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Why is Neurofeedback a Great Way to Deal with All the Rapid Changes in Our World These Days?

Jan 17th, 2009 by Dr. Bronson | 1

Because of the all the rapid changes in our world these days most people are feeling some form of “stress.” How can you best support yourself in these times of rapid societal and economic changes? By doing neurofeedback training sessions!

Most people are feeling some significant stress in response to the financial downturn and general cultural sense of uncertainty. Spiritual advisors and practitioners tell us that we can choose how we respond to our environment and circumstances. And that is true. I believe it and I engage in my spiritual practice every day, by using prayer, visualizations, and affirmations and by opening myself up to spiritual guidance and opportunities.

electrical-brainwavesHowever, as long as our brains are stuck in a stress response, our ability to constructively adapt to change is hampered. Our brain is hard-wired to respond to stress in a certain way. And unfortunately our culture has a pattern of hype and drama which fuels and intensifies our stress response. When the news media focus on exaggerated, sensational, and negatively arousing news to get listeners and viewers and the advertising revenues they bring, when we listen to the radio or watch TV our brains respond by going into high alert, and usually, some sort of fear response.

For example, yesterday (Wednesday) here in the New York area, newscasters started telling us, repeatedly, that on Friday it is going to get really cold …REALLY COLD, REALLY COLD, REALLY COLD!! Indeed some of my therapy clients came in for their session commenting on the cold and then said, “It’s going to be even colder on Friday!” I could see from body language that they had moved into a state of fearful anticipation and “emotional preparedness.”

I spent part of their session helping them learn that they let themselves be manipulated by the media and, in fact, were less prepared than ever for the possible upcoming (normal) winterish cold: Less prepared than ever because their brains were in a state of heightened stress, based on fearful imaginings about possibilities in the future.

When our brains are engaged in present reality, fully aware of the present moment, and calmly alert, THEN we are best prepared for whatever comes our way. When our brains are balanced and stable, they are more flexible and creative, without a stress response.

These were therapy clients, so I helped them with cognitive, interpersonal, and energy techniques, but had they been neurofeedback clients, they would have had a neurofeedback session—their brains would have taught themselves that they “didn’t need to go there” (to the alarmist weather preoccupations.) (And their brains would have also “worked on” whatever else was “up for them” at that time.) These clients would have come from their training session rested and renewed. They would not be draining their mental and physical energy in never-ending stress response loops, but instead would have come back into the present moment, into mental and emotional balance, with more brain power available for creative adaptation to all aspects of their lives, including the weather!

So, what happens to us and our brains in a stress response? And is it compounded by chronic stress? And what can neurofeedback (NF) training do about that?

What Happens in the Stress Response?

Here’s what happens in the stress response.

Stage One

  • The organism perceives danger (consciously or unconsciously.)
  • The cerebral cortex sends the alarm to the hypothalamus.
  • The hypothalamus stimulates the Sympathetic Nervous System.
  • Adrenaline is secreted (to give the organism “quick bursts of energy.”)
  • Physiological changes are: increased heart rate, increased respiratory rate, increased blood pressure, speeding up of metabolism, and greater muscle tension. Blood goes to the large skeletal muscles (away from the gut, i.e. internal organs, and periphery, i.e., hands, feet.) Pupils dilate and hearing is more acute.

Stage Two

  • Exhaustion, need for rest.

What Happens If a Person Experiences Chronic Stress?

If stress is chronic and there is no relief and rest, the organism’s energy will be depleted and physical symptoms will manifest, including:

  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Poor memory
  • Flushed face, cold hands/feet, palpitations, high blood pressure, shortness of breath, acid stomach, gas, muscle tensions/spasms
  • Feeling conflicted, mood swings, insomnia, disorganization, hyper-reactivity

Over time, disease may manifest:

  • Ulcers
  • Coronary disease
  • Chronic hypertension
  • Immune system problems
  • Depression
  • Paranoia
  • Memory problems
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Addictive patterns (alcohol, drugs, food, exercise, shopping, sex, Internet)

How Does Neurofeedback Help?

NF training, the way I do it (with NeuroCare Pro), helps the brain discontinue its automatic, habitual stress response. If you break the stress response loop before it has a chance to become more automatic and habitual, that is, before you’ve had months of ongoing stress, you can prevent your brain/body system from going into a chronic stress mode, which leaves people more at risk for physical and medical problems. How does NF interrupt the stress response?


In the simplest terms (my scientific blog about how it works at the physiological level is coming soon), when our brain goes into a maladaptive response, any maladaptive response, when doing this type of NF training the brain will get a simple message that “that thing you just did doesn’t serve you; you don’t need to do it; it’s not adaptive for you.” The message is delivered by an interruption in the beautiful, relaxing music you are listening to during your NF session. The brain takes that basic but powerful information and says to itself, “Oh okay. Thanks for the information. I won’t do that anymore,” and the pattern is interrupted, and soon discontinued. It IS that simple!

So, this is why neurofeedback is the best thing you can do for yourself in these times of rapid and unpredictable change. Your brain is your best asset. You will be able to deal with change better when your brain learns how to let go of unproductive stress cycles, freeing up your mental energy for more adaptive, creative and productive responses to whatever your circumstances are!

My Neurofeedback Story

Dec 20th, 2008 by Dr. Bronson | 1


I love to tell people about my experience with neurofeedback because it has been so overwhelmingly positive. It has so radically transformed my life for the better, that it is a great story to tell.

A number of years ago I was working with an energy healer and therapist who was the person who first told me about NeuroCare Pro. (Thank you, thank you Lynn!) In a particular session, I was doing some deep transformational work with her and encountering a stuck spot. She commented, “This would go faster with neurofeedback.” I asked her to tell me more about it (she had told me some in the past), and after she explained a little more, I thought I would give it a try as a friend of mine had just gotten her neurofeedback system and was offering introductory sessions.

I had my first NF session and enjoyed it tremendously! I got to lie back and relax and listen to beautiful music. (There was also a video screen with gorgeous fractal type images but I found it a bit irritating and distracting and closed my eyes.) After the session was over, I went out and got in my car. Suddenly I noticed that everything was crystal clear. It was springtime and I noticed that the sun was brighter, the trees’ outlines sharper, my depth perception deeper. Even the air seemed cleaner somehow. It was great! A few weeks later when reading about neurofeedback I learned this was called the “clean windshield effect”, something that happens sometimes when doing NF.

“Hey, this neurofeedback is really fun!” I said to myself.

Then a couple of weeks later I was working on an even deeper transformational process with my energy healer. Again she mentioned, “This would be easier for you to integrate if you had another neurofeedback session.” My intention to heal (i.e., become whole) was strong, so I decided to have another session. In that session, my neurofeedback trainer and I went into a deep meditation (since she and I are in a meditation group together) and she gave me a longer session, as she perceived that my brain needed a little more time. And at the end of the session she commented that my right and left brain were completely synchronized (the same numerical value on the post-session calibration), which she had not seen that often. Again I felt great.

Later that night, I was in the bathtub, not thinking about anything in particular. All of the sudden, I felt my diaphragm muscles completely relax. I mean, completely relax! They went from their usual fairly tight stance to a very, very relaxed state, a state that I think they’ve never been in my entire lifetime! I marveled at the physical experience of it which was extremely pleasant, if unusually expansive. (My, I could breathe with much greater ease!) Unfortunately, my intellect “knew what this meant.” My intellect (fear defense) said, “The diaphragm is the muscle that is the last defense against your heart chakra opening” and as soon as I noted that to myself I went into fear and tightened up my diaphragm muscles again! Of course, opening up my heart chakra was the process we had been working on in my healing sessions! And needless to say, I went back to my next healing session ready to compassionately witness my defense and work through more of my fears.

“WOW the power of neurofeedback!” I marveled to myself.

So I went back for another session. After my third session (with no meditation this time,) I noticed that the next day I was better at math! I didn’t know I needed to “get better at math” or could get better at math. But I did notice that not only did I do math calculations more rapidly, with fewer mistakes, on my calculator, but I also simultaneously translated what the math numbers meant in terms of their conceptual implications. (I was doing test scoring for the neuropsychological assessments that I do as a psychologist.) Using simple conceptual language, my right brain and left brain were “talking to each other more efficiently.”

“WOW the power of neurofeedback!” I exclaimed to myself.

After that third session, I was completely sold and went to get certified as a neurofeedback trainer. Since that time, I have had many NF sessions, both given to me by colleagues and done by myself. (With this NF system it is possible for the trainer to train him or herself!) The changes in my brain’s functioning are most welcome and enjoyable. Here’s what I have noticed:

  • I have gotten even a little better at math.
  • My ability to focus on what is present has gotten stronger: I am no longer a bit distracted by external noises – like in a restaurant, but at the same time I am even more fully aware of what is going on all around me while I focus on the people at the restaurant table with me. (And incidentally, the pretty fractal pictures on the video screen no longer annoy me—I don’t find them distracting or disruptive as I did in my first NF session.)
  • My sleep has gotten better, deeper and with fewer awakenings (even to go to the bathroom, a common female nocturnal activity.)
  • My memory has gotten better.
  • And I am happy to say, I don’t have any anxiety to speak of. Before NF I didn’t know that I had a subtle, chronic, low level of anxiety. But when it went away, then I knew it had been there! So, in these times of economic and social change, I don’t have “stress” or anxiety. At times, I have specific emotions, like fear, but not anxiety. When I have feelings like fear, I process them, working them through and coming back to a balance with a resolution to act in certain ways, to creatively deal with whatever was making me fearful.
  • And, with continued NF my problem solving skills have become much stronger! My creativity continues to expand. I have noticed that when I encounter a problem or problematic situation, I don’t get anxious and I don’t get anxious or stressed if I don’t know what to do about it. I just note, “Hmm, I don’t know what to do about that yet.” Then, what typically happens is the solution (or next step to take to resolve the problem) comes to me at odd moments, walking down the hall, driving in my car, talking to a friend. Then sometimes, I will find myself “tweaking it” a bit and in a short space of time (days, a couple of weeks) I will have arrived at a really good plan!

So in sum, I can say that I feel much calmer and more balanced in my daily life and my flexibility, resilience, and creativity are greatly enhanced thanks to neurofeedback training sessions!!!

These are the reasons I joyously and wholeheartedly recommend neurofeedback training to everyone!