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WinAural is a programmable "binaural beat generator", based on the principle first described in October 1973 Scientific American, Gerald

Oster, "Auditory Beats in the Brain." There has been considerable research done on this principle since that publication, see for the most up-todate work. The central idea of the principle: profoundly restful and meditative states can be achieved by entraining brain activity to auditory beat frequencies. WinAural can send its stereo audio signal either to your computer soundsystem, or (for your convenience) to a WAV file, which you can then burn to an audio CD or compress to MP3 form for other means of portable use. To use the audio output directly from WinAural, simply plug standard stereo headphones in to the Audio Out jack on your computer speakers or sound card. Stereo headphones are necessary to keep the tones from mixing acoustically. The internally created binaural beats are the stimulus that leads to brainwave entrainment. The background noise (called "pink noise") provides a neutral background sound that facilitates the binaural beat effect. Whether listening to WinAural's direct output or listening to the WAV file burned to a CD, the approach is the same: sit or lie down with your eyes closed and headphones on. Make sure volume is set at a very comfortable (even quiet) level- the "wow-wow-wow" sound produced by the tones just barely needs to be perceptible. Within 5 minutes of listening you should find yourself in a relaxed state. The default schedule built in to the program was designed with the goal of filling a standard CD-R disk (74 minutes), but you are encouraged to change it to suit your needs by editing the file SCHEDULE.TXT. If WinAural doesn't find SCHEDULE.TXT upon starting, it creates a default one, which you can edit with Notepad or any plain-text editor. The default one is fine for the generic goal of reaching meditative states. But should you choose to create your own schedule, the format of the file is very simple: each schedule entry represents a time period and frequency range, and is composed of 3 numbers. The first number is the starting leftfrequency offset, the second number is the starting right-frequency offset, and the third number is the duration (in seconds) of this entry. During that interval, the right and left starting frequencies will incrementally change to match the starting value of the next entry found in the list. The last entry will loop around to the first before ending. That sounds more complicated than it is, incidentally! Note that there is a starting "base frequency" which all offsets are summed with. This is generally in the 100-200 Hz range, but can be manually set in the SCHEDULE.TXT file (along with a range of other application variables, including stereo-noise, looping, etc.). All application variables are enclosed in brackets, like this: [BASEFREQ=180] For an example of a short schedule: 0.0, 0.0, 4.0,

7.0, 3.6, 7.0, 3.6, 4.4, 9.0,

0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0, 0.0,

300.0, 6.0, 6.0, 300.0, 6.0, 6.0

This example schedule only changes the left-ear's frequency, for simplicity's sake, leaving the frequency going to the right ear fixed at the base frequency. The left ear also starts at the base frequency selected (in this case 180 Hz), but quickly, over the duration of that period (4 seconds), slides up to the left ear's next starting frequency offset: 7Hz. Then for the next 300 seconds, there is a very gentle descent from 7Hz to 3.6Hz. Then there is a quick 12second "spike" to keep alertness, going up to 7Hz in 6 seconds then back down to 3.6 Hz in 6 seconds. Then for 300 seconds the left ear frequency slides imperceptibly up to 4.2 Hz, at which point a second "wake-up" spike is presented, going from 4.4 Hz to 9Hz in 6 seconds, then from 9 Hz back to the schedule's starting leftfrequency value of 0 Hz - at which point the whole schedule is completed and the program halts (unless you choose to loop it). I am not an expert on the brain or on what frequencies induce specific mental states. My goal in making this program: to aid me in exploring consciousness. In particular, I'm interested in the line between sleep and wakefulness; hence my schedules tend toward the low-end of brain frequencies, in the "theta" range- between 4 and 8 Hz. But this technique can also be used to keep alert and focused, by using frequencies in the "beta" range (about 14 to 40 Hz). One could also explore true sleep regions, with "delta" frequencies (less than 4 Hz). Alpha (from 8 to 14 Hz) might be great for reading, or perhaps fighting fatigue while cramming for an exam. You might also try playing an audio CD of something you like while running WinAural, or mixing a WinAural WAV file with other sounds or music using audio software like Cool Edit or Sound Forge, etc. The possibilities are endless. WinAural is free for non-profit use. Beyond that, all I ask is that you use this technique responsibly. For instance, don't use it while driving or biking, etc. Reality "off-the-sofa" requires the full range of brain activity! Also, check with your doctor before using this technique if you have epilepsy or some other kind of neural or mental condition. I've used this technique for many years, and it has been good for me, but I can't speak for anyone else.