Ever tried biofeedback? Technically it is defined as “the use of electronic monitoring of a normally automatic bodily function in order to train someone to acquire voluntary control of that function” Or as I think about use of sensors and displays to create a an explicit and external feedback loop in order to learn and train internal body or mind function.
Yes, you could say that in some sense using an online class is a form of biofeedback, although learning is not one the bodily functions people normally mean. I’m not sure if wearing a heart-rate monitor while you exercise is considered biofeedback? Definitely changes the way you exercise.
I have exposure to a few biofeedback devices and curious to learn about other useful ones.
A machine to help you meditate.
With Resperate you place a strap around your belly and earphones in your ears. After a period of monitoring your breathing, it then begins to play music and tones to guide your breathing and gradually slow it down. It is not just about slowing your breaths, I believe, but also about being conscious of your breaths that provides the benefit.
I’m a little embarrassed to be using a machine to help me meditate. In some sense meditation should be the most cheap free and easy to start but hard to do well system available. But, using this helps me meditate more often and for longer. There are many documented benefits to mindfulness and even without those I feel better when i take the time to stop the constant forward motion to take a pause. So, that’s how I justify it.
Resperate is the only device approved by US FDA to lower blood pressure. It is over the counter so you don’t have to have that issue to use it.
It is expensive, although cheaper than the alternative of unmanaged stress. The first time I did it I felt a sense of relaxation equivalent to a hot tub and glass of wine.
Galvanic Skin Response
Galvanic Skin Response monitoring device like the GSR2, is another way to measure and manage stress. Someone I know swears by using this simple device while engaged in otherwise routine activities. It can remind you how small triggers during your daily life can get your stress response going. This can help you be more mindful during other parts of your day when you are not using the device.
I have not used one yet, although I have a friend who is a fan of the HeartMath system. It monitors pulse (only?) and provides biofeedback that can be combined with computer display or not. If you know much more about this system, please let me know.
I’ve done neurofeedback a few times although hard to say exactly what it accomplished. I went into a lab where they had the equipment to measure my brainwaves during the session. The screen in front of me displayed a PAC-MAN like interface. If I could get the right Alpha-Theta(?) brainwave balance, then the character on the screen would move forward. If you ever wondered then the character would stop. In theory this helps enhance the ability to focus. I had trouble noticing the effects after the sessions although thought I could sense some different state of being when I was able to get the PAC-MAN character to move.