Actually, I suspect an “Exercise for Mermaids” DVD would be less alien to the average reader than what I actually got. Â But at least it is surreal.
Earlier this month, I wrote about the HoloSync technology from Centerpointe Research Institute. Since hacking my brainwaves is the kind of thing I would do, I had ordered a demo CD and then the real thing. Well, the first of the real things. I also have Gnaural so I can make my own brainwave hacks once I get competent enough.
This is not an all-out endorsement. As I said on the 5th, their claims seem exaggerated and misleading, but the underlying science is real enough â€“ it just cannot possibly do all the things they want you to believe. Of course, when it comes to the human mind, believing is seeing: If people are gullible enough, they will benefit quite a bit more from it than we skeptics do. The placebo effect should not be written off easily â€“ there are documented cases where people actually react to salt water as if it were growth hormone, once they had experienced the real thing first. So letâ€™s hope that Iâ€™m more gullible than I believe, this time!
But even if not, the ability to alter my brainwaves for half an hour at a time is bound to have some effect, or at the very least be interesting. Iâ€™ve been using the demo CD since I got it. It is not â€œindustrial strengthâ€ as Harris admits in his lengthy sales pitch, but evidently it was strong enough that today was the first time I consciously heard him say that. The earlier days I fell asleep before I got that far. This is a normal side effect of slowing down oneâ€™s brain waves, of course. While not the ideal outcome, it is expected and not really a reason to worry. For each passing day, I noticed that I got further into the CD before nodding off. Today was the first time I stayed awake through all of the speech.
(Quoting the FAQ:â€œDoes it matter if I fall asleep while listening? It is a very common in the beginning to nod out while listening. The main program tracks take you into theta and delta brainwave patterns, those of sleep, and your brain is also making a lot of very relaxing neurochemicals, including endorphins. The combination can make you drift off. As you use the program and the brain begins to reorganize itself, you will gain the ability to remain alert throughout. Falling asleep is really one of the many signs that the brain is really being pushed.â€ Exaggerated as usual, no doubt, but with a kernel of truth: If it were just boredom that made me fall asleep, it would happen the fifth time rather than the first four.)
Now comes the fun part. Normally I would have been at work at this time, but we have a meeting today in some other town, two provinces east of here, and my guts did not allow me to travel that far. So I was at home during work hours, and one of the things I did was to take my daily trip through the binaural beat demo, as described above. I was coming to the second part, after the sound pattern stopped and where a string of satisfied customers were panegyrizing, when the doorbell rang.
Remember that this was around lunchtime. I was not supposed to be here. (I am not officially disabled yet â€“ in fact, apart from the day trips, I have less sick days than when I was young, thank the Light.) Why would anyone except the most brazen of burglars ring my doorbell at 11:15 on a workday? Cautious, I looked out the kitchen window and saw a mail car. I hurried and opened the door. There was a FedEx international priority package. Yes, it was from Centerpointe.
â€œPriorityâ€ may be a bit of overkill, you guys, not that I donâ€™t appreciate it. I think I would have opted for waiting a month and paying very little freight, if that were an option, but the esteemed researcher turned guru turned merchant thinks changing my life for the better must necessarily be a priority. What can I say? It is still easily affordable for a Norwegian, even one who earns only half of what is normal here.
(In contrast, the book I ordered from Amazon is expected to arrive at the end of the month, even though I ordered it weeks earlier. (Integral Life Practices, February 10th.))
Be that as it may, I now have my â€œindustrial strengthâ€ binaural beat brain entrainment CD, yay.
(Incidentally, I believe â€œentrainmentâ€ looks identical to â€œentertainmentâ€ to American readers, is that right? During my adventures with Google trying to find about more about this technology, I come across these places where random strangers comment on some article, and am mildly amused by seeing them mistake entrainment for entertainment. I read some article purporting to prove that we actually recognize words by the first and last letters and approximate length. Anyway, I guess my Neural Impulse Actuator may qualify as brainwave entertainment, but thatâ€™s another storyâ€¦)
Anyway, given that I spend only half an hour a day on this, what is the chance that the package would arrive while I was still listening to the demo? Clearly this is a case of synchronicity, of meaningful coincidences, of the universe pitching in or at least the mind interpreting it that way. And not only the same time, but the first time I stayed awake during the demo. And not only that, but at a time I should not even have been at home, as far as the world knows.
But compared to the universe being fit for life in the first place, it is a pretty small coincidence. Of course, if the universe werenâ€™t fit for life we wouldnâ€™t be here to discuss it, and if I hadnâ€™t gotten the package today I wouldnâ€™t be writing about it. And if you hadnâ€™t been alive, you wouldnâ€™t be reading this, but it is still nice to be alive, donâ€™t you think? Hopefully it will be even better after Iâ€™ve meddled with my brain waves. Uhm, presumably. Keep watching this space.