Biofeedback helps us to rapidly increase our self-awareness. Ultimately, the feedback technology allows us to witness how our thoughts can influence our biology. Considering self-awareness is the first step of The Self-Healing Path, it makes sense to want to try Biofeedback.
It’s an easy way to improve your self-awareness, health, and performance. Learn conscious control over bodymind systems with this gentle, non-invasive technology. It’s an effective method to train ourselves how to relax, be less stressed, reduce anxiety, and deal with demanding situations. It can even be used to alter our perception of pain or reduce our blood pressure.
The premise of body-mind wellness includes the idea that human consciousness is evolving out of the animal mind, which kept our species alive for tens of thousands of years. Now our perception of ourselves is allowing us to gain control of autonomous systems which were previously outside our conscious awareness. Thus, improving self-awareness helps us to re-establish a deep body and mind relationship for ourselves.
Biofeedback can assist with this self-relationship.
More Biofeedback Resources
- WebMD – Overview of Biofeedback
- WebMD: Biofeedback Trains Mind, Body to Make Changes
- What is Biofeedback and How Does It Work?
- A History of Biofeedback – The Hershel Toomim Story
- The Western Association for Biofeedback and Neuroscience (Professional Guild)
- The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, Inc. (AAPB)
- Biofeedback: A Proven Treatment for 16+ Medical Conditions
- Potential FDA Regulation of Biofeedback
- BlueCross BlueShield Corporate Medical Policy on Biofeedback
- How Much Does Biofeedback Therapy Cost?
- 2 Affordable Biofeedback Devices That Will Help You Focus and Relax
- ALIVE Heartmath Biofeedback Software (clinical use) $299
- Top 40 Reasons Why Biofeedback Is Good Therapy
- Heartmath Biofeedback Device (#1 recommended) $160
- Biofeedback Online Certification from the Biofeedback Certification International Alliance (BCIA)
- Positive feedback: From old-school heart monitors to realtime fMRI, biofeedback offers a range of tools of interest to psychologists. American Psychological Association
- The Portacle – A Natural Resonance Biofeedback System (no sales affiliation with TheBodyIsMind.com)
What is Biofeedback Training?
Biofeedback training usually involves a set of sensors attached to our body which measure things like heart rate, skin temperature, blood pressure, or even brain waves. When these measurements are presented back to us in a way we can see or hear them, it allows us to become aware of these normally-hidden physiological processes and change them with our thoughts.
Through such awareness, we can then learn to control functions which were previously out of our control. While it may sound like science-fiction, WebMD assures us that it’s “entirely legitimate, and it works.” web.md
Over the last several decades, biofeedback has been done most often with the help of a biofeedback therapist, but a new generation of devices allow you to practice in the safety of your home. The effects of training last long after the session is over; in fact, after just a few sessions of practice, there’s no need to continue wearing sensors to achieve the same results.
Here are a few ways others describe biofeedback
“Biofeedback is a technique intended to teach patients self-regulation of certain physiologic processes not normally considered to be under voluntary control.” BlueCross Biofeedback PDF
“A technique that enables a person to exercise some control over the functions of the autonomic nervous system.” thesaurize.com
“Biofeedback is a treatment technique in which people are trained to improve their health by using signals from their own bodies.” psychotherapy.com
“Biofeedback is a technique you can use to learn to control your body’s functions, such as your heart rate.” mayoclinic.org
“Biofeedback is a self-training, mind-over-body technique.” webmd.com
Why Biofeedback works
One reason biofeedback works is because it encourages you to exercise your free will to learn conscious manipulation of a few of your bodymind systems which normally run on automatic. Once you learn these methods, you can practice your new self-over-bodymind skills without needing the sensors.
Doing biofeedback helps put you back in the command seat over your mind-body wellness. This means you’re more likely to take responsibility for your health if you use biofeedback for that purpose.
Biofeedback history and applications
According to an international society for mind-body research, biofeedback has moved from the fringes of curiosity in the 1960’s and 70’s and into mainstream practice today. Decades of scientific research into the mind-body connection using biofeedback has proven that people can be taught to harness the power of this connection to alter physical functions and improve their own health through conscious awareness. aapb.org
Jeanie Lerche Davis, writing for WebMD, says that biofeedback is good medicine that is helping many people gain control over common physical and mental health issues. In the same article and as reported to WebMD by Steven Baskin, PhD, president of the Association of Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, biofeedback was given a “Grade A” effectiveness rating, the highest level of approval, by the American Health Care Policy Review board, a top watchdog group. webmd.com
There are many methods of applying sensors to measure what our body is doing, whether attaching sensors to our fingers or placing a device upon our head. There are sensors which can measure: sweating, temperature, muscle tension, brain waves, heart rate, and blood pressure.
Different scientific studies claim that bringing our attention to each of these different functions of our body can affect us in different ways. For instance, measuring our temperature and willing our temperature to go down may reduce the severity of headaches; and measuring the electrical activity of the brain and watching our own brain waves in real time can help us to deal with ADHD, anxiety, or epilepsy (among other things).
Setting biofeedback benefit expectations
The general practice of biofeedback results in a reduction of stress through methods of mental focus and whole body+mind relaxation. This means every symptom which may be caused by high stress can be treated and effectively reduced with biofeedback. Since relaxation is always a key factor during a biofeedback session, it could be considered a form of meditation. Whether you call it hypnosis, meditation, or biofeedback, the goal is always to calm the body and wind down the mind. Training ourselves to achieve a state of relaxation on demand, whenever we need it, is one of the keys to longevity, especially for folks like us with chronic pain or illness.
Therefore, whether or not you’ve ever tried or wanted to try meditation, biofeedback is one of the doorways into the same realm of mindfulness and self-awareness. By seeing or hearing feedback of your own heartbeat, for example, you may consciously train your brain and body to work together to reduce your heart-rate. By seeing your own brainwaves, you may be able to learn how to calm them down as well. The biofeedback method helps you to focus on whatever aspect of yourself you would like to change or heal.
That’s all anyone is ever trying to do when we apply any of the methodologies found within this guide. Mind-body self-healing is what it’s all about. So whether you want to try biofeedback on your own or get some guidance from a trained biofeedback provider, you owe it to yourself to try it.
When you do finally try biofeedback to help you relieve your symptoms, you should spend at least 5-10 hours of practice before making any judgment about how effective this modality is for you. If it helps you move the needle towards peacefulness, and you find yourself more easily being able to calm yourself before you have a flare-up, then wonderful! If you’re not getting any traction after 10 hours of practice (with or without a practitioner’s assistance), then it’s probably time to find something more aggressive from this guide.
Can I benefit from Biofeedback?
There’s a long list of health benefits from learning how to calm ourselves; biofeedback trains us what it feels like to do this reliably. It’s a safe, gentle and non-invasive procedure that can be done in a clinic with a trained professional, or at home, with devices which you can purchase from Amazon. We plan to offer a complete review of affordable devices for home therapy in a separate article.
It has been reported that biofeedback has tremendous potential to help people with migraines, back aches, ADHD, chronic pain, depression, addiction, incontinence, epilepsy, fibromyalgia, anxiety, stress, high blood pressure, tinnitus, even diabetes and mildly traumatic brain injuries (MTBI).
How to ease into Biofeedback Training
Biofeedback is about calming ourselves and relaxing. Learning to relax consciously. So we’re definitely working on our ever-increasing self-awareness when we’re doing biofeedback.
As part of the relaxation side of a biofeedback session, there are many ways to help to improve the depth of mindbody relaxation. Breathing exercises are often prescribed together with biofeedback sessions. Progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and meditation can all play a role in our practice.
There’s no reason why biofeedback can’t be in regular rotation with everything else we’re doing to help ourselves heal. Conscious breathing exercises, forms of self-hypnosis, and biofeedback all go very well together. (Brainwave entrainment, trance state, mesmerization, and meditation can all achieve various states of self-hypnosis; consider the terms to be interchangeable in their desired effects.)
Folks in chronic pain could combine at least 7-10 modalities as part of our daily self-care routine. Personally, I love to rotate combinations of heat therapy, cold therapy, meditation, entrainment, breathing, visualization, and group therapy, and floatation therapy as a part of every single week.
Consider including biotherapy as part of your Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), especially for PTSD, chronic pain, and anxiety issues.
Biofeedback requires your active participation and commitment
You need to be present for biofeedback to work. If you’re drugged numb and can’t pay attention, biofeedback isn’t going to work for you. If your attitude is such that you don’t believe it will work for you, then it will likely not work for you.
According to BlueCross/BlueSheild, biofeedback requires “a concerted effort on the part of the patient to use this feedback to help alter the physiological process in some specific way.”
Biofeedback has so many applications, it’s probably really easy to be confused about which type of biofeedback might work for your particular situation, so be sure to consult with your doctor. Or just purchase a biofeedback device from Amazon and start experimenting at home.
Since biofeedback is purported to help with everything from physical performance and mental focus to chronic pain and attention deficit, you may be skeptical about the effectiveness of any particular application of the modality. It’s okay to be skeptical as long as you don’t allow it to block your own forward progress on your journey towards increasing your sense of self and renewing your sense of purpose. Biofeedback is proven to work to help elevate your consciousness over your chronic illness, to show you that you have control over your body with your thoughts.
FDA Class II regulations of Biofeedback devices
Also, a variety of biofeedback devices are cleared for marketing though the FDA. Everything from devices which generate sound to those which give you heart-beat feedback. It also includes the entire range of devices which may sit on your head to provide biofeedback from your brain waves (referred to as neurofeedback). Just make sure the device you purchase conforms to the “Class II” FDA designation (see link below). FDA approval is one way of ensuring that the equipment is safe and effective. If you’re seeing a professional biofeedback expert, their devices should be maintained in accordance with FDA rules as well.
FDA Class II Regulations: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=882.5050
The cost for professional biofeedback sessions
For professional services, expect to pay by the hour, or between $75-$150 per session, depending upon which part of the country you live in. Insurance companies are more likely these days to cover the cost of biotherapy for certain conditions, or only when certain criteria are met. The medical-industrial complex up until now has counted upon your reduced awareness and a broken mind-body connection, and so they have been reluctant to include anything which might shatter that paradigm. In general, biofeedback is gaining more widespread acceptance in the medical community.
Luckily for us, we don’t need to rely on getting a prescription from our doctor to use biotherapy in our self-help program when the responsibility for our health is under our own direction. Visit the Biofeedback Devices [link needed] and Neurofeedback Devices [link needed] sections of this guide for reviews and recommendations on the devices which are best for home use. And be sure to educate yourself by reading some of the links provided in this article. You can get yourself into some nice biofeedback starting at about $150 for complete systems (device plus sensors).
Where to find Biofeedback Therapy
in Denver, Colorado
There are about 15 clinics where you can sign up for biofeedback training in and around Denver, as well as three or four clinics up in Boulder. Chances are that all these clinics also offer neurofeedback as one of their biofeedback options. Here’s a google map link: https://goo.gl/maps/ZFY5v5Vurvy