Thanks for sharing your progress and pitfalls. Very interesting to read.
awareness centered on the middle of the head
Middle of the head as 'on top of the head, in the middle' or as in 'inside the middle of the head'?
Thanks, I'm not really that adept or inclined towards the scientific end of things, digesting and presenting research isn't something I'm very good at, so I'm glad that a testimonial is at least somewhat productive :p
It's like OpaqueMind said, inside the middle of the head and essentially at the location of the pineal gland. The simple method for finding it as presented in the YMAA Embryonic Breathing resources is to make an "MMMMMmmmm" sound like at the end of the "Aum" mantra, and scan the inside of your head. The spot that feels like it begins to vibrate last is supposed to be the spot. But as I noticed from my experience there isn't really much there to grab onto for me in an interoceptive sense. I've only been practicing this method for a couple of weeks or so and it hasn't turned into a really solid 'seat' for my mind to rest at yet, but even this early into it I thought my experiences were noteworthy.
I interpreted Ajaan Fuang as mentioning an equivalent point here:
"5. Become acquainted with the bases or focal points for the mind — the resting spots of the breath — and center your awareness on whichever one seems most comfortable. A few of these bases are:
a. the tip of the nose, b. the middle of the head,
c. the palate,
d. the base of the throat,
e. the breastbone (the tip of the sternum),
f. the navel (or a point just above it).
If you suffer from frequent headaches or nervous problems, don't focus on any spot above the base of the throat. And don't try to force the breath or put yourself into a trance. Breathe freely and naturally. Let the mind be at ease with the breath — but not to the point where it slips away."
A part of the reason why I said that I discovered it by coincidence, is I'm not sure if my mind necessarily is inclined to 'rest' there more than other locations, and one day I just arbitrarily decided to try it out. Sometimes it will idle on the palate, or I'll often get a neutral-feeling sensation of pressure on my brow or crown area, and that's relatively fixed and even acts as a soft internal feedback mechanism that lets me hold my attention there better than in this location in the middle of my head, but it doesn't seem to work as well in terms of overall result for me. I guess it's not accurate to characterize the middle of the head as a difficult location, because when I place my attention there I have a much more profound sense of 'non-doing', even though my mind has less to hold onto and it requires more searching for me, whereas observing the pressure sensation at my forehead makes me more inclined to strive or unbalance myself, so maybe that's the sort of thing he's referring to?
Like the Taoist view I'm familiar with he says not to focus your awareness here if you are prone to headaches. Taoist practice also cautions against energy 'stagnating' there or it being a potentially problematic spot for some other reasons, though I don't really understand why since I've only taken a cursory look at their material as philosophically I'm more of a Buddhist with just some supplementary interest in Taoist practices. I guess their emphasis is often on energy work or energy cultivation rather than meditation per se, and maybe it's more relevant in those terms. I think when you simultaneously are attending to the breath sensation throughout the whole body with an emphasis on a sensation of easefulness or pleasure, like Thanissaro teaches in his meditation manuals, that probably reduces the tendency to strive or over-apply your attention. Strangely the fact that it can lead to headaches is a plus for me, because that only happens to me when I do strive or try too hard, so I know not to do that or I get punished for it afterwards :p Granted headaches are otherwise a pretty rare thing for me, and that threshold might be lower for other people.
I do wonder though since there is no nerve endings in the brain, what interoreceptive phenomena in that area are related to exactly. I find it interesting on the one hand that that location is related to the pineal gland, yet how would we find something like that by scanning the inside of our heads? Descartian mind-body dualism and new-agey beliefs also make me pretty skeptical on the conceptual level. Not that I'm necessarily convinced they're all absolutely
wrong, but it just seems fair considering how much stuff they can try to get away with when you aren't being skeptical.
Thanks for your detailed report umop, and I'll definitely try that meditation next time I use TAGsync. Recently I've only been using the ILF designs (or more specifically, BiPolar in the IL frequency) as I figured that getting a solid glial cell system sorted was a key aspect to intelligence. One of the consistent correlations between neurophysiology and intelligence across species has been the increasing ratio of glial cells to neurons on the scale of species as they demonstrate greater intelligence. IIRC it was also one of the primary differences they found in Einstein's brain, along with slightly enlarged parietal lobes (see P-FIT above). I know there's no sensory nerves inside the brain but I can feel blood flow changing more profoundly now, perhaps through skin and ear pressure sensitivity. I also notice an increased response to other more neuron-centred Neurofeedback modalities.
You may be interested umop in that the state of ILF desynchronisation across various regions feels very much like what 'emptiness' meditation feels like, and also seems to directly affect meditation positively. You might also be aware of the finding, which I think is relevant, that the brain waves of long-time meditators showed not only strong nested synchrony in the alpha-theta-gamma bands but this synchrony extended down to frequencies as low as 0.001hz, and that super high frequencies, up to 200hz, were shown to be embedded in these incredibly low frequencies. If you have the TAGx1 designs I'd highly recommend you try them out. The analogy you with a teacher is interesting, I had never thought of it like that. But now you mention it, that opens up new ways for me to approach this training.
I'm curious, what placements are you using and have you noticed any other changes to your cognitive abilities, besides increased awareness and emotional stability? I'm thinking particularly in terms of intelligence and creativity. Personally I've noticed a significant boost in these, particularly the latter - I think that is somewhat related to increased awareness and ability to get into the mode of 'flow' much more easily. Also, how often are you using the designs? Again, thanks very much for the input. Hopefully we can garner enough interest for more people to get into this awesome (and that word is thrown around too much) technology.
Edit: Godof, he is probably referring to what is commonly called the 'third eye', which is located in the centre of the brain, where the pineal gland resides.
Now that you mention it that seems like a sensible conclusion, even just in terms of meditation where you're trying to apply consistent mental effort, improving the support network seems like it should have some precedence just because it would more directly lead to cognitive endurance. I didn't know about the nested synchrony thing spanning very low and very high frequencies, either. That seems especially interesting because otherwise there would really be no way at all of working with frequencies that high, that I know of at least.
My EEG instrument doesn't work for measuring brain activity in the 'DC' range, so I haven't tried those designs out yet. I'm going to buy a Q.Wiz at some point, but I've been setting up a sort of meditation room at my house along with some safety measures for my equipment like grounded/anti-static carpet, so I was planning on buying the better instrument after all of that stuff falls into place. I'm a lot more interested in those designs now though. I only started reading about low-frequency neurofeedback recently and a lot of the information about it made it seem a bit mysterious or difficult to understand exactly what it's tailored to (beyond ADD, I guess).
In terms of placement the vast majority of the time the active leads were at Fz and Pz. A few months ago I started alternating between F3 & P3, and F4 & P4, and after that I was going to begin with training synchrony between F3 & P4, and F4 & P3. Do you use similar sites with bipolar training?
To be honest I haven't really been looking for gains in intelligence. I've noticed quite a few cognitive improvements, but since my motives behind using this technology and the problems I was facing in life were mainly in terms of an overall sense of wellbeing, those are almost exclusively the kinds of things I noticed and was critical towards. I will say that I have more mental flexibility, I find it easy to maintain a broad mind about things I had trouble with before, which helps with things like creativity too, but I'm not sure if me noticing that kind of change is a result of sloughing off maladaptive patterns. I think I do get into flow states more easily now, because being in a state of flow used to seem more special to me, but ironically that came alongside a reduced interest in flow states!
Edited by umop 3pisdn, 21 March 2014 - 08:16 PM.