For information on the history and purpose of biofeedback, please see THIS PAGE.
Why Use Biofeedback
If you are wondering what usefulness biofeedback has, then I would ask you to consider that it helps a person find areas that are easily overlooked. Mental spaces that are problems can either be too close or too difficult to put attention on. As they are ignored they build up and are expressed in ways we don’t intend. We can spot the resulting stressor that causes a reaction (that’s easy.) What is harder to find, is the source of the stressor. Once found (by the change in our emotional state picked upon in the skin resistance) we can use spiritual practice or virtuous actions to overcome them.
I have been using a Wild Divine iOM sensor for finding areas of my life needing adjustment. How I’m going about doing that is as Carl Jung did, by running word lists while connected to the iOM sensors and seeing if there is any charge. I have discovered some interesting things, that I’ll mention in this post.
The iOM device is not magical. It is a set of 3 sensors (1 heart rate monitor and 2 GSR sensors) that fit over your fingers. It collects data for their specific software programs. While they do offer many software tools to help one deal with anxieties and stress – I chose to use the tool with their simple graphing software (called Grapher.) This plots in real time various data derived from the iOM sensor.
I found that when my energy is up, I get better data reads on the sensor. While on my lunch break, I ran two scenarios and then something unexpected happened that showed me something I need to work on.
In the screen capture to the left, I’ve marked three key spots. The first is Scenario 1, then Scenario 2 and finally while I was hooked up to the machine, I got a big reaction when an email alert came in. I’ll discuss each of these below.
The first scenario was to remember something that I found frustrating. In this case it was something someone posted on Facebook. Someone on Facebook posted a comment about nationalism. It was pretty over the top and I felt frustrated by the sentiment. To me it was resonating with ego and arrogance. As I started remember the situation, I noticed a build up in the GSR (Skin Resistance.)
As I let go of the incident (not thinking about it), the GSR dropped. Then I remembered it again, but this time tried to find compassion and understanding for the individual. It spiked again but at a lower level. I repeated this until the incident didn’t bring up a result on the GSR. This is more clearly seen in a blow up of the GSR graph.
Scenario 2 was something I saw in the news that offended me. I had a stronger emotional reaction to it. The situation was something that occurred about 3 or 4 months ago. It was an image of protestors holding signs at the US/Mexico border. The signs read, “Return to Sender,” “You are Wanted here,” “Go Home.”
These signs were not being waived in front of adult immigrants (which would be bad enough) but were being waived in front of the faces of children (many of whom were abused) and seeking food and shelter.
This situation caused me to reflect on it and it turned out that many of the people involved where Christian Fundamentalists. I spoke with someone who defended the activity of these “patriots,” and they defended this and said it was the “Christian thing to do,” to make sure people “obey the laws of the land.” After a lengthy debate, I showed this person how the teachings of Jesus in this matter are clear in Matthew 25:30-46. I further told them that if Christians obeyed the “laws of the land,” Christianity wouldn’t exist today (as it was an illegal and underground religion at one time.)
I finally gave up the discussion, but in the process I didn’t realize I was still upset about it. As you can see it clearly upset me again as I brought the situation back up to my conscious mind. I didn’t have a lot of time to deal with this issue. I did try and find compassion for those that were protesting and try and realize the sameness they share with the children who were at the border. Both are needing attention and want something. Both are each other on a deep spiritual level.
I’ll continue to work on it.
The last thing to discuss is something completely random. While I was ending my session with the iOM, an email came in on laptop. I saw the email alert and instantly my GSR levels spiked. I took a moment and contemplated this and discovered that in deed I was stressed. As another email came in and I received an alert, I was hit with more stress.
There is something I never knew I had… a feeling of stress over emails. A pressure to answer or respond or read something that just came in.
Biofeedback isn’t the end all. It isn’t the “all there is” of spirituality. That’s how some have tried to sell it or approach it. Doing so, will only leave a person with less stress, but all the same spiritual problems. Nor is biofeedback a fake, quack or silly approach to handling life’s issues. The truth lies in between those polarized extremes.
Biofeedback offers a way to help us find areas in our life that need attention. This attention can be dealt with by routinely repeating the scenario until it looses it’s charge, or it can be dealt with by finding the positive (and spiritual) opposite. If we are angry at someone or something, we can search for finding the oneness between ourselves and that person. We can pray for their needs. We can find love for them.
Where biofeedback has an edge, is the pinpointing of mental/emotional/spiritual problems. From that point on, one must use what they know (Zen, Mindfulness, Compassion, Prayer, Affirmation) to deal with the problem.
This is a tool and not the path itself. You may find it useful. There are many forms of biofeedback (and neurofeedback) out there. Some are more affordable than others. Try it for yourself and see if it’s too your liking.