2.3 The Science of Biofeedback

The feedback chamber experience set me on a course of research and investigation into alpha brain wave feedback training and enhancement! I have since
dedicated my life to developing and perfecting the science, technology, and training methods for teaching people how to increase their alpha brain wave activity. For over 30 years, during which 4,000 people have been trained using my methods, I have learned a great deal about human consciousness and the impact of enhanced alpha wave states on peak performance, creativity, and spiritual awareness.

‘ . . . persevere in the work . . . For, when you begin it, you will find that there is at the start but darkness; there is . . . a cloud of unknowing. No matter what you do, this darkness and this cloud are between you and your God, and because of it you can neither see Him clearly with your reason . . . nor can you feel him with you . . . love.

Be prepared, therefore, to remain in this darkness as long as it must be. For if you are ever to feel Him or see Him, it will necessarily be within this cloud and within this darkness. . . you are to try to pierce that darkness. . .
You are to strike that thick cloud of unknowing with a sharp dart of longing love: and you are not to retreat no matter what comes to pass. ’

[from The Cloud of Unknowing, by an anonymous 14th century English mystic translated by Ira Progoff] This experience was so profound that I had 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 the suitability of methods and the range of beneficial outcomes, and so that it can be ultimately accepted by
the professional, scientific communities.

This quest led me on a course, over the last 30 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 technology and a methodology with which to obtain the profound and wide-ranging benefits which result from voluntary control of central nervous system activity.

The new science of biofeedback was launched in April of 1962 by Dr. Joe Kamiya’s published research, which reported that people could, in fact, learn voluntary
control of their own brain waves. Brain wave feedback training was heralded primarily as promoting relaxation and mental creativity. Later, brain wave studies of meditation established that meditators could exert profound control over their brain waves, and enthusiastic reporters started speculating that brain wave feedback could provide an ‘instant Zen’ experience. Speculations became confused with claims, and by the late 1960s, a firestorm of media attention ensued. This firestorm of popular media attention about exaggerated or unsubstantiated claims disturbed the conservative authorities of the medical, psychiatric, and psychological communities, especially since the results of alpha feedback enhancement sounded a bit too much like the LSD experiences that were also coming out at about that same time! Not everyone wanted to have a population of enlightened and self-regulating citizens. Various power centers became concerned.

As a result, several eminent scientists began to do alpha brain wave feedback studies to rebut the popularized claims. Most of these scientists were unfamiliar with the vast classical literature of scientific research on brain waves and psychophysics, especially the work done on the psychophysics of alpha waves. As a result, their studies did not employ anything approaching optimal designs or ergonomic feedback technology.

Without an informed understanding of the causes of the natural waxing and waning of alpha rhythms, it proved to be quite difficult to train people to increase their alpha successfully. Most alpha researchers in the 1970s failed to teach their research subjects how to increase alpha activity, which resulted in a flood of publications ‘proving’ that alpha feedback did not work. Some of these reports even suggested that people innately lacked the ability to learn control of their alpha activity. Most of these researchers did not know that their incomplete findings were caused by non-ergonomic feedback technology and inappropriate training protocols, and virtually all employed too little feedback time.

Some people in the cultural establishment were probably relieved that alpha feedback didn’t work. They were already experiencing great difficulties trying to suppress the movement known as the ‘counter-culture.’ The popular belief that alpha feedback was an electronic technology for natural consciousness expansion and transformation was now contradicted by the new ‘consensus’ of so-called experts. So the word went out, ‘Brain waves can NOT be voluntarily controlled. ’ As a result, the alpha brain wave feedback research went underground by the mid-1970s, and most brain wave training fell into obscurity as just another fad spawned by the Psychedelic ’60s.

However, the considerable clinical and popular enthusiasm, which had been generated for doing ‘biofeedback,’ was a genie that could not be put totally back into the bottle. But that energy and enthusiasm were blocked from going into brain wave research by the negative findings of ‘experts,’ which led to a lack of funding for research. Instead, all that energy went into doing non-brainwave ‘biofeedback.’ Biofeedback became synonymous with learning to relax the muscles, learning to warm the hands and feet, and learning to change the electrical responses of the skin, which are induced by shallow or transient emotions. People forgot that ‘biofeedback’ began with brain wave biofeedback- Neurofeedback.

Biofeedback is essential for running the human body. In 1970 I formulated the first axiom of Biofeedback:

‘Any process in your brain or your body about which you can be given immediate and accurate feedback, you can learn to control.’

However, it may take a fair amount of training to achieve control. The amount of control learned may be only small or modest shifts in one direction or another.
For example, you can’t, under most conditions, lower your blood pressure to zero and stop your heart. However, there are special spiritually advanced beings for which
the laws of physiology don’t apply. However, until you get to that point of awareness, the laws of physiology do apply.

What’s interesting, and somewhat mysterious and curious to me, is that the brain, the human body’s organ of intelligence, the master control room, has almost no feedback about itself! An ordinary per- son’s brain is constantly active doing a myriad of complex processes required to keep a body functioning, but the brain isn’t getting any feedback about what it’s doing. Hmm?
What’s interesting, and somewhat mysterious and curious to me, is that the brain, the human body’s organ of intelligence, the master control room, has almost no feedback about itself! An ordinary per- son’s brain is constantly active doing a myriad of complex processes required to keep a body functioning, but the brain isn’t getting any feedback about what it’s doing. Hmm?
The lack of feedback is the missing link that I have spent my life correcting. Why? Because if the brain had the same kind of feedback about itself as it has about other physical functions, humans would rapidly become more skillful by learning to use the brain in amazing new ways to solve the increasingly complex and difficult problems that our planet faces.
Most of this early muscle and skin temperature biofeedback work was done under the label of ‘stress reduction,’ which was more acceptable to established authorities than were the notions of expanded awareness and higher consciousness that had characterized the brain wave biofeedback work.

Simultaneously, the clinical practitioners of peripheral modality (from the neck down) biofeedback were gradually eroding resistance to the idea that the mind
and body are inextricably interconnected. There were also specialty applications of biofeedback that began to infringe on the domains of medicine, dentistry, and
psychiatry. For example, learning to relax the jaw muscles would prevent teeth grinding and tooth loss associated with bruxism. Also, learning to warm the fingers and toes cured a painful disorder characterized by inadequate blood circulation in the digits known as Reynaud’s disease.

Medicine had been ineffectively treating Reynaud’s disease with powerful drugs, which had negative side effects, and as a last resort, by amputation of the fingers and toes. Temperature biofeedback was a big improvement over traditional medicine in this regard.

Although there will soon be major changes as people (re)discover the power and the range of brain wave feedback training, most of the work done today by biofeedback
clinicians are still done with the peripheral modalities of skin temperature, muscle tension, and electrical conductivity (or resistance) of the skin. Peripheral modalities of feedback are generally only effective in working with some peripheral symptoms. The peripheral modalities are largely ineffective in working centrally with the brain itself. This limits the results to the treatment of symptoms rather than treating their underlying causes. Because would-be brain wave biofeedback practitioners have been limited by inadequate equipment until the last few years, and because they continue to be limited by lack of knowledge of proper brain wave training protocols and settings, biofeedback has been limited modalities. In the official view, biofeedback has remained an interesting curiosity of limited power and a limited range of applications. As a result, biofeedback has not been highly regarded by the medical professions.

ADD and ADHD:

Over the course of my research career, I have trained thousands of people to control their brain wave states voluntarily. I have worked with a variety of people:
CEOs of billion-dollar companies, policemen and women suffering from post-traumatic stress, people with anxiety and other personality disorders, high-performance Green Berets, professional athletes, older men and women who can experience the benefits of brain age reversal and gain a new lease on life and vitality, as well as migraines, stroke victims, people with panic attacks and phobias, and children and adults with ADD and ADHD.

I have studied the brain waves of advanced meditators, psychics, athletes, geniuses, and highly creative, artistic people. I know the brain wave signature of someone who has taken a company from zero to $200 million in two years, and I have measured brain waves of people, including myself, in the midst of raising the Kundalini (delta) energy in the spine. I have created a scientifically based, highly unique process by which we can coach our clients to uncover the suppressed emotional feelings and memories and rescript them in a positive alpha state, leading to measurable beneficial changes in personality, reduced anxiety and stress, and optimal expression of their authentic and creative selves.

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