Biofeedback has been used in a variety of modalities long before the 21st century. Pioneers in this work have established Biofeedback as an effective tool for discovering and releasing stress in all of the body systems. Through this relaxing process, the recipient of the Biofeedback is “educated” by the body’s responses in how they may learn self-regulation as a part of their own methodology of stress reduction. Now, with the advent of vibrational technology dynamics, a new evolution of Biofeedback has emerged called The LIFE System. This is where mind-body education meets vibrational or “subtle energy” technology, an advanced form of Biofeedback that is a computer driven, safe, noninvasive, painless, and effective use of modern instrumentation and measurement. In this way, the LIFE System is designed to assist individuals in identifying and releasing stress from their bodies, thereby restoring an environment of wellness, balance and harmony.
Biofeedback, in its classic form, involves measuring a subject's quantifiable bodily functions such as blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature, sweat gland activity, and muscle tension, conveying the information to the patient in real-time. This raises the patient's awareness and conscious control of their unconscious physiological activities.
By providing the user access to physiological information about which he or she is generally unaware, Biofeedback allows users to gain control of physical processes previously considered an automatic response of the autonomous nervous system. Interest in biofeedback has waxed and waned since its inception in the 1960s; it is, however, undergoing something of a renaissance during the early 21st century, which some experts attribute to the general rise in interest about all alternative modalities.
Origins of Biofeedback
Neal Miller, a psychologist and neuroscientist who worked and studied at Yale University during the middle of the 20th century, is generally considered the father of modern-day Biofeedback. He discovered the basic principles of Biofeedback by accident while performing animal experimentation of classical conditioning behavior of rats. Miller theorized that any measurable physiological behavior within the human body would respond in some way to voluntary control. His team found that by stimulating the pleasure center of a paralyzed rat's brain with electricity, it was possible to train them to control phenomena ranging from their heart rate to their blood pressure and body temperature. Until that point, it was believed by the scientific community that physiological processes (e.g. heart rate) were solely under the control of the autonomic nervous system and not responsive to conscious effort. Miller later retracted many of his claims because at that time he was unable to replicate much of his data.
The theories proposed by the Miller group make up one of three major approaches to understanding the mechanism of self-regulation of the body. Voluntary control of the autonomic nervous system had previously been considered impossible, something only controlled by conditioning.
Other threads of inquiry that led to the present-day "Biofeedback" emerged from clinical attempts to use mind-body self-regulation techniques in healthcare. Dr. Elmer Green of the Menninger Foundation performed some of the original research on the limits of human self-regulation of processes normally controlled by the unconscious mind and then applied these techniques successfully to the treatment of migraine headaches and hypertension. Dr. Barbara Brown was the first to coin the word "Biofeedback" during the early days of experimentation, at the same time as the formation of the Biofeedback Research Society. Other early pioneers were interested in the study of "consciousness" and looked towards electroencephalogram (EEG) self-regulation as a way to approach mind vs. brain dichotomy (see the work of Dr.Kamiya). Other early efforts in the field of Biofeedback were directed toward the examination of claims by yogis and others who meditate who were able to demonstrate mind/body control and markers of states of consciousness. See Elmer Green et al Beyond Biofeedback and Barbara Brown Stress & The Art of Biofeedback for some early writings. The Biofeedback Research Society evolved into the Biofeedback Society of America and more recently the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, a scientific and professional society for the field.
The patterns of our response to emergencies probably emerged during the time when all humans faced actual physical threats to their survival. Although the "threats" we now live with are seldom physical, the body still reacts as if they were.
Actual and perceived stressful events can produce strong emotions, which arouse certain physical responses from the sympathetic nervous system - the network of nerve tissues that helps prepare the body to meet emergencies by "flight or fight." Some of us are more sensitive to the flight-or-fight response than others.
When we sense danger, our bodies release stress hormones, and our heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension increase. While this response is useful when we really are in danger and need to respond, it can be a problem if we do not learn how to respond to ordinary stresses in a healthy way and can lead to feeling chronically "stressed."
Behavior, thoughts, and feelings influence our whole mind/body system. Individual physical responses to stress can become habitual. When the body is repeatedly aroused, one or more functions may become permanently overactive. Become more aware of your responses, and you can be more comfortable and in control - you can learn to change inappropriate reactions.
States of Consciousness
• BETA 13-30 Hz: Normal waking state; attention directed to surroundings. Includes agitated, restless "monkey-mind" states which are especially amenable to treatment with light and sound stimulation.
• ALPHA 8-13 Hz: Relaxed, tranquil, daydreaming, "inward awareness" state.
• THETA 4-8 Hz: Borderline sleep; meditation state with access to the unconscious mind for enhanced creativity, learning and inspiration.
• DELTA 1-4 Hz: A trance state that is Deep, and as a dreamless sleep.
There are also combinations of these states of consciousness that may become much more finite.
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Biofeedback and Self-Regulation
"All of your body is in your mind, but not all of your mind is in your body."
– Jack Schwarz
Jack Schwarz, N.D. (April 26, 1924 - November 26, 2000), a pioneer in holistic health education, was a naturopath, minister, author, humanitarian, and philosopher, and was renown for his work in self-regulation. His long career concentrated on integrating the whole person in body, brain, mind, and spirit. Born Jacob Schwarz in Dordrecht, Holland, in 1924, he distinguished himself as an internationally-recognized authority on voluntary controls of internal states, and human energy systems. He was a subject, researcher, and consultant at major biomedical and life science research centers in the United States and Europe. Schwarz lectured and taught extensively, was named in many publications and published nine books (Ostrander & Schroeder, 1974), (Regush and Merta, 1975), (Regush, 1977), (Meek, 1977), (Jaffe, 1980), (Zusne and Jones, 1982).
Jack Schwarz was internationally recognized as a master of the mind-body relationship as it pertains to voluntary controls. He was studied by researchers at the Menninger Foundation, demonstrating the power of the mind over the body by putting a long sail-maker's needle through his biceps with no resultant bleeding (Green & Green, 1977). He reported his ability to see auras and rays associated with individuals (Krippner & Rubin, 1974). He maintained that what others had accomplished through biofeedback or yoga he was able to do through his self-created meditation practices (Grof, 1984),(Klimo, 1987),(Leigh, 1987),(Svoboda, 1987),(Gunther, 1978). Results of tests performed on Schwarz documented his abilities to self-regulate many psychophysiological processes (Pelletier, 1977). Schwarz explained that by voluntarily attaining specific brain wave states, he could control the pain of physical trauma, regulate blood flow, blood pressure, and heart rate (Patten & Patten, 1988),(Carlson & Shield, 1989),(Boyd, 1989),(Grof. & Bennett, 1990),(Talbot, 1991). Readings charted by an electroencephalograph confirmed that the electrical output of his brain had a different amplitude and voltage than other research subjects (Green, 2001). Experiments demonstrated his ability to heal his body within hours after it was injured, and be unaffected by toxic substances injected into his body (Pelletier, 1978), (Ostrander & Schroeder, 1991),(Andrews, 1992). He devoted his life to teaching others how to develop optimal states of health (Mishlove, Intuition Television), (Andrews, 1993), (Robbins, 2000).