So, will it magically fill you with overflowing happiness as soon as you press the PLAY button?
Centerpointe Research Institute, which created and sells the Holosync solution, uses exaggerated claims and unrealistic expectations to sell their product. This is not necessarily as evil as it sounds. I may post another entry on why. Let us just assume for now that for the intended target group, there may be a strong placebo effect in addition to the actual physiological effect.
I don’t expect that target group to read this blog, although you never know in this age of Google. But I will angle this at the more rational reader, who does not expect miracles. How much CAN we expect from HoloSync, then? And why?
I have used the product in some form or another for over a month now. But in the beginning I had only MP3 copies, which are less effective since MP3 is a “lossy” format, it has less detail than the audio format used on CDs, so some of the very precise sound pulses will get lost. You may still get an idea of how it works, but don’t be smart and save the money by downloading MP3 files instead of buying.
Centerpointe rushed their demo CD to me (they rush almost everything, it seems) and so I started to use that. They admit on the CD that it is not “industrial strength” – in fact, Harris uses that exact phrase – but again it gives an impression. I used this day after day until the actual product arrived on March 9, then switched over. Since then I have used the Dive, which moves gradually through alpha, theta and delta waves over the course of 30 minutes. It is not yet time to use the next track, Immersion, that is designed to keep one in delta (deep sleep like) for another 30 minutes. I have however used the Dive an extra time in the morning the last few days to compensate for lack of sleep.
So, does it compensate for lack of sleep? Not really, or not completely. Specifically, dream sleep is much more than theta waves, although they may be responsible for some of the effects of REM sleep (theta seems to be the natural rhythm of the hippocampus, the “index” of our long-term memory). I have only the briefest of dream-like flashes when using artificial theta. It is an entirely different experience, despite the theta waves. This should surprise no one. We are basically hacking the brain here. The binaural beat creates a standing wave, and it is synchronized in both hemispheres, but that does not mean it completely fills those hemispheres. It can be suppressed easily by opening my eyes and looking around, or just moving in my chair, or even by thoughts and feelings. During sleep, there is a mechanism that switches out such distractions, giving the REM sleep full reign of the brain. Well, almost. There is always some kind of gatekeeper that will try to rouse us in case of danger, but it takes very little mental space.
I am sure I can become better at accommodating the altered states, with practice. There are also differences among people in how they use their brain. But we are definitely hacking here. We are introducing a particular pattern of brainwaves that merely emulates those that arise naturally. Some differences from the real thing should be expected. Instead it is reasonable to compare it to simply going about life without the brain hacking. And compared to that, there is clearly a difference.
Getting up in the morning is noticeably easier when I know I can slip into my chair and do a Holosync Dive. The Dive goes slowly through the whole range of frequencies from beta to alpha to theta to delta, and seems to clear out the fog that tends to prevail when I normally wake up. (I believe it is alpha, it certainly feels like alpha. When I wake up, I have this relaxed awareness without volition, much like when meditating. I am aware that I have to get up and do the various things needed before going to work, but I don’t really feel that it concerns me. Well, the Dive clears out that.)
Another use is to reduce the pain and excess mucus production from my sinuses after work. These things tend to grow worse over the course of the workday, but half an hour of Dive when I get home makes me feel a lot better. Of course so does a long nap, but it is hard to time a nap well. It is hard to make it long enough to have biological effects and not go into full sleep mode.
Another side of the coin (or is it a die? It seems to have too many sides for a coin) is the actual feeling or experience. Harris frequently talks about how most people find the Holosync sessions pleasurable, a pleasant buzz, feel good, look forward to them etc. I can’t say I’ve noticed any of that. There are points during the Dive when the sound effects make me dizzy for a moment. I guess people may like that. I don’t take pleasure from alcohol either – it has no effects on me until they point where I start to get a headache and queasiness / diarrhea. So this may well say more about me than Holosync. And Harris does mention that some people don’t feel anything special, and a few even feel bad. (In the last case, they should talk to the hotline about it.)
In any case, Harris makes it clear that he sees the experience as the least important part. Whether you enjoy it, hate it or don’t care, the effects on the brain will continue to accumulate in any case. Your stress threshold will rise, you will be able to think with both sides of the brain instead of one at a time, and (especially) your awareness will expand so you not only notice the situation around you but also your own inner reactions, and this is the most important part, because if you can change them, you can change everything in your life eventually.
So if you are addicted to the Holosync experience, you should still not exceed 1 hour a day. (You can use the extra CDs that induce alpha and theta waves, but no excess delta please.) If it has no effect, just keep your eyes closed and think of whatever you want. And if it is unpleasant, just observe it in a detached manner, knowing that it is your own brain that conjures up the unpleasantness to resist change. Try to keep it up, and call or write their helpline if you find it too hard.
This seems like excellent advise. The esoteric traditions of the great world religions agree to not be distracted by great white lights and magical powers, but just keep breathing (or praying).
So yeah, I suppose it could happen that you would find Holosync intensely pleasurable, but I would not bet on it. Nor would I bet on it suddenly changing you into some kind of superhuman. But anyone who takes the time to set aside an hour a day to become a better person is sure to reap some reward from it, and if you can do it while cheating a little on sleep and slightly improving your health, so much the better.