Futurehealth.org 75,000 hits/ week  "Most Informative Biofeedback Site On The Web"  Jim Robbins
Low $ Stress Tools

 Site Map

Neurofeedback Central

Optimal Living Center

Mailing List Sign-up

 DVDs, CDs, Tapes

Biofeedback Central


Meetings Central  Fleamarket

Books Quotations Central

 Place Order

Positivity Central


Personal biofeedback


EEG BF Intro DVD Course



 World's Most Popular Biofeedback Site

The Biofeedback Explorer’s Hero's Journey  of Personal Growth / Personal Healing,  Peak Performance /Consciousness 

by Rob Kall

I like to use the monomyth, or hero’s journey—the archetypal story of stories—to characterize the path people can expect to travel as they go through the process of biofeedback, of personal change and growth. I believe this mythic pattern is wired into your nervous system, that there is a mythic homunculus , as much as there is a motor homunclulus that represents your muscles. By understanding the pattern, you understand a "map" of the mythic territory and this empowers you to tap the awesome power of myth to awaken the sleeping strengths and powers that lie within you, just waiting to be brought to life and energized.

The monomyth was described in Joseph Campbell’s book, Hero With A Thousand Faces, as the story that is told in thousands of myths throughout the world in innumerable cultures. It is the story of change and rebirth, making it an excellent teaching story to help you see what you will experience as you go through the stages of healing and growth that biofeedback sets you on the path toward.  One film-maker who adopted the hero’s journey for his famous films was George Lucas, so I’ll use Luke Skywalker’s heroic journey for examples.

The info on the hero's journey lists factors and stages that might apply to you, that have been key factors for other people who have embarked on the biofeedback personal growth / peak performance /consciousness explorer’s hero's journey. They certainly will not ALL apply to you.

Some of the challenges are covered in parts of this web site. Others, we're here to help you with.  If you are familiar with the hero’s journey basic stages, skip directly to the Biofeedback Practitioner’s Journey.

The hero's journey at its simplest is broken down into three stages-- departure (from the ordinary world,) initiation and return. (Suggested readings on the hero's journey, also called the monomyth, are listed at the bottom of this page.)

Here's a more detailed overview, so you'll see the bigger picture and understand how to use this to see how it fits with your personal experience

In the departure phase, you start out in the ordinary world, and then, you receive a call. It could be brought to you by a herald archetype or it could come from within. Very often, people reject the call.. at least until it becomes more adamant.

Ordinary World: comfortable, safe, you are happy with the way things are and don’t want to change anything.

Herald archetype: book, radio or TV program, magazine or newspaper, friend, teacher, counselor, minister, doctor, therapist, nervous system, brain, stomach (hunger)

The Call: The story begins in the ordinary world, where the protagonist, the potential hero, receives a call to adventure—an invitation to respond to an opportunity or need-- a chance to become aware of an opportunity to do something heroic.  Often, symptoms like headache, anxiety, pain, hyperactivity, high blood pressure provide their call to adventure, or their desire to change their lives or behaviors, or it could be that you just decide to open yourself up to change, or it may be a subtle discomfort or something lacking with the way things are. It could be inner awareness, curiosity, meditation, music, creativity, spirituality, peak performance, optimal functioning, transcendence, enlightenment, peace, calm, self control, higher consciousness, equanimity, richer emotional life, intuition, ancestral mind, escape the rat race, outer success without feeling inner success, emotional intelligence, desire to do good or fight evil, desire to wake up to a higher level of consciousness, to deepen one's ability to know, feel, see...  In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker is invited by Obi Wan Kenobe to go with him to rescue Princess Leah, and to learn the way of THE FORCE.  

Rejecting the Call:   Often, people will reject the call. Then, they end up living with the problem that the call to adventure has the promise to solve. Clients hold on to their headaches, anxiety, distractability, etc. Or, if the call is an opportunity, then the opportunity dies. Luke Skywalker explained that he had to help his aunt and uncle harvest the dehydrators. IF you reject the call, then worse things can happen. Symptoms get worse, or start affecting more parts of our lives. Luke Skywalker’s aunt and uncle were killed the next day. Often, after an initially rejected call, when worse consequences befall the protagonist, the decision to accept the call is made.

The Mentor: The hero, ready to cross the threshold, encounters a mentor, often an old, wise man or woman—sometimes an animal-- the mentor archetype, who helps make the crossing and find the way in the new world. Therapists, vendors, healers, coaches, practitioners play the role of the mentor for home biofeedback users. Books, DVDs, movie, software, websites can also play a role.  Obi Wan Kenobe played the role for Luke.

The mentor helps the hero face and pass the guardians of the threshold. The hero must cross the threshold to begin the journey into the new and special world. This is a firm commitment upon the path. The threshold guardians act to dissuade or intimidate the hero from crossing the threshold initially, and later, try to get the hero to quit the journey before completing his or her mission.

Threshold Guardians archetype:  time, money, procrastination, self doubt, fear can all act as threshold guardians, intimidating you from crossing the threshold.  Sometimes, the family doctor will question the efficacy of biofeedback, whether it has been proven with research. At this point, there have been thousands of published scientific studies proving the efficacy of biofeedback for a myriad of applications. Money can be a threshold guardian-- should you buy equipment and work with a coach by phone, or spend money on a therapist?

The Threshold: to accept the call, one must cross the threshold, leaving the ordinary world and entering a new world, where you can expect adventure, danger, and opportunities and the need to develop new tools, weapons, skills, knowledge, allies and other resources.  You leave a collection of systems, communities, etc. that you are accustomed to—health, symptoms, family relationships, job—with the potential that you will experience changes that could drastically effect any or all of those systems. Luke leaves the farm and goes, with Obi Wan Kenobe, first to another town, then to outer space. Often, once one crosses the threshold the new world starts out in a dark, ambiguous place.  

Threshold crossing action: read book, watch movie, listen to CD or Tape, take seminar, buy system or equipment, hire a coach, practitioner or therapist

Crossing the threshold sets you on firmly on the hero's journey. You are now in the initiation phase, in a new world, on the road of tests and trials. Here, you begin the process of being reborn as a new person, more aware, with new strengths, resources, allies, tools, weapons, knowledge,  powers... or magic. The hero often starts by entering a cave, going underground or under water or into darkness. This is symbolic of the fact that the hero is "in the dark" on the basic realities of the new, special world. This is also a symbol of entering a womb, getting ready to be reborn as a new person. Accordingly, the old  you begins the process of dying.

On the road of tests and trials,  the hero prepares to approach and face ordeals-- conflicts with dragons-- that test the hero's new skills and resources.  These are challenges that must be overcome for the hero to continue on the journey.

Generally, the hero has several ordeals, where he faces dragons. The first, he barely survives, and often loses, but crawls away having been bloodied, having used some new skills and perhaps, new allies.  Sometimes the ordeals relate to you giving up  your old life-- your illusions, your symptoms, the secondary gains your symptoms gave you (my back hurts so I don't have to take out the trash. I have a headache, so I just want to sleep.)

tests and trials:   software learning curve, artifacts (getting bad signal readings because of inadequate knowledge and or supervision,) technique, failure to get coaching, impatience,  slow progress, recalling old bad memories

Sometimes the ordeals involve other people or activities in your life. As you get control of your stress, your brain, your ability to express positive emotions, to be assertive, your spouse may be uncomfortable with the new you, may not even like you.

Your kids may be accustomed to a parent who is too stressed out to spend pleasant quality time with them. You may have to learn how to earn the time with them. But you may first feel pretty badly about being shot down by them.

The next ordeal you'll be  better prepared for, even though it could be even more deadly. This ordeal further tests the hero and helps the hero to test and apply the newly acquired skills.

Meeting with the Goddess In some hero stories, the hero meets a beautiful women who he becomes his wife. Sometimes, he meets a woman like Circe, who enchants him to never leave, and he fails to complete his journey. This stage of the journey, combined with atonement with the father,  represents the process of balancing your masculine and feminine energies and selves, resolving Oedipal issues (developing mature love relationships) and dealing with your basic drives. As a part of the biofeedback journey, it may involve facing your habits, your relationships with the opposite sex, your un-expressed dreams and desires. Successful navigation of this stage of the journey enables you to achieve greater balance and to stay on the journey, rather than getting entranced and “marooned” by the glamour and seductiveness of whatever it is that magnetically attracts you.

Atonement with the father  Let’s face it, there is an Oedipal dimension to the Hero’s journey, and part of growing up, of maturing, of moving your consciousness to the next level is to finish up with, polish and optimize your masculine energy, your relationship to authority, your relationship to your father. An “adult in full” goes through the Oedipal process of feeling threatened by the and competing with the father, to a stage of self confident autonomy, where the father becomes a trusted  ally, mentor, friend, and resource.  Masculine energy becomes smoothed and polished, from aggressive and combative to subtle, diplomatic, strong and confident. The warrior becomes the sage, magician, or diplomat.  The biofeedback explorer may notice changes in the energy he or she gives to anger, aggression, taking offense and ego. You may find that as you learn to sense subtler changes in your psychophysiology, that your reactions to others similarly changes, so you are more sensitive and more subtle. As you develop greater skills for introspection and inner self awareness, you may become more patient and understanding with others, and may see different perspectives on their relationships to you—less I-them and more we, more opportunities for cooperation and synergy.

Finally, the hero faces a final ordeal, and using all his/her new resources, emerges triumphant, resurrected, through a transcendant apotheosis, as a new person—an archetypal magician who has successfully acquired the magic “elixir” boon, or reward that the journey led him to (usually, not what he expected.)

Apotheosis; Perhaps the apotheosis, or becoming divine, becoming transcendant, or become one with the divine is the part of the journey that most attracts a certain segment of biofeedback explorers.  Ken Wilber has described, in No Boundaries, how, the connection with God is really about letting go of your boundaries to discover that the connection and oneness was always there. This is a part of the return to the ordinary world., realizing that the new world you’ve explored as the hero was always there, a part of your ordinary world.

Rejection of the Call to return  Finally, the hero must return to the ordinary world with the elixir, to rescue or heal that ordinary world. This can be challenging. It is attractive to stay in the special world. But the final task of the hero is to bring the “magic” home, and  heal or rescue the ordinary world, to have the ability to be a “master of both worlds.” Some people, when they go through a major change find that the world they returned to is no longer where they want to live. Their relationships were co-dependent or just not healthy or happy. Some return home and discover new depths of love and friendship they were unable to achieve before. They may change their job or make peace with their demons.

Return to the Ordinary World

Allies archetype:  fellow searchers,  experts in related areas, old friends you haven't been in touch with, people you meet at a new school, at the library, bookstore, special interest group.

Resources: techniques, consciousness wisdom, eastern approaches, mediation, yoga, tai chi, chi gong,  mindfulness, autogenic training, open focus, sensory awareness, progressive muscle relaxation, self hypnosis, aerobic exercise, running, sports, athletic training

Warrior; As one progresses on the hero’s journey, on the road of tests and trials, you will face antagonists and your shadow (often your antagonists are manifestations of your shadow.) The warrior archetype challenges the shadow and fights demons. The warrior archetype takes action, taps inner courage.

Warriorship is a continual journey. To be a warrior is to learn to be genuine in every moment of your life   Chogyam Trungpa.   Shambala the Sacred Path of the Warrior

This characterization of the Biofeedback explorer's hero's journey is a work in progress. I'll be adding to it, including fleshing in the archetypes and stages below.


Drop an email  (rob(at)futurehealth.org) or call. If it's a quick answer, we're happy to help you. If it's more involved, I offer consulting services (personal coaching and professional consults for practitioners, entrepreneurs and researchers) by the hour and usually, in an hour or two can help you make huge progress on your journey (minimum consult package $195 for 90 minutes or in blocks of 2 hours, $125 an hour). .    Rob Kall, president, Futurehealth, Inc

Suggested Readings:
 The Hero with a Thousand Faces  Joseph Campbell;
The Hero Within Carol S. Pearson
Mythology: The Voyage of the Hero  David Adams Leeming;
The Myth of the Birth of the Hero, and Other Writings. Otto Rank
Heroine's Journey  MAUREEN MURDOCK
The Writer's Journey, Second Edition : Mythic Structure for Writers   Christopher Vogler