Karen Newell:

Well, thank you so much for inviting me. I'm looking forward to our conversation.

Heather Frederick:

Me too. I am so excited to chat with you today for so many reasons, but I would say number one, I love sharing tools that can help people manage stress. And it's always a bonus when there's research to back it up. And number two, anyone who knows me knows I am a huge sound junkie. I love using sound. To change my experience of reality. In short, really that's what it does for me. So I was wondering if we could start today's chat by just kind of talking about the power of sound.

Karen Newell:

Well, sound has been used for millennia as a healing tool. In fact, I'm sure we don't know for certain what happened, but there is evidence that 40,000 years ago, the Aborigines in Australia used an instrument called the didgeridoo to help people with healing effects. And in fact, they still use the didgeridoo today and that's a pretty. Interesting instrument. I don't know if you've heard of it, but it's a really long sort of tube and they blow into it and make this really kind of injury to your sound. That's very cool. But that's been around for 40,000 years and cathedrals were built with sound properties in mind. All kinds of ancient structures were built with sound properties in mind. So sound has been an incredibly effective tool for humanity for thousands of years. And so there's a lot of modern ways to do it too. I know for me, the sounds that really helped me to calm myself are things like gongs or tuning forks or brass bowls or crystal bowls, anything that has that sort of intense kind of. Monotonous sort of sound really helps to quiet the mind. I agree with you, certainly.

Heather Frederick:

So I always loved music and I used music a lot while I was writing my dissertation, but it wasn't until I went to an event that a friend invited me to where there were crystal bowls, which I'd never experienced someone walking around with a didgeridoo, a small one. And I absolutely felt like I had been bathed in the sound and left feeling like, Whoa, what just happened? I felt like my whole stressed out body had just been dipped in this tranquil pool and it was just so calming. And that's when I started getting curious and doing some research and going, wow. Okay. This is making sense because we're mostly water. Right. And , anything liquid is highly impacted by a vibration, by a frequency. And so , this idea that you could tone, that you could balance, that you could harmonize the cells in your body became really fascinating to me. And it sounds like as you were going through kind of your journey sound was an important part as well for you.

Karen Newell:

It was important. And you know, I liked music like everybody else, but when I listened to it to calm my mind, it was very challenging because I would want to sing along with the lyrics or follow the melody. So that's why I liked those monotonous kind of drone kind of sounds, but it was really when I was sort of exploring ways to I'll say, get in touch with my inner consciousness and that included a practice of meditation. And for me, this was many years ago, meditation was really just an impossible task. I was a very busy project manager working in a publishing company. And all I could do when I sat down to meditate is think about all the tasks I needed to be doing.

And I didn't understand this:

quiet, the mind, focus on your breath. I was very leery about meditation, because at that time where I lived, usually you had to join some group with some dogmatic sorts of teachings in order to really learn how to meditate. But I learned that if you just focus on your breath, that your mind should clear and you should relax. And that's not what happened for me. And so it again, earlier I mentioned gongs and tuning forks and you've experienced those two that really helped to calm my mind. And it was actually a brainwave entrainment in particular that really got me there. And it's very interesting that crystal bowls and brass bowls, tuning forks,

anything that makes that sort of:

wah, wah, wah kind of sound is a binaural beat. And once we analyze the sound coming out of a crystal bowl or a brass bowl, it had a built-in binaural beat, and these kinds of instruments really go back in time. Tibetans were using those brass bowls long, long ago, and somehow they use them to quiet the mind and they have these binaural beats. And I know you want to ask about that, but I didn't want to go too far ahead.

Heather Frederick:

Yeah. I'm glad that we're going to pause for a moment because I wanted to say a few things. I can't tell you how many students, and faculty as well,

will say:

yeah, I have it. I get it. I read the research. I know that meditation is good for me, but I quote unquote "can't do it".

They'll use those words:

I can't do it. . And using sound is a great transition into learning how to calm your mind. It's like a support. So you talked about brainwave entrainment and binaural beats. So let's break those down.

Karen Newell:

Right. So brainwave entrainment is the general term for sound, or probably other tools as well, that help to sort of drive the brain to a certain level. And by level, I mean the, brain puts out a frequency depending on what state it's in and it's usually measured within EEG device. And what they found is that when someone's in a, the every day walking around space, Your brain is putting out a signal between roughly 12 and 30 Hertz. That's the beta state. And if your brain is asleep, if you're asleep at night, then we go much, much lower to zero to four Hertz, and that's the Delta range. But in between that asleep and awake, there's two other brainwave states and that's theta and alpha. And lots of people have heard of these. Alpha is about seven to 12 Hertz, and that's a very focused state. So if you're studying, if you're very tuned into a task, you are very likely in an alpha state. The theta state, that's the state associated with meditation and know that that's the state, that's just one up from being asleep. So meditation is really about quieting the physical body and quieting the kind of beta thoughts that are always going on to get to a more focused, even a more sedate, not quite asleep, but very calm state in that theta range. And so the way that we create binaural beats is directly related to those brainwave states. And so if we want to deliver, say a four Hertz signal recall, that's the brainwave state we're in between awakeness sleep. So that's very, a very common frequency for us to deliver. What you would do binaural means bi means two and aural means hearing. So you have two ears. So we put one signal in one year as slightly different signal in the other ear. And it's the difference between them that creates that brainwave, entrainment, that binaural beat of four Hertz. It's the difference between the two frequencies that creates that particular brainwave state we're trying to drive. So if we were trying to drive an eight Hertz, say up in the alpha range, we would have say 100 Hertz in one year, 108 Hertz in the other ear. But with the four Hertz, it would be 100, 104. It's a little complicated. So I'm explaining it in the most kind of a simple way that you can, but really, as I said before, anything that has a wow, wow, wow sort of rhythmic regular sound. There's a binaural beat in there and trained listeners will know just from listening, roughly what hertz that they're hearing. But these brainwaves, you said that sound was excellent support. And I would even go as far as to say that they're kind of like training wheels and I was one of those people who believed I couldn't meditate. I said exactly the same thing. Oh, I can't meditate. I'm too busy. I have, you know, an analytical mind. But in fact, I was really giving myself a limiting belief that I can't meditate because really we all can't. There's no one who can't. And so the first thing I did is every time I thought I can't meditate is I changed that thought to no, yes, I can meditate. And at first it felt like I was lying to myself, but it really helped build that sort of confidence that I really was capable. And at the same time, the sound really played a significant role. And at first, when I would listen to these recordings that contained binaural beats, my, my body would just fall asleep and my mind would follow. So it took a little time to sort of train myself to hold that state between awakeness sleep, that this is what's known as the hypnagogic state and all of us are familiar with this because it's, it's the state we're in when we're first falling asleep at night or when we're first waking up in the morning. Although I think in the morning, it's called hypnopompic state. It's the same thing, right? The body is profoundly relaxed. But the mind is still aware. And the other miracle for me that happened when I listened to these recordings is that it quieted my distracting thoughts. And so it made me more capable of meditating because those thoughts were no longer , you know, driving into my consciousness when I tried to settle it down. And I learned over time, and this is very key, that my expectation was that my thoughts would completely go away and I would be in some kind of blank state. And that does happen occasionally, but more often than not, those thoughts are still going on in the background, but my attention has learned to ignore them. And so they become so faint in the background. That they really aren't any of any concern, but some people believe that if they're still faint in the background, they're not doing it right. And so that's something to really put out there because the Western mind, we are reluctant and resistant almost to doing these sorts of things. And we expect things to take place very quickly. We practice a couple times and you know, it should work like other things. But then I have to remind people that if say you're learning a musical instrument, it doesn't just happen overnight. It takes hours and hours and hours of practice. And I point out that in Tibet, the monks there need to meditate for 10,000 hours before they're considered expert. And here in the West, we just don't have that kind of time. And yet with the support of sound, binaural beats and other types of tools, these types of things, help us get there a little quicker, but it's not going to be like a magic pill where you just, you know, pop it in your mouth and suddenly you can meditate. It does take some practice.

Heather Frederick:

I love this idea of training wheels. I'm going to suggest, Hey, be your own little experiment, because even though there's research out there, I always love to say it doesn't matter how much research I share with you. What will be most profound is for you to have the experience yourself and see how it changes you. Right? And then also this idea of sticking with it. Don't just do it once or twice. in fact, there's a study that Dr. Yusim talked about on her Podcast, using your technology where significant differences were found after a two week period. So I'm going to say out there guys, listen, you've committed to this long-term goal. You've got two weeks. You have got two weeks to try a tool that could change the way you're writing. You're reading. You're thinking about your research. Now, Karen, I wanted to back up a little bit, when you were talking about binaural beats, I know there are a lot of YouTube ads out there. People could Google this, but your technology specifically does a couple of other things beyond just offering a binaural beat. Could we talk a little bit about sacred acoustics and what that's all about?

Karen Newell:

Yes. I have co-founded sacred acoustics where we produce these types of recordings and yes, a selection of those was used in a pilot study by Anna Yusim. One reason I'll just point out that we don't put our recordings on YouTube is that the audio quality that YouTube compresses their files too is much lower than we would recommend to listen to. And so what happens is some of the important frequencies get stripped out and that's the case with any binaural beats. Now, some people do listen on YouTube with good effect, but I encourage listeners to try other types of binaural beats, including sacred acoustics. And just as you say, experience for yourself with the differences, all of us, start out with a different brainwave print actually, they're like fingerprints. They're so unique from one person to another. So that's why we all respond a little differently. But our binaural beats created by sacred acoustics are also created with the inclusion of monaural beats. And that's where you hear the same signal in both ears, but we combine them in such a way that it kind of feels like a holographic music where you're surrounded by music and not just hearing it from the left and the right, which sometimes that's how binaural beats come across. The other thing that we do that's unique is that every frequency included in the recording is harmonic to every other frequency. And we didn't start out doing that. But once we did start applying these harmonic principles, We were able to produce recordings that sounded more musical. That sounded more pleasing to the ear. People who have tried binaural beats will know that sometimes they sound a little, a little harsh, like they're just digital, sounds driving into your ear. And so many producers will put rain sounds or other types of water, maybe surf or pink noise, white noise to kind of mask those sounds. And so by applying harmonic principles, We don't have to do that. And so it produces a much different sort of sound. And so those are the two main things that we do differently. We add monaural beats in a very proprietary fashion, and we also make sure that every recording includes harmonic frequencies and it makes a big difference.

Heather Frederick:

It does make a big difference. I just want to reiterate if someone out there is thinking, no, I've tried this binaural beat before, it hurt my ears or it didn't work. I'm going to say you've got to check out sacred acoustics, because my experience was similar to when I was in this room with the crystal bowls and the didgeridoo, and I felt like I was being blanketed by sound and it was this very comforting. I'm like, how am I going to explain this on a podcast? It's like, when you've got the window open on a chilly night and you're all snugly in bed, and you've got this heavy comforter on top of you and you just feel grounded and safe and secure and cozy. And that was the experience I had with the sound that was being created from your product. You know, if someone's out there thinking I'm not so sure about this. Hey, you can try it out. Can you explain how they could get the free download?

Karen Newell:

Yes. Go to sacred acoustics.com and look for free download. You can scroll all the way to the bottom, or there's a link in the menu. Look for free. Download, enter your email and we'll send you a 20 minute OM recording. Now, I will point out that some people, when they listened to this OM recording, they think it sounds spooky, or it sounds creepy. And we all have different listening sensitivities, but then others who listen, feel like they've come home and they describe as similar sort of sensation that you had. And I will say that you are absolutely correct, experience is the best teacher and that's what we need to do. So if we find a sound that isn't quite right, you move on to the next sound and see if that works for you. You also try it more than once, because sometimes it can happen immediately. Sometimes it takes a few listens. Those cumulative effects can take place in Anna's. Pilot study case just after two weeks of listening, as you pointed out, it made a big difference. And the recordings that we used in that pilot study are also available on our website. Look for the whole mind bundle. And it's a collection of recordings that include frequencies in Delta, theta and alpha. So you have three sets of recordings in three different formats to work into your daily routine. And so these were the same recordings used in the pilot study using the same listening protocols that are included with the whole mind bundle. And basically people were asked to use their own kind of flexibility on when to listen to each recording. Sometimes it's easier or more appropriate to listen in the morning, sometimes more appropriate in the evening, depending on what you're trying to accomplish. And so what Anna decided to measure was anxiety levels. And she found that after two weeks of listening, there was a 26% reduction in anxiety. And so this was pretty significant because her. Her control group were people who had a therapy, but did not listen to the sound, their anxiety over the same time. Period, decreased only 7%. So by adding the sound, it went up to 26%, but I want to point out that there were other benefits that weren't necessarily measured with a scientific evaluation tool. And that is that people started to say that they could sleep better at night. They could study better. And some of these recordings are designed specifically for sleep and study. And so I recall she had a medical student who was one of her patients who use these recordings. Not only did she start to get better sleep at night, she started to get better scores on her board exams, because she used these recordings to help her study and she had the benefit of lower anxiety. So of course, better sleep, better focus is going to help reduce that anxiety. But it's interesting how it can be such a wide range of responses. And another pretty remarkable story out of Anna's pilot study is that there was one person who had been in a toxic relationship for years, and really just didn't know how to get themselves out of it. And I can relate to that because I've been in those situations and it can be challenging to really make that final step of, of removing yourself from a toxic relationship. While this person was listening, they didn't really understand how or why, but during that period of listening, they got the strength to end that relationship, which is what needed to happen all along. And so all kinds of things can start to happen. You know, you mentioned the the, the feeling that you get. Another report that we got from two different acupuncturists who worked with teenagers who had attempted suicide that failed. So they were still with us. They were getting therapy. And these two acupuncture professionals they were fans and users of sacred acoustics recordings. So they started playing those while they were treating these children. And the children started to say things like. Oh, my gosh. If I had felt this way, if I had felt larger than myself in this greater connection to something grander than myself, I never would have tried to kill myself. And so just being able to feel, I'll say the vibrations in our body and then how those vibrations are connected to something larger. Sometimes that's really just the key to make people realize that there's more to our world than just what we see, what we hear, what we know from our five physical senses that there's something else out there and we can connect to it through going into consciousness.

Heather Frederick:

Karen, , we could do an extended dance version Podcast because there was so many good things there. Let's start with, you mentioned that the, that the clinicians were playing it while they were chatting with the teenagers. So is this a technology that you could just play while you're writing?

Karen Newell:

They, it's not what they're chatting with the patients it's when they're performing acupuncture sessions on them. And there are others who use them for different types of healing, modalities like massage and, and such. But yes, the recordings can be listened to the whole mind bundle specifically was designed to be listened to while you're doing other activities. So if you're reading, if you're studying, if you're, if you're wanting to take a nap, you know, you don't have to always be meditating or something like that. If you're a painter or doing any kind of creative work, that theta range is also incredibly useful for inspiring creative sort of thoughts. We do recommend listening with headphones because of the binaural beat technology you want to get that left, right differentiation in the ear. But because we include monaural beats that unique feature of our technology allows you to also get some benefit over speakers. Now, some computer speakers or one speaker systems probably won't be as effective, but, you know, we can, you can use ear buds, whatever you have to get that differentiation between the two ears and many people find that they can listen while they're doing the studying the reading. I know one student he was a tester of ours and he listened to our whole theta recording, a 10 minute loop for hundreds and hundreds of hours over years and he found it improved his. Board exams, just like that other student.

Heather Frederick:

Yeah. I love the flexibility of your technology because I've been experimenting with listening to it with headphones, but also just listening to it on speakers while I'm working, while I'm grading papers. And I love using it in the middle of the day, the alpha one, when I'm feeling like, Oh, I could really use a nap right now. And sometimes I do take a nap while I'm listening to it ,without judgment, because I feel amazing when I wake up from it. And I also love using it at night because I think a lot of us have monkey minds. Especially people who are listening to this podcast and I loved it also that you brought up, Hey, don't expect. Something, that's not going to happen. We're calming the monkey. The monkey is still going to be there guys for most of the time, but the monkey is just going to be hanging out in the corner. Right. Chilling, eating it's banana. It's not going to be on your back, driving you crazy. And so again, I just love the flexibility. my daughters have used it for sleep and it's super helpful. Everything's related. Like you said, once you reduce anxiety, once you reduce stress, you're sleeping better . You're thinking clearer, you're interacting with the people in your life in a more harmonious way everything starts to flow. Even though I said, Hey, it's great that the research is out there. I want people to have the experience. I did want to point out in Anna's study, she looked at both state and trait, and there were differences in reductions of trait anxiety. So listen up guys, you need to learn how to reduce your anxiety as the stable personality trait of how you're dealing with feedback of how you're dealing with challenges and barriers and a technology like this is something that can help get you there. We talked about where to get it. I'm going to put all the links in the show notes below, so you can find it super easy and encourage you to check this out. You will not be sorry.

Karen Newell:

Yeah. And I do want to point out that the whole mind bundle these pilot study recordings at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, we thought the world was moving into a collective anxiety moment. And for us, we realized that all of our consciousness is connected. And so when I'm able to get calm it helps other people to get calm and vice versa. And so any one who uses these recordings, especially now, really anytime you're feeling anxious, you have our gratitude for taking time to quiet the mind because we are truly all in this together. And it does make a difference if more and more of us are able to find this sort of inner peace inside. And so for that reason, we reduced the price of these recordings significantly because at that time, many people were entering financial uncertainty, many are still in financial uncertainty. So keep that in mind that they're either completely free or a significantly reduced price for those who need that financial support. We don't want anyone to be left behind with this sort of technology because we really, truly are all in this together.

Heather Frederick:

Karen, thank you so much for sharing your wisdom today and also your generosity. It was such a pleasure.

Karen Newell:

Well, thank you so much. And I enjoyed this conversation. I hope your listeners found some benefits and you can always reach out to me directly@karenatsacredacoustics.com. . Heather Frederick: And again, I'll have if you love listening to the Happy Doc Student Podcast, would you mind supporting me the best way you can do this is by sharing your favorite episodes with a friend or two, or heck maybe three. All episodes are available on most podcast directories my YouTube channel and my website to make it easy. I'll pop these links in the show notes below. And if you read, we love this free content. Then visit my website. Expand your Happy dot com where you can purchase some Happy Doc, Student swag, or even buy me a green tea. Until next time here's to more joy in your journey. Oh, Hey, one more thing. The information, opinions and recommendations presented in this podcast are for general information only.