An Edge interview with Paulette Hastings of Neuro Strength
The idea was intriguing — balancing your brain to the way it was intended to operate. I envisioned a bank of computers where clients rearranged rectangular blocks on the screen or memorized lists from quickly flashing images or tried to remember where letters were hidden out of sight. I thought it was about exercising the brain to make it work better — but I was wrong.
After noted Twin Cities psychic Echo Bodine told me about how Brainwave Optimization had helped her achieve an incredibly invigorating sense of balance again following a mild stroke she had suffered a few years ago, I visited the Neuro Strength offices in Bloomington. What I learned was that a technology has been developed during the past 10 years that not only identifies brainwave imbalances in your brain, but restores optimum brain function through the power of sound.
Paulette Hastings, owner of Neuro Strength, calls it “brain training.” It is based on technology developed by Brain State Technologies in Scottsdale, AZ. The software measures the optimal brainwave levels produced in each lobe of your brain, translates those levels into soundwaves, and then it transfers that optimal soundscape — in real time, as your brain is creating the patterns — back to the brain via headphones with the certainty that your brain will make the optimal pattern it is hearing the dominant pattern in what it is creating. Through hours of repeated sessions in less than two weeks, the intention is that this optimal brainwave level will become how your brain will now operate.
With more than 140 offices internationally, Brain State Technologies has amassed a database of more than 30,000 brainwave assessments — considered the largest database of brainwave readings in the world — and it continually studies how to further refine and perfect its technology to help more people achieve greater harmony in their lives.
I recently spoke with Mrs. Hastings at the offices of Neuro Strength, which has served the Twin Cities for the past three and a half years.
Most of us don’t really think about how our brains operate. What are the signs that our brains are out of balance?
Paulette Hastings: Those signs can come in many different forms. It’s often physical things: “I can’t sleep well” or “I’m feeling too much physical pain.” It also can be emotional: “Whenever I come up to a certain situation, I immediately freeze up and I can’t move beyond that place.”
People come to Neuro Strength for a number of reasons. The largest number of people come to us because they’re depressed and they’re unhappy with what they’re experiencing at this time. Sleep difficulties also are a big reason people come to us for help. And more and more we’re seeing people come for help with addiction, whether it’s a behavior addiction like gambling or a substance addiction. Sugar also is a big addiction for many people.
We know the brain can become imbalanced when it experiences a trauma, whether it is a real trauma or a perceived one. People don’t consider a bump on the head, if it’s not a significant bump, to be an issue, but we know, in fact, that it can have a big difference on how effectively the brain works. Even if you stand up and bump your head on the cupboard. It seems like a minor thing, but it definitely has an effect on the brain.
So it can be physical bumps like that, or car accidents, but it also can be perceived traumas. You felt that you were threatened in some way — or perhaps you are being threatened by somebody or some thing. Those kinds of traumas can cause certain patterns to form in your brain. They are important patterns, because they help you survive whatever the incident is, but they don’t necessarily need to stay there forever, once you are out of that situation.
That’s when the imbalance can come into play.
At first glance, it would seem like you only help people who have had actual injuries to the brain, but you are looking at the total effectiveness of our brains in our everyday lives.
PH: Absolutely. We do help people who have had specific head injuries, but the vast majority of those who come here have not had those types of injuries.
Can you compare what you do with brain function to the process of defragmenting computers that become clogged down with old, outdated information and data that is no longer needed?
PH: That’s an interesting way to put it. I haven’t actually thought of it that way. Yes, when those patterns that develop as a result of some kind of trauma and an imbalance forms, those patterns continue to stay dominant until they are told they no longer need to remain dominant any more.
An example of how those patterns can be changed can be seen in an example of somebody who has had a stroke. We know that if they are having difficulty walking, physical therapy or occupational therapy can help them to override those patterns that are in the brain. Our brains have an amazing memory, and we don’t actually ever lose any patterns that develop. What’s important are the patterns that are dominant and which ones are not, as far as how we respond to things.
So it’s not a question of getting rid of old data that our brains no longer need, but making those old patterns less accessible.
During a stroke, there is a loss of blood to an area of the brain. What is happening during brain training in terms of re-accessing those areas of the brain that have been temporarily lost?
PH: What we allow the brain to do is to see itself through sound. What we do is place sensors on the scalp to measure the brainwaves in specific lobes of the brain. And when we replay a person’s brainwaves as soundwaves to them, we’re really replaying just the optimal ones that they’re creating. So we’re not sending them the tones that are very out of balance. It’s likely that at that location, wherever that stroke took place, what’s happening on the left side of the brain is very different than what’s happening on the right side of the brain, because of the injury that took place. When we create an opportunity for them to hear, or observe, themselves, the brain chooses to create more of that positive, optimal pattern.
For an individual, they may not always regain fully what they had, because there may be too much injury in that location, but the brain may, in fact, make alternative routes. We may never see the perfect balance on the computer screen, because their brain has moved to a different area, essentially, to do a work-around.
What you were describing was the Brainwave Optimization process. Please go back a bit and describe what exactly you do for people.
PH: Our goal here is to promote balance and harmony in the brain. We’re not here to heal or treat or diagnose anyone. We look at the energy that the brain produces. The foundational theory we use is based in quantum physics: Once something can be observed, it changes. In the same way, we look in a mirror and see that our collar needs to be adjusted. We make that observation and we adjust our collar. That’s the same theory as what happens in the brain.
We use an equivalent of EEG equipment, so we use electrodes and we call them sensors. With those sensors, we record the brainwave activity that’s happening in a moment of time. We take only the optimal brainwaves and translate those into soundwaves. We feed those back to a person as tones heard through earphones. It happens in less than a second of turnaround, so in real time the brain can observe that.
There appears to be a recognition by the brain of where these sounds are being produced, and it wants to create more of those optimal sounds. The brain has a sense, or a wisdom, that those are positive for it. We don’t force the brain to do anything. We simply allow it to observe itself. And the brain chooses to make whatever changes it’s going to make.
None of us is given an operator’s manual for peak efficiency of our body and how to use it. Are there any natural ways in which the brain achieves this optimal level without the need for intervention?
PH: The best way to do that is through meditation and taking time to be quiet. Unfortunately in our society, we don’t always take that time and do it every day and be faithful about it. A sense of stillness and quiet reflection can do the same thing. It will take much longer with meditation — and I don’t say that as a negative in any way. We know that master meditators who have been doing this for 40 or 50 years can achieve a great sense of calm and balance.
One of the early things that Lee Gerdes, who developed this technology, did was look at the brains of two Tibetan monks. He felt, “That’s probably what a content brain looks like.” We have had more than 30,000 people use the technology, and he continues to look at brain patterning.
What does everyone need to know about their brains, but do not?
PH: That you have to take really good care of your brain. That’s something we really don’t think about. There are obvious things like wearing a helmet when playing sports and wearing a seatbelt in the car, just to be protective physically of your head. There also are some simple things, nutritionally, that you can do to help. One is to keep yourself really well hydrated. Your brain has a high percentage of water, so that is important. Protein, or amino acids, are a good thing for your brain. Also make sure you include Omega 3 in your diet, either as a supplement or through food naturally (kale, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, the oily fish like salmon and mackerel).
What role does sleep play in the fitness of the brain?
PH: It’s a huge factor. Poor sleep impacts every aspect of our life. When people come to us with improving their sleep as one of their primary goals, we have a protocol to use that has been quite successful in helping people fall asleep more easily, to not wake up during the night, or if they do wake up, they can get back to sleep more easily and feel rested when they wake up.
When we don’t get enough sleep, sometimes we start to produce the stress hormone, cortisol, in the brain. That puts an additional stressor on the brain, as well as the body, in terms of being able to focus well. When you have higher levels of cortisol, it becomes a circle: you become stressed more quickly and, as opposed to the calm of meditation, you stay in more of a stressed environment in your brain.
What daily practices can our readers do to improve the fitness of their brains?
PH: We’ve talked about good nutrition. People may not want to hear it, but avoiding alcohol is a really good thing to do. Exercise is important, to continue to deliver good oxygen to the brain. Meditation and enough sleep also are important to mention.
Who benefits from Brain Optimization?
- Athletes improve focus, concentration, clarity of thought, reaction times and dexterity.
- Artists, musicians, writers and executives create new neural networks that can open up discoveries, creativity and positive energy.
- Children labeled as “learning disabled” find that they are learning-abled, understanding their own brain strengths and opening up pathways for learning, achievement and success.
- Teenagers, overwhelmed by constant stimuli and often diagnosed as ADD or ADHD, find that they can learn to focus, discipline their thinking, conserve their energy and experience greater clarity, joy and confidence.
- Addicts, driven by impulse and habit instead of logic and intent, are released from the tyranny of their “drug of choice.”
- Insomniacs and those who suffer from headaches and pain find themselves restored.
- Women, stressed out and run down by relentless responsibilities, find new energy, beauty and passion for life, children, partner and play.
- Soldiers find that they can come home again. Restoring balance and harmony to the brain eases the transition and erases the warrior instincts that may no longer serve them well.
- Those who may have suffered both physical and emotional traumas find that disturbances decrease.
- Older persons strengthen their memories, physical energy, calm and clarity of thought.
For more information on Neuro Strength: call 952.888.0011 or visit www.NeuroStrength.com.