Figure II. When connected to a neurofeedback system you modulate your brain waves to affect the passage of the flying saucer as it moves through the tunnel. From "Inner Tube," software produced by Somatic Visions, Inc.
The process is similar to learning to drive a car or fly a plane: we can see what we're doing, but we don't know what to do about it. For that reason the safe use of neurofeedback requires guidance and careful monitoring. In most cases a person soon becomes aware if they enter a disregulated state, but the loss of control can be injurious to people suffering certain disorders, such as migraines or epilepsy.
Some people who experience neurofeedback report no effect. Whether this is because they are inattentive, insensitive, inflexible, or have not been pushed sufficiently far, I do not know. But there are cases where protocols that have no effect on some people can have a large, potentially disturbing effect on others. For this reason the first test in every neurofeedback program is to assess a person's sensitivity. This is done both by assessing their history, performing reactivity tests, and by evaluating their response to minor neurofeedback stimuli.
13 - Underlying Aptitudes
Neurofeedback provides a tool to improve mental regulation; what role does this play in the project of personal growth? In the three-part personality I described above, neurofeedback leaves the areas of inclination and experience untouched. In the context of the "tall and sensitive structure" that is our mind, changes to one part of are not stable until they are balanced by changes to those parts to which they are connected.
Our aptitudes underlie our inclinations and shape our experience. Our aptitudes may even govern our inclinations, such as a love of music that depends on discriminating hearing, or a love of poetry that depends on a facility with words. Our aptitude to recall memories is central to the emotions that underlie our habits. Change this balance and our personality can undergo a seismic rearrangement.
Herein lies a second great risk in the program of personal growth: if we succeed, then how will we react to our new world, and how will our world react to us? While many paths to positive change involve a struggle, each participant must decide which struggles are positive. The structure of any program for personal growth must enhance each individual's authority in orchestrating his or her own process.
We are proposing a benign program "ö a suite of three generally beneficial, well tested, and well tolerated neurofeedback protocols to better prepare people for personally transformative experiences. These exercises focus on stabilization. They avoid sensitizing emotional faculties that can be put under stress during the Ayahuasca ceremony. These three protocols were developed by Sue and Sigfried Othmer, and are detailed in materials published by the EEG Institute:
1 - Left and right temporal lobes: emotional stabilization, sustainable levels of attention.