Last week I did brainwave optimization, aka brain training, at NeuroBeginnings. I did the baseline assessment in May and wrote about it here. It’s an astounding new technology with huge potential to alleviate suffering and help people’s brains function optimally without spending a minor (or major) fortune on health care.
Gigi Turner, owner of NeuroBeginnings, likes to schedule the training to start within two weeks of the initial assessment, but we had to work around finishing my 3M contract, which was hard to pin down. You need a full week as free of demands as possible so you can integrate the brain training. It’s a wonderful activity for a vacation (or stay-cation if you live in Austin).
By the way, Gigi is hard-working, personable, and adorable. She’s easy to relate to, and you know she’s working for your best interests. She’s a woman after my own heart, fascinated with the brain and its workings, making the world a better place one brain at a time.
I did two sessions per day, Monday through Friday, one at 9 am and another at 12:30 pm, each lasting about an hour and forty-five minutes.
Between the morning and afternoon sessions, I hung out at the Zilker Botanical Gardens or walked along Barton Creek. It felt great to move after being still, and being outdoors in scenic nature was refreshing. I’d get lunch at the Daily Juice or Whole Foods, something light and very healthy.
During each session, I sat in a special recliner and either watched a computer monitor or just relaxed doing nothing. Gigi attached electrodes to my head and moved them to various places — frontal, temporal, parietal, and occipital lobes.
There were several exercises I did in every session: sitting and watching a bar move to a lower position, reclining with the lights off and relaxing deeply, imagining/remembering an activity that uses all the senses, and visualizing a guided meditation.
During all the exercises, I heard musical notes playing. Gigi said you actually want them to stay in the background and not think about it too much. They are random notes, not playing a tune, not rhythmic, not even music — just random notes. There are a variety of musical sounds. You might hear the random notes played on a guitar, xylophone, steel drum, bells, or piano.
I am a thinker. I have a very active mind, and I’m gaining facility in switching from that active, inquiring, analytical state to more relaxed states.
I noticed that I liked it when a lot of notes played fairly densely, and I didn’t like it when one note played over and over, or when there was a long silence. I wanted the “music” to be pleasing to my ears.
A couple of times I would recognize a fragment of a song in a string of 3 or 4 notes and smile to myself. I noticed that if I was getting one note repeatedly, I could move my eyes, and the sound would shift. That’s an NLP trick!
The sounds reflect current brainwave activity, allowing the brain to “see” itself, as Lee Gerdes says in his book, Limitless You. You do occasionally view your brain activity on the monitor, but mostly the brain is hearing itself, and the more in harmony and cohesive the brain gets, the more the sounds reflect that.
You don’t have to do anything. The brain adjusts itself. At least, that’s how I think it works.
Watching the bar was hardest for me. I tried too hard, and it strained my eyes (I wear contacts and need to blink often — did you know your brainwaves change when you close your eyes, even to blink?). I stopped drinking green tea in the morning and brought eyedrops, attempting to make this exercise easier to accomplish.
I finally started getting the hang of it on Friday when I imagined that the sound of the air conditioning was a waterfall that was very nearby. When my attention was split between listening to the “waterfall” and gazing beneath the bar (rather than staring intently at it), I made progress.
I believe that exercise was about my “thinking” mind — aka bringing down my beta waves.
I went into brain training wanting to get rid of any remaining dysfunctional patterns from my childhood trauma and years of PTSD. Most of the changes took place in the frontal and occipital lobes — the center for executive functioning and the visual cortex, respectively. After my last session, Gigi gave me printouts showing how my brainwaves in those lobes had changed over the week of training. She got my left and right hemispheres more in sync in those lobes.
I loved the relaxation exercises. It turns out I’m very good at going into alpha! As I got used to the process, I got pretty good at dropping into theta and good at noticing the difference between alpha and theta. (Theta is where deep healing occurs.) I dropped into delta (sleep) a few times, especially after lunch, at first, but as the week progressed, I was able to stay awake in theta for longer periods.
I really loved the task of imagining I was entering a house, walking upstairs, and entering three rooms. Each day I created different rooms. Here are some juicy ones:
- A room full of guides — lamas, teachers, angels, masters, buddhas and boddhisattvas, yogis, healers, shamans, seers — who included me and gave me gifts, laying their hands on me.
- A room of possibilities that I’d like to manifest — travel, prosperity, success, joy, gifts and talents and skills, love, creativity, equanimity, health, goodness.
- A room containing my fears and obstacles, with wonderful resources to address each one.
- A room of gratitude for past, present, and future.
- A room where I gave my gifts and resources to those who needed them.
- A room of beginner’s mind.
- A room for my future sage elder self.
- A room of intuition.
Also, the Jean Houston guided meditation of cleansing the senses works well here. Having NLP training was useful!
During the five days of training, I didn’t experience any sudden or drastic changes in brain functioning, but each day I felt a little bit sharper, more present, more centered.
I learned that my brain operations were actually in pretty good shape to start with, and with a few tweaks it will operate even better. The changes will continue to manifest over a period of months after the training.
To get the most from it, the instructions are that for at least the next three weeks, I need to avoid alcohol and recreational drugs, exercise/walk daily, eat a lot of protein, and drink plenty of water.
It would be helpful to practice awareness through progressive relaxation, visualization while listening to a CD Gigi gave me (I liked the sound of a stream during some of the sessions, which has become an anchor), and doing breathwork.
I also need to postpone appointments for other therapeutic modalities until three weeks have passed, so I’ll need to make some phone calls on Monday.
If you’re interested, I recommend calling NeuroBeginnings for a baseline assessment. Her number is 512-699-6593. The baseline assessment currently costs $160. The entire cost, at present, is $1,635, if I remember correctly. Compared to doctor visits and medication, brain training could actually save you time, money, and side effects.
I’m going to wait at least three months before going back for a tune-up unless something drastic happens, and then I hope to try one of their new gamma wave protocols.
I look forward to noticing improvements in my brain’s functioning and sharing them with you!