Performance/life Enhancement Training Integrating Biofeedback with Special Emphasis on Neurofeedback
This is an edited excerpt from our forthcoming book, The Process, and given as a talk at the Palm Springs Neurofeedback conference in February 1998.
I’m Adam Crane, president of American BioTec and CapScan corporations. We have decided to substantially increase our commitment to the emerging art and science of Peak Performance, Optimum Functioning, or as we prefer to call it Performance / Life Enhancement. We have introduced the term MindFitness which we believe will work well as informal language for the general public. BioFeedback and especially NeuroFeedback is a critically important component of our first program, which is called The Process- MindFitness- Stage I .
We believe that NeuroFeedback provides a niche opportunity in the MindFitness, sub clinical symptom,
educational market for those practitioners ready and able to enhance their own lives by making a place for themselves in this already huge and growing field. Those of you who want to get into the nitty gritty of our program, The Process, can come to our workshop or even better our three-day training program in June. But the purpose of this talk is to try to overview the big picture together and perhaps suggest some ways we can improve cooperation, creativity and productivity in our field.
As we enter this adventure of the mind (body & spirit) one of the earliest challenges we face is communication – what we really mean with each other. There already exists and is evolving both a formal and an informal language. The better we understand and use that language the more the phenomenon of intelligence unfolds in our own individual lives and like a stone hitting the water spreads in waves touching the lives of others. In some cases igniting these concepts in their minds, in other cases adding fuel to a flame already begun. For me the term Peak Performance refers to a subset of what we are so excited about. I prefer the admittedly awkward / double barreled term of Performance/Life Enhancement . Optimum Functioning has a nice feel to it as well, but for this talk let’s adopt Performance Life Enhancement or MindFitness. The director of the Center for Performance Enhancement at West Point military academy recently joined our faculty. Note they have been using the term Performance Enhancement for many years.
I’m sure everyone in this room already understands there is something extraordinary emerging out of the marriage of MindFitness and sublclinical symptoms with NeuroFeedback. It is also clear that we are all doing rather different versions of it. Frankly, I believe our version, dubbed The Process, may be self limiting because we are extremely aggressive about making it as heuristic a program as possible (define) and we have some unusual ideas about the role that winning and competition play in determining quality of life. We define heuristic as the method in which the learners discover for themselves while reducing dependence on past experience and outside authority to the minimum wisdom deems necessary.
Now, we think we can adapt our program to a number of different markets (Business, Education, Sports, Art and Personal Growth) and still stay true to heuristic principles but the proof is in the doing. Rob Kall challenged me to outline our two-hour workshop in one paragraph and although we go much further than this.
That paragraph reads:
- Garfield is correct, the most important thing is a sense of mission. NeuroFeedback can play a powerful role in the alignment of that sense of mission with highest personal values. This adds power.
- MindFitness is already a substantial industry. NeuroFeedback is adjunctive and provides a niche opportunity if used extremely skillfully. We are tiny tree frogs ambitiously contemplating conquering the sea.
- One of the critical keys to success in this field is a training program that stands on its own with or without NeuroFeedback. Being forced to walk the talk is an uncomfortable blessing of infinite potential.
- MindFitness transcends the limitations of managed care and attracts trendsetters thereby feeding the clinical practice at the same time.
- The NeuroFeedback component of Performance Life Enhancement requires more training time than clinical NeuroFeedback. Therefore, equipment and per capita training costs must dramatically decrease in order to reach more of the population. This means group training and quality personal trainers.
The purpose of this brief talk is to share with you our view of the big picture and some sense of the underpinnings of our model. Some of these thoughts may be repeated in the workshop since a number of the people coming to the workshop are not with us today. Our view of the best way to deliver The Process is to script the entire 20 hour program… i.e. so many minutes for this concept or exercise, etc
HOW THE MIND WORKS
Similar to the Psychology of Mind (POM) practitioners, we take the view that it is possible to give our clients a really good, practical course in how the mind works. Furthermore, we agree with their view that this concept is the essence of quick therapy and represents a considerable leap beyond almost anything that has happened in traditional psychology so far, including cognitive therapy. If this is true and I know that some of you may not find this idea acceptable, at least not until considerable more investigation than is possible in this short presentation has taken place. However, if we can assume that POM concepts are valid clinically, then it follows that they are even more valid when integrated into a heuristic MindFitness program.
I like Elmer Green’s notion of mind. The mind is a field encompassing the whole body including the heart and brain. I think he got it from one of his yogi friends who said “All of the body is within the mind including the brain, but not all of the mind is within the body”. You remember Einstein said the field is the sole governing agency of the particles. That means the brain, thought, thinking and other forms of perception are governed by this field.
My wife and I were discussing the problem of cloning humans. We don’t think that the soul can be cloned; so she quipped, “The soul is the sole governing agency of the clone.” Anyway, it is very important to make sure the field is in the best possible condition. I don’t think that we need to take time here to discuss all of the physical things that can improve the quality of the field and therefore the coherence of thought. Things like right exercise, good water, right nutrition, good air, etc but in a proper MindFitness program they must be carefully monitored and enhanced.
There is something arrogant or at least funny about presuming to teach others about how the mind works. After all, we probably are doing it because it is a way of teaching ourselves. But then that is the very essence of psychology when it works right isn’t it? And teaching MindFitness certainly is the essence of the motivational, Performance Enhancement industry. So, no matter how outrageous it seems we are here and this is our business, so we might as well do the best job we can of it.
And in that regard we are constantly judging each other to see who can really do it and who is just another good talker. And of those persons who can really do it, which ones can help us learn? Some people seem to learn very well from me, and others have a tough time with my style. But then learning how to bring increasing value to a wider audience is also part of the game isn’t it? No matter that it can be embarrassing, mysterious, dangerous, absurd, heroic, complicated, simple, scary and inspiring all at the same time.
When it comes to MindFitness we are in the main dealing with people who are already rather functional. In fact, if you look at the kind of people who have the kind of energy, curiosity, resources, etc to show up for this type of training you might say that they are already more functional than most. Maybe, more than some of us here. So, they already know to some degree how their particular mind works. Our value is in taking them to the next level of functionality… teaching them more about the way their minds work than they already know.
The Hobby Club Stage
Remember how personal computers got started? There was zero money in it. A bunch of mavericks got together because they were enthralled with the idea of having their own computer to play with. There was an incredible spirit of camaraderie and cooperation. They felt they were true artists at the beginning of a new scientific art form. Many dreamed of the way this could change the world. Then Apple and Commodore and several others long forgotten exploded and the world was changed. Finally, IBM and Bill Gates got together and appear to have prevailed, at least so far. In any case, those little computer clubs were the fertile ground from which an incredible technology emerged changing the world in an explosive way. Performance / Life Enhancement, MindFitness with NeuroFeedback is at the Hobby Club Stage.
Many of us here today are having a ridiculously good time identifying problems and solving them. Like how do you work in groups? How do you design a program that is so appealing and has so much tangible, functional value that it sells itself? How can it be made to feed the clinical practice? Is it possible to create a kind of ISO9001, zero defects strategy that will assure constant improvement? What is the biz model? How do you get paid?
Some of us believe that if what we think is going on is real, in terms of the emergence of yet another art form which marries the technology of self knowledge and consciousness, then we are at the hobby club stage of a phenomenon which will eventually bring about greater change in the world than the PC revolution has.
It is like our youth… Too soon gone. We should take time to savor this moment before the “Greed is Good Syndrome takes over!” Dare we hope that the very nature of MindFitness has built into it dynamics which will sabotage the Greed is Good, hyper competitive nature we are heir to? Perhaps, the technology of self-knowledge will reflect back to us our connectedness. And we can finally learn what some of the best minds in business are teaching. People like Jean Monet, Ted Turner, Mary Wells, Edwards Deming, Bill Gore(Sr.), Ben & Jerry, Michael Murphy, Stuart Brand, and these are just a few of the old timers.
The notion that hyper co-operativeness and voluntary simplicity will get us farther than hyper competitiveness and senseless consumption is easy to say and hard to do. But many business and science leaders are saying we have already entered a phase, which will eventually make it choiceless. And in the end, the emergence of Performance Life Enhancement as a commercially viable art form may contribute to this benevolent evolution more than anything else. Indeed, it seems clear that these kinds of values only come to those who are relatively mature psychologically, progressed fairly far along Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and would be termed at least functional if not super functional.
Bohm said, “The mechanical model of the universe makes nature a means to an end. It implies that nature is there for us to get whatever we want out of it. I say this model is not adequate. A part has no meaning except in terms of the whole. The idea of treating everything as only parts may work in the short run, but it doesn’t work when you follow it through”.
If our goal is to practically enhance our own performance and life and the lives of others then we must embrace the whole. Such an embrace must recognize that the most critically important factor is the quality of the training program itself. EEG Biofeedback then becomes an opportunity to further enhance that program. An automobile may be either a blessing or a curse. A blessing when we know where to go. Once we have established an excellent program we can then enthusiastically apply Biofeedback.
Many of you are aware of my obsession with the notion of Profound Attention (borrowing from Deming’s Profound Knowledge concept). The notion that thought is already matter and thinking a material process, and how we human beings actualize or transform ourselves in some ratio to how well we can watch ourselves think. Reasonable language for that watching is Profound Attention.
The NY Times Science section reports that sub clinical symptoms (below DSM IV criteria) afflict most of the population and are the next big opportunity for mental health practitioners. Lives can be ruined by sub clinical symptoms, dealing with sub clinical symptoms before they become clinical will clearly reduce the nations health cost burden more than any other strategy, but even more to the point of our focus here today, sub clinical symptoms dramatically reduce performance and quality of life. Therefore, reducing sub clinical symptoms, like stress management, is fundamental to any Performance Program.
MindFitness implies the art and science of bringing about those conditions, which produce the highest quality of consciousness for the longest periods of time. Part of the challenge is improving the capability to recognize when the consciousness is deteriorating and to reverse that trend at the earliest moment. For example, the late, great mind /body physicist David Bohm was fascinated by EDR because it showed the approximately three second interval between stimulus and emotion, the insult and the anger. Once that time is used up anger can become uncontrollable. He was also interested in EDR because he believed (as Jung did) that true insight, creative imagery is also felt. In fact, Bohm believed we need a word for feeling kinds of thoughts and invented the term “felts”.
For me Peak Performance refers to a specific quality or ability, i.e. the example of some athletes, business people, artists etc to deliver their best when it really counts. It is a timing and strategic capability. It is generally agreed that most elite athletes are fairly close in physical capability. Therefore, winning, being number one is a mind game requiring the ability to peak at the right moment when the competition is greatest. This specific phenomenon is what Peak Performance means to me. And it is only a part of what attracts me to this great adventure. Personally, I believe that the shortest path to improving this kind of Peak Performance also lies in the development of what I prefer to call Profound Attention.
In struggling to understand the deepest possible truths about this field of endeavor, our team has come to feel that what we are most interested in is enhancement of the quality of life moment to moment. And this implies much more than always being #1. We think the wisdom of Vince Lombardi’s famous quote “Winning isn’t the greatest thing, it is the only thing” needs challenging.
PSYCHOLOGY OF MIND
One of the delights of working on the MindFitness project is that I get to do research on the most interesting things in life, at least to me. Recently, a psychologist introduced me to what he thinks (Lord give me a break) is yet another paradigm shift and I must say, some of us are finding that Psychology of Mind (POM) strategies integrated with Biofeedback hold great promise. If you like what you hear you might want to get a copy of Innovations in Clinical Practice: A Source Book Vol. 15, Professional Resource Press.
POM is known as the HR (Health Realization) model in the education and prevention fields. Work begun in the mid 1970’s has shown this extraordinary way of working to have powerful applications in many different locations, it has been applied over two decades in marital and family counseling, addictions treatment, brief therapy, and comprehensive community- wide prevention and urban renewal efforts. Observed outcomes in therapy, as well as measured results of long-term pilot demonstration programs in a wide range of at risk schools and communities, indicate a potential for our field to address, remediate, or prevent mental health problems more successfully. POM is promising because of its range of applications and the depth of its impact on what often seem to be intractable problems in society today.
The uniqueness and practicality of this program are found in two interrelated features of its logic. It teaches people how to directly elicit a state of healthy psychological functioning that inherently exists as a potential within everyone. Second, it allows people to grasp how their moment-to-moment, everyday psychological reality is created and maintained in their thinking and consciousness.
The Assumptions And Principles of POM
The three POM assumptions about the basic nature of human psychological functioning:
- Thought is the source of human experience.
- Regardless of their current state of mental functioning, all people have the same capacity for healthy psychological functioning.
- There are two modes of thought, one which is limited to memory and the other of which is linked to a healthy, common sense, wiser intelligence.
Actually, I hold to a formal definition of thought as image-making process based on memory. Further I believe that thought is already matter according to the classic physics definition of matter as energy travelling in a pattern. That would make thinking a material process. POM holds a wider definition which is probably easier to grasp for most people and therefore provides a bridge to a deeper insight into thought for those who can cross that bridge.
The first assumption is that thought as a continuous mental function, is the most basic, causative, independent variable in human psychological experience. In other words, our moment-to-moment personal experience of our life is determined, at each instant of time, by our thinking at that instant. In this concept, human experience is best understood and described at its lowest common denominator by understanding the operation of three principles: mind, consciousness, and thought. This paradigm defines thought in the broadest possible sense, as our mental imaging ability.
Consciousness, in this paradigm, is the human capacity to bring thought to life continually through the senses. Mind is seen as the psychic life force that generates and sustains the process of thought interacting with consciousness to create experience. These are useful understandings of Consciousness and Mind and again, we feel it is excellent informal language, which can be an effective bridge to deeper insights. We elaborate on our views about thought in the monograph Mind Compass and the article Slow Waves, Profound Attention in the website library.
This description of human psychological functioning leads logically to the conclusion that thought is the most important variable for psychology to understand, both as a function and as a continuous process, independent of the contents of any particular thoughts. This understanding also leads to the consclusion that the quality of our thinking is the determinant of our stability, because it is the sole variable in the human experience that continuously determines the quality of our psychological life. Included in what we mean here by “psychological life” are dimensions such as overall satisfaction with and enjoyment of life, productivity, motivation, self-worth, creativity, and insight, along with numerous indices of dysfunction, including fear, depression, delusional states, hostility, and alienation.
The cognitive revolution in psychology has resulted in thought being elevated to a much higher focus of study. “A cognitive perspective does not ignore the contribution of innate propensities or prior experience… According to this perspective, thinking plays a role in determining subsequent affect and behavior, but is itself influenced by existing moods and the consequence of prior actions… Although it does not insist on exclusivity, cognitive theory suggests that thinking plays a causal role, in concert with other factors, the etiology and maintenance of at least some disorders and can, therefore, serve to mediate therapeutic change” Hollon and Beck
POM asserts that thought has a much bigger role than this, suggesting that thinking is the most fundamental factor influencing all other factors. The notion is that without thought there would be no consequences of prior actions, no moods or affect, no innate propensities, and no learned behavior. Thought is the fabric of personal reality determining perception, behavior, and experience, not only for some clinical disorders, but also for the totality of human experience.
In current paradigms thinking is seen as only one contributor to well being, performance, or other forms of positive change. Thinking shares equal credibility with other such factors as past traumas, conditioning, life stressors, biology, the circumstances or environment and other sociocultural influences. In POM these seemingly independent factors are all consequences of the profound workings of consciousness and thought.
Because of POM’s focus on thought people see great similarities between POM and cognitive therapy but there are important differences. We can see the difference more clearly if we think of our minds as thought factories. A cognitive therapist would examine the thoughts produced by the factory and make recommendations about improvements. The POM therapist would look at the manufacturing blueprint of that factory and question the way thought is intended for use and the specifications for thought quality. Cognitive therapy would essentially provide a quality control function while POM would perform an engineering and design function.
We consider the POM concepts and use of language to be extremely applicable to our view of heuristic learning strategies. We also think that the Principle of Profound Attention and NFB hold the keys to the next evolution beyond POM. In fact, the very ability to attend to or watch thought is what gives the individual the power to discriminate and actually utilize ‘creative mode’ of thinking and, or ‘computer mode’ more flexibly and creatively. Alpha training can work with a high percentage of this population segment.
GREY WALTER’S ALPHA BRAIN WAVE TYPES
It is important to be aware of the different brain wave types when integrating NeuroFeedback. Grey Walter reported that there are three alpha types. “R” for Responsive and they are about two thirds of the population. Eyes closed alpha increases if relaxed. Alpha blocked by making mental effort or opening the eyes. “Can form mental images to help them think but do not habitually do so.” Type P for Persistent. Alpha persists even when their eyes are open and they are grappling with problems and they are about one sixth of the population. Usually perceive by sound or touch better than by forming visual images. Type M for Minus. Show no noticeable alpha whether eyes open or closed and minds blank or busy and they are also about one sixth of the population and always think in visual images.
Synchrony can be an especially effective tool with types P and M. Failing synchrony capability SMR and BETA strategies may also work. Of course, synchrony works great with R’s too but they are less of a problem in any case.
As many of you have found one of the most amazing aspects of emersion in this kind of work is that it forces or shall I say seduces you into the practice of the strategies you are teaching.
We all know the secrete of success don’t we? Working very hard, getting a great education, applying yourself, dressing well and most important of all, marrying the bosses daughter! No,no its winning the lottery. Or is it motivation? In the formal language, a Sense of Mission. There is no secrete, if we can enhance the sense of mission a small amount, say 20% on average, we will bring a valuable level of success to ourselves and our clients. A difficult yet important aspect of The Process is that we seek to align the sense of mission with personal highest values.
So, if some one has enough motivation to come and sit down and ask for help to do better, how do we help them do better? What strategy is best? The strategy we use in The Process is to present as practical and inspiring a course as we can on how the mind works. The instrumentation is a key part of that. However, I repeat, we believe the training must work by itself and the BioFeedback is optional.
Our strategies include dramatically explaining the raw power of visualization and enhancing emotional intelligence, of following the heart, taking risks, of La Via Negativa, of attention to thought, the witness of its operation, opening the window to the archetypal, creative, super problem solving, insight laden imagery. And we like to explain it using every aspect of pop science that we can and I do not mean that in a derogatory way. I mean that many great writers and public television have given many of the type people who are likely to take advantage of our services a sense of excitement and involvement in science. A tiny sampling of contributors yields names like Bohm, Hawking, Deming, Gould, Bronowski, Peat, Sagan, Mead, Sheldrake, and many more.
The Actualizer group is self-selecting, generally love technology and consider themselves relatively technically competent. For example, I believe there is a higher percentage of Alpha R’s in this group than in the population as a whole. This is serendipity because it means that we can more easily work with groups. Also, in my view Alpha training is easier to work with for the practitioner and more fun for the client. I don’t know if this talking science idea works with other groups (market segments). We will see when we get there. Meanwhile, we use every opportunity to use those empowering and inspiring concepts inherent in Quantum Theory, Chaos Theory, Systems Theory, Neuroscience, Psychology of Mind, Psychology of Awareness, the New Economics, Voluntary Simplicity, Logotherapy, etc.
Getting people to read Frankl’s Search for Meaning integrates beautifully with MindFitness. Frankl, makes an extraordinary point. What we call self-actualization probably can’t go very far unless self-transcendence happens first. The reason is that insight must come first and then right action, right living. Once self-transcendence, insight happens, self-actualization probably instantly follows. So, from Frankl’s point of view self-actualization becomes redundant.
Also, true actualization of latent potential has this quality of doing or not doing what is most intelligent, compassionate, productive regardless of whether it feels good or not. In fact, although it is unclear what role suffering plays, it is obvious that for those of us living in the real world, suffering happens. And right living, right action, intelligence, compassion seems to have a lot to do with getting through suffering in best possible condition, intact, not succumbing to it. The last temptation is martyrdom.
EEG BioFeedback is used clinically in pain management strategies. A more advanced use is extending it to deal with sublclinical pain, fear and suffering. A fundamental reason that EEG BioFeedback can be effective is because psychothenia (over thinking) plays a critical role in these sublclinical, confusion – generating, energy and insight thieves. When we look at a Quantum Physics model things get even more exciting. This falls back to the principle of Profound Attention. The Heisenberg Principle implies that observation changes what is observed. The Profound Attention notion implies that the quality of the observation affects the quality of the change. What is changed at the quantum level is changed at all levels. The hypothesis is that profound attention should bring about changes, a transformation if you will, at the sub atomic, atomic, and cellular level, eventually producing changes in the nervous system itself. Some think that these changes can actually be great enough to be called a kind of healthy mutation.
You may recall the great debate between Einstein and Nils Bohr over the Quantum Theory. Essentially Einstein said there are fixed, rather predetermined laws or causes and that certain phenomena at the Quantum level are true regardless of whether there is an observer or not. Einstein didn’t like Bohr’s probabilistic, random interpretation of the Quantum Theory. He said, “God does not play dice with the Universe.” He believed that we are simply unaware of the subtle, tiny perturbations that act on a tossed penny, etc. giving the illusion of randomness. Einstein believed physics must deal with a reality that is relatvely independent of the human observer. Bohr felt the quanta is more like a mind, and neither he nor Einstein should be telling God how to design the Universe. Einstein seemed to see physics more like discreet components (not necessarily in relationship) (p108, Infinite Potential). This is curious since Bohr seems to be fighting for the absolute interconnectedness of the quanta and Einstein for something else. Strange since Einstein was by his own declaration a mystic.
Bohr in the Copenhagen interpretation seemed to be suggesting that the Quanta can be changed by observation, everything is connected implying that communication could occur over vast distances, virtually instantly; defying Einstein’s E=MC2 – nothing goes faster than light. Bohr’s interpretation seems to be prevailing. However, Einstein’s view also has an immense following. The debate continues.
But Bohm developed something called the Causal Interpretation of the Quantum Theory which he later changed to the Implicit / Explicit Order which many believe reconciles the two. In fact, there is a growing movement in physics of disciples of Bohmian Mechanics and they believe that Bohm’s ideas will have a major impact during the coming century. Interestingly, it is reported that Einstein believed at one time that Bohm was the best qualified physicist to carry on his work. Indeed, the steady evolution of string theory and the 11 dimension model clearly lends additional credence to Bohm’s concepts.
I do not claim to understand the Causal Interpretation thoroughly… who, is that famous physicist, (Rosenburg about 1922 ?) who when told that only three people really understood Einstein’s Theory of Relativity responded by saying “Really, and who is the third?” However, I believe Bohm’s interpretation of the Quantum Theory reconciles by agreeing with Einstein that there are relatively fixed laws but they are in turn subject to subtle, relatively fixed laws yet to be discovered and they in turn subject to yet subtler laws and this hierarchy, if you will, reconciles with Bohr because these levels of subtle laws proceed to infinity. Essentially they can never fully be known. My understanding of Bohm’s notion seems to me to be clear and obviously true. It is that attention to “what is” changes the quanta. The quality of attention effects the quality and the speed of that change.
Some adherents of so called Bohmian Mechanics feel that the more sensitive the mind is to these subtle, normally invisible laws or principles, the more the latent potential within a given set of circumstances can be brought out. Bohm called this the implicit becoming explicit, the enfolded unfolding. Intelligence is sensitivity. The Latin root, Intelligere, means to see between the threads finely woven. So, there is a sense that when EEG training is working at its best the brain is becoming more sensitive to influences which it was insensitive to before, at least a lot of the heavy, mechanical conditioning, perhaps even transcending and emptying itself of the known. This allows a child like, high-energy form of attention to emerge or as POM would say responsive, coherent, creative thinking. This modifies the field of the mind (not mine field I hope) and is conducive to something new coming in such as insight. This is the essence of Life Enhancement / MindFitness Learning.
Now this insight might be, “I can and will become the greatest tennis player in the world”, “I can make this business succeed, write this book, lose weight, learn how to make my mind work better, do all I can to comfort the dying, etc.” Enhancing insight is the discovery, the birth we are aiming to serve as midwives for. Because once that insight happens massive energy is released. A Sense of Mission is likely to emerge.
A key as Peniston and others has shown is getting the client to spend enough time in a changed brain state. Bohm put forth the notion that the operation of the brain is like a weather system and we must learn how best to handle the various weather conditions. Of course, that implies the possibility of changing the weather in the brain. I believe EEG BioFeedback to some degree does just that allowing, as it were, a better mix of sunlight and rain to fall on tiny seeds of insight, thought and feeling and bringing about a more natural, healthy growth pattern. You may recall that the modern version of Chaos Theory emerged from the study of weather prediction strategies.
EEG BioFeedback, by quieting the mind, can enhance sensitivity to the weather conditions of the brain. Just like the primitive farmer, we can learn to seek shelter during storms – have the sense to come in out of the rain. And plant our seeds before the warm, rainy season instead of before the winter. These subtle skills make the big difference in the enhancement of performance and the quality of life. But like physical conditioning the brain must be exercised. Key to this is watching thought. Watching thought gives a sort of muscle to the brain. But it probably must begin with deep relaxation and relative neural silence. Obviously, NeuroFeedback, alpha training and probably even more importantly synchrony training can be a large leap here.
For some time the relationship between Chaos and Turbulence Theory and mind/body health has been clear and getting richer. For those who understand the concept of attractors it can be said that mental illness and mental health are both attractors’ patterns emerging out of the Time/Space Continuum or put more metaphorically the Mind of Nature. Attractors are nature’s solution to a problem. It follows that the goal of Life Enhancement learning is improved, if not excellent mental health and that is also an attractor.
Since excellent mental health seems relatively rare, perhaps the term strange attractor is more apt. Key to creating the mind weather conditions for such attractors to emerge is immense enhancement of sensitivity. Sensitivity = Intelligence. Logo therapy applies well here too because characteristic of all attractors is their uniqueness even though they also exhibit sameness (like snowflakes). By the way, if Logo Therapy is an appropriate term perhaps Logo Education or Logo Learning is more apt for MindFitness training.
Key conditions relating to Chaos Theory is the interconnectedness of the Quanta. An electron “randomly” shifting orbit on the edge of the galaxy can affect the outcome of a billiard game on earth”. (UC Scientist Quantum Physics.)
As the quality of attention to thought and thinking increases, the quantity of thought seems to decrease (thought slows down as in the proverbial Zone) while the quality of thought increases. The higher the quality of thought the more it sees it’s limitations. When thought sees its limitations it undergoes a kind of shock, causing moments of relative silence. In these moments insight happens. Insight is the foundation underlying MindFitness. We hypothesize that for many, mid range alpha training can dramatically enhance this Process. So, this is the kind of feeling which must be engendered in an effective, successful Life Enhancement program with or without EEG BioFeedback!
In summary, first stress management, next EEG, then work with what comes up. This by itself if done artfully can produce excellent results with many. Integrate classic goal achievement strategies, visualization, etc. and focus on the enhancement of the Sense of Mission (SOM). Taking it to a higher level can be done by aligning the SOM with the personal highest values.
Hopefully, this talk has given you a sense of the underlying concepts behind our Performance / Life Enhancement, MindFitness seminar dubbed The Process. Details can be obtained by calling and, or visiting our website.
I would like to offer a few more thoughts that relate to us as a community, especially, that sub group that this Optimum Functioning meeting is designed to encourage. Some of you have heard me refer to my friend the late David Bohm as one of the greatest physicist and teachers of our time. You can read about his extraordinary life in David Peat’s magnificent book, “Infinite Potential”.
The last few decades of Dave’s life were largely devoted to the problem of science fragmenting and sabotaging itself because so much of science has bought in to the hyper-competitive, personality, ego driven, greed is good ethic. Dave worked for years with groups in England, Israel, the U.S., and Canada on a concept he called Dialogue or Participatory Thought. The goal was to bring about a much more efficient, holistic and productive standard of scientific and professional communication. For a number of years a group of us met out in the Ojai valley. I learned all I could and am still studying his work and integrating his concepts into my own.
He even believed that groups of concerned lay people would eventually adopt the concept of Participatory Thought Dialogues in order to become more effective at producing and implementing societal change. Again easier said than done. But the key is openness and making a safe environment for diverse points of view, to make a kind of stew. It’s not unlike the “brain trust” strategies. To some extent the most successful organizations have been and are doing this. It’s like the difference between an orchestra and a jazz combo. Old style companies, for example, were run more like orchestras and successful modern businesses more like jazz combos. Everyone supports the soloist and senses when its time to support the new soloist. The soloist who has just finished considers his ability to time his yielding to the next player a critical part of his art. “There is no limit to what can be accomplished as long as we don’t care who gets the credit.”
Implied in the concept of Dialogue is need for an environment in which it is safe to put forth your point of view. Sometimes the least articulate may be “closest to the bone.” Also, in such an environment a kind of group mind can emerge which has the potential for being more intelligent than any single participant does. A fundamental aspect of holistic concepts is the whole cannot be predicted by the sum of its parts.
We are all aware of the need of some often gifted individuals to demonstrate that they are smarter than the rest. And using often brilliant and complicated arguments cut the competition off at the knees. Such attacks are difficult to defend against because the attacker is usually declaring himself the champion of truth and defender of science. Sometimes the scientific specialty used as a weapon in these attacks is about to become obsolete. However, when we are in this mode we see ourselves as saviors. I say we because I have made this unfortunate mistake myself and thrown the baby out with the bath water as others in the Biofeedback community have.
But if we want to take NFB to undreamed of heights, if we want to prevail and flower, if we want to awaken the wings asleep in the flesh of man, we must enhance our own performance as a team, a kind of extended family. I suggest that making this Participatory Thought Dialogue concept a high priority for the Neurofeedback community will reward us all, in ways we cannot even imagine. And I know that we all have rich imaginations.
AFTER THOUGHT (From Mind Compass)
The brainwave-self-regulation world is divided between Alpha/Theta protocols and SMR/Beta protocols. The SMR/Beta protocols are generally applied to some forms of Epilepsy, Attention Deficit Disorder, Hyperactivity, Closed Head Injury, Insomnia etc. However it is important to acknowledge the differing opinions of what protocols apply to what disorders. For example, those familiar with using Alpha/Theta protocols believe them to be best suited for addictive behaviors, PTSD and many other psychological disorders. Then there is the whole area of peak performance, creativity enhancement, reverie etc. The Alpha/Theta group is convinced that their techniques are best for enhancing abilities in normals, and the SMR/Beta group feels they have the key.
Both groups present strong hypothesis as to why their techniques are most effective, and for those relatively few people, who are competent in both areas, it is clear that there is substantial overlap. The way I reconcile these apparent contradictions and paradoxical phenomena is as follows:
- The EEG bandwidths are arbitrarily set for the convenience of science to date. However everyone’s EEG signatures are not exactly the same, in the same way that everyone’s states or qualities of consciousness are not exactly the same.
- We have already discussed the widely held point of view that the fundamental problem individual human beings face is that the mind (brain) becomes conditioned, mechanical, locked into an inflexible way of working.
Virtually all of the most effective neurofeedback therapists are developing independent ideas about how best to work with individual people. Again there is also considerable consensus. For example, everyone recognizes that ADD alcoholics should do some Beta training at least before they leave the office, and hyperactive kids and insomniacs will probably benefit from SMR training.
Joe Kamiya has said over and over again that the relationship between the therapist/teacher and the client is all-important. Doesn’t that make sense? A master class teacher is always super sensitive to the subtleties that can make a huge difference with the student.
Of course, there are prodigies who do not need a teacher. They can simply hook up to an instrument and use it to teach themselves very successfully, and there are prodigies who can sit down at a piano or pick up a guitar and teach themselves to play beautifully. On second thought, almost all of the prodigies I ever studied were also gifted at seeking out the right teacher and knowing what to take and what to throw away.
So, 7, 10, 14, and 18 Hz can mean different things to different people at different times. There really is great art involved in this brainwave training. It is not mechanical. The instruments reflect electronic information associated with qualities of consciousness. Therein lies a daunting maze and a cornucopia of opportunity.
This has led some neurofeedback theoreticians to speculate that what brainwave training does when it works well is to break that inflexible pattern in some as yet poorly understood way. Breaking this pattern allows the brain to reorganize itself along more natural and fluid lines.
I believe there is great merit in this point of view. I have long felt that almost all human suffering is caused or exacerbated by those conditioned, mechanical, bound up states of consciousness resulting from the brain getting locked into unhealthy patterns. And I have long felt that brainwave training when it works well assists the brain in breaking the pattern and doing what it wants to do, which is to be fluid and flexible and produce the right qualities (and corresponding electronic changes) to match constantly shifting challenges in moment to moment living.