Mapping my mind: 10 brain benefits I gained from a year of Neurofeedback
I admit it. I’m a bit of a neuroscience nerd. From early childhood I’ve had a fascination with how the mind works, how mind and body influence each other and what role the brain plays in consciousness. And I’ve been teaching meditation for nearly 20 years, and created a 5-step mindfulness meditation process called The Attunement Meditation to help people bring calm to the body and brain and to heal from past trauma.
So when I was introduced to the work of pioneering British biophysicist and Zen master, C. Maxwell Cade, a few years ago, I immediately sensed my neurons were in for a treat. Reading his book, The Awakened Mind: Biofeedback and the Development of Higher States of Awareness, opened my eyes to an exciting idea: I could use EEG neurofeedback to get into expanded states of consciousness!
I have been using guided meditations along with some cool binaural beat audio programs and mapping my mental state with the Mind Mirror EEG machine since my initial training in 2019. I’ve been tracking my progress in a journal and in this post I summarize the top 10 benefits I gained over the last year.
What is EEG neurofeedback?
Neurobiofeedback, is a type of biofeedback that uses real-time displays of brain activity—most commonly electroencephalography (EEG)—in an attempt to teach self-regulation of brain function.
The first attempts of electroencephalographic neurofeedback implementation began in the 1960s. In 1976 Max Cade and electronics engineer Geoffrey Blundell, invented the Mind Mirror, a unique, dual-hemisphere electroencephalograph (EEG) that provides a composite picture of brainwave frequencies. Nothing like it existed at the time of its invention, and today, it is still the only such device that is specifically designed to train and develop the brainwaves of meditation and higher states of consciousness.
Max Cade and his protégée, Anna Wise, contributed widely to the field of neurofeedback with their leading edge research on EEG brainwave mapping. Max Cade’s studies in London involved mapping the brainwaves of thousands of yogis, meditators, psychics, intuitives and healers revealed the brainwave patterns of an optimal meditation state, which he called the Awakened Mind of creative flow and peak performance. This led to research on the high performance and creativity in high functioning professionals by Anna Wise in the USA. Their extensive research and training programs have made it possible for non-yogis, aka ordinary people like me, to dive into a method for enhancing the mind and body by training to achieve the Awakened Mind brainwave pattern.
For my birthday in 2019 I gifted myself a MindMirror, a unique electroencephalograph (EEG), which produces a continuous, real-time picture of brainwave activity that is used to monitor, measure, map, and train human consciousness. I also received neurofeedback training with one of the leading experts in neurofeedback for expanding consciousness, Judith Pennington. The fact that she is also a Pennington (not related) made the connection even more special and mystical.
This allowed me to see, in vivid detail, when and how I achieved the Awakened Mind brainwave pattern.
My meditation origin & evolution story
I’ve been meditating since the early 1990s while completing pre-med studies at Georgia State University. I was first introduced to meditation as a means to calm the almost incessant thoughts floating in my mind. I was told it could help me focus and eliminate some of the ADD-like symptoms I had.
Then I read that yogis and mystics have used meditation to develop superpowers of healing, intuition, levitation and psychic abilities. And that inspired me even more.
I’ve now been teaching meditation for nearly 18 years, to my students, patients, clients, and members of my online community to help manage stress, ease anxiety and cravings and to boost intuition and creativity.
In 2018, the idea of mapping consciousness with brainwave monitoring was new to me. I thought it might help me to further enhance my superpowers of intuition and clairaudience. And there’s some great research to support this hypothesis.
EEG Neurofeedback Research
Studies show that EEG neurofeedback can help those who have anxiety, ADD and those on the Autism spectrum become more calm and focused. It has been used extensively for rehab purposes in people who had strokes or other neurodegenerative disorders. And it’s also shown to improve healing, recover from trauma, develop insight and intuition, enhance creativity and to expand into higher states of consciousness. And some researchers even used EEG neurofeedback to help people improve their golf putting skills.
During the training I received I learned to hook up the EEG and new techniques to relax my body and mind. Then, while listening to guided meditations I saw a map of my brain waves and correlated them to feelings in my body. Following the various states of consciousness with each step of the meditation, and the felt sense in the body allowed me to learn how to quickly deepen meditation and expand my mind. While I’ve always found it easy to get into meditative states, this neurofeedback training showed me precisely which types of meditation led to each type of brainwave frequency pattern.
The Mind Mirror program uses musical rewards provided by the self-training program to train the pattern and speeds up the process of reliably returning to a desired state of consciousness. Research shows that using such a feedback loop, the individual may gain better control over the neurophysiological parameters, by inducing changes in brain functioning and, consequently, behavior.
Judith explained that brainwave training involves mastery over the state of consciousness, revealed by the shape of the pattern; and the content of consciousness, the subjective material of the mind that is known only to the meditator. We train the state to access the content, or access the content to train the state – or, preferably, do both at the same time.
In her book, Awakening the Mind, Anna Wise emphasized mastery of the awakened mind brainwave state and mastery of the content it contains. In her view, mastery has at least 7 different qualities that are essential for leaders and executives. They are: compassion, detachment, non judgment, clarity, equanimity, service and love.
I can say that after engaging in deep meditation using the Awakened Mind protocols I’ve reached a new level of personal mastery including these qualities, and then some!
My results after 1+ year of neurofeedback training
- Managing stress better. The demands of being an entrepreneur and single mother in a foreign country are not trivial, yet after 12-months of neurofeedback I feel more calm and agile in my thinking and better at managing my stress. I’ve become less irritable and reactive to things that would normally set me off.
- Faster recovery from overwork, travel and stressful periods. Running an international consultancy and hosting workshops in multiple countries leads to many deadlines and internal pressures to deliver high quality work. Before brainwave training I needed weeks to recover from product launches and hosting retreats, now I feel refreshed faster and equipped with techniques to relieve stress and recoup my energy as I meet the ongoing demands of life.
- Enhanced creativity: While I usually write a new book each year, since practicing this deeper meditation I’ve found myself writing more articles, new online courses and video materials. I feel that my calm state of mind and the ease with which I access my creativity has led to supercharged productivity.
- Easy access to my intuition: I’ve always been in tune with my psychic abilities, but these days while meditating and even while dreaming, I have access to insights from my subconscious mind that confirm my thought processes and intuition. Awakened Mind meditation is about awakening awareness to the unlimited potential of one’s own consciousness for creative flow and peak performance in meditation and everyday life. And I feel that accessing this open, receptive awakened mind has enabled me to access more wisdom. With all available information flowing in my mind, I am able to choose my state of consciousness and the best directions in life with wisdom and confidence.
- Increased vitality and better mood. I recently turned 50 and I feel energized and inspired about life. Research shows that meditation can help protect telomeres, the end caps of our DNA by influencing the enzyme telomerase. I don’t feel like I’m 50 and my friends and family say I look at least 10 years younger. I feel a greater sense of equanimity as well. I enjoy the good moments in life and rebound after setbacks faster and with more grace.
- Transformation of unhealthy patterns. I have noticed it’s easier to release blocks in my mind and remove limiting beliefs with greater ease and less emotional upheaval. While this could be due to maturity, I do believe that coming into contact with my Authentic Self and the greater field of consciousness has helped me differentiate from the old perfectionist and inner critic that led to so much suffering in my life. I’ve used a special journaling process called LifeWriting along with visualization meditations to facilitate this process for myself and others. I developed a 5-step process for reprogramming the subconscious mind that is now part of my arsenal of transformational teaching programs. Read more about it and watch a short summary video here.
- Greater sense of self-directed growth and mastery. Letting go of perfectionism and silencing my inner critic have been the most rewarding personal growth achievements I’ve made in the last year. I feel my Authentic Self as the most prominent aspect of myself now. I feel more in touch with and guided by my core values and vision for my life. This has allowed me to focus on the areas for growth and evolution that mean the most to me. I’ve adjusted my business focus to align with my soul’s calling and eliminated distractions. I feel like I’m working with the Divine to co-create my life, rather than being driven by old programs.
- Access to higher states of consciousness on demand, more compassion. In the midst of the chaos and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic I found it easier to calm the anxiety and tune into peace, wisdom and compassion for myself and others. This helped me to serve my clients and community and be fully present with my teenage daughter with grounded presence and openness. I feel mindful and conscious of my energy and behaviors in a way that is balanced and grounded. This is presumably due to producing Gamma brainwaves in the left prefrontal cortex, which is linked with positive emotion and empathy, while quieting down the right prefrontal cortex, which is known as part of our inner critical judge.
- Deepened spiritual connection. This training has led to a deep sense of connection to something bigger than me, the field of consciousness, Source… Judith explained that accessing gamma waves raises our awareness into spiritual states including divine union, heightened sensory perception, profound intuitive and healing abilities, out-of-body experiences, and cosmic consciousness. Just like I experienced in my near death experience in 2005, I sense that I am connected to all that is. And that feeling of Oneness inspires me!
- Increased sense of purpose and meaning. I’ve always felt that my life was moving toward greater spiritual awareness and relief from suffering. With this deep dive into brainwave patterns I recognize that I can help people experience what I’ve been blessed with — knowing your Authentic Self as your true self, and becoming free of the limiting beliefs and programmed behaviors that keep you stuck is possible. I’ve previously shared that I had no intention of sharing my personal experiences with a global audience, but having overcome depression and the other challenges that I lived with as a result of growing up in a dysfunctional family is something that millions of people around the world need to know about. I have a clear sense of purpose to use my talents, training and compassion together in creative ways to help people heal from trauma and live with greater joy and vitality.
A bonus from this experience is having an ever deepening commitment to service. I am committed to sharing what I’ve learned along my healing journey, to facilitating the healing and activation of others’ superpowers, and to letting the world know what is possible. My life’s mission is not at all what I thought it would be when I left medical school! But I’m ever grateful for the souls I’ve met along this journey, especially my mentors, patients and clients who welcome me into their lives and enrich mine with every conversation.
Brainwave training empowers us to develop mastery of the state of consciousness as well as the content of our minds.
Anna Wise defined mastery as “being in the state you want to be in, when you want to be there, knowing what to do with that state, and being able to accomplish it.”
What could YOU gain from meditation training?
The situations that we can all relate to that are helped with self-mastery include the following familiar scenarios. Imagine that…
- You’re presenting to your Board of Directors or sales team and you want to be calm, clear minded, confident, composed, in control and connected to the information you prepared. Consistent practice of meditation can facilitate this.
- In a brainstorm session with your team you want to be good at problem solving, focused, in touch with all of your senses and intuition, creativity and able to pay attention, take in and process information and come up with new ideas. To get out of judgmental, biased thinking you will benefit from practicing meditation.
- While resolving interpersonal conflict you want to be calm, cool, connected to your heart of compassion, empathetic, non-reactive and steady. Meditation helps here. And you want to know how to make your relationship more harmonious. The subconscious mind knows, and if it needs help, the personal unconscious can extend its radar out into the Collective Unconscious for additional ideas and insights through the awakened mind pattern.
- While writing a book or designing a new program you want to be open minded, focused, clear headed, creative, in flow and with access to inspiration.
- When faced with a question or challenge, you need reliable answers. The ability to get answers to all of our questions is the foundation and most useful byproduct of the awakened mind. If there is a health problem, the awakened person goes within to discover how to heal it (or live with it, if complete healing is unattainable). Need to choose between two job offers? Deepening into awakened mind meditation reveals which job is best.
If you’d like to have your brainwaves mapped, I’m bringing my Mind Mirror with me to the Beyond Resilience: Fostering Post Traumatic Growth workshop I’m teaching at the Omega Institute September 5-9, 2022. The first 5 people who confirm their booking will get free brainwave mapping just for fun, just send me an email. Find the workshop details here.
If you can’t join me in New York, find a trained Mind Mirror Practitioner online at The Institute for the Awakened Mind.
To learn more about this pioneering work check out these highly recommended books:
Awakening the Mind: A Guide to Harnessing the Power of Your Brainwaves by Anna Wise
The High Performance Mind by Anna Wise
The Awakened Mind: Biofeedback and the Development of Higher States of Awareness by Max Cade
Your Psychic Soul: Embracing Your Sixth Sense by Judith Pennington
You can also check out the Mind Mirror in action in this video interview
This article was originally published on In8Vitality magazine on June 7, 2021.