Thursday, August 14, 2008

Electronic Auto Meditation, it's good for ya: review centerpointe holosync meditation cds

I've been asked a few times now about Centerpointe's meditation CD's - what i thought of them, how they seem to work or not and are they worth the cost. So this is a light touch review of Centerpointe Holosync Audio Meditation Series.

The premise of the disks is that a big chunk of meditation is getting the brain into a meditative state - and that when folks measure meditators, what they see in their brain state are slow theta brain waves. Usually, these states take years to learn how to accomplish. The approach used by centerpointe, based on decades of research in this space, can be flipped on automatically. And it can. Really - it's almost like electrical muscle stimulation, but with the brain via audio cues.

So why would an athlete - or anyone working out - care about electronically induced meditative states?

Here's what i wrote about them awhile ago when i first encountered this approach:

One of the reasons i like the kettlebell approach to fitness is that it focuses almost as much on recovery as it does on the workouts themselves: don't recover properly, you effectively shoot yourself in the foot. While the P90X program, for instance, strongly encourages the use of its recovery drink after workouts, not much is said about rest/sleep where muscle building and healing takes place.

A tip i've heard repeatedly from strength trainers is the sooner after a workout you can get real rest/sleep, the better.

It's not always possible to catch a nap for 30+ minutes of deep sleep right after a workout. About a month ago, Mike Mahler pointed to Centerpointe's Meditation CD's. Their approach is to induce deeper brainwaves, getting down to deep sleep brainwaves (theta), by using a version on binaural beats. This beat approach to induce altered brainwave states is something colleagues of mine have used for studying knowledge acquisition, so it's not bogus: you can find papers about the approach. I've been trying it for about a month, just to boost the restoration phase because i travel alot and sleep is frequently disrupted.

I leave it for you to explore their site about all the great things this approach does for building new neural pathways.

My main interest is extra time in that optimal rest state for recovery/restoration as soon after a workout as possible. I'm not sure if the technique has been evaluated for muscle restoration, but i'm going to watch this approach for a few more months and see how it goes - that's why this part of the entry is an "aside" - early days yet, but because Mahler recommended it, it's worth a try. Worst case scenario, according to Centerpointe's research on participant effects: i become a better, more adjusted, creative, highly balanced person.

That was almost a year ago - i did indeed continue to use this approach. Now this is interesting: the approach is designed to start at one frequency and then keep going with lower frequencies to induce deeper brain waves, so over a several year period you could work through 12 levels.

Here's the thing: when you're doing it - at least when i'm listening to these disks - i don't necessarily feel any different than not. But then, think about it: when we're asleep, do we feel "gee whiz i'm getting some deep rest" - the effect seems to be after the fact: am i feeling more centered, ready to get going.

Interesting to me, i also experienced some of the personally unsettling effects that the producers of this material suggest is possible. I won't go into why that happens, but as with regular mediation, the deeper a person goes into themselves, the more they may have to confront.

Also, as with meditation, or a workout, regular practice is pretty important for most benefit. That said, i use the Level 1 disks sometimes not as designed: that is, rather than just sit up and listen via the headphones (has to be heard on headphones to get the beats), i will sometimes work on my computer while listening - that doesn't let you get as deep, but it feels good. I haven't rigged up an EEG yet to see what that does to the depth of the wave patterns but will be doing that in the coming months.

So, yes, i think these are a super cheap way (cheap as in, i don't need to spend a decade in a monastery to be able to achieve this wave pattern on my own) to get into a deep delta brain state for restoration.

Now, you can generate your own beats tracks: it's simply setting two frequencies, one in each ear that is off by sufficient hz such that the low frequency is the result. The thing is, however, centerpointe does a very good job of making these beat tracks, that are also covered with a decent meditaty sound track.

As you go up the levels, Centerpointe will also add subliminal messages in your own voice - positive affirmations - to these tracks - so you're getting "irradiated" by meditation.

I don't know the research in subliminal audio like i do on the beats side, so i'm reserving judgement about the effectiveness of this part of the program: you don't have to get these tracks made.

Let me reinforce that the first set of disks, the Awakening Prologue is good. If you use it regularly, you'll likely want to move to Level 1 within about 4-6 months.

Since starting with these beats, i don't always use them post a workout, but anytime during a day i can grab 30mins (or an hour). Being in transit, on a crowded train, is a perfect time for this: i'm sitting up - which is the recommended position - i have some great in-ear monitors, and i am zenning while all around is in cell phone turmoil.

Heal Heal Heal your CNS; assist body recovery; auto-meditate.

You can check this stuff out for free: click on this link to centerpointe or the swishy image below, and you can get a free disk that will give you a flavour of the beats experience.

Let me know what you think.


sky3vil said...

would you please review imusic's fitdrive....

Richard Chignell said...

Hi MC,

I don't know how i missed this.

Are you still using the CD's?

You said "I haven't rigged up an EEG yet to see what that does to the depth of the wave patterns but will be doing that in the coming months" - did you?

Would you recommend this for recovering from running? Half an hour of CD induced chilling post daily run and weekend long runs - good for the ultra runner?



dr. m.c. said...

Richard, all i can say is that it's a good experience for a recharge post a workout. My guess is that it doesn't matter too much whether this is a heavy day kb workout or a long run.

The thing is if you do get these, you must make sure that if you put the tracks on your ipod you use lossless conversion like aiff to do it.


jeff b said...

I bought some holosync cds a while back because I thought I was going to be some zen monk. I liked them fine, but I couldn't stay awake for them - that was okay because I liked the nap. What was funny is that I would often remember weird dreams from the night before when I going in or out of the sleep. I guess it was because my brain waves were at the same state as when I had the dreams.


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