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