Are these meditation CDs any good?
June 21, 2008 12:40 PM   Subscribe

Anyone here used Dr. Jeffrey Thompson's meditation/"mind system" CDs?

I see these products in the CD bin and I'm drawn to them - he does a bunch of different topics, sleep aid, meditation, mental clarity, etc. But I am a little bit paranoid about turning my subconscious over to a total stranger (one amazon review says "CD makes me feel as though someone stuck their finger in my brain and stirred it around .. I can't pinpoint what exactly feels different.")

I realize I'm probably being a little bit tinfoil-hat, but still ... has anybody here used them, and can offer up a yea or nay as to whether they're worth the time/money?
posted by jbickers to Media & Arts (12 answers total)
 
Like, for instance:

This type of CD also uses subaudible binaural beats in the soundtrack. How this works is that if a frequency of say 100 Hz goes in your left ear, and 105 Hz goes in your right ear, then both sides of your brain reconcile this by creating a third 5 Hz brainwave, which would be in the Theta range associated with creativity and a trance state. This also creates new neural pathways in the brain enabling you to access this desired state more easily in the future, and also induces synchronicity between both sides of your brain. With fifteen different levels of entrainment on this CD, you can imagine how beneficial this could be.

Is this just a bunch of hooey, or is there anything to this?
posted by jbickers at 1:22 PM on June 21, 2008


Sounds like you want to read up on binaural beats. No reason you have to pay necessarily, though... a couple of years ago I played around with going to sleep wearing headphones fed from an app that generated binaural beats under a masking layer of pink noise. Don't recall which app it was, but there appear to be several of a similar nature out there. Maybe this one?

Can't say I really noticed anything, but I didn't stick with it for long, either, since sleeping with headphones on didn't work out so well for me.
posted by mumkin at 1:41 PM on June 21, 2008


While it is true that playing two notes simultaneously will "generate" a third tone (whose frequency is determined by the difference between when played in the same medium, it is false that this could create any kind of brainwave. DTMF is a great example of this kind of "beat" frequency in the real world, but in the real world, listening to one tone in one ear and another tone in the other does not generate a beat frequency in the mind. Although it would be an interesting experiment to see if you hear the third tone (this would require a difference of more than 5 Hz, of course...).
posted by Xoder at 1:44 PM on June 21, 2008


gah, please insert a closing parenthesy after "between" and before "when" in my first paragraph.
posted by Xoder at 1:48 PM on June 21, 2008


But I am a little bit paranoid about turning my subconscious over to a total stranger ...

That line made me laugh.
posted by jayder at 1:56 PM on June 21, 2008


We use the sleep cd. I don't have problems falling or staying asleep but my husband does. He swears by it. I couldn't say whether it's really the CD working, or just his expectation that it does, though.

Never tried the others.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 2:03 PM on June 21, 2008


I've had a lot of good results with binaural beats, but not the subaudible type which work slightly better than homeopathy. Get a copy of BWgen and experiment.
posted by bunnytricks at 2:15 PM on June 21, 2008


But I am a little bit paranoid about turning my subconscious over to a total stranger ...

That line made me laugh.


Why?
posted by jbickers at 2:39 PM on June 21, 2008


This type of CD also uses subaudible binaural beats in the soundtrack. How this works is that if a frequency of say 100 Hz goes in your left ear, and 105 Hz goes in your right ear, then both sides of your brain reconcile this by creating a third 5 Hz brainwave, which would be in the Theta range associated with creativity and a trance state. This also creates new neural pathways in the brain enabling you to access this desired state more easily in the future, and also induces synchronicity between both sides of your brain. With fifteen different levels of entrainment on this CD, you can imagine how beneficial this could be.

Uh, this is a commonly used technique in audio processing to get a simple stereo chorusing, detuning or phasing-type effect, not anything that will "create new neural pathways" or put you in a trance state. Odds are you hear "subaudible binaural beats" all the time if you listen to music with any kind of electronic processing. In this case, 100 and 105Hz tones just sound bad, since 5Hz difference in that range is nearly a semitone (think playing a white key and an adjacent black key on piano, except where the upper note is noticeably flat.) 100 and 101 Hz just sound like someone has applied a chorus effect.

So, this is pretty much nonsense...
posted by advil at 6:46 PM on June 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


But I am a little bit paranoid about turning my subconscious over to a total stranger ...

That line made me laugh.

Why?


It's hard to explain. It just brought to mind that having to worry about a total stranger manipulating your subconscious is a peculiarly modern problem, one that brings to mind various comic scenarios, but despite the legions of people buying such tapes and CD's, I have never heard anyone express reservations about a total stranger manipulating their subconscious.
posted by jayder at 7:12 PM on June 21, 2008


Looking over Dr. Jeffrey Thompson's site, here are some highlights from his "Curriculum Vitae"

- Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree, 1970 Massachusetts College of The Arts, Boston, MA.

- Chinese Meridian Therapy (needles, laser, magnetic) 1972-present

- Bio-Magnetic Therapy (Certified) - Ceramic Earth Alloy / Magnetherm Polarity Therapy 1980-88

- AMI *Acupuncture Meridian Identification Certification Training, California Institute for Human Science, 1997

Without reading too much into his 'mind system', it looks too me like it's just woo. That fact that you bought the CD suggests that this may be something you are open to, but be warned it is likely not something that is supported by actual scientific evidence.

Also, as much as I like to rail against those who sell pseudoscience, I have been hypnotized before (in college, by one of those comedian/hypnotists). The most power they have is to make things seem like a really good idea for a short time. A hypnotists isn't some comic super-villain with the power to control your mind, so it's really not something to worry about.
posted by Midnight Rambler at 8:43 PM on June 21, 2008


You can try something quite similar here for free.

I had an memorable experience with the Cosmic demo, but then I hadn't yet read the predictable opinions of a bunch of "experienced" MeFite sigh-entists, either...

You can be sure that YM will V, but you do have to start the car.
posted by dpcoffin at 12:39 PM on June 22, 2008


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