There is evidence of confusion between what AVS/entrainment can do and what you can do with AVS/entrainment.
Entrainment can do precisely four things. It can make you more focused, more aware, more dreamy or more sleepy. These things can be done unilaterally or bilaterally, leading to some useful therapies based on observations of rhythm differences in dysfunctional states, and on the idea of synchronisation.
Beyond the direct effect of entrainment, we know that certain physiological changes, notably alterations to the neurochemical balance, occur in each of the brain rhythm bands. Alpha, specifically 10Hz is associated with increased serotonin. SMR is associated with serotonin/melatonin conversion. They are robust associations – there are many more of varying usefulness. An association or correspondence is not equivalent to cause-and-effect – I doubt you will find any “proof” that says a 10Hz stimulus causes serotonin release.
Researched entrainment is almost entirely simple beat stimulus. The moment you add anything else, particularly music, you start doing other things. – check out “Music and the Brain” on iTunes. For the purposes suggested by their titles, the sample sessions included with NP3 and MWS are pretty much as good as it gets – any less fancy and they would be tedious to use, any more fancy and function gets lost in form. Everything that isn’t beat diminishes entrainment – but the reduction in raw entrainment is easily offset by advantages gained in other types of stimulus (phase/gamma) and psychological responses. Yes. I do not consider gamma entrainable or trainable – encouraging it requires a whole different strategy.
Hence my more usual use of the term “audiovisual stimulation”, which includes simple entrainment and everything else that happens when the brain engages with a sound and/or light session.
The four basic brain states are useful for different types of consciousness-driven “work”. For any outcome more specific than the basic four, a whole bunch of other connections need to be made. Every mode of meditation/contemplation recognised by every system or tradition can be accessed more readily with the assistance of AVS. Any objective that can be obtained by means of Will, can be obtained more readily with the assistance of AVS.
If there is something you want that you cannot obtain by conventional means, then there will be a way to benefit from AVS. If no more purpose is served by a session than to have stepped back and considered, then it will not be a waste of time. If the techniques of structured thought, framed by a properly sequenced session are pursued, then promises generally shrugged off as hyperbole become expectations.
So, to make my position on the matter perfectly clear…
If you wish a mood, anxiety, sleep or personality disorder to cease to be a problem, then I know how that can be done with the assistance of AVS.
If you wish to make a substance issue into a non-issue, I know how that’s done too.
If you wish to experience any of the higher or unusual states of consciousness, there’s a good chance at that too.
If you wish to be smarter (or do anything better) – AVS plus a bit of work will be effective.
What do these things have in common? They are all controlled by the individual mind and they are all under the direction of Will. “Will” seems to be much maligned. Alongside “ego” it has become sullied by the perverse consensus that anything individual (other than desire) is selfish. I’m not too bothered about “ego” – it’s a silly and unnecessary concept. “Will”, however, ranks exactly number two below my God in terms of powers I respect. I’m not talking about mindless decisions or actions here, I’m talking about those special moments when a period of consideration gives way to a perfectly clear path and the decision to act and the benefits of so doing are so compelling that Will stands unchallenged. There’s an extraordinary thing about True Will – it has a high probability of becoming Done. These special moments can be cultivated.
Unfortunately my methods suffer from a terrible problem… you’ve got to do what is suggested. (I think back to Alcoholics Anonymous – and the constant cry, “I’m not doing that one, the Steps are only suggestions.” -“suggest” needs to be understood along the lines of “I suggest you step out from in front of that approaching freight train.”)
The necessity to let go of long-held objections is an insurmountable obstacle to many. You’ve no doubt read about neuro-plasticity – well, sometimes you’ve just got to turn a whole chunk to mush and put it back together in a more useful manner.
A further complication is that it’s better not to know how what’s working works until after it has. Most of what I now know is the result of doing a whole heap of things with AVS that, based on reasonable research, seemed reasonable, and then examining closely all the factors that were involved, from AVS session design to environmental factors. Always subject to examination is my own lust for result – how much have I biased the outcome.
As I’ve already said, the basic techniques are free. Most are already fully documented on this blog. The rest will appear in due course. Beyond that I have a couple of possibilities for turning these strategies into paint-by-numbers packages. I wonder which would be best received? A standard self-help package of notes and CDs, or a Wizard based, progress tracking, AVS integrated, all-singing, all-dancing, results oriented PC program?
Such is my confidence not in what AVS can do, but what can be done with AVS.