a. Neurofeedback and Stress Reduction

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Neurofeedback training allows motivated individuals to experience an optimal brain state.

Today neurofeedback training is a far more sophisticated way to enable people to discover optimal brain states.

For thousands of years people have relied on meditative traditions to enable people to become more aware. Now neurofeedback offers us a technological method to optimize brain functioning. It is perfect for busy people who understand the power of computers, and want to maximize their potential in our highly wired technological society.

Today we want and believe in measurable results. Computers can provide the data on our brains state. The data can be displayed on the computer screen, notifying the brain of its own electrical activity. The activity is correlated with subjective feelings states.

Each of our brains has patterns or memories of very old and reactive states. In order to reach a new level of functioning, these old brain wave patterns need to be recognized and reorganized.

This takes courage, experimentation and a certain amount of ease with the unknown. In order for us to live in the now we have to be able to rewire the brains automatic tendency to live in the past.

Now I will give you a small history of the field. Then at the end of this piece I will offer you some do it your self-suggestions on mediating for ten minutes anytime during your day.

Now we have neurofeedback instruments to measure changes (turbulence- too much change in too short of time) in the brain.

Neurofeedback as a field has evolved from a focus on cause and effect – “you have too much theta too and little beta and that is why we must train or hammer certain locations in your head with our feedback machine. You will be to reward for meeting the criteria for our pre selected targets;” to a field that offers ways to “allow the brain to receive feedback on its own state and seek greater synchronicity and coherence.”

This optimal brain state enhances performance in all kinds of areas. Nothing dramatic need occur.

Val Brown is the developer of the Zengar software (www.zengar.com ) used to realize this state.

One of the originators of the field Barry Sternum, Val notes, should have been awarded a Nobel prize for the original contributions noting that increasing the sensory motor rhythm (SMR-15 hertz) would inhibit seizures.

Then Joel Lubar and others presented very convincing evidence on how to modulate learning disorders by enhancing SMR.

Then, Gene Peneston, in 1988 presented his work on using an alpha theta protocol to enable end of the line alcoholic veterans, to recover brain functioning and kick the habit. A majority of these alcoholics were able give up abusing alcohol after one month of training. The mainstream press mostly ignored these research efforts.

Additional methods have been reasonably successful with many disorders besides ADD and other attention issues. But it still takes about 40 sessions for most people to get the brain to shift over and function at a more attentive level, using the models now available to treat ADD.

The Five-Phase Model
The new system (NCP), which Val developed, combined the best of the protocols into his five-phase model. The advantage was to move beyond individual diagnosis and turn more towards a fault tolerant system that could be used more as information for the central nervous system.

Training is the descriptive world. It is not treatment for mental or physical health. Optimal states can be discovered without falling back on the medical model. We have seen a slow shift away from specific usage for specific problems to more generalized use by coaches and teachers for optimal functioning using the NCP training systems.

Now we have the evidence that the brain and the central nervous system work together to produce stability.

Earlier as a student, Val learned about non-linear control dynamics, and the work of Karl Pribram and Dennis Gabor.

My interpretation of Val’s work is that information in the brain is time sensitive, and goes through phase transitions. The question was how to highlight the firing of those parts of the brain that have transformative potential.

The brain is a self-referencing and self-organizing system that operates through chaos.

The goal of the central nervous system is to detect differences and to minimize discomfort.

This kind of renormalizing of the brain can be done if information is presented to the CNS in a form that the brain finds both effective and pleasing. If the brain can understand this information about the state of the brain, then the brain can renormalize.

The goal of NCP as I hear Val’s viewpoint, is to simply increase resilience and flexibility.
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Stress Reduction Exercise
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Once a day, find 10 minutes without interruption to have time for you. This can also be done before bed. When you are in a comfortable position place your hands on your belly where deep breathing originates. Watching breathing is the most important technique in many meditative traditions. Please notice the warm feeling of your hands on your belly, then make sure that the top hand can move.

Close eyes and recall other feelings of relaxation.

Experience the feeling of your hand or fingers floating up.

Notice- the power of the mind is producing these feelings.

Say to yourself something like; “I am taking 3 slow breaths to allow the floating feeling to spread throughout my body.

Count slowly to allow your body to relax until you are in a very calm state:

Notice the warmth and floating feelings spread first to your hands, then arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, eyes, forehead, face, and then begin to go back down to chest, your upper back, lower back, hips, legs to knees, knees to feet and finally toes.

Now let all the tension go. Some people visualize the tension going out of the body.

If there are areas that are tense go back to those areas and breath into tense areas.

Remind yourself that your mind knows how to relax and let go and that when your body is calm your mind is strong and ready for new ideas.

Suggest the goals you want to accomplish: what you want to feel or experience, the relaxation effect, see it happening in your mind’s eye.

Then suggest that at the count of 5 you will be fully awake.

Count back from 5, at count of 2 eyes will open and you will be fully awake and alert, feeling good refreshed and ready for the day.

If you do this in the evening before bed just suggest that after the “seeding” and seeing the goals accomplished you will drift off to a deep sleep and awake refreshed.

If you want to remember your dreams you may also include that suggestion at the beginning of the relaxation. Please keep a bit of paper by your bed if you are interested in remembering your dreams. Just by associating ideas to your dreams you may understand more about how your mind works. There is no one right way to analyze dreams. Dreams are mostly a function of memory storage and emotions. If you have issues in your dreams you can rework them in the early morning light as you wish the dream to be.