This article responds to one simple statement made by those who promote brainwave entrainment technology (BET). It goes something like this: “With the touch of a button, you’ll effortlessly meditate like a monk.” That’s a pretty compelling promise. In this article, we’ll explore why that promise is false.
Before we get into what BET is and what it does, let me say that I am not writing to discredit the possible positive effects of using it. My main point is simply this—IT IS NOT MEDITATION. While BET may produce some similar brainwave frequency patterns as meditation, the process is completely different and this makes all the difference.
First, a little background on brainwave frequencies. The human brain has the capacity to operate within several different frequency ranges. Four ranges are commonly identified, though there are more. Our most common brainwave frequency ranges are the following:
Beta (13 40 cycles per second) Normal waking state when you are involved in daily tasks.
Alpha (8 13 cycles per second) Daydreaming, relaxing, creative imagination.
Theta (4 8 cycles per second) Slowdown just before sleep, deep meditation, immersed in fantasy or deep trance.
Delta (0.5 4 cycles per second) Deep sleep.
It’s important to note that at any given time your brain can exhibit several different frequencies. However, one frequency range is usually dominant.
BET is a process where an audio program is introduced, usually through headphones, to induce a specific brainwave frequency. The benefits of this can be deep relaxation, enhanced creativity, trauma release, and brain integration. Many people claim that they’ve been helped in these ways and more by using BET consistently.
Those benefits sound a lot like those received from consistent meditation practice. So, why am I taking issue with the claims comparing the two? Let’s look at how you achieve those benefits through meditation.
Meditation is a practice of focusing your attention is specific ways for a period of time. It is an active process in which you develop your natural mental capacities through your own efforts.
BET is a passive process in which you put on headphones and play an audio track. You don’t concentrate on anything. You don’t have to listen. You don’t even have to be awake. You can fall asleep and the audio will still be affecting your brain.
You can see that the two processes are completely different.
Why is this important?
In BET you are passive. Your brain reacts to the stimulus with or without your conscious participation. The technology determines what frequency your brain will resonate with and you are dependent on the technology.
In meditation you actively engage and grow your natural mind body skills. What is going on inside you, as well as your intention and skill, determine your range of brainwave frequencies and your experience. In addition, the process is informed by your inner sensing of what is happening in your mind and body. You increase inner sensitivity and self knowledge because you are tuning into it. You develop your inner skills of conscious relaxation, concentration, self observation, detachment, choosing your focal point, and being present.
Because of this skill development, meditation empowers you with the feeling that you can manage your inner state. You can positively affect your thoughts, feelings, and sensations. What happens is organic. It shifts depending on what you need, rather than being forced according to a pre determined frequency. Meditation is a natural process that moves you through a fluid variety of brainwave frequencies depending on what is best for you at that time. Through this process, you improve your inner skills and integrate your brain as you are naturally ready and able.
BET and meditation are two powerful, yet completely different, processes. I encourage you to learn more about them and what they can do for your life.