Industrialized societies tend to assume that our minds control our bodies, with our bodies exerting little influence on the contents of mind. The more comprehensive picture of mammalian neurophysiology that is emerging from ongoing brain research indicates that our conscious perceptions are the consequence of preconscious cognitive functions originating in our deep brain and gut neurology – that our mind and body, along with our soul and spirit, are one unit. Biofeedback is a means to observe and to develop a dialog with these ancient cognitive attributes buried deep within our physiology. The more sensitivity and competence we can bring to this dialog, the greater our potential for presence vs. reactivity. This potential is described here as “coherence”, which describes variation of heart rate over time. Variability in heart rate correlates with the level of efficiency of autonomic function, and is directly related to our capacity for and resilience to stress (adaptive energy).
Electrical Biofeedback has been explored since the early 1880’s and is most widely recognized as the technology behind the lie detector. A Lie Detector combines many different types of biofeedback – skin conductance, heart rate changes and heart rate variability, skin temperature, changes in respiration and other sensory inputs. Carl Jung and L. Ron Hubbard are two well known pioneers in skin conductance biofeedback research and applications.
Currently, there are very good laptop based biofeedback tools, such as RELAXING RHYTHMS and ALIVE. These combine skin conductance and heart rate variability (Alive has an advanced module that adds in additional biofeedback sources). However, a phone based app is the ideal way to go, enabling coherence to be practiced “on the fly” as one has a few minutes to spare. HEARTMATH has developed such a product, called INNER BALANCE, based on heart rate variability. It employs an ear clip which senses the heart rate through blood flow in the ear lobe. I have been using this product for a while now, and find it to be a well designed tool that performs as described. In continuing to use this tool, I experience a stronger sense of self, with less reactivity and greater capacity for joy. My only issue with the product is that the sensor can be a little glitchy, requiring repositioning of the ear clip to get a good read of heart rate.
An interesting note is that manual muscle testing is another form of biofeedback.
Priced at $130.00, it is also one of the least expensive options. Requires IPHONE 6. There is a version available for older IPhones with the 30 pin connector.
is an overview of what biofeedback does and how to do it. It is written for an audience with no prior experience in personal development tools. However, I found it helpful in clarifying the benefits and methods of using heart rate variability biofeedback.