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Dave’s Crisis Advice

Human brain connexions illustration
Human brain connexions illustration

The Pioneers to Frontiers of Neurofeedback

 The “spikes and waves” of the human brain were first recorded in 1924 by Hans Berger, German psychiatrist. Berger went on to create the first electroencephalography (EEG) device in 1929. The discovery of the EEG was a milestone for the advancement of neuroscience and of neurologic and neurosurgical everyday practice, especially for patients with seizures. Before they were accepted adefined measures of the electrical current in the brain, Alphand Beta were initially passed off as artifact by Berger when he first observed them. Berger did not receive recognition for his discovery in his lifetime; however, his discovery is now heralded as a key milestone in the advancement of brain science. 

Accessing Brain States  

One of the next big advancement in neuroscience came when Joe Kamiya studied the abilities of people to be able to have awareness regarding their own brain wave activity, specifically in the alpha state (Kamiya, 1968). In his simple experiment, Kamiya asked his subjects to report when they thought they were in an alpha state. He had them close their eyes and when a tone sounded to indicate if they thought they were in alpha. The next step was to test the subjects if they could enter the state of alpha on command. Alpha states are associated with relaxation, calm, happiness and clear mindedness. There were some subjects who could detect when in an alpha state and, also, to go into the state at will. This was the first time that there was evidence that people could have control over their own brain waves. Kamiya went on to study people using audio feedback to learn to control their own brain waves with great success. 

Cats and Astronauts  

In the late 1960’s Dr. Barry Sherman, a researcher at UCLA, ran a Pavlovian experiment on cats in combination with an EEG. In this experiment a feeding machine rewarded the cats with a treat every time their brain increased their Sensory Motor RhythmOver time, the cats were able to easily get treats for themselves as they learned to control their brainwaves to create the desired result. While this in and of itself was groundbreaking, it was several years before the practical benefits were revealed when Dr. Sherman and his cats found themselves working for NASA to assist the astronauts to reduce the brain instability caused by exposure to rocket fuel that manifested in drowsiness, headaches, hallucinations and seizures.  

Sherman observed that human subjects EEG behaved differently than the EEG of cats. When working with the astronauts, Sherman advanced the use of feedback by refining the reward by installing inhibit functions so that inappropriate triggers of a reward were suppressed. Nasa still uses neurofeedback to train astronauts today. 

Accepting Neuroplasticity 

Throughout history there have been scientists developing the idea of neuroplasticity, meaning that the brain could change. For years, some scientists resisted this understanding of the brain by insisting that the adult brain was fixed and unchanging. Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change continuously throughout an individual’s life, from birth to death. Today neuroplasticity is accepted science and is key as we explore new frontier of the brain.  Learning new skills stimulates neurons in the brain, which forms more neural pathways and allows electrical impulses to travel faster across them. 

Progression Towards Peak Performance 

Today neurofeedback continues to develop alongside advancements in technology and machine learning thus providing the tools for optimization of brain performance and personal and professional growth.  Neurofeedback has proven to upgrade EQ, IQ, creativity and life satisfaction. People from all walks of life are finding it beneficial to address their own brain and life issues such as ADD/ADHD, PTSD and depression. As well as astronauts, pro-athletes, Olympians, actors, entrepreneurs and other high performers have been using it to provide the edge that they need to succeed: peak brain performance makes for better decision making, stronger resiliency and a better life.  

When high-achievers, the C-Suite office executives, world class athletes, bio-hackers, use neurofeedback training they are looking for an of upgrade of their brain and self  that will assist them in making quick and effective decisions (access Gamma brain waves easier and effortlessly) or building their awareness to identify opportunities (access Alpha brain waves). What they are developing with neurofeedback training is an enhancement to their cognitive and executive functions. Top athletes know that in addition to training their physical condition, they also need to train their cognitive and psychological performanceOptimum attention, reasoning, processing speed and perception skills are all necessary ingredients to success. This applies to everyone who is interested in operating at their own peak performance states.  

Pinnacle of Peak Performance  

After almost a century from the initial discovery of the EEG, 40 Years of Zen has added to the EEG with the scientific advancements that allow people to come and upgrade their brains and lives in the shortest amount of time possible. We provide the pinnacle of what is possible with neurofeedback today. We use cutting edge science alongside proprietary hardware and software to provide the tools and expertise for you to change your brain waves to achieve optimum performance, which includes brain as well as life performance. By training the deep neural networks of your brain, you will enhance your strengths and wind down your weaknesses while gaining leaps and bounds in self-awareness and emotional mastery. It’s incredible to look back on the past with where this all started, and it’s makes us even more excited for what lies in store for the future. 



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Our Brain Knows

Image of live band on stage
Image of live band on stage

Our Brain Knows

Neuroscience is discovering and uncovering more rationale behind our behaviors, attitudes and choices than ever before. At 40 Years of Zen, we put together a short list of fun facts about the neuroscience behind some common life experiences that we thought you might enjoy as well.   

Baking Bread – Baking Comfort

Did you know that active dry yeast is the new gold? With COVID-19, a trend has emerged of people posting photos of delicious looking homemade bread in every shape, size and color. So much so that there is now a global shortage of yeast. What does this have to do with the brain? During times of stress our bodies crave the relaxing, pleasurable neurotransmitter, Serotonin. The bread boosts our insulin levels which in turn raises our tryptophan, an amino acid, levels. With the increase of serotonin, we can sleep and relax better in times of stress.  Just keep in mind that the gluten from bread is going to increase inflammation and weaken your immune system. So, it’s best to stick to gluten free baking ingredients such as coconut flor, nut flours, cassava, tapioca, arrowroot and even white rice flour. Get the carbs and serotonin you need, while keeping your immune system strong.  

Concert Goers Sync Up!

In a study, The Brain and Mind Institute measured the brainwaves of a group of people listening to a live music performance and compared it to them listening to a recording.  While listening to the live performance, the participants’ brain waves sync’d up.  The researchers concluded that the concert goers have a more enjoyable time due to this unique bond that allows the individual to feel a part of a collective. According to Jessica Grahn, who co-led the study, “When the brain waves were synchronized in this live condition, they synchronized around the rate at which people tend to feel the beat.” So not only do the brainwaves sync up, but they adjust to music being played! Perhaps musicians are playing their audience as much as their instruments. 

Emotions are Key to Decision Making

A few years ago, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio made a groundbreaking discovery. When he studied people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated, they could not make decisions.  They could describe what they should be doing in logical terms, yet they found it very difficult to make even simple decisions, such as what to eat. Many decisions have pros and cons on both sides — shall I have the chicken or the turkey? This is because emotions drive action. The emotions signal that the thought processing is complete. A brain without emotion is like a car that is in motion but has no breaks. 

Touch Reduces Pain

When we see a loved one in emotional distress, it’s our very nature to reach out and touch them, to soothe them. Just like a toddler asking his mother to kiss his new bruise. Does human touch actually reduce someone’s pain? Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Lab at CU Boulder designed a study to investigate this. They discovered that when one partner of a couple was in pain and touched by their counterpart, their brains shared a high level of synchronization through the Alpha Mu band. The more the couple’s brains synchronized the more their pain diminished! 

Our Brains Reveal our Social Bonds

Two friends gazing out a lake, witnessing a dance performance or reviewing some new science discovery will share the same levels of engagement as well as the same distraction and attraction cycles. The study, “Similar neural responses predict friendship”, indicates that people tend to be friends with individuals who see the world in a similar way.  When their neural response patterns are measured as they engage in an activity together, a clear pattern emerges which allows researchers to predict the strength of two people’s social bond. 

Learning New Skills Builds Resiliency

With a cutback on our social activities and social connections, many of us have more free time on our hands. This extra time has led to an uptick in the number of people who are pursuing new skills and studies. There is also a rationale behind it related to our brains. This may be because human beings are motivated to learn new skills to invoke a feeling of accomplishment related to their personal growth during periods of high stress and hardshipWhen we learn we are generating new neural activity patterns which assists us in building resiliency to handle life’s challenges. 


We will not be going to a concert anytime soon, but when we do finally get the chance to attend, we will be paying more attention to our connection with the performers and all of the people in the audience with us. Learning about the latest discoveries in neuroscience is interesting and gives us more opportunity to bring awareness to our responses in any given situation. We can enhance our responses with science and lean into the things that are going to make us do and feel better. 

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Emotional Resiliency during the Coronavirus

Lilypad on water
lily pad

Emotional Resiliency during the Coronavirus

We can’t control the storm, but we can control the sails of our ship. We are all watching in absolute shock what is transpiring within our own lives, our community, our nations and the world.  How do we navigate these new waters when our usual compass is not suited for this time or how do we trust the new direction our internal GPS is taking us? Being able to manage our sails with emotional resiliency is key. 

 At 40 Years of Zen we use innovative technology, peer-reviewed neuroscience and custom protocols to teach you to change your own brain waves and thus provide you with more command over your life. Here are some useful tips and reminders, tied to brain science, that you might find useful. 

Overwhelm: Fear, Worry and Stress

Many people will be feeling fearful, worried and angry as we live through the time of the coronavirus. When someone is in fear, worry or stress they are most apt to make bad decisions or suffer from immobilization.  

When you experience fear, our amygdala, our emotional center, is the first to respond and it sets up the body to respond in fight or flight mode. Closely connected with the amygdala is the hippocampus which regulates motivation, emotions, learning and memory, along with the prefrontal cortex which assists in the interpretation and decision making, which together, lets a person know if the perceived threat is real.  

When we are stuck in fear with what is happening, we are not allowing our “thinking” circuitry of our brain to reassure our “emotional” areas that we are, in fact, okay, in this moment. 

If you are standing in a savannah in the Sahara and see a lion in the wild coming towards you it will trigger a strong fear reaction. If you see the same lion in a zoo you are more apt to think of it as a gorgeous big ol’ pussycat and view it with curiosity. 

The fear of the coronavirus and our current situation is an accurate response and it is a good motivator to follow the dictates of what the best experts and authorities are requesting that you do to keep you, your family and community safe. Once you have put into action what has been prompted and guided than staying in fear will not assist you but rather stress you and keep your mind and body in an agitated mode 

Brain Waves

The communication, between neurons within our brains, called brain waves, is the root of all our thoughts, emotions and behaviors.

There are different frequencies, measured in hertz, of our brain waves that determine what mode we are operating in. For example, Theta and Delta are most commonly associated with sleep; Gamma is known for synthesizing complex information from different areas of the brain; Beta is the state we perform our cognitive tasks, thinking and engagement with the world; Alpha is a state where we relax, get creative, play and enjoy peak experiences. 

When we are in high stress and fear we are operating out of a Beta state on overdrive and we would be best served when the immediate danger has passed to be able to take our foot off the gas and come to a place of homeostatis. Continual high frequency processing is not a very efficient way to run the brain as it takes a tremendous amount of energy. 

 While in quarantine, in their time, William Shakespeare wrote King Lear and Sir Isaac Newton discovered gravity.  Both of those endeavours would have meant that they were hanging out in Alpha states and most likely, accessing Gamma. 

Best Practices

When you downgrade fear to having awareness of a situation, without the experience of high stress, you than have a greater capacity to access the validity of the threat, make clear, solid decisions on the best way to mitigate it and find the healthiest ways to  life with it.  

To get out us out of that fear perspective, we want to shift into an Alpha state.  When we are in an Alpha state we can be in an enhanced creative zone, feel relaxed, find it easy to strategically think, find ourselves feeling into gratitude and appreciation and able to experience love and joy.  We do want to mindful about what is happening and adjust our lives accordingly and at the same time be able to relax and stay in the moment while being creative, productive and happy. Here are some suggestions, scientifically proven, for shifting into Alpha states most readily that you can do from home: 


Close your eyes and breathe. When you are in stress or agitation sometimes a simple breath will bring you back to the present. Eyes closed is where we typically access the most Alpha. Become aware of your breath and slow it down. 


The more you revel in the experience of gratitude the more you will feel yourself entering in a calm, peaceful and joyful state. The key is to feel gratitude – move beyond thinking and into feeling. Some of the gratitude that people are expressing at this time is the time being spent with family, health, the humour, the coming together of people such as the concerts on balconies, the feeling of solidarity. 


Take a pause and savour what you are witnessing or experiencing in the moment. The cherry blossoms, the birds singing, a caress. 


Most meditations are designed to take you into an Alpha state. There are a wide range of meditation practices: walking, sitting, lying down, eyes open, eyes closed, doing dishes, whispering mantras and chants. Which one is best for you and your personality is often discovered through trial and error. We have offered a simple breathing technique below. 

Take on a New Perspective  

One of the things that might be useful is to take on a new perspective.  A different perspective on the pandemic could look like this: What is happening in Italy is being witnessed here and what is happening with us is being witnessed in China – all over the world we are instantly connecting, monitoring and responding. What happens in one location is a teachable moment for the next location and what happens with one individual can assist the whole of humanity. In a blink of an eye we are now working as one large global village. It is messy, to be sure, and, at the same time, we are witnessing for the first time in history how interconnected we all are. In a time of social distancing we are experiencing social cohesion.  

There is no right or wrong in any perspective. It is simply a different lens through which we can witness any situation. A fresh perspective does not minimize or downplay a threat but rather provides a different context to view it in which may provide some relief.  


These are unprecedented times we are living in. While at the same time we are being called to action and living with high stress over our health and well-being, our families, employment and our way of life, it is more important than ever to build our emotional resiliency so that we can best manage ourselves during this time. We encourage you to place time and attention on your self-care so that you have more and better access to your innate intelligence and act with kindness and compassion  

Guided Breathing Meditation

  • Close your eyes. 
  • Starting from the top of the head, scan your body and notice any tension in your muscles, and move down to the feel of the floor beneath your feet.  
  • Bring your attention to the natural rhythm of your breath in the center of your chest. 
  • Take 5 full breaths focusing on the area of your heart.  
  • Breathe in for a count of 5 and of out for a count of 6. Breathe smoothly through the nose (not power breaths). 
  • Bring to mind something you are grateful for and feel into that place of gratitude from your heart. 
  • Continue to breathe, and with each breath lean more and more into gratitude and appreciation. 
  • You are now in an Alpha State. Continue to breathe into this feeling for 5 minutes