Ill-health suits numerous corporations whose massive revenues rely on it. The hypocrisy of this situation is obvious. Most ill-health develops through a lack of rhythm between activity and relaxation, and the lack of places where people can find a calm environment and the privacy to relax. To start with, imagine the benefits if relaxation were to become a main subject taught in schools … ? Children would learn that everything travels on the breath.
Biofeedback has been known in the East for thousands of years. Hindu practices like Yoga and Pranayama, for example, are essentially biofeedback methods. Some yogis are known to achieve control over their physiological processes.
One of the instruments developed in the West to measure physiological processes is the electroencephalograph – EEG. It demonstrates the amplitude of electrical activity in the brain. The feedback provides awareness that enables the manipulation of physiological functions at will, including brainwaves, muscle tone, heart rate and pain perception. One of the benefits of biofeedback is that it can improve psychological health, since the physiological changes occur in conjunction with changes to thoughts and emotions.
By consciously experiencing the relationship between body and mind sensations, desired changes can be maintained. The method has been used successfully with groups of young people to improve management of anger. I don’t know why it is not applied more widely.
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A disclaimer – this post is meant to draw attention to biofeedback, no more. If you are interested in this subject and want more precise information please explore relevant sources of information.
Below are some basic states of consciousness.
Beta State (13 -20Hz)
Day-to-day state of attention, orientated to the outside world, geared to focused, practical tasks. Higher than 20 Hz tends to produce hyper vigilance and anxiety.
Alpha State (7.8-14Hz)
A level reached during relaxation, when stress lowers, the pulse slows and blood pressure drops. According to the quality of consciousness, intuition operates, and subconscious information can be accessed, like childhood memories or past lives. Inspirational and creative moments are more frequent. It is also the state just before falling asleep and just after waking.
Theta State (3.2-7.8 Hz)
This level of deep relaxation is good for regression. Images and emotions can surface vividly. Creative imagination, self-reflection and cognitive processing of perception become possible. There can be a feeling of inner peace and being at one with the world. When a detachment from the physical body is sought, pain ceases to exist. REM sleep dreaming and hypnosis belong in this state.
Delta State (0.1-3.2Hz)
Some mystics and intuitive people can access this level while awake, in other words, they are able to remain conscious during deep meditation. Normally this state happens only during deep sleep, when unconscious or during a coma.
9 responses to “… biofeedback & the mystery of breath …”
Fascinating subject. Way back in the 1980s you could buy very cheap brainwave biofeedback machines for under a hundred dollars.I ordered one from a magazine ad. It required putting gel on electrodes before strapping them to you head and you had to be perfectly still. Each wave pattern was identified by a beeping pattern. Alpha was easy to bring on but Theta was tough. I “slipped into it” a few times and the feeling was very strange, like I was separating from my body. But it wasn’t at all unpleasant, just difficult to maintain.
I don’t know why more research isn’t done on this. As you say, many of the maladies of modern life might be best dealt with by such therapy.
Here too, in the 1980s there was a considerable interest in biofeedback devices. A Sufi group I was working with experimented with them. Direct evidence – a clear mirror – huge potential for self-directed learning. Beats me why the method was not sufficiently funded.
Fascinating and especially the comment about Alpha state as it explains so much why I am often visited by the Muse just as I am about to fall asleep which of course leads to my little comedy routine of dashing back and forth to the desk to make notes. Thanks for a very interesting post – Diane
The little secret of writers. Only I’m often too lazy to lift the pen. You are my inspiration 🙂
I’ve often said that people should be prescribed exercise and massage instead of most psychotherapic drugs. A very interesting topic and one I will definitely read more about.
You are quite right. The body is the compass to a balanced rhythm in our lives. Busy people, short of the ingenious biofeedback device, could access the compass simply through attending to and GENTLY drawing their breath a little deeper towards the solar plexus, even if it’s only for a few moments during the day.
Oh heck yes, Ashen…so much we could teach our children at school…so many missed opportunities. Which reminds me…meditation time. 🙂
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