Brainwave training is the scientific way to deepen into an optimal meditation state that balances the brain, coordinates the nervous system, and allows the bodymind to heal and restore itself.
While revitalizing the body, the focused awareness and sustained attention of meditation open and amplify the brainwave frequencies of the mind into higher states that seem to be unlimited in their power and scope. (See Brainwave Biofeedback and New Study on the Brain Waves of Reiki for more on this.)
We have only just begun to realize who we are and what we are capable of. One amazing certainty has already revealed itself through EEG biofeedback meditation and brainwave training: the human brain-mind is able to reprogram the neural circuitry in the body to bring about complete and total healing of any mental, physical or spiritual illness or injury.
Studies have consistently shown that mental-emotional stress is the catalyst of pain and some 90 percent of most illnesses, a significant majority of which can be reversed by meditation. These include life-threatening diseases like cancer and heart failure.
Research conducted over nearly 30 years by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., at the University of Massachusetts Medical School shows that after only eight weeks of instruction in mindfulness meditation wherein patients simply focused on and listened to their thoughts, they experienced a dramatic decrease in chronic pain. This program has proved so successful that it is now a mainstay in many hospitals and medical schools in the United States and Canada.
1. Kabat-Zinn's patients are taught to use meditation as an exploration and inquiry into the nature of self, the direct experience of loving each moment, and the potential for freedom from suffering. By shifting their perceptions of pain, they rewire their neural circuitry and overcome it, much as Jack Schwartz did for Elmer and Alyce Green (see Brainwave Biofeedback).
2. Here is a practice described by Kabat-Zinn to the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, during a 2005 conference sponsored by the Mind and Life Institute. If you are experiencing physical pain, you may wish to try this simple, effective practice. Based on Buddhist meditation techniques, this pain reduction program is now being used in dozens of American hospitals.
When this dialogue brings the light of reason to panic, hopelessness and despair, moments of peace emerge with a “new way to inhabit one’s life,” says Kabat-Zinn. Living in the present moment and reframing your experience, rather than resisting it, causes dynamic changes to occur. These influence physiology and pathology on the quantum level. Freed of stress, the bodymind balances itself and often is able to heal.
In 1990, psychologist Eugene Peniston, Ph.D. startled the audience at the annual meeting of the Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback by announcing his studies with Paul J. Kulkosky. Peniston reported that the elevated alpha-theta brainwaves of meditation promote healing states that heal many things, from alcohol and drug addiction to severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Neurofeedback therapists already knew this, and so did consciousness researchers like Cade and the Greens. But here was objective evidence that would stand up to scientific scrutiny.
Using techniques learned at the Menninger Clinic, Peniston and Kulkosky did brainwave biofeedback training with chronic alcoholics at the Fort Lyon, Colorado Veterans Hospital. Their patients steadily grew more relaxed and became less depressed, their endorphin levels stabilized, and their MMPI personality profiles shifted into more desirable directions. They also quit drinking and three years later were still alcohol free.
A wealth of physiological research on alpha-theta training followed. In a subsequent Peniston study, alpha-theta meditation training with veterans suffering post-traumatic panic attacks, anxiety, depression, phobias, nightmares and flashbacks cured 12 of the 15 men trained over the course of a month. Thirty months later, they were living normal lives, while all 14 in the control group had relapsed.
Their conclusion was that alpha-theta meditation accesses deep states in which the brain shifts its chemistry and neural pathways. The brain and central nervous system heal themselves and the consciousness flowing through every oscillation of the bodymind.
Brainwave training with violent criminals provides further proof of the power of meditation to expand people into higher states that heal the human brain and nervous system.
Postmortem work and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies have shown that some people who are cruelly abused and neglected as infants and children develop 20 percent fewer neurons in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, where rational thought is processed. As a result, they are unable to make reasoned decisions or grasp the consequences of their actions.
Mentally and physically “deadened” by the lack of love, people who are abused and neglected in childhood cannot empathize or trust. Unlike other people, they process their emotions in the right prefrontal cortex (the seat of negative feelings like rage, jealousy, hatred, vengeance and depression) and consequently behave aggressively, as antisocial and cold-blooded criminals hard-wired for trouble.
Deep-state meditation reverses habitually negative thinking. In research carried out by psychologist Douglas Quirk, Ph.D., at the Ontario Correctional Institute near Toronto, criminals trained to produce the alpha-theta frequencies of meditation shifted their brainwave activity to the more positive left prefrontal cortex where we experience love, joy, peace and compassion.
In another study, Quirk did brainwave meditation training with seventy-seven convicts and taught them to relax. He believed all of his subjects to be victims of head injury or abuse that created in them, as in epileptics, an electrical “seizure” in the drive centers of the primitive, instinctual reptilian layers of the brain. Quirk held that as a result of this seizure activity, the convicts fell into sudden rages, violent or addictive behavior, and uncontrolled acts.
Whether or not Quirk was right about the source of these rages, the results of his study proved that violence could be curbed. A year and a half after this group of offenders was released from prison, follow-up interviews revealed that those who had received zero to four sessions of biofeedback meditation training had a 65 percent rate of rearrests for violent offenses, a figure in keeping with the national recidivism rate. But those who received thirty-four or more sessions had an astonishingly low 20 percent rate of rearrest.
EEG biofeedback meditation, as a method of relaxation and self-healing, accomplishes what nothing else can. Meditation makes us whole, by connecting left brain reason with right-brain emotion, shifting negative thinking to positive; increasing blood flow to grow new brain cells; and enhancing self-awareness and insight as the brain and central nervous system build and improve their circuitry.
It is clear from these studies that once people experience peaceful, meditative states and expanded awareness, neural pathways shift, brain cells grow and the result is a new start in life.
How does mere relaxation create such profound changes in the brain, body, mind, spirit, and even one's life?
Neurofeedback practitioners believe that training specific sites in the brain to more advantageous frequencies floods vibrantly oxygenated blood into the dendrites (thought-impulse receptors) in the area of the brain being treated; consequently, this electro-chemical refueling of the treated site heals the illness or injury. The increased blood flow reorganizes and strengthens existing neural connections to carry electricity that powers healing and rejuvenates cells.
Building on these concepts, many neurofeedback practitioners, medical workers, and psychotherapists have reached some compelling conclusions about the fundamental nature of illness. These theories pivot on the basic assumption that the health of the body derives from the health of the brain and central nervous system. The theory goes like this:
A chronically overaroused nervous system produces physical and mental stress, anxiety, agitation, impulsivity, and anger. Hyperarousal is thought to be the cause of nervous system burnout and physical conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, among others.
A chronically underaroused nervous system produces some types of depression, lack of motivation, and spaciness.
Brain instability produces bipolar disorder, migraines, PMS, panic attacks, motor and vocal tics, vertigo, teeth grinding, epilepsy, and other problems. Brain instability is described as an automobile with loose lugs nuts and a wobbly front end. Sometimes the car drives well, but at other times it veers off in one direction or another, and there is nothing the driver can do to steer the vehicle back on the road.
In the above model, nearly all health problems flow from overarousal, underarousal or instability in the frequencies of the body-mind. When any of these causes too much stress in the brain and body, conditions like joint pain, sleeplessness, migraines, panic attacks, depression, anxiety, and attentional problems flare up.
These theories agree closely with what many healers suspect is the cause of illness and disease: low voltage of inferior quality; in other words, not enough light.
1. The body's central nervous system, stressed by too much or too little energy, “shorts out” and cannot supply appropriate levels of life force to the electrical nervous system that powers cells or to the circulatory system that supplies oxygen and nutrients to cells. Robbed of life force, the system spirals into low-frequency, low-voltage randomness, chaos and discord.
2. Meditation, neurofeedback, and vibrational medicine relax the body and rebalance the brain. Free of static interference, the brain and nervous system reconnect and electrically power up all systems in the body.
3. The central nervous system reconnects systems which synchronize with and balance each other, producing vibrant health, higher awareness, and the superordinary experiences and abilities of the spiritual master.
Today we know that neuroplasticity is the key to personal health and human evolution. Neuroplasticity is the brain's ability to consciously change its structure and function.
Contrary to what was believed for centuries, the completely malleable human brain is always creating new brain cells to serve a wide variety of needs, from creativity and memory storage and retrieval to self-healing and the increase of its intelligence.
The coherent brain that operates in relative calm and symmetrical balance can often heal itself of illness and injury. When it cannot, it assigns unused "real estate" to perform the functions of injured areas. Most importantly, the human brain/mind can change its own sense of reality. Because it is a self-aware biofeedback device, it is able to change its thoughts and thought patterns in order to make changes in its physical structure.
For example, the electricity and oxygenated blood flow activated by thought generates new brain cells (neurons) and pathways (circuits) for the transmission of thought and information. If the mind chooses to let go of a thought pattern or behavior, the brain literally "unplugs" that neural circuitry and creates new pathways in its place.
Where the repetition of habitual thoughts condition brain circuitry to specific pathways to begin with, the brain/mind is easily able – with practice and repetition – to reconfigure itself. Neuronal activity changes us into what we prefer to be. This is the basis of personal transformation.
It is also the basis of personal healing. The ramifications of neuroplasticity are immense and barely understood. Since only the survival mechanisms in the brain and body are hardwired, everything else can be changed. The brain is smart enough to evolve itself, which is why brain-directed modalities like neurofeedback, biofeedback meditation, hypnosis, and mental training achieve such excellent results. (See Vol. 20 of The Still, Small Voice for related information.)
Our new understanding of the brain's ability to self-modulate has given rise to a number of compelling books and revolutionary approaches to healing. Medical doctors are now teaching the brain to reverse the devastating effects of stroke, brain disorders and brain injury. While consciousness trainers teach people to orchestrate their brainwaves to awaken awareness, neurofeedback therapists teach people site-based brainwave mastery to heal brain/nervous system disorders like epilepsy, ADD, addiction and chronic pain.
These advances in health, all based on brain training, are rapidly changing the direction of health care.
People in this field, usually without realizing it, are working with light in its essential forms: from the electrical current that generates new brain cells, to the power surge of the "aha" insight that awakens awareness, to the high-voltage brainpower of the megamind that heals and evolves the brain and body electric.
Energy practitioners, including biofeedback and neurofeedback therapists, literally see that meditation equalizes and balances the light in the human energy system. The "body electric" heals itself, when given the opportunity to do so. Once perceived to be metaphor, light is now understood by quantum physicists as the driving force in this universe, planet, consciousness and humanity.
In this view, health is a matter of harmony or discord in the electrical energy – the vibrational frequencies of light – running through the brain and central nervous system. The causes of discord could be mental, emotional, spiritual or even environmental. Most illness and injury derive from some combination of these.
Expanding the light of consciousness via biofeedback meditation and brainwave training builds and equalizes the life force, bringing healing on every level. As we move deeper into the twenty-first century, science will continue to develop technologies that enable us to monitor and speed up the healing and evolution of the human brain, mind and body.
For our own benefit, we are harnessing these remarkable technologies and the unlimited intelligence within us to evolve humankind into much more than we are now.
Begley, Sharon. Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain. Random House, New York, 2007.
Cade, C. Maxwell and Nona Coxhead. The Awakened Mind: Biofeedback and the Development of Higher States of Awareness. Element Books, Shaftesbury, Dorset, England, 1989.
Dispenza, Joe. Evolve Your Brain: The Science of Changing Your Mind. Health Communications, Inc., Deerfield Beach, Fla., 2007.
Green, Elmer & Alyce. Beyond Biofeedback. Delacorte Press, San Francisco, 1977.
Hagerty, Barbara Bradley. Fingerprints of God: The Search for the Science of Spirituality. Penguin Group, New York, 2009.
Kundalini Rising: Exploring the Energy of Awakening. Sounds True, Inc., 2009.
McTaggart, Lynn. The Field: The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe. HarperCollins, New York, 2002.
Muktenanda, Swami. Play of Consciousness: A Spiritual Autobiography. The Syda Foundation, A Siddha Yoga Publication. Fallsburg, New York, 1994.
Pennington, Judith. The Meditation Experience: A Guide to Higher States of Awareness. Soon to be published as a downloadable ebook.
Robbins, Jim. A Symphony in the Brain: The Evolution of the New Brain Wave Biofeedback.
Sannella, Lee M.D. The Kundalini Experience. Integral Publishing, Lower Lake, California, 1976.
Saraswati, Swami Satyananda. Meditation From the Tantras. Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India, 2000.
Wise, Anna. Awakening the Mind: A Guide to Mastering the Power of Your Brain Waves. Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam. New York, 2002.
Wise, Anna. The High-Performance Mind: Mastering Brainwaves for Insight, Healing and Creativity. Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam. New York, 1995.
* www.mindmirroreeg.com Read the People section for stories about Max Cade and other early awakened mind researchers. Some of the information on this page comes from this authoritative website.
* www.annawise.com Visit this site to learn more about Anna Wise's legacy in awakening awareness.
* www.futurehealth.org The most informative biofeedback research organization on the web. Contains information on the annual Winter Brain event and offers free research reporters written by leaders in this field.
* www.aapb.org (Association of Applied Psychophysiological Biofeedback). A professional organization for all kinds of biofeedback research. The largest group within the organization is that of EEG practitioners.
* www.eaglelife.com Judith Pennington's primary website opens to two free e-publications, The Still, Small Voice and OneWorld Spirit, dedicated to personal healing and consciousness expansion through meditation, brainwave mastery, sound and self-awareness.