Brain State Technologies help the brain learn new tricksI am sitting with electrodes attached, computer on, eyes closed. My brain is listening to itself through ear buds and slowly trying to harmonize, lobe with lobe. The computer screen is recording my brain waves in squiggles and zigzags across a graph. Those colorful, squiggly lines represent the complete workings of my reality. The electrical impulses indicate that I am alive. The gongs and bells are taking over my head more and more. Then I become the gong.
Computers have rerouted and over-amped every part of our lives. Now they may help us cope with the glut of stimuli they have helped produce. Brain State Conditioning, a technology developed by Lee Gerdes, an Arizona-based cognitive therapist, computer geek and former theologian, aims to provide the tools necessary to deal with this onslaught of stimuli by activating networks of neurons (neuro-nets) and rebalancing our brain activity.
The technology incorporates brainwave imaging, audio prompting, plus visualization and relaxation techniques to help the subject reach a state of neural receptivity and balance. Once their brains are balanced, people experience relief from depression, ADD, ADHD, brain injury, sleep disorder, addiction and much more.
Pamela Bliss is the first to bring Brain State Conditioning technology to Indianapolis. Bliss (her given birth name) was first introduced to the process by her son Kyle, a carpenter who was working on a house that turned out to be owned by Lee Gerdes. Kyle decided to undergo intensive sessions, and his mother was so impressed with the results she decided to try it herself.
Eventually, she and Kyle both became trained practitioners in Brain State Conditioning. Pamela Bliss does not claim to be a therapist in fact, she makes her living as an artist. She is best known locally for a mural at Conseco Fieldhouse that commemorates former Pacers.
Brain State Conditioning is closely related to biofeedback and other neuro-feedback systems but is different in its approach. The goal in biofeedback is to try to replicate waves individually based on a composite template drawn from a collection of healthy brains. Brain Conditioning technology builds a prototype derived from an analysis of the brain wave ratios produced by your own brain. (See sidebar on brain waves)
I spoke with one of Bliss' clients, a smoker who claims to feel as if he never smoked after his Conditioning. Jacob, 22, smoked from the age of 11. Not only does he now feel he has complete control over his cravings, he notices that his focus has vastly improved, as has his piano playing. Others have reported having similar experiences.
Learning new tricks
I arrived at Brain State Technologies' Brain Balance of Indianapolis' shared reception room in a modern building on the far Northside. Pamela Bliss ushered me to her office and I took a seat in a comfortable tan recliner. I was offered water or tea. A laptop sat before me on a table; behind me was a console with wires and knobs that controlled and recorded my experience.
On my first visit the session began with an analysis of my brain wave activity. Electrodes were systematically placed on my frontal, temporal, occipital and parietal skull plates. My brainwaves were recorded from these locations and fed into a computer. I was asked a series of questions so that the computer could design the brain template for my sessions.
My Conditioning sessions then began:
For the first exercise, I was shown a bar graph. I listened to sounds through my earbuds and lowered the bar on the computer screen. I realized that the sounds were associated with my brain activity. Somehow, some spot in my brain was able to lower that bar. My brain was learning new tricks. The sounds were a kind of reward.
For the next test, I went to my "resting" place. I pictured a small inner home near the sea, the sea in my mind. I closed my eyes and rested as I listened to the gongs and violins of my own brain feedback - rising, falling, stopping and blending.
The electrodes changed placement. The sounds changed. Then I was asked to picture myself in action. I should conjure as much detail as possible. I'm not good at this. I hear far less celestial sound.
These exercises cycled for three hours with an hour break. With each rest session the music from the sessions echoed louder in my brain. I started to have nervous thoughts: "Am I being brainwashed? What will happen to the organ that runs my complete reality?" I know I always have these thoughts when I experience rigorous mental challenge, when my ego is confronted. This fear is what wisely put an end to the brief drug experimentation of my youth. But it also might have prevented me from having the invaluable experiences that therapy, EST (AKA est: Erhard Seminars Training) or meditation have provided. I feel that same groundless vulnerability where old paradigms don't fit.
The day over, I was brain-pooped, like I'd taken a five-hour test.
When I returned the next day, I asked Bliss about the anxiety I experienced. She reassured me that it is part of the release of trauma others cry or laugh. I noticed the tissue boxes strategically placed around the room.
During my sessions, I tried to melt into my fears and, in fact, they melted away. I heard a rational thought tell me: These are ghosts, spectral fears from my past. I was fine.
Following my sessions, I noticed that my eyesight had become a bit better. My internal focus was improved. I no longer felt compelled to smoke, although the habitual associations with smoking still remained.
My feelings were more accessible to me but not overwhelming. I noticed thoughts as thoughts in a meditative way. My meditation practice became more powerful.
Mostly I felt a subtle difference; my internal hum has become deeper.
Pamela Bliss hopes to offer her services to soldiers suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress following their service in Iraq. She is confident she can provide them some solace. More information can be found at www.BrainStateTechnologies.com.
An analysis and series of eight sessions costs $1,450. Pamela Bliss, Brain Balance of Indianapolis, can be reached at 317-435-1234.
There are four types of measured brain waves: Beta, Alpha, Theta and Delta.
Beta waves are stimulated when we are awake and mentally active. A conversationalist will be in Beta; a talk show host will be in a high Beta state while working. This is the predominant daytime state.
Alpha waves represent low arousal. A person who has been working hard and is now resting is in an alpha state. Reflective thinking and meditation produce Alpha activity.
Theta waves are produced when we are daydreaming. We are in a Theta state when we are doing a repetitive non-stressful activity like highway driving and our mind starts to wander. In this state our thoughts come to us uncensored and free flowing.
Delta waves are most active during sleep. When Delta waves increase in frequency to the level of Theta waves we are in active dreaming or a Rapid Eye Movement period, the time when our dreams become experiential. In deep Delta state we are sleeping dreamlessly.