Sunday, September 27, 2015

More on neurofeedback and EMDR

From a reader:

I found your Neurofeedback article highly interesting. Actually, many of your contemplations recently have been thought provoking for me, and quite useful in testing some of my own understandings.

In your post, you wrote the following:

my talk therapist suggested that the problem with the neurofeedback technology and techniques are that the brain changes are there, but that they don't last.

I posted a comment encouraging you to challenge the idea that the neuroplasticity you experienced can only be temporary. In the comment, I noted that EMDR can be similar in that it can provide temporary new pathways that fade. However, my experience was that those EMDR sessions in which I changed a belief were all that was needed to make permanent changes. The key is the change in underlying belief. I'll give you some examples for reference.

It took one session for me to let go of the need to impress my narcissistic father because I changed my belief from "I need Dad's approval" to "I'm an adult and I look after myself." Seriously, sorted right there. The following interactions I've had with him have been totally different in nature and I feel comfortable relating to him as a fellow adult. I can see his narcissistic behaviours and don't take them personally.

EMDR wasn't successful in helping me get over my relationship with the psychopath, A., (whom I've referred to previously as the FNP.) It did provide temporary relief, but I was still clinging to him in my mind.

My psychologist just didn't understand the depth to which the hooks had sunk. I knew, but didn't know what they were latched to in my own mind. Understanding finally that my psychologist couldn't help me, I helped myself. Probably exactly what I needed to do!

I've used many different resources recently to change my behaviour, my philosophy and my very self. Of these, the most useful have been Christopher S. Hyatt's books, particularly Undoing Yourself with energized meditation and other devices and Energized Hyposis: a non-book for self change. These are all about brain-change willed. And they've worked.

I'll share a journal entry with you. I hope it inspires you to continue in whatever direction you choose.

I finished working through the Energized Hypnosis book, at least those parts I can do now - the body scan exercises at the end are progressive.

The basic tenets of the book are that:
Under rumination and behaviour, there are feelings. Under the feelings, there is a belief. These belief-driven pathways are patterns that were most likely encoded at a very young age (before 7 or 8), before the brain was mature enough to understand scope and context.
The beliefs served a useful purpose then. They are most likely limiting now.
You can change your beliefs while still meeting the useful purpose.

Those were the biggest insights for me. The book leads you to understand these insights in a very practical way (which is why Hyatt and Iwema call it a 'non-book'.)

It didn't take me long to move past A. and go deeper. That wasn't exactly easy, mind you, but it was made easier by understanding my feelings of fear that no one will see me or understand me were driven by some belief... now where did that come from?

Well, guess, lol.

Book: To change a belief or behaviour, engage with it at its own level of communication and always be respectful to yourself.

So I went a bit deeper and a part of me said this:
 
I don't know where I am or what I am supposed to be doing

That's the part of me that has been hiding my whole life. The part that is petrified of not being noticed.

So I told that part of myself that I will listen to it. I will practice listening (the book encourages you to speak kindly as if to a young child who is scared or upset.)

Then, that part of me said of my father:

He scared me. I had to be either very, very quiet or do wild things so he would notice me. Wild things that he wanted to do. Him, not me.

The book then takes you through some steps for changing the underlying belief - identifying it's useful purposes and finding better, more suitable behaviours for NOW. The good thing is that my psychologist was already encouraging me to do new things (like booking this holiday) and I have been doing things of my own volition... so all of this is cascading very pleasantly for me.

A friend of mine has said I am "primed for change."

So here is what I wrote as my preferred behaviours (rather than squashing my own feelings and preferences and deferring to others; and always feeling I need to handle things on my own):

I will trust my own self to protect me.
I will ask questions to understand and to collaborate
I will present my ideas and solutions
I want to collaborate and grow and develop my practices. I want this to flow from the spring of energy inside me.

My new beliefs are:

I can take care of myself
I am curious, intelligent and adaptable
I have great energy!

The book also suggests adopting a new, unrelated behaviour which acts as another signal to the brain that change is occurring. I have chosen to clap my hands three times in the morning, evening and at any other appropriate time. 

Honestly, I feel good. I feel that all this stuff is resolving. I have new tools to understand my mind and how it works, and all the possibilities I have dreamed of are far closer. I am glad to have worked so hard on my philosophical understandings because the next step is truly mine; I diverge from Hyatt at this point, as I should. I think, from reading other material, that he sees power as the greatest good, the way of obtaining the happiest life. I, however, see power only as a factor in the pursuit of freedom, with freedom to choose being the greatest good. And this freedom comes from knowing your own mind rather than controlling external factors.

So that's pretty personal. I feel that it's resolved, although I did worry for a few days. I feel genuinely free and able to pursue my own interests in full trust of my own being.

I don't know if the end result for me is relevant to you, but I do think you can become more of who you are and be a genuinely self-willed human. 

North

PS re

"Making the little green boat move with my brain waves while keeping the red and yellow boats still in the little electronic regatta made me realize: (1) my thought patterns are a lot more fixed and beyond my control than I realize and (2) because I consciously process so much information as it comes into my brain, I am less open minded. By the latter I mean that my very mechanism of trying to consciously process as much information as I can rather than letting the subconscious deal with it requires me to quickly categorize the data as being interesting or important or not, and always according to my pre-existing criteria. I've always thought that this made me function higher cognitively because less is getting past me, but I realized that it also has the weird but predictable effect of making me search for familiar patterns and thus be closed minded to truly new things, concepts, or types of information."

I recommend reading about beginner's mind.

Our "original mind" includes everything within itself. It is always rich and sufficient within itself. You should not lose your self-sufficient state of mind. This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few.
-- Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind

not the best article, but ok: http://zenhabits.net/how-to-live-life-to-the-max-with-beginners-mind/

10 comments:

  1. You don't need all these elaberate techniques with lots of middle men,
    the only thing you need is self remembering and "be here now."
    All that rotten stuff that was done to you in the past is a memory. But when you
    call up the memory, it's like you relive the pain associated with the experiece.
    You must face the pain. Neither resist it or add to it.
    When the teacher left the room, all the kids would ganged up on me, when I
    acclimated to the shame, and they saw they couldn't get to me,-in this specific
    instance-they stopped.
    Stay in the now. Be aware of what you are thinking and doing. You don't need a
    tactic because the seer, and the thing you are seeing are one and the same.
    If you view a senic wonder with a rotten attitude, you will see an ugly landscape.
    If you are bright and cheerful, everything will take on a bright a cheerful tone.
    (Unless you are physically ill of course, in which that problem must be
    adressed.)

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  2. I don't know. Almost sounds like NLP, which I think is rubbish. (Although apparently the founder was a sociopath.) Why do I think it's mostly crap? Because thoughts are not valid if you realize that thoughts are not the truth. They are just thoughts – they come and go. Instead of trying to change every single thought you can just understand this and consider yourself almost enlightened.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "The balance of scientific evidence reveals NLP to be a largely discredited pseudoscience. Scientific reviews show it contains numerous factual errors, and fails to produce the results asserted by Bandler & Grinder."

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  4. Staying in the present and realising thoughts are mere cognitions that you can let slide are both very useful practices for enjoying your life moment-to-moment. I really like the way you put it ^^: thoughts are not the truth. We generally quite like our own thoughts ;)

    Changing patterns of behaviour is a slightly different question. To permanently change a pattern, you need to change the underlying beliefs that drive the behaviour. That - at least in my experience - is also the premise of talk therapy. By making unknown patterns conscious and changing the beliefs associated with them, the brain itself lets go of the pattern.

    The point I am making is that techniques like neurofeedback, EMDR and hypnosis (I suppose) allow the brain to be a bit more open and receptive to these self-discoveries and to letting go of restricting beliefs.

    That's the only value I've seen in them. But it's pretty powerful.

    Re NLP - don't know much about it but my impressions are as you've suggested.

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