BrainGym – No vale la pena invertir 20 mil dólares BioCybernaut y en 40 Years of Zen.
No quiero hacer sesiones grupales para escuchar a otras 5 personas lo que sintieron durante una hora. Tampoco quiero pasar mucho tiempo revisando los gráficos que se generaron durante el entrenamiento. 17 horas de entrenamiento en 7 días, 2.5 horas por día de entrenamiento. De las 12 a 15 horas por día, entre el 17% y el 21% del tiempo en entrenamiento de Neurofeedback.
Tampoco quiero estar dependiendo de las otras personas para que quieran quedarse más tiempo haciendo el entrenamiento de Neurofeedback.
30 personas entrenadas al tope por mes, en un año serían 360 personas, en 30 años, serían 10 mil personas, y dicen que han entrenado más de 30 mil personas, y sus equipos valen millones de dólares y su software igual. Parece que no vale la pena gastar 15 mil dólares, ni el programa de 40 years of Zen.
Ahora puedes conseguir un súper buen equipo de EEG como el Nexus de mindmedia en 10 mil dólares, y un equipo de 2 canales en menos de 1000 dólares.
Por 20 mil dólares, que las computadores se dañen no es una buena señal.
No quiero que me estén grabando durante las sesiones grupales.
Abajo está el artículo de la persona escéptica de BioCybernaut.
The real truth is that this training is not for everyone. It is an exceedingly expensive and somewhat grueling experience of a full 7 days, 12-15 hours a day at the center, and would be more accurately described as a combination of meditation retreat and pseudo group therapy, something like a spiritual and psychological «boot camp,» a sesshin of sorts.
Post chamber depth interviews. This is a very long group therapy-ish situation where each person, one at a time, relates their experiences in the chamber and the trainer tries to elicit issues of importance. It takes about 45 minutes to an hour for each person, so it could theoretically take as long as 5 hours if you had a full group of 5. In the neurofeedback world, some talk therapy or discussion of imagery is not uncommon for so-called «deep state» training such as alpha-theta training. But not 5 hours worth.
Going over scores, graphs, and EEG polygraph tracings. It depends, but maybe another 2-3 hours here. Once you understand how to read the polygraph tracings, you can flip through them pretty quickly. Again, the trainer tries to reinforce good things and suggests how to correct others. I would rank looking over the EEG printouts as virtually worthless.
So it’s worth saying that very little of the roughly 90 hours of time over 7 days is spent doing actual biofeedback enhancement. I would say perhaps 2 hours a day for the first four days, and 3 hours a day on the last three. Maybe 17 hours total.
Actually, you get to do as much as you want on the last three days, but everyone in your group must agree to the additional time. Frankly, I think whoever wants to bail should just go into their post chamber depth interview, but I suppose the trainer needs to be on hand in case somebody freaks out or something. They do the depth interviews in a group so that others can benefit from your experiences, but this is fairly minimal, particularly at the end of the week when the experience is not quite as novel. Given the money, you could have an extra trainer on hand, it would seem.
It’s also worth saying that you can only take so much time in the chamber, as it can be exhausting physically, mentally and emotionally. Although they claim to have done tests that actually show hearing improvements, my ears were ringing days later (although you can set the volume, and move the speakers, they encourage you to make it loud). Who knows, maybe my hearing is better, but I think I’d rather err towards not having ringing ears. On the final days with extra enhancement periods, you get a chance to get out of the chamber, take a break and go to the bathroom between enhancements, and that goes a long way to recharging your batteries for more biofeedback. Speaking of money, which is in many ways the main issue, it’s hard to say where it all goes. It’s so expensive. Jim spun it as $145 an hour for the whole experience, but for the overwhelming majority of the whole experience you are in a group therapy type situation, and generally what is paid for group therapy is something on the order of say $25 an hour, because you are splitting that fee among a number of clients. Still, this was often good therapy. It may be that there is truly a great expense involved, or they may not be good with money, or it may be that Jim has a bit of a monopoly and a reputation for this kind of training.
Still, for the money, I don’t think you would be out of line expecting a modern facility in a Marin county mansion complete with daily massages, but it’s somewhat more of an «I built a rocket ship in my nice garage» kind of feel. Which is okay, but worth noting. Then there are figures bandied about, such as $7,000,000 of software, $5,000,000 of equipment, and 30,000 people trained, but I find myself being skeptical. I mean, maybe he has spent that much on software programming, but even over 30 years I’m afraid this would easily pay for 2 damn good programmers full time (I have this horrible habit of doing the math). Maybe he’s spent $5 million on equipment during his lifetime, but all I saw was a bunch of PC’s, a couple of polygraph machines, and a couple of racks of cards that were built, I was told, back in the 1970’s. I also have to compare that to another figure that was bandied about – a mere $300,000 to pay for the equipment to fund a new BioCybernaut franchise (not in existence yet, but who knows, maybe coming soon to a neighborhood near you). As to the 30,000 people trained, again, maybe, but that’s an awful lot of people. In their current configuration, which admittedly has changed over the years, they train an absolute maximum of 30 people a month. And again, even if you go back 30 years, it just doesn’t come close to adding up.
As a point of comparison, currently you could get top of the line EEG equipment and software for a 4 to 8 channel setup for certainly no more than $10,000 or so. More to the point, a very good, but perhaps not top of the line, 2 channel with software can be had for about $1,000.
The PC my chamber was associated with crashed once during suppression or thereabouts, and another person had a couple of similar crashes. They were okay during enhancement, though. The PC we used to view certain graphs of feedback data on at night crashed about 10 times every night.
Additionally on the tech front, while they brag about their certifications, one day my electrodes were not wired correctly, so that instead of getting feedback on my left occipital, I was getting feedback on my right frontal, which I wasn’t even supposed to be getting feedback on. Their «certification» apparently consists of a brief, on the job, «here’s how you do it, now do it.» On that particular day, an old woman who could barely speak english and who was working in other capacities was recruited to connect up the electrodes. She was clearly uncomfortable with the task, clearly uncertified, and clearly screwed up. Also, in getting me set up one day they put on and then took off my earclip electrodes 5 times. I don’t know, it seems like there is some kind of competency breakdown there. Essentially, the process worked, but when you’re paying that much money, I think you rightfully expect top-notch.
It is a little sad that the things they say don’t always seem to add up. Jim mentioned that no one had quit after two days and not finished, but besides the guy who quit in my group, there are at least one or two other people who also quit (link gone). I think for people that have paid for the whole 7 days up front, with Jim not giving a refund, they probably have a strong incentive to come back and finish, which is what Jim wants. But based on what my trainer said about yet more quitters, I think Jim did me a great disservice by not being more open, if not actually lying, about people quitting the training.
My trainer, based on her actual experience, said 1 out of 10 or 15 has a spiritual experience such as mine. Jim has put it as 10-15% (Art Bell interview), a similar but more optimistic number, but unfortunately, he has also been quoted as saying 3 out of 5 (A Symphony in the Brain, page 229). That would be a large discrepancy. But it should be said, however, to produce even a single experience such as this is pretty amazing.
All of the one-at-a-time group therapy on both the mood scales and the post chamber experiences are videotaped (how weird is that?), but you can’t have any of it. And they don’t use any of it. It just goes into storage somewhere. Admittedly, transferring the videotapes possibly opens up all kinds of problems, but I was particularly saddened to learn that my firsthand report of that wonderful experience of mine, caught on video, will simply rot in a warehouse. There are so many people I would like to show that to. It’s like a friend capturing some special moment on camera but refusing to give you a copy.
One person seemed to regard Jim as some kind of enlightened master or guru. I personally find it dangerous to put someone on so high a pedestal. Trust can be important, but that can be difficult in a situation where someone has fed me spin instead of being completely forthcoming. I imagine that there have been attempts to logically optimize some of the training, but I would be equally willing to bet that quite a bit just kind of evolved and is completely untested, particularly in relation to the therapy setup. But it is what it is.
Another story: the trainer provided us with the option of having an «aspirin cocktail» before training, and I suppose aspirin might? increase the blood flow to the brain, which might? help increase alpha (I wonder if that’s been tested?). In relating this, she referred to Jim as a «scientist» who had «invented» this cocktail, which was aspirin in water with a little baking soda to kill the acid. I don’t know. He «invented» um, Bufferin?
The therapy often involved trying to relate things back to childhood issues. Sometimes this may make sense, but I believe this may have been done excessively. If someone mugged you and you’re angry about it, I don’t think you really need to relate that to childhood to understand or get at the source of the emotion. The more I think about it, the more I wonder about the therapy aspect. It’s an intense situation, made moreso with the long days, and you don’t really have a chance to get to know someone deeply over a period of time. I think there is a tendency to leap to facile conclusions and enable some belief systems that may not be effective in the long run. Kind of an incentive for the recovery of false memories thing. There is some good stuff going on, but even here Jim has to hype it as equivalent to 20 years of therapy. I would describe it as getting some of the better therapy days out of say, 2 years of therapy, in one week. But a few good days is just that.
A strong focus of the work is «forgiveness» work. Apparently many years ago someone was doing the suppression training (going for low scores), and suddenly the scores did the opposite, they shot up. When asked what they did, they said they had been going over angry thoughts to suppress alpha, but then forgave the person they were thinking about. But in my experience, any «release» of emotions (sexual fantasies work great) or emotional tension will work to increase alpha, and frankly, if you are as they sometimes put it «stating your truth» and expressing anger in the calmness of the alpha state, you can generate extremely high alpha without forgiveness. Additionally, I generated some of my highest scores while simply meditating in the chamber, letting go of thought as it were (another form of release). For me in general the alpha biofeedback was a kind of emotional Geiger counter – it would reveal the strength of your feelings about a given person/place/situation. In that way it makes a lot of sense to combine it with some kind of therapy. But forgiveness as the sole focus? I think it just fits with Jim’s personal agenda, as do the pre-feedback readings, etc. I think it’s more about letting go of stuff, period. Forgiveness is merely a subset of letting go. This could also be framed as acceptance.
There are many ways that Biocybernaut says it is superior to other systems. If you’re comparing this setup to a cheap, one-size-fits-all alpha-only home training unit with which they seem to compare themselves with on the website, yes, they win on all points. But if you’re comparing them to a reputable, experienced neurofeedback professional, many of these differences fall away. Any good deep states trainer has read the same literature that Hardt has, and can train you in the same basic way. For example, I’ve heard of some similar experiences happening to people doing the Alpha synchrony training with Les Fehmi, another of the 1960s pioneers in EEG biofeedback. And these experiences also happen to people who simply do meditation retreats, without any expensive biofeedback at all.
And the benefits that are touted are not unique to Biocybernaut – these are simply the published results of alpha training. As to the testimonials, well, they are testimonials. They should be thought of as the subjective experiences of the very luckiest of the supposed 30,000 who have gone through the program as opposed to typical results. One of those testimonials was written by a person that I trained with. It was written in the pumped up aftermath of the training, and basically became inaccurate not long after writing it. It’s still on the website, though.
So there is an awful lot to be skeptical about. While there are quite a few warts, I guess the positive spin I would put on it is that pretty much every day has the potential to be a really productive day in therapy. And, although the actual amount of EEG feedback is maybe not as much as you might think, as one fellow traveler observed, you could think of all the psychological mood scales and therapy and going over the scores as feedback as well. I did come to the training with many years of background in individual and group therapy, and a history that included at least some meditation and other spiritual or spiritual-like interests. I also came with an attitude to be fearless in my exploration of consciousness, and once I learned the nature of the therapy aspect, I took the attitude of being similarly fearless in revealing myself in front of the therapist and the group. If that is your attitude, I think you can get a lot from the process. There is certainly at least some value there, overpriced as it may be. And, ultimately, if you are looking to have a chance at a transcendental experience, I will have to say this is certainly one of the very best places in the world to go for it.
For me, given the peak experience I had, it was certainly worth it. If I didn’t have that experience, I suspect I would feel like I had been severely ripped off, but again, it depends on the person. Would I do it again? I doubt it. It is so expensive, so long and grueling, and you have to jump through so many hoops, that it’s hard to imagine. And I have to compare that to the fact that I could easily get 5 times as much one-on-one neurofeedback, targeted precisely to my individual needs, from a local practitioner at the same price. Based on what I’ve learned, I would suggest that before you do BioCybernaut you consider seeking out a competent local practitioner and take the time and relatively little money to resolve any issues and maybe experiment a bit with alpha training before you go.
I have received comments thanking me for this page, but some of those people seemed to think of this as a completely negative review. I don’t look at it that way. I just tried to be very thorough and accurate. I think it provides good balance to the hype on their website. If you have a ton of spare cash you won’t miss, maybe go for it. I suspect it would be an interesting, albeit extremely expensive week. I think that if you are looking for some kind of life changing thing, well, I mean this could possibly end up being one little piece of the overall process of change, but this one little thing isn’t going to fix your life. It didn’t fix mine. Essentially BioCybernaut is a form of meditation, in that they are getting you to pay a lot of attention to your moment to moment sensate experience. And you could go on a traditional meditation retreat and do that, in some cases, for absolutely nothing.
There are many techniques, but I did this style of meditation. It’s neurological training, and it’s just a matter of getting the training intense enough, long enough, and regular enough to allow that original mind to shine through and take hold. For me, once I committed to a daily practice, it took about an hour a day for 3 years.
An additional odd fact, and perhaps just a bit of strange bad luck, is that for some reason, Biocybernaut Institute received a $500,000 donation from the perpetrator of a massive real estate fraud, causing Biocybernaut to be listed as relief defendants in the fraud case due to being recipients of ill gotten gains.