John: Today we will hear from Javi Otero, who lives in Spain and is one of the really interesting people working in this field of transformation, meditation, coherence, Integral practice—and bringing it to where the rubber meets the road. Javi, tell us about your new technology and the new product that will be released very soon through iAwake.
Javi: I’m developing a new type of technology I call “fractal entrainment.” Fractal is a mathematical term that tries to consider how nature is not regular. It is regular, but it’s always different; it’s rough; it doesn’t work in straight lines; or with precision, necessarily. For example, at the HeartMath Institute they’re finding that the heart is not a metronome but a very irregular kind of pulse. Basically, I try to imitate the way cycles happen in nature in order to create a way of using sound to increase coherence.
John: When you say coherence, what does that mean to the average person who wants to use this technology to grow, to feel better, to improve their lives?
Javi: Coherence can be understood as the capacity to flow and the capacity to accept things as they happen: accept life and accept the moment-to-moment experience. When we experience coherence, we tend to be in an accepting state that allows us to flow with rather than resist the unfolding of events. Coherence is a fluid state; a state that is relaxed; a state in which you have your full attention on the here and now—you inhabit your moment, your body, and your mind in the most relaxed and joyful way.
John: I think that’s a great definition, and I think that coherence is very important. I think a lot of the things that we suffer from as human beings—whether we’re addicts, depressed, have different types of pathologies, or have just forgotten who we are—is because we’re kind of clueless. We ask, “Why am I on the planet?” “Who am I?” “What am I here to do?” We can answer these basic human questions by achieving coherence.
At exactly the place you’re talking about, Javi, when we get into flow states, we’re in this relaxed, focused attitude where a lot of interesting things—neurochemical things—are going on. DHEA, one of the proto-hormones that’s released in the brain, is being secreted, and there’s a feeling of being present, being at peace, being joyful, and being very connected to reality all at the same time. It’s not a dissociative state; you’re right there and present. At this level of coherence and this level of flow, we can do exceptional things. We perform in exceptional ways, whether it’s in our relationship with our husband, wife, or children, playing music or creating new ideas and pathways, or being a creative cook. These extraordinary levels of capacity are just the best thing ever—better than drugs, better than this, better than that.
Javi: Yes. I use the term “belaxation” to describe the state that you’ve just described so beautifully. Belaxation is the capacity to be in a relaxed way. Basically, a state in which you appreciate the present as it is. And I’d say you even enjoy it, because it’s a really positive state. It’s a life-affirming state. And that’s what I’m trying to target with The Spark.
John: I just listened to all three tracks this morning. These are very different audio sounds than we’ve experienced before in any of our prior iAwake offerings or any that I’ve ever heard produced by anybody. Can you say a little bit about that?
Javi: Sure. My idea was to find a soundscape that was unpredictable—regular but irregular, which is very much like fractals—so as to keep the attention engaged. Normally, rain, streams, brooks, rivers, and sea waves are the kind of nature sounds that tend to be used in these kinds of products. I wanted to explore similar textures but with different sounds. This got me to The Spark, which can be understood as a track that uses sound and noise in a new way. In fact, this track uses the sound of sparklers, which is a completely man-made thing.
John: What qualities can people look forward to who are using this particular track?
Javi: Well, there are three versions of The Spark. The first two are about 15 minutes long, and the third version is about half an hour. The three of them contain a bilateral stimulation protocol that is inspired by the kind of stimulation used in EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)—a reprocessing therapy in which you get visual, auditory, or tactile input that is moving from left to right, and a button allows you to go back to whatever you need to release or heal. Basically what I did was to incorporate some of the excursion rates used with this kind of therapy into sound, so that the three tracks have a prominent layer of bilateral stimulation in which the sound clearly goes from one ear to the other, all the time.
I did this because these bilateral stimulation protocols are known to balance the frontal regions of the brain, which has a brightening effect on the brain, and they also help with emotional regulation. For example, you could use The Spark at a very low volume in order to have a cognitive improvement kind of experience (brain brightening), and just have it on while you work, read, write, organize your day, or do any type of creative work.
You could also listen to The Spark at a medium to the highest comfortable volume in order to have a more immersive kind of experience, in which you can either just meditate (as you usually do with these types of products) or do a session of emotional release where you focus your attention on the moving sounds until you get the same effect that you would get with EMDR therapy. Your anxiety decreases as you distance yourself from whatever is worrying you. Some people use these kinds of therapies when they have a phobia, in order to think about their phobia in a very relaxed state. This breaks up the connection between whatever creates the phobia and the physiological effects that the phobia has on you.
John: Exactly. And of course in this case, you don’t need a therapist. In other words, if you’re working with a therapist who is an experienced EMDR practitioner, well that requires you to be there with the therapist. But when you go home, that support is no longer there. As with all the iAwake products, The Spark is portable. You can put it in your smartphone, your iPod, or whatever device you’re using. Bam! There you have it. You can use it every day.
Javi: Definitely. You go home and rather than forgetting about it until the next session, you just put your headphones on and continue working.
The bilateral stimulation layer that The Spark has going on all the time can anchor your attention as well. If you want to use the track for meditation, you can always choose any sounds in the soundscape to meditate on; or you can just put your attention somewhere else if you need to, on any part of your body, for example; or do any type of meditation that you like—it doesn’t matter. The nice thing about this is that if you focus your attention on various sounds that are quite prominent in The Spark, this should help you get into the “belaxed” kind of state that we talked about before.
John: When you’re doing inner work in this relaxed state, all kinds of things can be released: impressions from the last 24 hours, traumas from the past, even things that you have accumulated over a lifetime. It is in this type of aware and relaxed state that the work really gets done somatically. This is extremely important if you’re going to be an awake, alive human being.
Javi: The other fundamental layer—and there are a couple more—is noise. What I’m doing here is using both recorded and more organic kinds of noise. I use the noise of the sparklers themselves and also the impulse noise that you get from fireplaces—those little explosions and crackly kind of noises. I’m creating this dense layer of textured, organic, and naturally recorded sounds. I suppose most people have heard about white noise—what I’m doing is taking layers of white noise and redesigning sonically how the relationship between their various frequencies and intensities works, so that they reflect the Golden Mean. The Golden Mean is a fascinating concept that I understand more or less as being the main energy signature of harmony.
I also use sub-threshold harmonics, which are tones that are mixed underneath the whole-texture sounds. They are always moving up and down between our levels of subliminal and conscious hearing. I use sine waves, which are the building blocks of sound, with a specific tone that I put really, really low in the mix, so you can’t quite hear them, but they affect your attention—especially in relation to how you do your cognitive tasks.
John: So, is this going to be a more stimulating meditation?
Javi: Yes. In The Spark I’m trying to create a feeling of relaxation, but the kind of relaxation that is non-drowsy—relaxed, but you’re really sharp and alert at the same time. It’s like an open focus. If it was a photograph, it would be a wide angle shot. There’s readiness about the state as well.
Before I forget, I think you will enjoy hearing about the other layers of sound in The Spark quite a lot. My idea was to find the most organic sonic image of sparklers possible—not just the recordings that I could make with the gear in my studio, which were very good already, but something way beyond that. So I got hold of a pair of amazingly well designed, matched microphones that a guy makes by hand… He’s got an amazing site. It’s called mynoise.net. These microphones are really, really tiny, so I could hang them in my ears and do what’s called binaural recording. This doesn’t have anything to do with binaural beats—it’s a 3D sound technique based on sound localization in which you try to recreate how sound arrives in our ears in order to capture a more realistic sound image.
Imagine I am talking to you while standing on your left. The sound will obviously reach your left ear before the right, and there will be time and frequency differences, a head in between, etc. For this recording method, people normally use dummy heads and put microphones on them to mimic the conditions of real hearing. I used my own head, which is quite dummy. (Both laugh). So I’ve got my own dummy head on top of my shoulders all the time… (laughs), and what I did was hang the microphones over my ears and get as close as I could to the sparkler sounds, recording various layers of sparklers in that way so the soundscape is as 3D as possible.
John: This is just fascinating to me. I hope that everyone can sense the meticulous work, the thought, and the really cutting edge of science and art that goes into creating these tracks.
Javi: Thank you. As you can imagine, I’m so thankful for being able to do all of this and so inspired as well.
Pam: I’ve got some practical questions for you, Javi. Is there what we call binaural beats or brainwave entrainment in The Spark?
Javi: No, there isn’t. I’m not using any of the traditional brainwave entrainment techniques such as binaural beats, monaurals, or isochronics.
Pam: I think it’s stunning what you’re developing with just your musical knowledge and spiritual knowledge.
Javi: Thanks a lot, Pam. I wanted to create a tangible enough experience without using any of the technologies that are normally used, solely based on sound. Not because I have any problems with them—I am so thankful for them—but just because I thought maybe it was possible to recreate all that stuff I explained at the beginning of the chat, about how certain sounds, patterns, and textures seem to take you beyond the aesthetic experience, turning your attention inwards into something that could be called spiritual.
John: Javi, are headphones necessary when you’re listening to The Spark?
Javi: Well, headphones will definitely improve the experience, but you can also not use them. In fact, some people are finding it quite beneficial to use these tracks to mask external noise. You can put on The Spark and find the volume that masks whatever sound you don’t want to hear. However, with headphones it will definitely have much more impact, because, for example, the binaural recording quality is only noticeable with headphones. The bilateral stimulation will work better with headphones than without, too. Everything else will work with speakers equally well.
John: Okay, awesome. Javi, I’ve had a great time. Thank you so much for what you’re doing. It’s really extraordinary. Very inspiring.
Javi: The really important thing is that The Spark helps people. I’ve designed it so that hopefully it helps in a few different scenarios. Meditation is amazingly important, but for most people it only happens a fraction of the time. My hope is that this track can serve people in certain situations that they might go through, in a way that they learn something that they can then apply during the rest of the day.
John: Beautiful, Javi. Here’s a big hug across the Atlantic and across the internet. Thank you so much for what you’re contributing. You’re such an elegant writer and speaker, too. It’s a joy to work with you.
Listen to The Spark 5-Minute Demo (best if listened with headphones)
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Javi Otero is iAwake’s Chief Technology Officer and is introducing new and experimental entrainment protocols developed through his ongoing research on further harnessing the power of sound energy. He also offers experiential support with iAwake products, sound technology expertise, and sometimes lends his lyrical hand at writing for iAwake.
Photography by Javi Otero
Adapted from iAwake Technologies’ free, weekly teleconference call on February 18, 2015.
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