Tale of Self Discovery Part 5
History of Dr. Hardt's Work In Brain Wave Feedback
Part 5 - continued from part 4
[Published in Megabrain Reports, May, 1994, edited for the web]
James V. Hardt, Ph.D.
The Biocybernaut Institute
At the beginning of my professional career, I recognized the
importance of making this central vs. peripheral distinction. This recognition
occurred for me in 1968 during a deep transpersonal experience triggered by a
lengthy session of personal training in Alpha feedback. This awakening
experience is described above and in my 1975 paper, "Pathways of the Mind: In
the Master's Footsteps with Technology ".
"This experience was so profound that I have dedicated my
entire professional life to the quest of creating the technology to most
effectively transmit this experience to others, and studying this process
scientifically so that it can be understood, so that it can be evaluated as to
suitability of methods and the range of benefit outcomes, and so that it can be
ultimately accepted by the professional scientific communities. This quest led
me on a course, over the last 25 years, to first establish that
individuals do have an innate ability to control their own brain waves
(contrary to the "conventional thought "), and then secondly to develop
and to optimize a technology and methodology with which to obtain the profound
and wide ranging benefits which result from voluntary control of central
nervous system activity.
Prompted by my original experience, I studied from
1968-1970, as a graduate student, conducting extensive literature reviews and
searches and reading and absorbing everything available in the prior history of
research on brain waves, including Hans Berger's original papers in German.
Out of this study I developed a deep understanding of the natural reactivity of
the brain waves (electroencephalogram or EEG) to various sensory stimulations,
an area known as psychophysics. Because of my undergraduate background in
physics, I recognized that competence in the design of EEG feedback equipment
required, at a bare minimum, mastery of this classical literature in the
psychophysics of the EEG.
Aided by this knowledge, from 1971-1973 I constructed and
tested EEG feedback equipment as well as designed formal academic research
trials of the Alpha/anxiety relationship, and conducted a series of single
blind research studies at Carnegie-Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA) and at
the world renowned Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute of the University of
California at San Francisco Medical Center. In 1971 I received an NIMH
pre-doctoral fellowship, which enabled me to leave Carnegie-Mellon in
Pittsburgh and move to San Francisco to study at the Langley Porter laboratory
of Dr. Joe Kamiya.
These studies initiated the construction of a large
multi-parameter psychophysiological data base, which has been of extraordinary
value, and from which I have written numerous scientific papers. In those
pioneering early years, data analysis was quite a challenge. At that time
there were no computers on the West Coast which had Analysis of Covariance
programs for multiple groups with repeated measures, so I undertook to write
one for the Kamiya lab's DEC PDP-15 minicomputer. I verified my ANACOVA
computer program by comparing its results with a hand analysis, done on an
HP-35 pocket calculator. I then used the resulting ANACOVA program (yes, with
the epsilon correction added) to confirm that Alpha trainees could
significantly increase their Alpha scores over time. The whole process was
something like selecting the seeds to grow the trees from which mill the lumber
with which to build a ship with which to voyage into discovery.
In 1974 I published a report which established that
successful replication of learning in brain wave training studies was dependent
upon how Alpha activity was quantified and fed back to the trainee. This
pioneer work was the first to recognize that the Alpha enhancement failures
being published by other Alpha researchers of that era all employed a percent
time feedback and measurement technique. On the other hand, the small number
of successful reports of positive learning results typically used amplitude
integration for scoring and feedback. In spite of the publication of this
finding in the charter issue (1976) of Biofeedback and Self Regulation,
many researchers attempting brain wave training today still do not see the
implications of this finding, if they know of it at all.
Without utilization of amplitude integration for scores and
feedback signals, the effectiveness of the training is greatly reduced, and the
ability to standardize protocols with predictive outcomes becomes very doubtful
and open to question. Even the ability to report meaningful data, which can be
compared between different subjects, or between different days of training for
the same subject, is impossible with percent time measures. Percent
time measures are like a rubber ruler in that they suffer from both ceiling and
floor effects and they also suffer from gauge variance. This 1976 report
was the first major study to emphasize the need for highly definitive protocols
and measurement techniques which were both accurate and precise in order to
achieve predictable and effective results.
From 1974-1979 I wrote extensively for the scientific
literature, publishing my research findings to put them on a solid scientific
foundation. In addition to book chapters and specialty journals such as
Biofeedback and Self-Regulation, Yoga Journal, and Nous
Letter: Studies in Noetics, I published in the most respected and
conservative scientific journals including Journal of Experimental
Psychology, Psychophysiology, and Science.
It was in 1978 that I published a landmark study in
Science (7/7/78), which linked Alpha increases with reductions of both
trait anxiety and state anxiety. This study subsumed previous negative reports
on this topic as special cases of low anxiety subjects, which were shown to be
irrelevant to the treatment of high anxiety people.
Even more importantly, this was the first report in a world
class scientific journal that personality traits were linked [possibly causally
linked] with brain wave activity. I had previously published (in 1976) on the
correlation of changes in the MMPI's clinical scales with changes in EEG Alpha
activity at three different locations on the head. But this paper was
published first in a conference Proceedings and was then abstracted in a
specialty journal (Biofeedback and Self-Regulation), so that little or
no attention was paid to this finding by the Psychiatric and Psychological
However, when this report appeared in Science in
1978 showing both that people could learn to increase their Alpha brain waves
with EEG feedback training, AND that such learned Alpha increases resulted in
significant decreases in both State and Trait Anxiety, the scientific
establishment was put on notice of a new paradigm for medical and psychological
research. It would still be more than 11 years before Peniston and
Kulkosky (1989) would publish what is considered to be their landmark study,
which confirmed my 1976 and 1978 reports of personality changes following
learned control of EEG activity with EEG feedback, and added the report that
alcohol addiction was effectively treated (80% success rate) with EEG feedback
of both Alpha and Theta activity.. Peniston and Kulkosky (1989) employed an
inpatient setting for alcoholic subjects and provided 30 sessions of EEG
feedback training (Alpha plus Theta).
Drug and alcohol studies have been one of the sub-themes of
my research since 1966, when I was still an undergraduate in the Physics
department. Then I was the statistician and computer programmer for the
Campus-Wide Drug Use Survey at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.
In this role I got an early and very complete look at the developing patterns
of drug use in a University setting. In 1971 when I started doing formal
academic research studies on Alpha feedback I always included drug use
histories and daily surveys of the daily drug use of my Alpha research
In 1972 I continued this drug use and drug history research
in San Francisco at UCSF with Alpha feedback volunteers drawn from San
Francisco State College. At that time average daily marijuana use of low
anxiety subjects was 0.1 marijuana cigarettes per day, whereas high anxiety
subjects were averaging 1.1 marijuana cigarettes per day. Given that Alpha
levels are depressed in high anxiety subjects, and given that published studies
of the brain wave effects of marijuana show that it increases Alpha brain
activity, especially in the occipital region, it may be that the high anxiety
people were self-medicating to lower their anxiety. A useful follow up study
would have been to determine if marijuana use declined in the high anxiety
people who learned to increase their Alpha activity. However, college students
were very transient, and there was never an opportunity to do follow up studies
to see if success at Alpha training reduced subsequent drug usage, at least not
until 1979 when I was awarded a large Federal Grant from NIMH.
In 1979 I had the opportunity to provide Alpha training to a
woman who I later discovered to be a multiple-drug user and a drug dealer. I
did not know that she and her husband (also a dealer) were consuming almost an
ounce of cocaine per day, between the two of them. She was drinking a 5th of
hard liquor to take the edge off the cocaine, and she smoked tobacco daily, and
took LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, and marijuana on a regular basis. She also
took tranquilizers and stimulants to change her mind state whenever she wanted
and in whatever direction she wished. Her personal motto was, "Excess is not
enough! " I did not know she was using drugs during her training, except for
tobacco, which she thoughtfully smoked only outdoors.
On the fifth day of her Alpha training she described,
"falling into a pool of Alpha, " which forever changed her life. Although she
had no intention of reducing or stopping her drug use when she started Alpha
training, and in spite of the fact that she liked her drug use lifestyle and
thought her life "was working well, " her drug use began to fall away. Within 6
weeks of the end of her Alpha training, she was not using any drugs. Even the
tobacco smoking had stopped. And now she found that she could no longer live
with her husband, who had not done the Alpha training, and who continued to use
drugs and to deal drugs.
I had the opportunity to follow up with this woman for the
next 9 years and she continued her drug abstinence to the extent of usually
avoiding even caffeine beverages. During the time I was directing the NIMH
Federal Grant (1979-1982) all of the subjects completed extensive drug use
histories as well as daily drug use logs over their 3 days of introductory
baselines and 20 days of brain wave feedback training. Subjects also had 6
month and 12 month follow up sessions all of which included drug use reports,
so this drug use data could be analyzed to relate changes in patterns of drug
use to learned changes in the brain waves. The funding for this Federal Grant
was eliminated by President Ronald Reagan's first budget, so this data was
never analyzed, but I did carefully collect and archive it.
When my laboratory moved off the UCSF campus in 1983 and
relocated to the San Jose campus of the Agnews State Hospital, I began training
people specifically to treat drug addiction, sometimes working with several
members of the same family simultaneously. Word of this success spread locally
so that a local judge gave alcohol offenders the option of jail or my Alpha
One of the most interesting success stories in a court
referral shows the extremely broad range of chemically dependent people
treatable with EEG feedback. This man was an alcohol and cocaine user. He was
a farm hand adopted into a wealthy family and was unschooled and averse to
learning. Referred by a court, he showed up for the first day's training in
the company of his step brother with both of them late, drunk, and hungry, so
they excused themselves to go out and eat [and drink more alcohol]. However,
the next morning he had sobered up enough to begin the training, though his
drug abusing step brother did not join him.
He did not understand any of the transpersonal themes
typically discussed in the training, but he did know what he liked. He liked
fixing farm equipment down in the shed, and he began to describe his moments of
highest Alpha like the visualizations of a born mechanic. His Alpha scores
went higher each day, and he became calmer and more patient and more sober.
Several months later he called to express a surprisingly complex mixture of
deep sadness and deep gratitude on the occasion of his step brother's death in
a drug-related auto accident. He wished that his step brother had done the
training, and he was so grateful that he had done it. Two years later he was
still clean and sober.
However successful these various drug treatment studies
were, I saw them as only one of the many applications of the technology I was
developing. Other significant adventures of discovery, included two trips to
India to study brain waves and other physiological functions on Yogis of many
different traditions, some of whom could profoundly alter cardiac functions,
walk on hot coals, and even eat broken glass and razor blades. Some had been
meditating for over 50 years and combined a beatific radiance with the ability
to sustain monotonic increases in their Alpha activity for over an hour during
The 1978 Science paper on the inverse correlation
between Alpha and anxiety supported the award of the Federal Grant in 1979.
However this NIMH Grant also had another primary theme: Aging. In fact the
tile of the Grant was Anxiety & Aging: Intervention with EEG Alpha
Feedback. Prior research had shown (Gurin, Veroff, & Feld, 1960), that
anxiety increases with age, in both men and women, and anxiety goes up faster
in women. In addition, at every age, anxiety is higher in women than in men.
So I undertook to study Alpha EEG training in the people
most at risk for anxiety: women over 60. In preparing this research grant, I
discovered Alpha activity declines as atherosclerosis advances. Abundant Alpha
in the elderly was a marker for cardiovascular health. Many of the age-related
losses of mental and physical function had accompanying brain wave changes
which could be explained by reduced blood flow to the brain. Clogging of
arteries and reduced elasticity of the blood vessels were both implicated. I
also recognized the possibility of a connection between learned Alpha increases
and increased blood flow to the brain. It had already been shown, by others,
that hand temperature feedback succeeded in warming the hands through the
mechanism of learned dilation of the peripheral blood vessels, and I speculated
that people might be learning cerebrovascular dilation as part of the
underlying mechanism of increasing their Alpha brain waves.
I began to formulate the hypothesis, and to collect
evidence, that part of the mechanism of learning increases in Alpha activity
could be a learned dilation of cortical blood vessels, resulting in increased
blood supply to the brain. Neuroscience recognizes that the brain works better
when it is adequately supplied with blood, and thus glucose and oxygen. I
recognized that the current population demographics mandated that any effective
geriatric applications of Alpha feedback training would eventually assume
increasing importance and value.
One of my colleagues, Dr. Charles Yeager, set up EEG labs
in the California State Hospital system in the 1950s, and he visited these labs
annually and did EEGs on the elderly residents of the State Hospitals. He
commented to me that even if someone was 100 years old, if that person had good
strong Alpha waves in his or her EEG record, that he knew that person would
still be around next year when he came to visit. On the other hand, if the
elderly person had shifted into a non Alpha record characterized by Theta and
Beta activity, he would say a special good bye because he knew it was unlikely
that person would be still be alive when he visited again next year. I was
learning that brain waves relate to everything, and that control of brain waves
had life and death implications, as well as implications for the quality of
life. Any experience you can have has a specific underlying brain activity
associated with it. If you can control your brain activity, then you can
control your life and your experiences in life.
Training of Trainers. My NIMH grant on Anxiety
and Aging ran from 1979 to 1982. This grant was run as a double blind
study. Because I had formulated all the hypotheses, I could not, under the
double blind protocol, conduct any of the trainings myself. This required that
I recruit and train other people to serve as the Trainers. This first training
of Trainers was the beginning of learning how to transmit to others the skills,
abilities, and the transformational perspective required of Trainers. This
transmission of Trainership abilities should now be formalized and
institutionalized through the establishment of a Training Institute to create
and maintain the skilled groups of Trainers who will be needed in each of the
many applications of the Biocybernaut Process. Even more important than the
recruitment and training of Trainers, is the identification, recruitment, and
training of those exceptional individuals who will become Trainers of Trainers.
From 1982 to 1983 I took a leave of absence from UCSF for
the specific purpose of developing patentable technology for both a portable
EEG feedback unit and for a multi-user Training-Center version of the EEG
feedback technology. In 1983 I founded the Biocybernaut Institute, Inc., a for
profit California Corporation to serve as the corporate arm of my Research and
Development and Training programs. The Biocybernaut Institute undertook the
creation of my new EEG feedback technology, both hardware and software.
In the Fall of 1983 I was awarded the first in a series of
large annual grants from the John E. Fetzer Foundation, and with this award, I
went back on staff at Langley Porter, the Department of Psychiatry of the UCSF
Medical Center, and I moved into a new laboratory on the campus of Agnews State
Hospital. I returned to the University staff only after issuing a waiver to
the UCSF patent policy declaring my intention to continue to develop patentable
EEG feedback technology. Thus I was not required to sign the UCSF patent
policy, but was limited to a maximum of 50% time at the University.
My time at the University was dedicated to conducting EEG
feedback trainings with an ever widening client base to explore the range of
applications effectively served by EEG feedback training. The balance of my
time was devoted to work on technology R&D at the Biocybernaut Institute,
where I developed microprocessor-based EEG feedback instruments, including 2
and 4 channel portable units, and 8 channel laboratory training systems for
single users and multiple simultaneous users.
In late 1983 I provided several weeks of EEG feedback
training to officers from Army Intelligence who were given the task of
exploring new technologies to increase military performance and effectiveness.
This training laid the basis for later work with peak performance training for
Army Special Forces (Green Berets). When the work with U.S. Army Intelligence
expanded, it became part of a larger project and involved Alpha training for
two 12-man teams of Green Berets at a secret Army base.
As part of a larger peak performance research project, one
of the Biocybernaut Institute's multi-user laboratory systems was installed at
this army base. I had designed this Multi-User Lab System which as then built
by the Biocybernaut Institute and was configured to train 6 people
simultaneously. Consequently, I was able to demonstrate in a real application
what I had predicted and designed for during my leave of absence from UCSF,
namely that significant economies of scale were possible in EEG feedback
training. This was my first opportunity to test the multi-user system concept
in a long term study.
The advent of IBM's AT class computers created the
opportunity to upgrade the hardware platform of my brain wave feedback
instruments. I undertook the redesign of all of the special purpose computer
boards for the feedback function. The AT also proved a suitable hardware
platform for large EEG data analysis programs I had begun in 1981.
The largest such program was BIOCAL, a software
post-training filter to the EEG data. BIOCAL incorporated pre- and
post-training calibrations to produce adjusted scores of higher accuracy than
the hardware could produce on its own. BIOCAL compensated for amplifier drift
over time and for nonlinearities of gain across different amplitude ranges, and
it automated the process of identifying and rejecting artifacts in the EEG
data, through complex, heuristically developed algorithms involving
simultaneous comparisons of many EEG channels and different filter bands.
Using the highly purified data from BIOCAL, I was at last
able map the dynamic brain patterns of specific experiences in what I called
the "Cartography of Consciousness ". The creation of these "Mercator
Projections of Mind States " required the purest possible brain wave data for
comparison with subjective measures of mind states. The ability to
successfully relate brain states to mind states and to performance opens up new
possibilities in implementing useful applications of EEG feedback.
Other software development projects I undertook about this
time were upgrades of the MOOD SCALE programs to administer and score the three
mood scales used every day in the brain wave training, and originally written
as three individual programs mood scale programs in 1978 for the Astral
Computer, a 6800-based machine. These now needed to be combined and upgraded
for daily use.
I had discovered in the Green Beret study that my skills in
memorizing every response made by a trainee to the hundreds of adjectives in
the mood scale test batteries were overwhelmed by having 4 to 6 trainees
simultaneously. The three individual mood scale programs were combined to
automate and computerize both the administration and the scoring of the mood
scales. In this way I only had to remember a few calculated dimensional scores
for each trainee instead of hundreds of individual responses. Also, by
computerizing the administration of the mood scales, it became possible to time
each person's response to each item very accurately, in hundredths of a second.
This data would prove extremely valuable in later developments.
One of those developments was a significant change in the
computer programs administering and scoring the mood scales and a related
significant change in the way the results of the mood scales were presented to
the trainees. Response latency timing information on a trainee's responses to
each of the mood scale items was already being collected with a precision of
one hundredth of a second. To this software capability I added the calculation
of descriptive statistics for each of the different responses. Suddenly it
became possible for the trainee and the Trainer to know subtle details the
trainee's response patterns. To this was added statistical significance
testing on the responses. I soon recognized that some of these statistical
patterns were pointers to an alternate part of the mind which was filled with
unacknowledged (and thus buried) anger or fear or guilt or sadness or whatever
Equipped with these new tools I was able to function as
though I were telepathic or psychic, but with the added advantage that my
insights were supported by measured data derived scientifically from the
trainees' own responses. Once the buried emotional blockages of a trainee had
been identified by the new computerized mood scales, they often came very
quickly to consciousness. And once the emotional blockage had come to
consciousness, it then quickly became possible for the trainee to work through
the "charge " or valence on the emotion in the next day's Alpha training.
Bringing to mind some highly charged emotional topic in the
Alpha training would, at first, block or suppress the Alpha, and the feedback
tones would shut off and the scores would drop. But then the challenge for the
trainees would be to discover new ways of relating to their own experiences of
that emotion and the events behind it. This is one of the key growth
experiences of the Biocybernaut Process, and the trainees would grow through
their fear or anger or guilt or sadness much faster than believed possible.
What does it mean to grow through an emotion like anger?
We all know suppressing anger does not work. That leads to heart attacks,
ulcers, unhappiness, and occasional violent outbursts of anger. On the other
hand "expressing " anger does not work very well either. If someone practices
expressing anger, then they usually develop the habit of expressing anger, they
become too good at it, and it become a form of public littering. What is
needed is to get to the source of the experience of anger in the mind and to
learn how to adopt a new point of view about that experience.
In the Biocybernaut Process, trainees have daily assessment
of their emotions by computerized mood scales together with in depth interviews
by highly skilled trainers to help them become aware of hidden, buried, and
latent emotions. Once the awareness of these emotions has been raised to the
level of conscious self awareness, then the trainee can begin to use the brain
wave training process to gain control of his or her emotional processes.
By exploring their emotions during brain wave feedback
training, people learn how their emotions develop and change. In the process
people learn how to take the perspective of an outside observer in looking at
their own emotions. This gives them objectivity about their subjective
experience, which is the key to understanding and controlling all aspects of
subjective experience, including emotions. Thus the person is no longer
subject to his or her emotions, but rather develops mastery over them. Again
the brain waves are the key to any experience. If you can control your brain
waves, then you can control your experiences, including your emotional
Development of Patents. In the more than 15 years
since my early reports which defined and demarcated key issues in the field, I
have been able to conceive and implement a highly optimized methodology and
technology for rapidly producing learned control of brain waves. As a result
of my discoveries and conceptualizations, I have been able to write broadly
based U.S. and International patents, which now have been granted and provide
protection on both the training methodologies and the feedback technologies.
This technology and methodology is in a standardized form that can be readily
replicated in a manner which produces consistent and predictable beneficial
Since it is somewhat unusual to be granted patent protection
on both a technology and the methods of applying that technology, it would be
useful and informative to consider what is unique about the Biocybernaut
Process, and how it evolved. Early on I realized that there were three
essential components of an optimal EEG feedback training:  An ergonomic
technology, which includes the training environment,  An optimized training
procedure or protocol, and  A transformational perspective on the part of
the Trainer. Let us consider these one at a time.
An ergonomic technology. To be most effective, any
bio-feedback must be (1) Accurate, (2) Immediate, and (3) Aesthetic or
Comfortable. In addition, the physical environment and the feedback itself
must be designed with a deep understanding of the "natural reactivity " of the
Alpha [or other EEG activity]. For example, Alpha is reduced or eliminated by
light or any visual processing, so those early feedback devices which caused a
light to get brighter in response to increased Alpha were very badly designed.
They were not ergonomically designed. Even devices which required a trainee to
look at a swinging meter were non-ergonomic.
Optimizing the amount of Alpha produced requires eyes
closed training or at the very least minimizing the Block's law equivalent of
the stimulus and minimizing the information content of the stimulus. Block's
law, from psychophysics, states that the Alpha blocking power of a stimulus is
proportional to the product of its luminance and the visual solid angle it
subtends. Very few designers of feedback equipment are familiar with such
considerations, resulting in mostly non-ergonomic EEG feedback equipment.
Auditory tones are a more ergonomic feedback stimuli for Alpha training than
are lights or visual displays. Many subtleties apply, including the loudness
and the pitch of the tones. All these optimizing features of the technology
are carefully described in my patent claims.
The quality of the brain wave filters is also very
important. The filters separate the different frequencies of brain waves
[Delta, Theta, Alpha, Beta, and sub-bands within these]. If the filters are
not sharp enough, or do not have enough decibels of attenuation in the stop
band region(s), then they will not exclude other kinds of brain waves from the
one kind the filter is allegedly tuned for. If you are doing Theta feedback,
and the Theta filter allows in some Alpha energy on one side and some Delta
energy on the other side, the trainee is being deceived by the technology and
learning is slowed or even prevented.
Feedback must be accurate in order to be effective, and if
60% of the feedback is false feedback due to a deficient filter (which allows
in other kinds of brain waves), then the feedback is not accurate. This
finding also casts doubt on the validity of any EEG scores derived from such
inaccurate filters, and the typically smaller Theta EEG scores are more
vulnerable to this contamination than the larger Alpha scores. It could also
raise questions about any data analysis performed on such scores and about any
conclusions reached based on such data analyses. The contamination could be
larger than the "real " Theta signal present under reasonable assumptions of the
true Alpha and Theta amplitudes. It is impossible to do good science or good
EEG training or to replicate results with such inaccurate technology.
The physical environment is also an important
consideration. In the Kamiya lab, I used to see my trainees' Alpha diminish
when a water was used three floors below, because the sound traveled up the
water pipes. Sound, light, temperature, humidity, ionization, fragrances, all
must be carefully understood in their effects on the brain activity one is
trying to control. For example, the smell of musk has been shown to reduce
Alpha, whereas the smell of lavender has been shown to increase Alpha. First
one must do the homework to understand the natural reactivity (the ergonomics)
of the EEG signal one wishes to train, and then the technology and the physical
environment must be designed with this knowledge carefully in mind.
My System and Method patent has 37 separate
claims,- too many to describe here. However, one of those claims is so general
and so useful that it should be mentioned here. I have patented the idea and
the practice of using multiple simultaneous channels of EEG feedback. I was
the first person to do multiple channel EEG feedback, and I was able to show
the patent examiner that there are significant advantages of multiple
simultaneous channels of EEG feedback.. Included among these advantages are
the prevention of localization of control, which can occur within a few hours
of EEG feedback training. As the field of brain wave feedback grows, this idea
of multiple simultaneous channels of EEG feedback may prove to be among the
most useful teachings of this patent.
An optimized training procedure or protocol. Back
in the 1970s when most published Alpha studies were reporting "No learning of
Alpha control ", it was standard practice to provide very little feedback
training time. I was learning that consecutive days of training were better
than three times a month or even three days per week. I found that the more
training time was provided, the greater was the percentage of people learning
to increase their Alpha above an initial baseline level. How much is enough?
One of my typical 7 day protocols allows people to accumulate between 12 and 20
hours of actual feedback time during their first 7 consecutive day training.
For most people, this is sufficient. I have found this amount of training to
be adequate for treating many types of chemical dependency. However, some
strong addictions, like nicotine, often require a second 7 day training in
order for withdrawal to be effective and lasting.
The basic principle here, which is included in my System
and Method patent, is that massed practice is better than distributed practice,
and hours of training time is more effective than minutes of training time.
This may soon seem obvious to people in the field, but very recently people
scoffed in disbelief when I explained that one of the reasons they could not
obtain EEG learning was their use of too little training time, and too many (or
too long) interruptions of that training. And that was the point of the
patent: to teach the practitioners of the current art how to improve their
practice, by following the recommendations of the patent.
A transformational perspective on the part of the
Trainer. When I came out of my own break-through experience in Alpha
feedback, there was a crowd of people eager to hear about my experiences (all
of the Kamiya lab crew who rushed back from the restaurant to rescue the
forgotten trainee). Some of them had been to India and all of them understood
something about meditation and were supportive of my report about my elevated
states of consciousness. Their comments and questions helped to validate and
contextualize my highly unusual experiences.
Validation and contextualization are very important, and
are part of the transformational perspective of the Trainer. If these people
had been hostile, skeptical, or fearful, then my life may have had a different
direction. It would have been possible to take a critical and culturally
limited view of these experiences and to label them with the language used to
describe psychiatric disorders. If the Kamiya laboratory staff had wanted to
be critical of my experiences, they could have suggested I was delusional for
reporting out-of-body experiences [taking a perspective from outside of myself]
or that I was risking psychosis by having an ego disintegration. Such adverse
interpretations of my experiences would have been culturally sanctioned, and
might have stunted my growth into this new field by creating fear of new
awareness states, and I might have remained a physicist.
Therefore, the end of each training session in the
Biocybernaut Process, a skilled Trainer conducts an in depth interview with the
trainees. Each trainee is asked to describe his or her subjective experiences.
Then the Trainer asks wise questions to clarify key points and to elevate
significant aspects of that trainee's experience into prominence, so that all
elements of the trainee's mind, including the rational mind, can begin to
accept and integrate the insights born in deep reflection.
Later the Trainer reviews the objective results of EEG
scores and mood scale scores with each trainee, and together the Trainer and
all trainees look through the polygraph record of the entire session, which may
be hundreds of polygraph pages. This enables the minds of the trainees to
correlate their new insights and altered states of consciousness with the
actual graphical images of the brain waves which enabled those breakthroughs
in consciousness. Inner and outer experience are united. Subjective and
objective experiences are fused into a coherent whole.
If the Trainer can look at the trainee and see endless
possibilities of growth and transformation, then that Trainer has a
transformational perspective. And if the Trainer has the compassion and
intuition and love and understanding of both Virgil and Beatrice, who guided
Dante's explorations, then that Trainer has a transformational perspective.
This deep metaphysical comparison is not whimsical, but eminently practical.
Why practical? The mystical experience and the Alpha
feedback experience share basic dimensions. For example Dr. Arthur Deikman
surveyed the mystical literature and identified Five Hallmarks of the mystical
experience: (1) Intense Realness, (2) Unusual Sensations, (3) The Experience
of Unity or Oneness with all things, (4) Trans-Sensate Phenomena, which come to
the person from beyond the realm of the senses, and (5) Ineffability, or the
difficulty or impossibility of describing the experience in words (Deikman,
1966). Some or all of these phenomena attend the profound Alpha and Theta EEG
feedback training experiences. If the Trainer has personal experience with
both culturally ordinary and mystical realms, then that Trainer can exemplify
wisdom, self-understanding, self-honesty, and love for the trainee.
This is practical because it is most effective in aiding the
growth of the trainee. Exemplification teaches and guides far better than mere
words or technical knowledge. If EEG feedback trainees begin to grow in their
abilities of insight and perception and they see that the Trainer is insecure,
opinionated, doctrinaire, or is struggling to suppress latent anger or fear,
the trainee may be afraid to grow in the presence of such a Trainer, and will
almost certainly not confide in such a Trainer about the details of his or her
experience. Such a limited Trainer will thus never be told about the ecstatic
experiences of the trainee, but even worse, such a Trainer may actually tarnish
or even inhibit such experiences.
The brain wave feedback process can produce experiences so
profound and so outside the competence of most educated people in the West,
that great care must be taken to screen, select, and train Trainers for this
new field. My training process for Trainers, which has been evolving over 15
years, requires two full months of training to learn the basics of this
profound process, and only about half of the candidates I have been asked to
train have achieved the necessary transformational perspective of a Trainer.
Yes any nurse, or psychiatrist, or teacher can buy an EEG
feedback machine and start training volunteers. But there may be some
unexpected, even disagreeable, surprises in store for the Trainer and the
trainees, and surely valuable opportunities will be missed. Optimizing the
training process and the results seldom occurs by chance. It is not necessary
to reinvent the wheel or to make the early learning mistakes alone and unaided.
The central purpose in my life's work has been and is to
create technologies and methodologies for the increase of awareness and for the
attainment of mastery in all those human endeavors which require expanded
awareness and improved skills and abilities. I am keenly interested in
assisting people who wish to develop their talents and gifts and in
discovering, refining, and transmitting the knowledge of how best to do this.
The Brain Activity Mapping And Training techniques [BAMATs], described in the
last section of this paper, provide some ideas about the vast range of
applications which can benefit from optimized brain wave feedback training.
Two of the themes which I have found most intriguing over
the years have been (1) The relationship between meditation on one hand and
Alpha and other types of EEG feedback training on the other hand, and (2) How
EEG feedback training could be used to accelerate and enhance the development
of gifts of the mind. Creativity is one familiar and useful type of mental
giftedness, and I was very interested to study the relationship between Alpha
feedback training and increases in creativity among a group of scientists.
Before describing the details of studies done on these two topics, it could be
useful to share with you the results of a thoughtful comparison between
mediation and EEG feedback embedded in the procedural context I have developed
and refined over 25 years, the Biocybernaut Process.
Self discovery continues - Part 6