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OUR BLOG

15
Sep

Neurofeedback Staycation

If you deserve a luxurious spa vacation this summer in an exotic destination, where sand tickles your toes, and the sun rejuvenates your soul, but in an honest reckoning with your Silicon Valley grind, don’t see it on the horizon, please read this article. There are many ways that you can get that fresh spa glow without all the fuss and stress of travel. Biofeedback professionals have given this time proven intervention a facelift by merging the field with the power of technology, to make the deep meditative state we all crave, affordable and accessible.

Eastern biofeedback systems have been around for millennia with such practices as yoga and pranayama (breathing techniques) where one practices mindfulness, breath control and staying in the present.  Western biofeedback came onto the scene in the mid-1800s when scientists discovered that we are able to control our physiological processes, such as heart rate and breathing, and had data to prove it. Neurofeedback is a type of biofeedback that arrived in 1924, when a German scientist, Hans Berger, connected 2 sensors, round metal discs, to a patient’s scalp and was able to read the electrical current that was being generated by the firing of the brain’s nerves. Neurofeedback became popularized in the late 60s by Barbara Brown who published New Mind New Body which introduced her ideas about brainwave self-regulation. Scientists were interested in learning about alpha brainwaves; they are a calm meditative state where the mind is clear, present, and available. Theta is a deeper meditative state where we are able to sit close to the collective unconscious. Alpha and theta are obviously desirable brain states, when we are in need to rejuvenate, relax, and reflect.  It is especially interesting for therapists who are working with folks who are stressed out, can’t sleep, or struggle with symptoms of trauma, such as anxiety and depression.

There is a new buzz of interest in biofeedback and neurofeedback which is in part due to merging modern technology with these age-old practices. Computers are able to process the biometrics such as heart rhythms or brainwaves, at lightning fast speeds, and by using advanced software algorithms; the client is provided feedback through a popular medium – computer games.  Biofeedback strengthens the ability to achieve a calm or meditative state more readily. In session, the client wears a bio-sensor such as a finger sleeve monitor to read heart rhythm or sensors to read brainwaves. (Please note: nothing is being transmitted to the body or mind) The client watches a calming computer game environment, such as flying over mountains, walking in the woods, or flying a spaceship. When the user is in a meditative state, the image on the computer screen is bright, clear, and moving swiftly. If the user is out of range, or somehow dysregulated, the computer image is dull, hazy, and moving slowly. It is so interesting how quickly the brain and heart adjusts to “win” or make the image run more smoothly.

There are many biofeedback products and systems on the market; I am most familiar with Wild Divine and Othmer Method Neurofeedback.  Wild Divine provides feedback for “bio rhythms” by wearing a finger sleeve monitor. The idea is to help gain control of your breath and heart rhythms to maintain an aware state and decrease stress. The games can be downloaded onto your home computer and does not need to be used in connection with a professional. The system costs about $350 dollars for the sensor and five games. For more information visit their website at www.wilddivine.com The user is able to practice in the comfort of their home and most experience it to be relaxing and rejuvenating.  Check out their website or contact them for more information www.wilddivine.com.

Othmer Method Neurofeedback requires a trained professional to facilitate. This typically takes place in the provider’s office, although some practitioners may be able to come to the home. One of their training games is called “Synchrony”. The brainwaves are rewarded when the two training sites (placement of the sensors) are showing synchronous activity. Most people report a greater sense of healthy relaxation, “being in the flow”, or like they had a nice day at the beach.  Another program is called Alpha – Theta which cycles the user through Alpha states (meditative) and then Theta (deep meditation). This can help to excavate deep seated themes or issues that sit next to the collective unconscious and bring them to more awareness as the user moves towards Alpha. This program can be used to help resolve old wounds or issues which can ultimately help the user find safety and a sense of wellbeing in the present.  Neurofeedback can be a powerful tool in finding a long term solution to feeling a greater sense of wellness and calm. It does take at minimum of 20 sessions to show solidified gains which equates to the expense of taking a geographic vacation.  To find an Othmer Method Provider or to learn more, please go to their website www.eeginfo.com and click on the tab “find a provider”.

I hope this has piqued your interest in finding out more about biofeedback and giving it a try next time you are limited to a staycation. I think you will like the potential to find long lasting results by using biofeedback which might ultimately be more useful than rummaging through postcards and scenic pictures as you reminisce.

NeuroCycles Wellness Center and Emotional Awareness Institute (a nonprofit organization) are available for further information. Call us at 408­353­9970 or explore our website at www.neurocycles.com or www.emotionalawarenessinstitute.org.

Interested in learning more? Please call us at 408 353 9970 to register for our upcoming Summer Workshop Series “Stress Less” .  Workshop dates are June 18, 25; July 9, 16, 23, 30.   

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