Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Biofeedback: A Brain Loop

Last night I met Dr. George Fuller von Bozzay, the Founder and Director of the Biofeedback Institute of San Francisco. I was reminded of my early experiences with biofeedback in the late 70s. Dr. Fuller von Bozzay is one of the pioneers of biofeedback, and has seen this industry go through several levels of technology. I was taught to use a little device you hold in your palm, and control its rather annoying squeal by controlling body temperature. It was an interesting tool, but is now an antique in the world of biofeedback.

Over many years of teaching myself how to wake up my brain cells and keep things interesting, I have been able to do something I would call biofeedback without any instruments. This is really the goal of teaching biofeedback -- to eliminate the props and know how to control body processes, even the involuntary ones such as breathing and heartbeat, yourself. At this point, I would describe what I do as "talking to my cells." I have learned to do this by playing with a variety of brain exercises. Different breathing exercises, for example, will help you learn to slow your heart rate. One such exercise is this: Breathe in for a count of five. Hold the breath at the "top" for a count of eight. Breathe out for a count of twelve. One thing that happens is a long pulling of the diaphragm. When you release after the exhale, your diaphragm naturally pulls air back into your lungs. This has many effects. It is an exercise used to calm yourself before going on stage, for example.

When I first played with talking to my cells, I saw an image of oval-shaped cells sitting around a table. They seemed like small children, playing. I spoke to them and they all looked up at me, waiting for instructions. I felt that my cells were busy doing "default" activities, but if I instructed them, they immediately went to work on the new assignment. I use this all the time to strengthen my immune system.

I think it is useful to play with many modalities. As you explore different realms of brain possibilities, you are actually developing your abilities in many different directions. You might find one kind of exercise tedious while another makes you laugh or feel pleasant sensations. Let me encourage you to keep playing, and pay attention to the things that make you feel really good.

In joy,
PS: To learn more about biofeedback, go to

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