What Does Being Fully Present Even Mean?
Note: This piece is part 3 of a 12 week series by me, Stefani Beckerman, creator of WellDone. Before now, I’ve never had any brain training. This is the real-time documentation of how neurofeedback with Peak Brain Institute feels for me and effects my life. All content is an honest account of my personal experience, and is not influenced in any way by Peak Brain. Visit www.thewelldone.com or @welldone to learn more.
Read the previous installment of this series here.
Be still, listen, focus and pay attention. That’s all it takes to be in the zone. Sounds pretty easy right? Well, IT’S NOT. At least, not for me.
I’ve always had a hard time paying attention. One of my earliest memories is falling off of a chair in kindergarten. Because a beautiful peacock walked past the window. That’s how distractible I can be! (I mean, kind of fair, right?)
I’ve always been hyper-aware of everything happening around me, which often feels overwhelming and exhausting. I never understood the exact reason for this before, but I recently learned from my QEEG that my brain’s fear response was stuck on high-alert. Based on what my brain scans showed when I first came to Peak Brain, my brain’s “safety checker,” as Dr. Hill calls it, was unable to decipher when my life is actually in danger. As it’s more adaptive to survival, it just assumes I might always be in danger. Being “stuck on high alert” like this is called anxiety. That’s how I’ve always known it.
For this reason, my neurofeedback protocols this week at Peak Brain were focused on relieving anxiety and increasing focus. Neurofeedback is training my brain to get un-stuck. The protocol I’ve found specifically effective is called Fz-Pz -> Cz-A1. (These are references of locations on the scalp. Specifically, they are over the anterior (Fz) and posterior (Pz) Cingulate cortex areas, which are involved in switching of attention and determining what is important to pay attention to.)
“We call this our ‘unclench protocol,’” Dr. Hill told me. “You know when you feel like–” and he clenched his fists and the muscles in his face.
I laughed, “Yeah, I know that feeling.”
“This protocol allows you to–” and he relaxed all his muscles and smiled. “It’s specifically designed to target heavy anxiety, plus amp up your emotional and attention regulation.”
Increasing my attentional regulation strengthens my freedom to choose when, where, and how to direct my attention. Increasing my emotional regulation strengthens my ability to control my emotions. All these benefits together are helping me achieve something amazing–I’m becoming “present.”
Yes, after just two weeks I’m already noticing positive changes in my ability to be present.
‘Being present’ is one of those buzzy terms that everyone knows is the goal but has no real roadmap for how to get there. My neurofeedback training makes me feel like I just programmed it into the GPS of a self-driving car! I don’t even know how I’m getting there, but I can feel myself arriving more with every session.
I’ve noticed, too, that I can find and stay in a better mood more easily. This also increases my energy, because when I’m present I’m not anxious, and when I’m not anxious I’m not spinning my wheels wasting energy!
When I’m fully present, I’m not stuck in the past or worried about the future. I’m just open and available to the natural flow of life that is happening right now. That stillness enables me to pay attention to what’s happening around me with calmness. And calmness means a feeling of safety.
That’s the most fascinating part of it all, for me: Being present actually sends signals from the brain to the body that say, “You’re safe.” As the protocol re-regulates my flight-or-fight response, I’m less sensitive to unnecessary triggers and my energy feels more stable. I’m more grounded and in control.
As I’m finally starting to think, feel and act from this headspace of safety and security, I feel my whole being replenishing with real health.
For me, real health is total wellness, and total wellness is balance in mind, body, and soul. How far can neurofeedback take me on my journey deeper into real health? Can it help me create the external life I want, as the mirror of an abundant and healthy internal life?
Well, I’m still only 3
Until next week,
Additional Reflections From This Week:
- Remember to take time for yourself. It shifts everything back into place.
- When the fear comes up, ask it, “What are you actually scared of?” If you really examine it, you’ll probably realize, “Everything is totally okay.” (Since starting neurofeedback, I can now actually catch my fear in action and reverse it. Pretty AHUHMAZING if you ask me.)
- Release the expectation of perfection. Life isn’t a smooth ride, there are bumps. But even the bumps can be fun with a positive attitude!
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For the next installment of this series, click here.