6.1 Brain Wave Biofeedback (Neurofeedback) Enhances Meditation

Feedback is the key! In the Biocybernaut Training Process, the trainee, the biocybernaut (an inner astronaut), concentrates on their actual brain waves as represented in sensory reality by the feedback tones. These brain waves underlie all types of awareness, both conveyed by thoughts and those non-thinking processes of awareness into which meditation is designed to bring practitioners. With brain wave feedback, the trainee learns not only how to calm the mind, but equally or more importantly, the trainee also learns how to reduce the brainwaves that do not support the meditative state (e.g., beta) and to enhance those brain waves that lead to a meditative state of awareness (e.g., alpha and theta). With this deep control of your own brain’s workings comes the ability to regulate one’s response to sensory stimulation and stimulation by words, thoughts, and concepts so that the brain wave trainee can defuse a stressor or a stressful situation from the outset, immediately and flowingly. One of the differences between the two processes is that in meditation, one attempts, without the aid of any feedback, to witness one’s thought patterns, whereas, in the Biocybernaut Process, one is aided by the feedback of the exact brain waves that underlie and enable the thought processes and the thought suspension processes.

Both meditation and brain wave feedback can be usefully compared using a signal detection analogy. In any signal detection application, the challenge is one of distinguishing the signal from the surrounding noise.

Experts speak of the signal-to-noise ratio. If the signal is weak and there is a lot of noise, it is tough to detect. This is the case in meditation, where the signal is a subtle mind state-a weak signal-and there is lots of noise. The noise in meditation can be acoustic noise like telephones ringing; jets flying overhead; cars, buses, and trucks rumbling by, people talking; even birds singing, and wind in the trees.

Noise can also be the chatter of one’s internal dialog, the urgings of one’s desires, or the reactions to one’s aversions or sensory distractions like itching of the skin, aching a muscle joint, or tooth; or the churning of one’s stomach. All these distractions, taken together, are the ‘noise’ that makes it difficult to pay uninterrupted attention to one’s mental state (or breathing or mantra).

To assist in the process of meditation, instructions are usually given to reduce this noise. Meditation instructions typically include (especially for beginners) retreating to a quiet place, turning down the lights, turning off the radio or television, and sitting very still. There are also instructions about how to pay attention to one’s thoughts and feelings, to try and still these internal sources of ‘noise.’ But the instructions are often vague and difficult to follow, even if one understands them.

The mind is extraordinarily elusive, especially when one tries to pin it down. Try not thinking of a hippopotamus for one minute. Even though you may not have thought of one for years, the moment you try not to think of hippos, they stampede or do ballets through your mind with insuppressible vigor. This is a problem when trying to still the mind in meditation. Thoughts erupt like volcanoes belching hot gases and pyroclastic flows. Still, the mind and thoughts erupt and flow in unstoppable torrents of words, concepts, ideas, comparisons, evaluations, and judgments.

However, when using the Biocybernaut Training Process of brain wave feedback, the same subtle signal or state of calm awareness is electronically detected as the electrical brain activity underlying the calm mental state. This subtle signal is then electronically amplified, or boosted, 100,000 to 1,000,000 times and then used to control feedback tones’ loudness. In the Biocybernaut Process, an effort is also made to reduce the noise by conducting this training in light-controlled and soundproof rooms (Faraday cages designed to exclude electromagnetic fields) signal-to-noise ratio is enhanced from both ends. Both the signal is boosted, and the noise is reduced.

Every time the mind enters a calm state, even for a fraction of a second, the technology detects this shift and instantly turns on a tone. Thus the person is notified of his or her success at THAT moment by receiving immediate feedback. With such feedback, there is a rapid increase in the mind’s probability of entering and staying longer in the desired state. Since trainees get feedback on how well they are doing, they rapidly become better at entering the desired mind state by learning how to control the underlying brain wave state out of which their experience [the mind state] arises.

Unfortunately, in meditation, there is very little feedback. And at the beginning of meditation, there is virtually NO FEEDBACK. Only when meditation is done very well are their shifts in one’s subjective experience. These shifts are often subtle and are not noticed until one has sustained the desired mind state for a long time. This is difficult or impossible for most beginners.

As any teacher knows, students need the most guidance at the beginning of their learning. In meditation, one’s guidance (or subjective feedback) occurs mostly at the end of the process, after one has become quite skilled at the process. This is one reason why meditation has such a high drop out rate and why the learning process can take many decades.

In brain wave feedback, there is immediate and abundant feedback right at the beginning of the process. The Biocybernaut Process includes extensive interviews and reviews of results daily to make sure that trainees know exactly how well they are doing and fully understand the usefulness of each of the many different types of feedback.

Most meditation fails to acknowledge or assist people with overcoming mental and emotional blockages, which prevent the mind from entering into deep states of calm. It is hoped that meditation itself will do the necessary mental housecleaning. With 20, 30, or 40 years of regular daily practice, meditation will sometimes do this.

Many people in great need of the benefits will not persist long enough to gain these benefits, especially without much feedback on their progress. Even many normal, well-adjusted, busy people will not persist in such a slow process with such a long-delayed payoff.

Many people in great need of the benefits will not persist long enough to gain these benefits, especially without much feedback on their progress. Even many normal, well-adjusted, busy people will not persist in such a slow process with such a long-delayed payoff.

6.1.1 Clearing Inner Emotional Obstacles

The mental obstacles that stand between each of us and a transcendent consciousness include our attitudes, attachments, aversions, self-conceptions, and thought processes, which have been trained from childhood to be compulsively active. These obstacles are hard to overcome by repeating a mantra attending to one’s breathing or even trying to pay attention to one’s ever-shifting thoughts.

The Biocybernaut Process includes an assessment of emotions by computerized Mood Scales and in-depth interviews, daily, of those mood scale results to bring the trainee into clear awareness of those inner obstacles of anger, fear, guilt, sadness, and all the attachments and aversions and posturing of one’s ego. This information is then combined with the brain wave feedback process to focus the trainee’s efforts on exactly those in the greatest need of conscious attention. The feedback signals are provided on those brain activities that are most intimately related to the thought processes and the attachments, which must be worked on to move toward the discovery of a larger conscious awareness.

Compulsive thinking, like choppy waves upon a lake, prevents one’s awareness from penetrating the depths of one’s mind. Thinking at the level of ego-based conceptual thought is an antagonist of one’s alpha brain activity and a saboteur of one’s skills in ‘Smart Thinking.’ This natural antagonism enables brain wave feedback to provide an accurate assessment through the feedback of one’s increasing mental calmness and control as one’s alpha waves increase in prevalence and strength.

In learning to still the mind, the presentation of feedback on one’s alpha activity provides an unambiguous record of, and spur to, one’s progress. In the brain wave feedback situation, the mind is thrown back in on itself by having its strongest sensory input-the feedback tones-being controlled by the brain activity itself. All sensory distractions, unrelated to the brain’s own activity, have been so reduced or eliminated that the only thing for the mind to attend to is itself, as indexed by the brain waves.

Thus the mind is thrown back in upon itself and becomes its own object, thereby blurring the line between subject and object of consciousness-merging and dissolving the dualistic mind state which puts people ‘at the effect of’ events of change or stress in their lives. By thus freeing the mind, there are no longer overreactions (sympathetic responses) and under-reactions (parasympathetic responses) of the central nervous system, and the person then enjoys the benefits of an uninterrupted natural state of health and well being (homeostasis). Henry David Thoreau called this the ‘state of nature.’ He held it to be the birthright and the natural condition of all humans before undermining themselves with getting and spending, having and controlling, and evaluating and judging. All of the benefits available to Biocybernaut trainees in each of the many application areas of their lives come about through this improvement of mental function and the central nervous system’s functioning. These improvements of mind function go beyond incremental change when there is feedback on brain activity.

Radical and profound change results when there is brain activity feedback because then the consciousness is getting feedback on itself or on its physiological substrates, which is almost the same thing. When consciousness becomes the object of consciousness, the change is so powerful that it goes beyond mere change and becomes TRANSFORMATION. This is precisely what brain wave feedback does: brings transformation. Dr. Eugene Taylor eloquently makes this point in the last chapter of his wonderful book, Shadow Culture. We have lived in our own time to see science make its way into the domain of psychology, into the study of the emotions, into neuronal patterns of our thought processes, and into the manipulation of traits of character and temperament once thought to be fixed by heredity or shaped only at the caprice of the environment. But the new biology of consciousness has also brought a host of philosophical questions about the relation of the brain to experience and the very methods used to study physical phenomena.

The closer we get to the objective study of consciousness, the closer we get to the very mind studying the object -to the very consciousness that is generating the scientific knowledge (and the rational awareness). And as everyone knows, here is the great limitation of that extraordinary enterprise (science and the rational mind)-it’s fatal flaw-namely that science (and the rational mind) cannot objectively study itself. And when it does (or when it tries to), at that precise point it becomes something else-philosophy, metaphysics, religion, or whatever name we give to the process of the (beyond)-conscious becoming an object of consciousness; (and) whatever it is, the object is always (ALWAYS) transformed. This is what is meant by the phenomenology of the science making process (or the phenomenology of consciousness): Self-observation always leads us to an existential point about the metaphysics of experience, and it . . . always a transforming moment.

‘The inability of contemporary science as it is presently constituted to accommodate such phenomena (of expanded consciousness), however, means that educated and thinking individuals who do not find adequate meaning in contemporary scientific explanations will look elsewhere for ways to understand their personal reality.

At Biocybernaut, we have discovered how to read the brain waves of poets and visionaries and saints and sages. We have discovered that spiritual experiences that transcend rational awareness and are entirely outside the experience of most human beings do, in fact, have reliable and repeatable patterns of brain waves. Reliable and repeatable makes for good science, good spiritual science. And even better, we have found that when novices who have never had profound spiritual experiences learn how to make the same brain waves as those spiritually gifted folks who do, then the ‘novices’ begin to have the same kinds of profound experiences.

Dr. Eugene Taylor speaks to us in the quote above about the phenomenology of consciousness, so it would be good to say a little bit about phenomenology and how it studies, and how it perhaps could more effectively be studying, the structure of consciousness. As phenomenologists, we are interested in the elucidation of consciousness structure and are interested in understanding how a person’s reality comes to be constituted. Unfortunately, phenomenologists have shied away from mysticism for several reasons, such as:

But phenomenologists are often unwilling to commit themselves to the reality of their experiences of others. For Edmond Husserl, the famous French phenomenologist, only the structure (not the content) of experience could have the true reality of permanence.

He noted the changes in the contents of normal experience, realized their limited or relative reality, and looked for his true reality in the less mutable structure of the ever-varying experiences. Stall (1975) notes phenomenology’s reluctance to ascribe reality to the content of experience and its insistence on the a priori structure of experience, and he concludes:

‘. . . the phenomenology and history of religion are (1) always unsatisfactory and insufficient because it does not investigate the validity of the phenomena it studies, and (2) often wrong because of incorrect implicit evaluations.’

Husserl overlooked in shying away from studying mystical experiences because the content of the mystical experiences, those experiences themselves, transcend relative reality and connect people with ultimate permanence. One of the central purposes of Biocybernaut is to construct technology and design brain wave training programs to enable ordinary people to have direct experiences of the Divine. Methods that take a lifetime and involve rigorous austerities and intense practice are available in many meditative traditions. Still, the people who sustain the self-disciple and dedicate the time to go that very long path are few in number. Brave souls, to be sure. We know that technology speeds things up, so at Biocybernaut, we are creating and applying brain wave feedback technology to allow people to bring their awareness into oneness with the ground of being, to have profound mystical experiences in a matter of days or weeks instead of requiring a long lifetime to have those attainments.

We should note in passing; mystical experiences need not be religious (as in the nontheistic Adventist school of Yoga and Theravadin Buddhism). Mysticism may be simply another way of constituting reality and so should fall within the scope of phenomenology. In fact, if phenomenology is to present itself as a method for discovering the structure of consciousness, it had better not exclude fundamental forms of consciousness or modes of knowing, such as the mystical mode of knowing. If we consider transcendental phenomenology as the study of the normal states of adult consciousness through the bracketed perspective, that implies consideration of two fundamental forms of consciousness from which to generalize about the structure of consciousness (the normal states and the bracketed states). The discovery or the investigation of a new form of consciousness, like the mystical form, would allow us to increase our knowledge of structural principles by? or 50%. Let us consider why this is so from another example in science.

If physics only knew of two elements, say hydrogen and helium, it could begin to theorize about the structure of matter. Just as ordinary consciousness comes in stable and unstable varieties, hydrogen comes in various isotopes, two of which are stable (protium and deuterium). One of which is not: tritium is unstable and thus radioactive. Comparing the properties and construction of the two elements would permit deductions as to the structure of matter, but how limited those deductions would be! Electrons would be seen with plus and minus spins, but only the ‘s’ subshell variety of electrons would be seen. None of the p, d, f, g, h, I, or k electron subshells in hydrogen and helium, so those unique structural properties would be missed and maybe not even guessed at.

If we add a third element, even a large, complex, and difficult to understand element like uranium, our understanding of structural principle would be enormously enhanced. We may even have to abandon our present theories of the a priori nature of the structure of matter in favor of a new theory of structure implied by the evidence we find in uranium itself and the comparisons between uranium, hydrogen, and helium. In this way, our understanding will grow. Mystical experiences may be as difficult to understand as the structure of uranium. They may not fit into the structure of our beliefs about the nature of consciousness, but that merely means we have some revision and some growing to do.

That revision and growth are both accelerated and made easier through brain wave feedback. With brain wave feedback, the mind is gently brought into awareness of its subtle and not so subtle distraction techniques for avoiding the calm and transcendence of the one-pointedness-of-mind. Many stories about ego interference with this process are related in Chapter 8, Uncovering the Authentic Self. But there is no requirement or compulsion to change with the brain wave biofeedback because the trainee can choose either to ignore or to develop the insights thereby obtained. If the trainee chooses to ignore, then the alpha scores stop increasing, and he or she may give the excuse of being bored. Boredom is just one of the Five Hindrances described in ancient Zen teachings: drowsiness, distractibility, doubt, boredom, and aversion or any form of ill will. If any of these mind states appear and interfere with the training process, you can be pretty certain that the ego is at work trying to prevent the inevitable experience of dissolution of the ego! Even Freud, who was no friend of mysticism, knew when someone stopped or suspended the rational and ego-based evaluation processes and comparison that a whole inner world would open to their observation. Freud did not want to explore that inner world; that difference with Jung, who was eager to explore inwardly, led to the breach of the once-friendly relationship between them.

The alpha trainee is not forced by the feedback information to adopt the new perspectives that lead to higher alpha and happiness, calmness, and one-pointedness of mind. However, if the trainee does choose development and growth, then the alpha continues to increase, and the dualistic state wanes as the trainee learns the calmness and the one-pointedness of mind that lead toward clear-mindedness, ego dissolution, and liberation.

Liberation can include freedom from the automatic stress response. It can also mean liberation from addiction, chronic pain, eating disorders, high blood pressure, stress and anxiety, psychoses and neuroses, learning disabilities, and age-related limitations on cognitive and physical functions.

The Biocybernaut Process goes directly to the root of the automatic stress response that underlies more than 80% of all illness and addictive behavior. It does so by releasing the remembered stresses that trigger a new stress reaction. The process empowers individuals to control their brain wave states, which engenders feelings of self-control and affiliation instead of the need for power and dominion fostered out of fear. Through this process, feelings of helplessness are eliminated and are replaced by a non-reactive sense of control. Through the process, one becomes aware of the habits that have disrupted, altered, and interfered with one’s natural tendency to be healthy physically, mentally, and spiritually.

The following partial list of immediately available applications may seem extensive, even overwhelming, but it is only the beginning of useful applications of brain wave training. It is not that brain wave training does so many things; actually, brain wave training does one simple thing.

Brain Wave Training Improves The Functioning Of The Central Nervous System

When the central nervous system function is improved, life’s experience is improved, and the person’s brain and body then function together more harmoniously. As a direct result, the symptoms of central nervous system dysfunction disappear. Also, our latent abilities for excellence become actualized, and we begin to manifest our potentials for peak performance in any area to which we put our minds.

The items in the first section of the following ‘applications list’ represent central nervous system dysfunction symptoms. Such symptoms of dysfunction disappear when the central nervous system function is improved and normalized. For example, 80% of illnesses and most addictive behavior are symptomatic of an autonomic nervous system stress response. Because the Biocybernaut Process’ directly affects the stress response, its benefits will extend to all those symptomatic illness and addictive behaviors resulting from the stress response. Thus, there is a simple organizing theme, which makes the applications in the first part of the following list just different expressions (or symptoms) of underlying malfunctions in the central nervous system’s operation.

The second section of the following ‘applications list’ is representative of symptoms of central nervous system hyperfunction. Brain wave training technology allows one to go beyond the normalization of the central nervous system functions into the area of peak performance or hyper-function. Thus people can train first for wellness, and then they can continue training for the excellence of brain function. Athletic peak performance has already been shown to have a distinctive brain wave signature characterized by increased alpha wave production in the left hemisphere. Applications abound in every area of education and skill mastery because learning and mastery require specific brain activities, which are directly trainable through brain wave feedback methods.

Naturally, the company that licenses the Biocybernaut technology and methodology for a given country will not undertake to enter all of these markets at once but will prioritize and develop strategies for its market entries based on its understanding of its cultural demographics in its own country. For example, a geriatric application would likely be a lower priority for an emerging nation like Mexico, where over half the population is under 15 years of age. On the other hand, a licensee operating in a country like Japan, which has an aging population and a reverence for their elders, would place a much higher priority on geriatric applications.

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