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Biofeedback is a general term for therapies that show you what's actually going on in your body and brain. I was doing muscle biofeedback (EMG) when I made the feeling connection to my hands and the rest of my body. The therapist attached electrodes to various muscle groups...sometimes she would attach them to my thigh muscles or my shoulders. I could see the tension level on a computer screen and then she showed me how to relax those muscles... and then I would see the tension level drop on the screen. I would then remember how that felt.

It's an eye-opening experience -- for me at least. I found out that I didn't really know what relaxation was... what I thought was relaxation was not really relaxing! Actual relaxing felt very out of control to me. I think that's part of the problem with anxiety -- the tension is a way of making you feel like you're in control.

The therapist showed me some "tricks" to get various muscle groups to truly relax. She then suggested that I buy a timer watch and set it to go off ever 10 minutes. (I bought one that vibrates instead of beeps, much more discrete.) Each time it went off, I practiced the relaxation tricks for only 5 seconds. I wore this watch all day long for months. The therapist said this is what it takes to teach your body a new lowered tension level. After about 2 weeks, most of the aching and tingling I was experiencing in my arms and legs went away... I had been worried I had some kind of disease, but it was just constant tension.

I can tell you that this diligence has paid off and that I have much more awareness of my body and how stress affects it. And like I said, I just stopped picking my nails. (It was probably around 6 weeks after I started wearing the timer watch.) I remember thinking, "Gee, I don't need to do this anymore." and I just stopped. No fanfare, no beating myself up, no resolutions, promises, nothing. I don't think about it anymore, it's as if I never did it.

The muscle biofeedback helped me a lot with muscle tension, but it didn't help me as much with the anxiety attacks I was experiencing. I'm now doing another form of biofeedback (with the same therapist) called "neurofeedback" which involves doing brainwave training. The therapist attaches electrodes to various parts of my head and again, using a computer which provides the feedback, we are training various brainwaves. I've been doing this once a week for several months and the results are pretty impressive. I'm sleeping better, I have a ton more patience, and the severe anxiety attacks are pretty much gone. I'm not done with my neurofeedback therapy because I'm still working on various issues, but it's been a lifesave for me so far.

I found out about neurofeedback from a book called "A Symphony in the Brain." There's also a biofeedback web site at [url][/url].


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