Exciting new breakthroughs in EEG biofeedback

I had been reading much about some exciting new breakthroughs in EEG biofeedback—startling clinical evidence that people who learned to generate brain waves in the frequency ranges called alpha and theta were experiencing sudden, extraordinary, and profound experiences that changed their lives—tests showed dramatic increases in happiness, well-being, and equally dramatic decreases in anxiety and depression. Also, intriguingly, their immune systems got stronger. Okay, said the voice in my head, let’s start out with the simple stuff: more happiness, less anxiety, better health.

The EEG machines had been sitting in their boxes for weeks. Suddenly it no longer seemed such a daunting prospect to get them out, connect the wires, and set them up. Within ten minutes I had three different EEG devices set up, arranged around my head as I lay on my bed. Okay, the instructions say that if I close my eyes and make alpha waves, I will hear the sound of a cricket chirping. I closed my eyes. I waited. I waited a long time. Then, as soon as I had forgotten what I was doing . . . chirp . . . chirrrrpp . . . chrrrrrpppp chrrppp chrrp!

The instructions also say that when I start to generate enough theta waves, I will hear the rhythmic creak of a locust or cicada. So I waited . . . and waited . . . Chirrrp, chirrp, there’s alpha. . . . Then . . . Cree-ak, cree-ak. Theta! As soon as I said it to myself, it disappeared. So I waited again, and waited, until, just as I was ready to give up: Chirrrrp, chirrrrrp! Cree-ak cree-ak, chirrrrrrrrrrrp!

Pretty soon I felt like I was out on the front porch swing on a summer night, listening to the crickets and locusts. It could almost see the fireflies. I did this for about an hour. Then I got up and went out for a run. I hadn’t gone running for months—hadn’t had the energy.

I came back, cooked dinner, sat down, and wrote a poem. First poem in a blue moon. Good one too.

I began doing alpha and theta training three or four times a day, for about twenty minutes or a half hour at a time. When I got into the relaxed theta state, I felt like I was watching myself from up over my left shoulder. When sudden bursts of emotions would arise—anger, frustration, and pain—they no longer seemed to overwhelm me and seize my body entirely. Instead, I simply experienced them, and observed myself experiencing them, and learned how to release them and let them go.

I found that I could work at my writing and research now without being disrupted by attacks of anger or sorrow. If sudden thoughts of my distant son arose, or grief at my wife’s cruelty, my “observer” self would alert me: “Here it comes, okay, now you’re feeling anger . . . now release it . . . there it goes.” And back to work I’d go.

I was like recovering from a long illness. Suddenly I felt my strength flowing through me, creativity, joy, I was so happy to be alive.

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