While the soul is beautifully indefinable, our brains show evidence of the mind’s activity in their electrical rhythms. In recent years we have learned what rhythms go with what part of learning, emotions, and even social thinking. This allows people to heal weaknesses and strengthen and improve the core of who they are.
The way the training works is astonishingly simple. A computer is set up to monitor a needed frequency known from research, and it monitors brain rhythms while an adult or child watches a movie or a simple game like Pac-Man. When the person makes the desired rhythm, the game and movie play; when they don’t, the screen dims or stops for a second. The challenge gets readjusted constantly to make it a gentle, rewarding experience.
This technique is called EEG biofeedback or neurofeedback.
The computer gives instant feedback, before the person fully analyzes it, so the person starts to adjust their brain behavior almost immediately. This develops new awareness and brain habits. It changes the brain structure, because the rhythms affect blood flow and the way the brain works. It happens subtly during a movie or game so it is interesting enough for those who need something more than typical mindfulness exercises. And this is a great way to regain the self-respect and control needed for certain learning and emotional styles, or difficulties like ADHD, autism, migraines or other struggles.
It is like immediate mirroring from another person. It also builds the person’s awareness of how they understand their self-regulation in relationships, because it shows them their internal states in a fun way. Fascinating experiences for most clients are the “Aha” moments. These are the moments of clarity where they experience how their mind is affecting their brain and the world around them, like the screen.
This is often an experience of safety, of awakening, and the way we are dealing with illusions and stress. In therapy this is a chance to talk about one’s life, as well. The mind gets help putting together the creative and the logical, calm and clarity, the right and left sides, and focus and relaxation. It also changes the brain to be able to think more socially.
The American Academy of Pediatrics announced its support for this therapy for ADHD as of June 2010 because of the breadth of research from the last 30 years. One study shows how it is as effective as stimulant medications. Recently an Edina parent, a family therapist herself, has done this therapy for her son’s anxiety and attention problems. She has said, “He is doing so good…his teachers thought we put him on medication.” There also are similar results for adults who often reduce or avoid medication. Because of this, some insurance providers, like the State of Minnesota, pay for biofeedback in schools, homes or in clinics.
Brain problems with ADHD are similar to those with Autism, and researchers worldwide have done biofeedback research for autism during the last ten years. The results are good, and dramatic changes result with enough mindfulness work. It helps people change their brain’s ability to integrate their environment, think socially, filter distractions, plan better, and it does it by re-opening or expanding brain blood flow. EEG Biofeedback also can be used to reduce stress, enhance performance, recover from trauma, migraines and attachment or emotional health.
We are coming into an era where these tools are increasingly available. The knowledge just needs to be spread around more. EEG Biofeedback is like techno meditation, and I foresee it as a future tool in all schools and homes, because it enhances the understanding of our world and the self-mastery that will come with our future times of peace.