A young woman I met during my freshman year of college told me about her recent struggle with Leukemia. She said that she had just finished her second round of chemotherapy; earlier that day her cancer-free results had come in! She was back on campus full time and took a seat beside me in class. My expression of shock and concern must have been obvious as she introduced herself. I stumbled over my words… “Um..wow…I’m sorry….I mean, congratulations…or…well….YOU LOOK AMAZING!” I blurted. She rescued me explaining that she had been trained in Biofeedback. Because of deep breathing and self-hypnosis exercises, she didn’t lose her hair, she never became ill from treatments, and she believed Biofeedback was helped put her stage 4 cancer into remission.
Biofeedback is a therapeutic training method used to help people learn to gain better control over their Autonomic nervous system functions. Our Autonomic systems function automatically, without any guidance from us. In Biofeedback and Neurofeedback therapy, patients learn how to do the impossible, and influence the automatic systems of the body.
It’s the ultimate in mind over matter.
Heart rate, blood pressure, sweating, skin temperature, circulation, digestion, and muscle tension are a few of the ways we can learn to take some control over our bodies.
For those who suffer from neuropathic pain, diabetes, phantom limb pain, or post-cancer pain, learning how to increase blood flow to the legs, feet, and hands can decrease freezing or burning pain sensations. Increasing blood flow to the extremities can also stimulate healing in the bones, muscles and nerves where there is atrophy.
Those who suffer with Anxiety and Depressive Disorders can benefit from Biofeedback or Neurofeedback by tracking progress through relaxation, muscle release exercises, sleep training, and fight or flight therapies.
Some of the tools used along with the EMG Biofeedback device are counseling, CBT, meditation, breath exercises, guided imagery, visualization techniques, music therapy, self hypnotism training, muscle relaxation techniques, focus exercises, etc.
Some people describe Biofeedback like playing a video game on the screen, but the remotes are your vitals, and you control them with your mind. Each program is different based on the patient, their specialized needs, and the Biofeedback trainer. Some therapists use counting, some use visualizations, others use music; everyone is different.
Biofeedback has been utilized by Physicians, Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Counselors for many years and is an evolving method. Biofeedback is used to help those with neurological disorders, chronic illness, terminal illness, learning disabilities, stress, mental illness, chronic pain, sports injuries, sleep disorders, migraine conditions, brain injuries, fainting disorders, pregnancy training, Autism, and Neurofeedback has even more applications.
It is a non-invasive therapy. Like any physical therapy, it is not a shot, a pill, a surgery or quick fix, and it does require patience and commitment from both the patient and the trainer. Once these skills are learned, they are a part of you and your “tool belt” forever.
Just 10 years ago, around the time I did my Biofeedback training, it was a rare therapy. Now, it is becoming more widely available as a non-invasive option.
I am a believer in Biofeedback as a coping mechanism for reducing the emotional and stressful toll that illness and pain cause. It’s not a cure or a quick fix I’m sorry to say. I wish it was… Biofeedback has helped me daily for the past 10 years to keep going, to manage the inevitable stress and spiraling thoughts that come with high impact intractable pain, and it has taught me how the brain and body can work together holistically to grab hold of the “pain cycle” pattern. If you can physically manipulate it, they can teach you how. We have so much more influence over our bodies than we realize. It’s an incredible science!
When I first met my Biofeedback therapist, I didn’t believe a word she said. Shortly, she became my Yoda, and I was her Han Solo willing to soak up all of the mind bending, wisdom she had to offer.
If I can answer any of your questions, I invite you to share them below in comments.
Thank you Cindy Howe from Ragtop Designs for allowing her awesome Yoga Zentangle Girl artwork to be featured today. She has so many magical pieces in her shop Artworks Eclectic on Etsy. Please go purchase something special for your home or a gift for the holidays!