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THE SCIENCE OF ACTIVE FEEDBACK

By Dr. Bob Whitehouse and Sunny Turner on the Active Feedback Technology in Wild Divine

Dr. Bob Whitehouse is a psychologist certified in biofeedback, and a former board member for the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, and Sunny Turner is a MA/biofeedback practitioner.

Active Feedbck uses electronic equipment to monitor people's internal physiological states and gives feedback that helps the recipient learn how to control these states, to activate, balance, release or to recover from them. Usually this also involves a coach, who guides the process, interprets the results, and makes suggestions. In Wild Divine programs like Zen Journey with Master Nissim Amon or Relaxing Rhythms, however, the game itself gives you information about whether you're progressing or not. And, if you're having trouble, you can ask for help from a mentor within the game on how to change your energy.

Wild Divine's Active Feedback component measures a player's Skin Conductance Level (SCL) and Heart Rate Variability (HRV). SCL measures sweat gland activity. Increased perspiration indicates increased autonomic nervous system activation, which is associated with increased energy-both positive, like excitement, and negative, like nervousness.

HRV is calculated from the differences in heart rate from one heartbeat to another. No two intervals are exactly the same, and you need a device more sophisticated than just taking your pulse to determine it. Greater HRV is a very worthwhile goal. In fact, people who exhibit this tend to live more vigorously and enjoy life more. Parts of Wild Divine's Programs require users to attain this goal in order to move forward in the game.

Examining HRV is the fastest growing area in feedback training and it can provide important methods of working with our own physiology. The Institute of HeartMath is one of many research groups that has been studying the effects of greater HRV. It combines research-based techniques and unique technology to help people fight the stresses of everyday life. Its research suggests that when you increase your HRV you can reach a state of coherence within the power spectrum frequencies of the heart that then gets the brain to synchronize with the heart and boost the immune system. This coherence pattern in the heart frequencies is also known as the heart's Resonant Frequency. Meditation, slow and easy abdominal breathing, or connecting with positive emotions are three researched ways for getting this desired pattern of both strength and balance. By synchronizing your heart rate with the breath (two skills that can be gained through using Wild Divine's programs, you can quite easily reach your heart's Resonant Frequency.  Also, when we are in this state of coherence, its desired vibration pattern ripples out around us in an electromagnetic doughnut shape detectable eight or more feet in all directions. It even shows up in the brainwaves of anyone we touch!  Who wouldn't want to experience the positive effects of such a state more and more often?

Movement through parts of and ultimately the conclusion of the Wild Divine's programs  is dependent upon a person's ability to regulate their energy or physiological reactions by experiencing the mind/body connection associated with such emotions as joy, hope, excitement, relaxation and patience, to mention a few. The body responds by increasing, decreasing or synchronizing body rhythms, like the Heart Breath, in a positive and healthy way. Most other feedback games simply tell people whether their SCL or pulse rate is moving up or down, and they have to figure out what's happening to them when this occurs. Usually these games require players to maintain just one thing-a very stable SCL or heart rate. At best, they can create some subtle changes to influence the outcome of the game.

To succeed in Wild Divine, players have to learn certain principles, which basically require an "allowing attitude"- a kind of passive will. It's the difference between saying "I must do this," and learning that the only way you're going to progress is by deepening your breathing or being in touch with more positive emotions or imagining that what you want to happen is already happening-bringing the wished-for event into the present.

In active feedback terms, the game is set up so that players might actually have to raise either their sweat gland activity or heart rate in order to get through one particular barrier, while moving into a more balanced, or even calmer, state to successfully navigate another area. Progress in the game depends upon how well players integrate these biofeedback skills to accomplish the varying events.

At some point in the game, if a player has learned how to control their internal states to a degree, they can have an internal shift-something akin to an "aha" experience, where they just know how to do things. The game actually begins to occur in their minds. For example, they might just automatically let the inhale and exhale become equal in their breathing and deepen it a little bit. This would result in their going into the desired pattern of increased heart rate variability. Or they might accomplish the same thing by connecting with positive emotions. Continuing to play can result in a training effect, improving the capacity of the body to healthfully regulate itself.

The game gives players more awareness of the emotional, mental-and potentially spiritual-correlation of physical states. When players acquire enough awareness of how to make the shift from one state to another, they can begin to do this voluntarily. They can have integrated what we call our BEST team: Body, Emotions, Spirit and Thought.

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