I've spent thousands of hours hacking my brain. I know that I've made profound changes in my life through these practices, but today I received numerical validation of that progress.
When you do physical workouts like weightlifting and biking, you see progress in several ways: you get stronger, you become more agile, and your endurance increases.
How do you measure your progress when creating change inside of your own mind, however?
It turns out that this progress can be measured by monitoring the electrical output of the brain.
I met with Dr. Zimmermann for a biofeedback session today. I was hooked up with a set of brain electrodes, and the Doctor measured ten different regions of my brain. This allowed him to take numerical measurements of my brain in different five areas:
Delta/Theta Brain Waves: (Sleep and Twilight). These levels were significantly elevated in my brain, and were 3-4x higher than they should be. This is a bad thing, and it's something that Dr. Zimmermann and I need to work on.
Alpha Brain Waves (Calming and optimism): These levels were 1.5-3x higher than the standard baseline, which is a good thing. Dr. Zimmermann could tell that I've done a lot of work in this area.
Sensory Motor Rhythm Waves (Get up and go): These levels were 1.5-3x higher than the standard baseline, which is a good thing. Dr. Zimmermann could tell that I've done a lot of work in this area.
Beta Brain Waves (Clear thinking): These levels were 1.5-3x higher than the standard baseline, which is a good thing. Dr. Zimmermann could tell that I've done a lot of work in this area.
Fast Beta (Highly anxious, vigilant): These levels were around 20% higher than the standard baseline, Dr. Zimmermann suggests we'll do some work on these levels in the coming weeks.
What's fascinating about this data is that it validates a lot of the work I've done over the past four years. I've spent significant amounts of time 'hacking' my sense of calm and optimism, my get up and go initiative, and my ability to think clearly. My biofeedback sessions provide strong evidence that I have mastered these areas, and that I can manipulate my brain waves at will.
This is very cool -- it completely validates the work I've done, and furthermore it indicates that my neurohacking has left me <strong>happier, more clear-headed, and more strong-willed</strong> than average.
A part of my brain that showed brainwaves which were a bit above normal, was the Fast Beta (which measures anxiousness and stress). I've spent significant amounts of time in this past year working on my anxiousness and stress levels, with quite a bit of success. Because of this brain retraining, my Fast Beta is now within almost-normal levels. However, it is not 1.5-3x better than normal like the areas of my brain that I've mastered through neurohacking. This comports with my progress in the past year: I've significantly reduced by stress levels and anxiousness, I have some degree of control over my Fast Beta brain waves, but I feel like I've still got a lot of work to do in this area.
My Delta/Theta Brain Waves are still well outside of normal parameters, and we did two short brain retraining sessions on this part of my mind. Because my Delta/Theta Brain Waves are out of alignment, it leads to 'Foggy Thinking'. This is the area of the brain responsible for regulating sleep and wakefulness, and it's an area that can significantly interfere with the proper functioning of your brain (as you seldom feel well-rested, and your mind is seldom operating at peak performance levels). In contrast to the other four areas, I have absolutely no idea on how to make the numbers move on my Delta/Theta Brain Waves. Bringing these numbers back down to the normal range will be the main focus of my biofeedback training with Dr. Zimmermann.
I would imagine that most of these 5 brain wave patterns were significantly out of normal parameters when I started hacking my brain four years ago. I wasn't calm, I wasn't happy, my thoughts were muddled, and I was very anxious and stressed. (The only area in which I probably didn't need to do huge amounts of retraining was on Sensory Motor Rhythm Waves -- on the rare occasion that I felt healthy enough to get up and go, I did so! While I've certainly gotten better at self-initiative through extensive amounts of practice, these numbers were probably never that far outside of the norm. This 'get up and go' is what allowed me to focus on the difficult task of intensive neurohacking).
It's fascinating to see how the 6000-8000 hours of neurohacking I've performed can actually be measured, numerically. It validates a lot of the work I've done and gives me a new boost of confidence in myself.
This is a fascinating area of medicine and science, it deserves a lot more attention than it's getting. The ability to deliberately reshape the way your brain works is an incredibly powerful, life-changing tool.
Originally written on 2013-10-12