Guiding Meditation: An Interview with “Brain Whisperer” Kelly Howell

What is our true potential? How powerful are we? Are we destined to live out our lives based on patterns that we were born into? Or can we rise above our alleged “genetically determined” fates and environment to become who we want to be?

Kelly Howell thinks we can. She credits meditation with helping her heal from a devastating car accident at age 22, when she broke her neck, which left her suffering from depression and headaches — not to mention a divorce, the loss of her mother and the loss of a job. Howell began experimenting with repatterning thoughts and balancing the brain, and she developed a blend of brainwave therapy and guided meditations — collaborating with biofeedback therapists and neuroscientists in San Francisco — to create programs to treat depression, insomnia, obesity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and addiction.

The clinical feedback was so positive that in 1991 Howell founded Brain Sync, a program that redirects brain activity to create a specific change in consciousness. Brain Sync programs have been studied at Harvard Body Mind Medical School and UCLA, which concluded that it prompts brain activity into extraordinary body-mind states.

Today, she has over two million listeners to her 50-plus audio programs, including the “Theatre of the Mind” podcast. Howell spoke with Brain World from her home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Brain World: How does Brain Sync technology work on the brain?

Kelly Howell: The technology is based on biofeedback research to directly influence brainwave patterns. Research has shown that brain cells respond to binaural beats — pure and precisely tuned sound frequencies. The listener’s predominant brainwave patterns will move in the direction of the binaural-beat stimulus, where it guides — or actually drives — brain activity into states such as relaxation (alpha), meditation (theta), concentration (beta), and sleep (delta).

A binaural beat is generated through delivering two different tones to either ear using pure sine waves. For example, if we deliver a 100 Hz tone to the right ear and a 104 Hz tone to the left ear, when both tones are played together simultaneously the listener hears a third phantom beat pulsating at four cycles per second — the exact differential between the two tones. So here, 4 Hz is the frequency for theta, and as you listen your brain cells begin to resonate with the beat so that more and more parts of your brain are led into theta-wave [meditation] frequency.

BW: Does this process use what is organic to the brain to get it to a particular place?

KH: The sound frequencies balance both the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Let’s say you are in a very alert and stressed state of mind, in which case you would have a lot of beta activity going on, and as you listen to an alpha or theta program for meditation, the binaural beats will actually slow your brainwave activity to help relax you quicker and guide you into a deeper state of meditation. It also creates coherent — organized and focused — brainwave activity.

BW:  How do your guided meditations, such as “Positive Thinking,” work vis-à-vis brainwaves?

KH: Theta, for example, will put the listener into a meditative state, which is also a deep trance state of consciousness. In theta, you’re more open and receptive to suggestion. Research has shown that children spend a lot of time in the theta state, because they are in a stage of constantly learning and being open to the world around them. So theta can be attributed to that state of learning and openness.

During the course of the day, we go in and out of different brain states, but to get into these deeper levels of consciousness you either need to practice meditation regularly or have something like brainwave therapy to guide you.

It’s belief creation, thought creation.

BW: So just the fact that we believe in something — in some potential for our lives — that allows us to become it?

KH: Absolutely. Belief is everything. There are a number of modalities I am working with in my guided meditation programs to help shift self-perception and perception of the world. As your perception changes, the world around you changes. It’s the clear windshield effect, where suddenly you can see things in a different light. We are able to see more possibilities, and even attract new opportunities to us.

BW: On some of your guided meditations you use subliminal messaging, which might send a red flag up to some who worry if this is safe.

KH: The subliminal messages in the brainwave subliminal programs are listed clearly on my website, so you can see what they are and you can work with those affirmations on a conscious level. Subliminal messages are recorded at a soft audible level and then masked by layers of music and brainwave frequencies. Even though they aren’t consciously audible, our perception is far more vast than we realize. We are absorbing so much more information in a day than we are aware of.

I have a very funny story. One day I recorded three of them in a row, which required me to sit in the studio for a few hours and say the affirmations over and over. That afternoon, when I took my son to his swimming lesson, I felt amazing. I was sitting there at the pool on cloud nine, and it was like sparkles were flying off the water and diamonds were flashing around my vision. I was in bliss. I knew then … this really works! It’s so easy to program our minds to change our attitude, our perception and experience of life.

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