Reprinted with the kind permission of Celeste Cooper
A study on the effects of mindfulness (a type of meditation focusing on the present without judgment) looked at changes in the brain and pain sensitivity. The results showed that those of us with higher innate mindfulness report less pain. Higher mindfulness was also associated with greater deactivation of a brain region involved in attention and subjective emotional responses to sensations, which means it promotes cognition and enables us to improve our reactions to pain and other symptoms. A recent study published November 5, 2018 in NeuroImage suggests neurofeedback could be a cost effective way of helping improve fibromyalgia pain and sleep. This is consistent with the findings of other studies on the benefits of mindful exercises and neurofeedback in chronic pain from many sources.
That’s great news, but some of my readers tell me they can’t get a handle on any type of meditation to minimize their experience with chronic pain. My response is based on my personal experiences, keep practicing—until. I have practiced meditation for over fifty years. That’s how long I have lived with migraine disease. I also learned the value of focused breathing during 24 hours of labor with each of my two children. But, it would be nearly three decades later before I learned the value of biofeedback. I had objective evidence of how my thoughts affect the vital signs of my life. And, now you can too.
Technology has brought us to a new place. We can monitor and react to our meditation practices at home. We don’t have to wonder if what we are thinking is right or helpful. So, I asked an expert about biofeedback a few questions. The expert was once my therapist and now he is my co-author, Dr. Jeff Miller, PhD.
Q: Is the program I used in your office still available?
Jeff: Wild Divine’s Journey to Wild Divine, the program you are familiar with, is no longer available. About six programs used the fingertip sensors for both heart rate variability (HRV) and galvanic skin resistance (GSR), also called skin conductivity level (SCL). As new programs were developed, the company quit supporting the sensors and went to a wired ear clip that only measures heart rate.
Q: What is available now?
Jeff: Lightstone (Wild Divine) was bought out by Unyte™, which developed the Bluetooth version of the ear clip for HRV. This is a plus, because the wired ear clips often fail if the wire moves.
Unyte™ IOM2 is working on a GSR sensor, and they are selling subscriptions now rather than software.
Muse™ is a wireless neurofeedback device that tracks your brain signals. I use daily and I love it. You wear it like a headband across the forehead and you Bluetooth it to a device.
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Q: Why do you love Muse so much?
- It reads your brainwaves and rewards you for increased alpha and gamma wave production by altering the sound environment on the device such as, rainforest, beach, ambient music etc.
- You get real-time feedback on your mental state to help you meditate.
- It is very dependable and entertaining.
- It is very intuitive and simple to learn.
- You can wear it anywhere and use it in any situation that allows the sensors to stay in contact with forehead and ears.
- Muse keeps your stats like a Fitbit™ does.
- It issues challenges and encouragement.
- There’s an expanding library of device accessible guided meditations and discussions (Deepak does some!).
- It is well supported.
- They have a very good monthly Museletter.
- At $199 Muse™ is affordable for a home neurofeedback device.
* You can receive a 15% discount at https://choosemuse.com/ by using Jeff’s sponsor code AMBASSADOR15-20180911. The discount code is applied at checkout. You can also access the discount from Jeff’s website, here. My total was $169.15 and shipping is free. In full disclosure, as a sponsor, Jeff receives 10%.
Am I promoting biofeedback? You bet I am, and can hardly wait to see the Muse in my stocking this year. I realize meditation isn’t going to cure the illness that causes my pain and other symptoms, but I know it will help me cope in a positive way and bring balance to the mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual balance we talk about in our books. It will give me some control!
Celeste Cooper, RN
Think adversity? See opportunity!
Celeste Cooper, RN, is a frequent contributor to ProHealth. She is an advocate, writer and published author, and a person living with chronic pain. Celeste is lead author of Integrative Therapies for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Myofascial Pain and Broken Body, Wounded Spirit, and Balancing the See Saw of Chronic Pain (a four book series). She spends her time enjoying her family and the rewards she receives from interacting with nature through her writing and photography. You can learn more about Celeste’s writing, advocacy work, helpful tips, and social network connections at CelesteCooper.com.