When I read the booklet that came with the CDs, it says, more or less
-- get in a dark (or low-light) room
-- Make the room quiet. Turn off the TV, radio, phone, cell phone.
-- minimize distractions *laughing* That means, if you have children, duct tape them, and throw them in the closet. No, wait, they would pound on the walls and make noise. Cancel that. *still laughing* It might be easier to duct tape the kids to their Play Station 2, and lock yourself in your closet. *smiling*
In essence, isn't the Monroe Institue telling you to deprive your senses?
The point is not to deprivate yourself of senses, but to minimize the input from senses .. if you'r a beginner in meditation. Later on, like Tom suggested, you can parallel process.. that is, minimizing stimuli from senses, isn't important, because your mind learns to 'control' data streams in any state.
Reason of the point above is to gradually shutdown input from senses. It's hard to do that, if you hear/see/feel.. etc.
One needs to go inward from external to internal, through practicing meditation, one can do that, by 'ignoring/letting go' the stimuli from senses. While you'r senses are active, while your mind/brain/ego processes/analyze data that is comming through senses, meditation is hard to achieve, you need a lot of time, especially because our minds even if there's no data comming in from senses, still is trying to analyze something else. So you don't need another distraction.
So, the point of "minimizing distractions" is in fact a help for beginners to easier transcend to meditative state.
If you really 'deprivate' (like deprivation chamber) yourself of senses, in fact, you'r doing a mistake.
One needs to learn a skill of letting go of all sensory experience, not deprive itself from it.