Biofeedback is a way to measure how your body reacts in various situations. In this article, we will help you understand the science behind biofeedback and how it can help increase resilience for both mental and physical health. Additionally, we’ll teach you about some of these tools so that you can get started using them now!
The “ready and resilient” is a book that teaches readers how to use biofeedback to increase their resilience. This book also includes tools like the Resilience Assessment, which helps users identify areas of weakness in their life.
1) Managing stress 2) and staying resilient in the face of tremendous misfortune are two crucial talents for any man, particularly any would-be sheepdog. We laid out what occurs to the body and mind as it reacts with rising amounts of stress in our piece on regulating stress arousal for best performance. In other words, when our stress levels grow, our mental and physical performance suffers.
During my investigation into how to cultivate a sheepdog mindset, I kept coming across headlines about how the US military spends tens of millions of dollars every year investigating how to make troops more resilient. The study has two objectives. First and foremost, the military seeks to develop highly competent warriors who can perform at their best even while under duress. Second, they hope that by teaching soldiers to be more resilient, they will be able to reduce the rising number of PTSD cases.
In 2008, the US Army created Battlemind (now known as Ready and Resilient) as a resilience training program in response to rising PTSD, mental health deterioration, and suicide rates among troops returning from the front lines. All new recruits get ten days of resilience training as part of their basic training to improve their mental toughness. Soldiers are taught how to meditate, how to use controlled breathing to reduce the stress response in their minds and bodies, and fundamental resilience skills such as how to avoid catastrophizing and how to change your explanatory style in the face of failure or setbacks, in addition to the usual push-ups and shooting drills.
The Department of Defense has experimented with technology that enables troops to track their physiological reaction to stress, in addition to providing basic cognitive therapy skills for stress management. The theory is that if troops can observe how their brains and bodies respond to stress, they may learn to regulate it, improving their capacity to remain cool and recover swiftly in stressful circumstances.
Biofeedback is the real-time monitoring of one’s physiological reactions. It’s also right out of a strange techno-hippie science fiction book (or so it seemed to me when I first learned about it).
Far from being hippy dippie, proponents believe, it’s a very effective approach for troops and civilians alike to learn how to handle stress, clear the mind, enhance attention, and become more mentally and physically robust and durable.
Is biofeedback as effective as it promises to be? I decided to try it out to see if it may help me better my performance.
Below, I explain how biofeedback works, provide a report on my experience with it, provide a list of resources if you want to give it a try yourself, and finally provide my opinion on whether biofeedback may help the ordinary Joe become a better man and a more successful sheepdog.
What is Biofeedback, and how does it work?
The beginnings of biofeedback may be traced back to ancient Hindus and Buddhists, although the modern form of biofeedback did not emerge until after World War II.
Biofeedback measures physiological activity such as brain waves, heart rate, blood flow, body temperature, respiration rate, and muscular tension by connecting sensors to your body. On a computer screen, you (and typically a doctor experienced in biofeedback treatment) may observe these readings in real time. You may experiment with altering your thoughts and breathing to support desired physiological changes since you can obtain quick feedback on your generally concealed mental and physical reactions.
Here’s a basic biofeedback example. Let’s assume you’re a persistently irritable person. You attach a heart rate monitor to your body, which provides a resting heart rate that suggests you are stressed. To lower your heart rate, you attempt various breathing and muscular relaxation activities. The monitor will tell you whether or not these workouts are working in real time.
One or more of the following physiological activity will be measured during a typical biofeedback session:
- Electromyogram (EMG) is a kind of electro (EMG). This is a tool for determining muscle activity and tension. Patients who wish to obtain a better grasp on back discomfort, chronic pain, headaches, and incontinence commonly utilize this measurement.
- Variability in heart rate (HRV). This monitors your heart rate. When we mentioned in our last essay regarding stress arousal, as our stress level rises, so does our heart rate. Knowing your heart rate is rising, according to biofeedback, should enable you to do workouts to reduce it. Typically, heart rate monitoring is used to assist patients manage their stress and anxiety.
- Electroencephalography (EEG) or neurofeedback (EEG). This instrument monitors your neurological system, especially your brain waves. This biofeedback measurement has been used to treat ADHD, anxiety, stress, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
- Thermodynamic feedback. This device is used to determine the temperature of the skin. Being aware of your body temperature helps you to take efforts to control that stress since our body temperature drops when we are under intense psychological stress.
- The activity of the skin’s electrodes (EDA). This is a device that detects perspiration. We sweat more when we’re scared or stressed. This is measured using Galvanic Skin Response monitoring devices (also known as GSR devices).
Biofeedback has been demonstrated to be an effective approach to lower blood pressure, remove headaches, decrease anxiety, and even cure constipation in independent randomized controlled research. Although some studies question biofeedback’s usefulness in treating ADHD and PTSD, the military believes it has had positive outcomes.
I decided to undertake my own personal biofeedback experiment to see if I could obtain the same favorable effects as previous research.
My Own Biofeedback Experiment
Until recently, if you wanted to participate in biofeedback training, you had to locate a local expert and go to their facility to connect to their sophisticated medical sensors. A typical professional biofeedback session might cost upwards of $100.
However, the cost of medical sensor technology has dropped to the point that it is now affordable to the general consumer, making home biofeedback a feasible alternative. Heart rate monitors are widely used in gyms and jogging trails across the globe, while brain activity sensors are getting so inexpensive that they’re being included in toys.
My inquiry into how the military utilizes biofeedback to improve troops’ mental toughness brought me to the National Center for Telehealth and Technology (or T2), a Department of Defense agency that studies military personnel’s psychological health.
T2 has created a number of free applications to assist current and former troops cope with stress. They are developed for military, but citizens may also download them. One is Tactical Breathing, while another is Breath to Relax.
But it was their BioZen app that drew my attention.
BioZen is a free biofeedback software for Android devices that employs Bluetooth-enabled biosensors implanted on the body to provide an inexpensive biofeedback experience to people suffering from anxiety, stress, and depression.
EEG (brain wave activity), EMG (muscle tension), skin temperature, respiration rate, and ECG are all measured by BioZen (heart rate variability or heart rhythm).
BioZen offers a meditation function in which users control a picture on their smartphone screen with their mind and heart rate activities, in addition to a real-time chart of the aforesaid metrics.
It’s a lot of fun.
A sun in a landscape setting becomes brighter as your brain activity becomes more peaceful; when your pulse rate slows — suggesting a low stress level — a tree and birds arrive in the foreground. BioZen keeps track of your physiological activity throughout these meditation sessions and assigns you a score so you can evaluate how far you’ve come with your meditation and stress-reduction routine.
I downloaded the free BioZen app after being intrigued by the notion of accessible biofeedback. The biosensors and biofeedback devices, although free, were not. BioZen is only compatible with a few devices, all of which are, regrettably, rather pricey.
The BioHarness Zephyr. (This isn’t my floaty torso.)
I required a Zephyr BioHarness to use BioZen to track my heart rate, breathing, and skin temperature. It’s a high-tech consumer heart rate monitor that’s used to track stress reaction in the sporting and tactical areas. I paid $549 for the BioHarness. Eesh…
The Mobile Mindwave
I required a biosensor-enabled headband to track my brain wave activity. The Mindwave Mobile is an EEG measuring device that I chose. The Mindwave is a futuristic-looking headgear with a little sensor that sits above your left brow on your forehead. Another sensor is attached to the left earlobe. It makes me feel like a Star Trek extra while I’m wearing it.
I started to have some buyer’s remorse and major misgivings about my experiment after spending approximately $700 on biosensors. “Is this stuff even going to work?” “Am I being duped by twenty-first-century snake oil?”
Despite my reservations, I launched BioZen to begin my first meditation session. My phone’s screen was filled with an empty and black countryside view. A tree and several birds emerged as my heart rate reduced and stabilized.
The tree appeared due of my heart rate, yet there was no sun since my thoughts was all over the place.
However, the area remained black, with no sign of the sun rising.
I had to bring my thoughts into a meditative condition in order to light the screen. I kept looking out the window to see whether the sun had arrived.
Nothing. Darkness reigns supreme.
I attempted to clear my head and concentrate just on my breathing. I’d have a little moment of pure oblivion, but my “monkey mind” would quickly return. I was still unable to produce light on my landscape image ten minutes into my meditation practice. It occurred just when I was starting to believe I’d wasted my money on this ridiculous-looking headgear.
Hark! There’s some light over there! I’m starting to get more contemplative.
Above the horizon, a little, weak sun rose. I was ecstatic — at long last, there was hope! I did all in my ability to keep the sun alive, but it vanished as fast as it emerged. I would use nothing but my imagination to make the sun appear and vanish for the next 10 minutes of my meditation practice. I felt like Neo figuring out how to use the Matrix.
I studied my findings once my session was over. Throughout my session, my resting heart and respiration rates were normal (showing minimal physiological stress), yet my brain wave activity suggested that my thoughts was dispersed.
Over the following several weeks, I exercised with BioZen twice a day for 20 minutes each time. My pulse rate and brain wave activity both began to improve after the third day. It’s difficult to explain how I achieved it, but I worked out how to regulate my involuntary body processes in an indirect manner. BioZen’s quick feedback enabled me to experiment on the fly with various relaxation and concentration approaches and tactics.
I dropped my resting heart rate to 45 BPM and was able to keep it there for the duration of the meditation. My regular resting heart rate during a meditation session was 70 BPM before the biofeedback training, which is average. Well-trained athletes have a resting heart rate of 40 to 50 beats per minute.
I can now utilize my mind to make the sun shine brilliantly for the duration of my meditation.
My jumbled mind improved as well. I got the small digital sun to completely rise and brighten the screen after three days of biofeedback training, signaling that I had achieved a deeply contemplative state.
I’m now able to maintain the digital environment completely lighted for virtually the entire meditation session, thanks to weeks of practice. My meditation score has mostly followed an upward trend on the graph. I had a few of distracted periods, but my mind is lot more Zen now.
Overall, the effects of BioZen’s biofeedback training have pleased and astonished me. I’m significantly less anxious and more even-keeled now than I was before I began biofeedback training, according to the statistics. Even when I’m not meditating, my resting heart rate is lower, and my brain activity reveals that I’m considerably more calm and focused.
Subjectively, I report that I am considerably calmer than I was before to biofeedback training. I’m naturally worried and neurotic, so it’s good to feel less tense.
I’m also lot more focused and present in all of my everyday activities, whether it’s at work or with my family.
I believe that the biofeedback exercises have improved my overall well-being and resilience. I’ve always been prone to being upset in the face of little workplace annoyances, but I think I’m handling setbacks better now than I was before. When a lot of Q3 requests come in, I still have a propensity to get impatient and upset, but I shrug it off and get back on track much faster than previously. Is this increased resilience going to help me in a crisis situation? Only time will tell whether this is true.
But, were these seeming advantages the consequence of a placebo effect? With all of this, there’s a good possibility these small gadgets will behave like Dumbo’s Magic Feather. That’s something I’m willing to consider. I’m OK with that even if that’s the case. It’ll work if it’s supposed to function. However, as previously said, research reveals that there is more going on than a placebo effect.
I’ve made biofeedback training a regular part of my life, whether it’s for placebo or true effectiveness. I approach my BioZen sessions in the same way that I do my gym routines. Whatever the case may be, it’s simply something I do.
Biofeedback Tools for Everyday People
Have your interests been stirred, and you’re considering giving biofeedback a try?
If you’d want to practice biofeedback on a regular basis but don’t want to spend thousands on several sessions at a professional facility, I’ve included a few consumer-friendly biofeedback equipment below.
Sensors for measuring heart rate
BioHarness Zephyr This is what I use. It’s compatible with the BioZen app, but it also comes with its own app for monitoring your heart and breathing rate. As I previously said, I’ve been blown away by the effects of utilizing my BioHarness, and it’s now a regular part of my routine.
While the Zephyr BioHarness is less costly than a professional heart and respiratory rate monitor, it’s still very pricey at $549. If you’re just getting started with biofeedback, start with something less expensive. If you decide to go all out with your training, you may want to consider purchasing this equipment.
eMwave2. This is a little gadget that analyzes your heart rate and then guides you through a simple breathing exercise to become more “coherent” (essentially reducing and stabilizing your heart rate). The eMwave2 seems to be a hit among New Age/Secret people. I haven’t tried it myself, but I can see how it may be a useful tool for lowering your physiological stress reaction.
It’s just a regular heart rate monitor. To benefit from heart rate biofeedback, you don’t need an expensive BioHarness or heart rate trainer. Any kind of heart rate monitor will suffice. There are a lot of gadgets under $100 on the market. Even though most of them can’t track respiratory rates or operate with BioZen, you may still use a heart rate monitor to learn how to reduce your stress reaction in everyday situations.
Sensors for Brain Wave Activity
Let’s get one thing straight right away: consumer gadgets that monitor brain wave activity aren’t as sensitive or accurate as those found in a professional laboratory. However, I believe that in the next five to ten years, more accurate and cheap consumer brain wave monitors will become available. Nonetheless, the current smartphones on the market perform well for the price.
Mindwave Mobile is a mobile version of Mindwave. This is what I used, and what I still use when it works. You’ll have to pay $127 for it. It’s compatible with BioZen, but also with a number of other applications on the market. The other applications, on the other hand, are dreadful.
Mindwave Mobile’s inconsistent performance is my greatest complaint. It’s fine when it’s working. However, I would sometimes have problems connecting the gadget to my smartphone. I’m not sure what’s causing the Bluetooth issues. I’m looking into it, but it looks that others have had the same issue.
Athlete with a brain. It’s essentially the same as Mindwave Mobile. It’s aimed towards athletes who wish to employ bio/neurofeedback to improve attention and mental quickness.
Several low-cost neurofeedback sensors will be available within the next year. Here are three that I’m excited to learn more about:
- Melon Band is a band that plays melon. The Melon will be released in the first quarter of next year. The app that comes with it monitors your brain activity and tells you whether you’re focused or contemplative.
- Muse is a band from the United Kingdom. It’s out now and ready for purchase. It also comes with an app.
- It’s a brain sport. The Brain Sport is a kind of EEG gadget designed to assist athletes enhance their attention, mental quickness, and stress reaction.
Is All This Stuff Really Necessary?
“Bah!” I’m sure some of you are thinking as you read this. All of these high-tech gadgets are unnecessary. You’re fine to go if you meditate and perform some breathing exercises.”
I completely agree.
These tools and programs aren’t required to become cool, calm, and collected. You’ll be well on your way to establishing mental and physical resilience if you practice basic meditation on a daily basis and practice awareness about your body’s reactions to stresses.
However, biofeedback, in my experience with these gadgets and apps, may assist in this process. While warriors and philosophers have been training their brains with nothing but their thoughts for thousands of years, I believe that in this age of tremendous technology distraction, sharpening your attention has never been more vital, or more challenging. In my opinion, any additional tools that might help you focus better are priceless. Fight fire with fire, as the saying goes.
Mental and physical toughness are ethereal qualities. It’s difficult to tell whether you’re getting better since you can’t observe if cognitive activities like meditation are having any influence on your physiology other than how you feel. As a result, getting motivated to undertake such workouts is difficult. Biofeedback gives you actual figures and data to track your development, which both informs and motivates you. I absolutely feel like my meditation and mental resilience progressed faster in the few weeks of biofeedback training than in the two years I’ve been meditating consistently.
Give biofeedback a try to see if it works for you if you’re worried, nervous, or overwhelmed, or if you want to improve your mental game and perform at your best on the battlefield or in daily life.
Have you ever experimented with biofeedback? What has been your experience so far? Do you have any advice for others who want to start? Let us know in the comments!
“Warrior meditation techniques” are a type of biofeedback that can be used to increase resilience. The technique involves focusing on the body and breathing, which is not difficult for most people. Reference: warrior meditation techniques.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you do biofeedback on yourself?
A: Yes, you can use Beat Saber to do biofeedback on yourself. One common way is by using the ducking mode that allows users to duck when their peripheral vision (on whichever side) has a light signal and then jump back up when its not lit up anymore. This will help with any muscle tension or poor posture one might have.-
What are biofeedback techniques?
A: Biofeedback techniques are methods of monitoring and understanding the bodys physiological responses in order to gain insight into ones state of health, behaviour or mental well-being.
What is an example of biofeedback in psychology?
A: An example of biofeedback in psychology would be if there was a person that had anxiety or depression issues, the therapist could use physiological methods to show them what their body is doing when they are feeling anxious or depressed. For instance, using an electroencephalogram (EEG) machine to read electrical brain activity and changes in blood pressure by measuring heart rate variability.
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