NeuroFeedback is actually just meditating with a ‘reward’ system.

PTSD-c-sldier-Thomas-real-story-669x272Think of the most annoying person you have EVER MET. Come on, we all know one. Whether it’s a family member, a client, a neighbour, a boss, a mother-in-law, a friend of a friend… (and the list could go on).You know the type. A person who knows your weaknesses, makes you question yourself, sees the worst in everything and criticizes you. The one person that knows how to push all your buttons with ease.

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Unfortunately, for many of us that person is our own mind. That voice that self help books call “The Ego” or “Negative Chatter”. And I don’t know about you, but if I had a friend that talked to me the way I talk to myself, I would be mortified and would run screaming for the hills.

We all have conflicting voices in our heads that govern our decisions and seeing as we have up to 80,000 thoughts a day, that can be quite exhausting. And believe me I had reached a point in my life where I was drained.

Life’s ups and downs

I was a pretty regular girl. I had an amazing childhood with loving parents and had recently started an undergrad in Psychology at University. I felt like a fairly normal and happy person until my mum died when I was 20. Then the world came crashing down on me.

The only way I knew how to deal with my feelings of loss was to ignore them and drown them out with distractions such as food, TV, music, noise and constantly keeping busy. Because that way I didn’t have to face the pain, or accept what had happened. Although I looked like I was able to continue a normal and happy life by graduating from University and working at a great job, inside I was extremely broken and felt like every day was a battle filled with anxiety and pain.

I had a constant fear of silence, because when things were quiet, that’s when thoughts of sadness or pain would rush into my mind like a whirling tornado that I had no control over. For ten years I was afraid to sleep because I would have frequent, terrifying nightmares.

I tried a variety of things to try and help with my sleeping issues and general anxiety including: floating, EFT, The Sedona Method, positive thinking, talk therapy, exercise, supplements, meditation, yoga, naturopaths, doctors, biofeedback and support groups.

And although some of these things did help tremendously, they were difficult to maintain and the effects seemed to wear off quickly. I also still felt an underlying emotional pain that I didn’t know how to process no matter what I did and I felt chronically exhausted due to my sleep issues.

My first Neurofeedback Session

I saw a coupon for Neurofeedback at Vital Health in Vancouver. I met Tess and instantly liked her charismatic personality and enthusiasm for Neurofeedback (although I was sure it wouldn’t work). But hey I like coupons, and it was super cheap.

Tess placed a pair of headphones over my ears and attached some sensors to my head, and then I watched Seinfeld. Yep, that’s all there is to Neurofeedback folks. You were probably waiting for something complicated here. But it’s really that simple. You watch TV, and the TV stops anytime your mind begins to wander, or when “what if” statements enter your mind.

If you stop to really think about what Stress or Distraction or even Chaos is, you will realize like I did, that its all just a bunch of Unanswered Questions.  The more bloodflow to our Prefrontal Cortex where all these questions are decided upon, the more ‘resource’ we have to make those decisions.. and then zoom, no more questions, no more stress.

So what increases bloodflow in the prefrontal cortex?  HEG Neurofeedback, of course.

You then end the session with an Alpha track that is equivalent to 10 meditation sessions.  The reason for this: NeuroFeedback is actually just meditating with a ‘reward’ system. Everytime I got to the ‘sweetspot’ of raising the bloodflow in my PFC during my ‘focus’ training with NeuroFeedback, my brain was rewarded by turning the video back on. And knowing how hard it is to meditate, the $27 bucks I paid for this session was worth it.

I left the session feeling slightly sedated and felt pressure in my head. I then went for a walk and felt like I had gone crazy. But in a good way. I heard chirping and noticed birds in the park. I had walked in this park for 5 years and had never noticed or heard a thing. My sight and hearing had dramatically improved. My mind was also blank. I couldn’t think anything that was questioning even if I wanted to. And believe me I tried. I also didn’t want to drown out my mind with noise or distraction anymore. I just wanted to walk in silence. It felt crazy to feel normal again.

I blew off the session and thought it was just a coincidence. But after three more sessions I definitely notice:

–          My sight, hearing, and sense of smell have dramatically improved.

–          The way I think has changed. I don’t tend to question myself as much, and I am less indecisive.

–          I feel comfortable being in silence.

–          My sleep improves dramatically the night after each session.

–          I feel more at peace.

I have only had four sessions, so I can’t wait to see what happens after ten, which is the optimal amount for a permanent change in the brain. And my favourite part of Neurofeedback is that it’s permanent and very low maintenance. (You can come back in for tune-ups once a year if you feel you need it).

I know that Neurofeedback can’t cure my life problems. But it has given me the tools I need to process my emotions in a healthy way which will allow me to heal. I am really proud of my progress, and I am so excited for the road ahead of me.