SKILLS NOT PILLS
The following materials and devices are those I recommend to clients, colleagues, friends, and patients. Most are in my personal collection. Items are added as requested by clients and patients as a service to assist them.
HeartMath emWave and emWave PC
emWave PC Stress Relief System
emWave Mac Stress Relief System
emWave Personal Stress Reliever
These devices (a portable trainer and a computer-based trainers) offer simple, inexpensive, and effective means of learning to increase Heart Rate Variability coherence. It uses a single physiological data channel based on a measure of reflected light to read heart rhythms, and a mathematical transform of these readings to indicate dominance in the autonomic nervous system. By using this information, a person can then modify their thoughts, feelings, and/or breathing patterns to increase HRV coherence, indicating a movement into parasympathetic dominance or the relaxation response.
I carry an emWave Personal with me in my briefcase, and on occasion use the earclip attachment to practice when on road trips or commuting. I also sometimes use it before sleep to help focus on relaxing and letting go of the day.
The Journey to Wild Divine Biofeedback Software & Hardware for PC & Mac: The Passage is a computer game system that runs on either the Windows or Mac platforms. It uses HRV coherence and EDR/SCL sensors attached to the fingers of the non-mouse using hand as part of the game play, with various tasks requiring differential control of some aspect of your physiology. For example, an elevator that requires an increase in HRV coherence to function, or a door that requires decreasing SCL to open. The graphics and sound are beautiful. Given that it comes with two channels of biofeedback that can be used for improved physiological self-regulation, has an optional graphing program to track your progress, and that it runs on both Mac and PC platforms, it is inexpensive.
We have a copy of this at home. It's fun, and it’s very good for introducing children to the concept that we can learn to control our physiological responses, and we make things happen when doing so.
Another version using the same technology designed for adults who don't care to play video games is Healing Rhythms from the Wild Divine Project (Biofeedback Software and Hardware for PC and Mac) It's received positive reviews from several of my clients who have purchased it to enhance their home training.
There is also a company that has developed add-on software to extend and enhance the Wild Divine / Healing Rhythms hardware through games and structured exercises. The company is called Somatic Visions, and they have several different software packages. I have tested most of them, and they are challenging, informative, and fun.
Most of my professional biofeedback equipment is Thought Technology, and I use both the Infiniti and older ProComp+ systems. I find the hardware high quality and fairly durable, and the software robust, flexible, and stable. A potential drawback for some practitioners is the learning curve for the software, although you can purchase “off the shelf” protocols and screens that can be used “out of the box” to provide training. The hardware I use takes up to 8 separate channels, and covers the full range of physiological measures, including brain waves (EEG), muscle tension (EMG), skin conductance (EDR/SCL), Respiration, Temperature, and Heart rate (BPV/EKG). The software allows a wide flexibility in training, with multiple derived virtual channels from each separate physical channel that can be used as needed to reinforce the learning goals or specific task. Although the price of these systems reflect the quality of the hardware and sophistication of the software, they should be seriously considered by any professional who includes biofeedback as part of their services.
EZ-Air by Thought Technology is a downloadable program provided as a service to patients for use on a Windows-based computer. This is the older free version, originally developed for the Biofeedback Foundation of Europe (BFE). It is a "breath metronome" that provides guidance for paced breathing exercises. Click on the link to download the program to your computer, then go to the saved file and "Run" it to set it up by double clicking on the file.
A newer version, EZ-Air Plus, is available for a limited free trial from BFE, and requires purchase after the 30 day trial. Go to the page provided in the link and click the button to begin the download.
Bibliotherapy: Books recommended to clients and patients for purchase through local booksellers, or by using the links below.
The Chronic Pain Solution: The comprehensive, step-by-step guide to choosing the best of alternative and conventional medicine. (Dillard, 2002)
I recommend this book to all my patients at the chronic pain rehabilitation clinic. The author is a physician, chiropractor, and acupuncturist, and has been on faculty at Columbia and a director of the University Pain Center. He presents the new understanding of how chronic pain changes the nervous system, describes which approaches from conventional and complimentary medicine have been effective with various types of chronic pain, how to explain your pain condition to family and loved ones so they "get it", how to talk to your physician so they get it, how to develop a health team for your treatment, and appendices with acupressure and physical therapy directions you might find from a good practitioner. An excellent resource, practical and informed.
The Relaxation and Stress Reduction Workbook. (Davis, Eshelman, McKay, & Flanning, 2008)
This book has been a mainstay of practitioners and patients alike since first published in 1980. It covers a variety of useful strategies and techniques for managing stress and increasing skills with relaxing. The sixth edition is the most recent, and covers some of the newer techniques that have developed over the twenty five years since original publication, such as EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) for trauma resolution.
The Fine Arts of Relaxation, Concentration, and Meditation: Ancient skills for modern minds. (Levey & Levey, 2003).
I find this book noteworthy for two reasons. First, it provides excellent descriptions of a variety of practical techniques for developing relaxation and concentration skills. Second, it's one of the few books for Western readers that clearly differentiates relaxation, concentration, and meditation, and that the first two must be mastered before you can truly begin the third. Much of what is presented as meditation in the West is simple relaxation, or relaxation with concentration, and we therefore underestimate the knowledge, skills, and required discipline that have been cultivated in the East in their development of the inner sciences.
The Miracle of Mindfulness: A manual on meditation. (Hanh, 1999).
A wonderful little book, full of suggestions on how to turn everyday events into mindfulness practice, written by a master of meditation.
Full Catastrophe Living: Using the wisdom of your body and mind to face stress, pain, and illness. (Kabat-Zinn, 1990).
The author was director of the stress reduction program at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and this book offers instructions, scientific support, and practical considerations on use of meditation for reducing stress and managing pain.
No Matter Where You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness meditation in everyday life. (Kabat-Zinn, 2005)
This is written in a lighter style, both more poetic and more practical than "Full Catastrophe." Another excellent resource.
Guided Imagery for Self-Healing. (Rossman, 2000)
This excellent introduction to Interactive Guided Imagery provides a tool to open and explore your inner world. The technique is different from traditional guided imagery, in that you allow imagery to spontaneously arise rather than directing it. Background, explanations, and scripts you can read and record for yourself to find your healing place, inner teacher, dialog with symptoms, and more. A wonderful reference from a master teacher, healer, and physician. Some of his CDs are listed below in Audio.
Aikido and the Dynamic Sphere: An illustrated introduction. (Westbrook & Ratti, 1970)
This is one of the finest books on martial arts ever produced for a Western audience. It discusses philosophy, preparation, and detailed instruction with numerous beautifully crafted illustrations of the practice of Aikido. Aikido is a recent innovation that has been called "the art of peace" for its principles of blending and controlled neutralization of an attack with the intention of minimizing injury to all parties, rather than relying on force to injure or destroy an attacker.
The Life We Are Given: A long-term program of realizing the potential of body, mind, heart, and soul. (Leonard & Murphy, 1995)
I recommend this book to all group participants in the individual development and personal transformation trainings. It describes the Integral Transformative Practice (ITP) experiment conducted by Leonard and Murphy at Aikido of Tamalpais in Mill Valley, CA, and has inspired numerous transformational practice groups across the world. The ITP program contains many of the best practices from the human potential movement, based on Leonard and Murphy's 40 years of involvement with the Esalen Institute.
Marty Rossman’s Interactive Guided Imagery.
Dr. Rossman has been a pioneer in mind-body medicine and the development of Interactive Guided Imagery. His book on the subject is listed above, and the following CDs give instruction on using the technique to address specific issues.
Stress Relief Through Guided Imagery
The Power Of Imagery: Pain Relief
The Power Of Imagery: Creating Wellness
The Power of Imagery: Relaxing into Healing
Bill Barton’s Relax to Sleep.
Dr. "Bio Bill" Barton has put together a terrific resource combining Autogenic exercises, soothing music, and the sounds of Pacific Ocean surf to assist you in relaxing into sleep. Contact Dr. Coffman to obtain a copy of this CD.
T'ai Chi for Health: Yang Short Form 37 Form
This is an excellent instructional video for learning T'ai Chi Ch'uan. It is not a workout video, it is an instructional video, so its pace is slow and detailed, set up for step-by-step repetition of small segments of the form, much like you you receive when working with an instructor. While a video is no substitute for a quality instructor, this particular video can be a great tool for those who don't live in an area blessed with quality instructors, and is a great tool for those who are seeking a refresher course when taking up practice again.
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