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Meditation and Brainwave Entrainment Technology

As an author of meditation programs and a meditation instructor, I’m often asked to compare the effects of brainwave entrainment technology (BET) with the effects of meditation. After all, some BET products claim to help you “meditate like a monk.” If this is true, why learn to meditate when you can just put on some headphones and allow the technology to do the work for you? One of the major BET programs claims that using their technology is “the lazy man’s way to meditate.”

Because my first response to that claim is that BET is not meditation, many people think that I am critical of BET. What I’ll do in this article is to define what each of these techniques is and what benefits can be gained from each one. The benefits of these two approaches are related, but there are some important differences.

First, let’s define what we mean by BET. Then, we’ll define meditation. From those two definitions, we’ll talk about the different benefits of each and how they compare and differ. With that information, you can decide how to best use each in your life.

Recently there has been an explosion in the availability of BET programs. What is this technology and how does it work?

I found a nice articulation of BET on Unexplainable.net. Here’s what they have to say on the most well-known of these technologies called binaural beats:

“Binaural Beats work by broadcasting two separate frequencies in each ear. For example, if you wanted to tune your brain to a 7 Hz frequency, you could play 200 Hz in your right ear, and 207 Hz in your left ear. The brain will compensate for the difference between the two and produce a third tone that will be exactly 7 Hz. This will result in your brain frequency being raised or lowered, and tuned to the desired operating stage.”

To utilize this technology, you listen to the binaural beats technology through a set of stereo headphones. You use stereo headphones so that a different frequency can be played in each ear.

The benefits of using binaural beats include deep relaxation, release of tension, better synchronization between the two hemispheres of the brain, enhanced learning, memory, creativity, concentration, and mental clarity, stimulation of positive brain chemistry, and so on.

From this list, the benefits sound a lot like meditation—and, it’s true, these benefits are what you can expect from meditation practice. So what’s the difference?

Let’s look at a definition of meditation. Meditation is consciously focusing your attention for a period of time. Different meditations have different objects of focus. These include, but are not limited to, your breathing, a specific area, energy center, or pathway in your body, present moment awareness, a specific emotional state, and creative visualizations. What is common to any meditative practice is consciously and actively focusing your attention.

In contrast with BET which is passive stimulation, meditation is an active process and a skill that you can develop. In fact, you develop many different skills of consciousness through meditation. The basic technique of meditation is a four-part skill. Because it is a skill, it is something that you get better at through consistent practice over time. The four steps are these:

1. You focus on your meditation cue(s).

2. You recognize when your mind has wandered from its focus.

3. You release the thoughts, emotions, images, or sensations that grabbed your attention .

4. You return to your focus.

By following these steps you develop the following internal skills of being able to:

• observe yourself and your inner physical, emotional, and mental processes without judgment,

• actively relax,

• breathe deeply,

• align your posture,

• release negative emotions,

• generate positive feelings,

• focus and clear your mind, and

• be aware of awareness itself, or become aware of yourself as pure consciousness.

You develop these inner skills in a natural and holistic way, as your body is ready and able. Because you are using your natural abilities and focusing on cues in your own body, heart, mind, and spirit, the process unfolds as your system is ready to expand. Because of this, the process proceeds safely at the right pace and timing. You release subconscious tensions, heal wounds, and expand your awareness and ability as you are able to handle these things. The whole process is guided by a higher wisdom within you. Meditation develops your discernment of this inner guidance.

Like any set of skills, meditation does take time, practice, and effort. It also gives you rewards and benefits that you cannot get without those efforts and the development of those skills.

Finally, when you cultivate the skills of meditation, it is empowering. You know that you can do this at any time because you’ve learned how to do it yourself. You have gained a level of mastery in the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of your being. You can take these skills and apply them to anything that you desire to express, grow, and create in your life.

So how do you choose between using meditation and using BET? First, I suggest that you follow your inner guidance and see what you are drawn to. Second, you can certainly use both systems, but I suggest not using them at the same time. They can feed each other, but they may compete if you do them both at once. Because of your internal needs on a particular day, your brain may be heading in one direction through the natural process of meditation and it may be entrained in another way by the predetermined BET frequency. So, if you decide to use both systems, use them separately.

Finally, understand what you want to get from your practice time, so that you can choose what is most appropriate to your needs and goals.

Are You Ready To Discover The Benefits Of Meditation For Yourself? In the next few minutes, I’ll show you a simple meditation technique you can use to instantly release ANY unwanted thought feeling or belief. If your health and well being are important to you, click here to get started now.

Copyright 2009 by Kevin Schoeninger

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8 Responses to “Meditation and Brainwave Entrainment Technology”

  1. Kevin,

    An interesting article, but I’d have to disagree on your fundamental argument; namely that meditation and BET should be kept distinct and separate.

    I’ve been a student of meditation and a user of various BET products for just over a couple of years now. Whilst I’m by no means an expert at meditation, I wholeheartedly disagree with you:

    I’ve found that BET has significantly helped me to meditate more effectively. I could compare BET to the training wheels on a bicycle; whilst they are on, you are not actually learning to balance, but you are getting to grips with the basic mechanics of riding a bike. When you take the stabilisers off, you’re in a much better position to take your skill to the next level.

    Similarly, when you use BET to take your brain down in frequency, you’re giving it a sneak peak of what meditation is actually like. When you then try meditation without BET, your brain has a rough idea of what you’re aiming for, and it is easier to remain focussed and calm and to meditate effectively.

    You say BET is “passive”, but as you know this is purely up to the individual. Whilst sometimes I allow my mind to wander and visualise when using BET, often I prefer to focus on silence, or on my breathing – which is how I’ve been taught to meditate. The result? A deep sense of inner peace and connectedness, heightened and quickened by BET.

    I’ve personally found that Isochronic Tones are better for meditating than binaural beats, particularly when coupled with “meditation music”. Click on my link to find out the difference between the two.

    PS – Kevin – it’s a really interesting article, however I feel that it is potentially misleading. BET has helped me and countless others to bridge the challenging gap to meditation. You may see this as “cheating”, but if it has such a magnificent impact on such a wide range of people, and inspires them to learn how to meditate, surely this is a win / win?!

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  2. Chris Cade says:

    I really enjoyed this article, Kevin… probably because I use both concentration meditation practice, as well as brainwave entrainment in my practices. Sometimes, like Carl, I use them simultaneously and find them to be of great benefit. Sometimes I use them separately also to be of great benefit.

    Like you say, I would encourage people to consider both approaches in their respective roles, and for what they are most effective at. There really is no replacement for the skills developed by a concentrated meditation practice, yet at the same time, I love the ability for brainwave entrainment to help take me to the ‘next level’ quickly in regards to personal development topics or just getting my brain into a certain state of consciousness quickly.

    And there really is nothing like the experience of a *really good* brainwave entrainment visual guided meditation… The Monroe Institute does some amazing stuff with their Gateway Voyage program.

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  3. Deb Moon says:

    Hi Guys, I have experimented with a few of these types of brain training..I have some weird hard wiring and sometimes some of these bring up too much too quickly..so I am on the slow path and I am using the initial sample you sent as it doesn’t send me crazy..I am a highly trained spiritual guidance councellor and trance medium..I have worked in this industry for over 25 years..I am also a qualified hypnotherapist and psychotherapist….it’s the ol saying..’physician heal thyself’ for me and I appreciate the gentle approach..I find this effective and calming and a great service to those of us who practice patience and gratitude towards our own healing and in turn pass it on to others so they may heal too….Thank you so much for the helping hand along this sometimes confusing and painful journey…all the best to you all and please keep up the kindness, willingness and good cheer…..Debs

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  4. Nyakio says:

    Cool stuff never used BET,I will try if the results are that good but I do meditate & it has brought me thus far…thank you for the info.

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  5. graham says:

    Interesting article but i feel a little misleading. I have meditated for 30 years, the last 8 years with zazen. I have attended many retreats and meditate twice a day, so quite established in my practice, though some might say just beginning.

    It is from this background that i came across brain entrainment, through one of the major exponents on the internet, however i didnt go with that one, although, as you said i could have been meditating like a zen monk in a month. The fact was i felt i already was :) I did further research and found other technologies far cheaper that utilized isochronic and monaural beats as well as binaural. The former two mentioned, do not require headphones. I have used this approach inline with meditation for 12 months now and found my practice and motivation have improved dramatically even when i dont use BET.

    The site that i used stresses the importance of meditation and also offer, totally free of charge a downloadable meditation course for beginners and practitioners that is second to none. The forum is amazing with contributions from knowlegeable/self realized individuals who contribute freely based on what i perceive as the bodhisattva principle of helping others. This sounds like a plug but i can assure you i have no connection other than through being an extremely satisfied customer of Project Meditation(not sure if youll allow that :)

    To finish on i would like to make the point that the present interest in meditation and the development of consciousness goes far beyond the individuals disatisfaction with life as it is, it is imperative that we change otherwise the planet will not survive.

    A question…arent church bells, temple gongs, rosary beads, chanting, singing hymns all forms of entrainment ? BET to me seems to be the next logical step in speeding up as a matter of urgency the evolution of consciousness.


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  6. Hi to all,
    Great comments on my article above. I appreciate the discussion.

    Let me re-emphasize my main point, which is to get clear on what each tool/technique does/is good for. My point is not to put down BET. My point is to be clear on what it does and to compare and contrast that with meditation. Both have value, as has been described by the article and the comments above.

    One thing that I would like to bring into even greater clarity is that different BET programs have different effects and different meditations have different effects. For instance, one of the meditations that I teach, Core Energy Meditation, leads through six different states of consciousness: relaxed inner body, core heart feeling, focused clear mind, coherence of body-heart-mind, awareness of Awareness itself, and whole body inner space.

    It is not common for sales approaches to differentiate at this level. Most often we come across claims that this or that will “do everything for you.”

    So, to include, I hope this article and this discussion help us each to be more discerning about the various states of consciousness that are possible and to use tools specific to what we desire to create in our lives.

    BET and meditation can be good tools with some similar effects and some major differences.

    Enjoy your practice,

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  7. freeman steve says:

    Thanks for the article Kevin, I appreciate the fact you give out your opinions with no monetary value attached to it.

    Now it is time for me to give my opinion :p

    I feel the natural meditation practice to be much more fulfilling and down right unmatchable no matter how much more effective any kind of BET may seem to be, whether it be man made music, beats, anything burned to a cd or audible via headphones.
    The only source of BET (if you can even call it that) I would recommend would be meditating next to a waterfall, in a rainstorm, or next to a beach. These natural tones uplift me to a much higher level of meditating compared to BET’s.
    I used to use Holosync by Bill Harris, and even though I respect Bill and loved his book ‘Thresholds of the mind’ I couldnt help but feel like a target for him to suck money from.. I stopped using Holosync 8 months ago, and I still from time to time receieve offers to buy more crap lol.

    Anywho, since I gave up on the recorded BET’s I have felt more in touch with myself and for the people who do use the BET’s I cant help but feel your taking the easy way out (lazy man/woman) and are not going to get the full benefits to what you seek.

    Oh an one more thing, if Graham ever does read this, I would like the link to this forum you speak of, or if the owner of the site reads this, maybe you could relay the message? I will leave my email address in case.

    I will also add, the first time I learned to ride a bike, it was without training wheels. I guess I am just the kinda fellow who jumps rite into it.



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  8. AdminCyndi says:

    Hey Steve :-)

    Just wanted to let you know that I forwarded your comment to Graham

    Sending Joy

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