Meditation or Biofeedback?
One In The Same?
Biofeedback is meditation, but meditation is not biofeedback. You can't take meditation out of biofeedback, but you can take biofeedback out of meditation.
I've trained people in relaxation utilizing biofeedback for 15 yrs. I've have found that people that know how to meditate have faster results than those that do not. I have also found that with training, anyone can learn meditation and attain positive results with biofeedback.
In order to obtain results with biofeedback the person is trained to meditate. The bodies natural reaction to peaceful visualization, through meditation, is to relax which, in turn, relieves stress and anxiety. The bonus of biofeedback while meditating is the instant feedback from the monitors. The volume is either lowered or turned off so only the therapist can see it while the patient visualizes.
On my EMG and thermal machines I will set a threshold and lower the tone so it is barely audible. With a threshold set I don't have to keep peeking at the machine or be distracted by a constant tone. The machine only makes a low sound if it goes over or below my preset threshold.
Meditation does not require biofeedback. A lot of people just want to meditate, they're not interested in how deep they are meditating or whether they reach a goal with it. They just want to meditate for the relaxation of it, period.
There are other's that have personal goals they want to meet with meditation and that is where biofeedback comes in. If your interested, or medically advised, to seek biofeedback therapy you will be honing your meditation skills to attain a result or terminate a biological behavior.
Meditation is something we all can do, pretty much anytime. You don't necessarily have to close your eyes. Closing your eyes enhances your meditation and allows a deeper state. The most beneficial meditation is when you won't be disturbed for a period of time and you have a quiet place to retreat to whether it be in your home or somewhere outside you find peaceful.
Meditation is a quiet concentration. Like biofeedback therapy, a person can be guided through to a meditative state. If you don't know how or what a visualization is or just not in the mood to be creative, guided visualization can be helpful. Trying to create a visualization when your not in a creative mood can become upsetting and create stress. That's quite the opposite of what your trying to accomplish. You want your thoughts to flow in a peaceful manner.
- Find twenty minutes, at least, where you won't be disturbed.
- Go to your quiet place and sit or lie down. (Sitting in the lotus position is common, but not a must. Comfort is what's important. If you choose to lie down beware you may fall asleep when your reach a deep meditative state.)
- Close your eyes and focus your thoughts on your breathing. Notice your diaphragm drawing air into your lungs through your nose and gently expelling the air through your mouth.
- As your breathing becomes relaxed and rhythmic allow your mind to wander to your favorite place in the world. See yourself there. If it's a beach, feel your toes in the sand, feel the sensation of the warm sun on your skin and the cool, salty wind flowing through your hair.
- Other thoughts will try to invade your interlude. That is to be expected and its ok. When the invading thoughts come, acknowledge them but return to your visualization on the beach.
- After you have visualized yourself on your beach, you've spent time lying on your beach enjoying the sensation of the warm sun on your skin and gentle breeze in your hair, now see yourself walking along the waters edge as the waves slide like silk across the sand to your feet, letting the cool water flow like your breathing, in and out, as you come back to awakefulness.
- Bring your focus back to your breathing, realizing how gentle and rhythmic it has remained while you were on your beach. The gentle pull of the diaphragm, in and out.
Now open your eyes.
With biofeedback you are guided by a therapist who has had training in guided visualization for target therapy. What this means is certain visualizations can act on your body in a powerful manner. When a visualization is focused on a particular body region, or sensation, that area will respond favorably. The therapist has been trained to know which visualization works best for a given therapy and what a visualization needs to include to affect a targeted area and where the electrodes should be attached to receive the optimum feedback.
For an example, if your experiencing migraine headaches the therapist is not going to have electrodes placed on your toe's and guide you through visualizations of relaxing your leg muscles.
What will happen:
- The therapist will attach EEG and/or thermal electrodes to your forehead or possibly the back of your head and neck.
- A baseline reading will be taken. (A baseline reading is what the muscles are doing at rest)
- After a baseline is established you are then guided, by the therapist, into a meditative state. In the case of migraine headaches the visualization may be of "seeing" the muscles in your face relaxing. From the tension in your forehead to the stiff muscles in your neck.
- Readings provided by the EEG and thermal biofeedback machines will be observed and recorded by the therapist.
- The therapist will determine which guidance provides the best results and will focus the meditation towards those thoughts creating the desired results.
- After fifteen to twenty minutes, depending on the flow of feedback, the therapist will guide you back to wakefulness.
Results of the feedback are then compared to the baseline. The therapist will discuss the results with you as well as how productive the session was. How you felt before, and how you feel after may be discussed. What worked and what didn't work will be presented so the patient can practice the visualization at home between visits. The therapist may prescribe "homework" for the patient to practice so many times a week until the next visit. These practice sessions can prove to be very helpful in obtaining the desired results.
Biofeedback is not a lifelong therapy. It is meant to treat someone and then have periodic follow-ups to make sure it is still helping. Six to eight weeks of therapy once or twice a week is common. If you find you are in therapy for more than six months with minimal results then its time to talk with the therapist and find out why and what other measures are available.