When you Google “biofeedback” many sites come up. A definition can also be found at Wikipedia. In general, biofeedback is a process that people can learn to control many processes in the body that were once thought of as autonomic body functions, such as: hypertension (blood pressure), heart rate, pulse, anxiety, pain, and even brain wave patterns. Until the last 10 years or so, it was thought that the only way to control these autonomic body functions was with pills—forcing the body to change with chemicals (along with many different side effects).
The best way to describe the process of biofeedback is to give you an example of my first learning experience with it. I was a Ph.D. student at a Saybrook University conference in California. My instructor, Dr. Donald Moss, was conducting a demonstration session on biofeedback, and picked me to be the subject. Dr. Moss connected several points on my body to a machine that would register any changes: heart rate, blood pressure, etc. He took my current measurements for comparisons after the procedure.
I was then instructed to close my eyes and relive one of the worst experiences of my life. I remembered the day my father died—at age 19, just one week after I went to live with my father for the first time since I was a baby. Living with him and getting to know him had been a life-long dream. Watching my father fight for each breath, I begged the doctors to take my heart and put it into my father’s body. Although I screamed and yelled at the doctors, tears streaming down my face, they continued to ignore me. At one point, I heard Dr. Moss’ voice calling my name—bringing me back to reality. My blood pressure and pulse had gone up to unacceptable levels. It took a few minutes to calm down and leave my nightmare. However, my blood pressure was still above normal.
Once I had calmed down, again Dr. Moss instructed me to close my eyes and this time reexperience one of the highlights of my life. Believe it or not, I relived the birth of my second child! It was a planned home birth with a midwife (part of a subject of a future book). I had attended a midwifery clinic in Idaho. They taught their clients to weigh themselves, check their own urine, sterilize the sheets on the birthing bed (my home bed) and the first clothing for the newborn baby. My husband and I were shown films of births to help us prepare for our event. My husband and 1½ year old daughter listened to the Doppler machine, as it echoed my baby’s healthy heart beats during our monthly checkups. The home birth was remarkable. After the nurse checked that the umbilical cord was clear of the baby’s passage, she moved aside so that my husband could catch our newborn as she slid out of me! The whole birthing process took less than two hours! Dr. Moss called me back from my reverie. My body’s functions all registered normal!
This procedure documented the responses to my body when just thinking of negative or positive experiences. My negative experience was over 30 years old, and my positive one over 20 years old. Yet powerful thoughts from my past still had the power to influence how my body responded.
Now that I know the process and believe in the power of my mind, as well as the belief that I can communicate with my own mind, I have added yet another process to my arsenal to staying healthy. There are several ways one can decrease stress and pressure on the human body, such as: self-hypnosis, meditation, acupuncture, conscious connected breathing, reichi, chiropractic, as well as biofeedback. I will continue to pass along information to those who want to increase their base of knowledge.
As I’ve said many times, watch what you think. Your brain believes everything you say and think—even if it is imaginary (The brain does not know the difference between what you think as real or imagined. If you think something is true, whether it is or not, your brain will react as if it is true—whether it is now or in your past.) That is why it is important for those who do not yet believe in the power of their minds to find a professional practitioner of biofeedback for their first session before attempting to do this session alone. Some folks may need more than one professionally guided biofeedback session if they find it difficult to believe in themselves, or believe in the power of their own minds! It is also a good idea for sensitive or unstable people to seek professional guidance for their first biofeedback session to be able to receive any needed support.
Dr. Moss suggests that one go to www.bcia.org to find a practitioner of biofeedback. Push the “Find a Practitioner” button. Just enter the zip code of the area and state in which you would like to meet the biofeedback practitioner. All of the practitioners listed with this organization are certified. If any are found in your desired area, they will be listed with their contact information and area(s) of specialty within the practice of biofeedback.
I was extremely fortunate to have had Dr. Donald Moss as one of my professors. What I’ve learned from him has not only improved my health, some of what I’ve learned from him has saved my life. He is the author of many books and professional journals. He is the Dean of the College of Integrated Medicine and Health Sciences at Saybrook University (California). He is the Chief Editor of Biofeedback Magazine. Also, Dr. Donald Moss is an author and conductor of workshops and classes in universities and institutions throughout the world in mind-body subjects.