What is Biofeedback?

What is biofeedback?

Some people think that biofeedback is only about relaxing - however, that is not entirely true. I have used biofeedback with elite athletes to ensure that they are optimizing their mind and body function.

Biofeedback is not just about relaxing - it is about optimizing mind-body functioning.

So what is biofeedback?

A simple definition of biofeedback is that it is an evidenced based approach to enhance personal awareness and control over the body and the mind.

What this means is that you can be trained to improve your health by using the signals from your own body.

When you think about it we do this all the time. The last time that you stepped on some scales or measured your temperature by thermometer - both devices "feed back" information on your weight or temperature.

Armed with this information, you can take steps to improve your situation.

So it also is with biofeedback. Biofeedback therapy allows you to observe activity inside your body. It makes you more aware so that you can facilitate your own self-regulatory processes.

Different biofeedback machines allow you to "see" and "hear" different activity inside your body.

For example, the neurofeedback allows the practitioner to pick up brain waves and EMG biofeedback allows you to pick up tension in your muscles.

It can be a great way to illustrate the benefits of relaxation, especially to those who want objective data.

I remember a workshop that I gave on relaxation, in which one of the participants got quite frustrated that the relaxation technique wasn't working for him.

In fact, he couldn't remember a time when relaxation had ever worked for him.

So what I did was I connected him to an EMG biofeedback device which measured the tension in his frowning muscle.

I then repeated the instructions for the relaxation technique and monitored his muscle tenseness.

What the student found was that whenever he imagined a clear blue sky with seagulls riding the wind, the tension in this frowning muscle went down significantly on the device.

He didn't know why this relaxed him, but the important thing was that he had found something personally meaningful to him which had a calming effect on him. Just as importantly, the objective data that the feedback provided affirmed his feelings.

This type of therapy uses the advances in technology, psychology and physiology. As a training device it allowed him to gain greater control of his physiological processes.

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