Reporter Experiences Brain Wave Vibration Class for Herself
A reporter for Natural Health magazine in the United Kingdom recently took a Brain Wave Vibration class at a London HSP Centre. Here is her first-hand account of her experience as published in the February 2010 issue of Natural Health, which the magazine claims “is the UK’s leading glossy on complementary therapies and holistic living.” The UK’s Institute for Complementary and Natural Medicine says, “Natural Health is the only UK magazine dedicated to complementary therapies and holistic living, written by the world’s leading integrated health experts, life coaches, alternative therapists and spiritual gurus.“ It’s sold in Smith, the UK’s leading newsagent chain, and in supermarkets and bookstores across the country.
Feel the Rhythm
A new vibrational therapy from Korea is said to bring enhanced peace and enlightenment, but does it work?
Jini Reddy investigates
Can rocking my head back and forth really make me healthier, calmer, and more positive? Can it be that simple? That’s what I wonder as I head to a Brain Wave Vibration class in southwest London, visions of Spock-type mind-melds flitting through my too-stress grey matter.
The session is a core part of a programme of experiential workshops and classes known as the Brain Education System. Though little known in the UK (despite a handful of centres in southwest London, Sussex and Surrey), it has really caught on in the U.S. and Korea, and there are training centres all over the world.
“Brain Education methods are based on the principle that we can control our hands or legs the way we want,” explains Dr. Claire Gaudry, the director of the International Brain Education Association, when I meet her before my class.
Natural healing ability
Invested by a Korean educator, Dr. Ilchi Lee, the Brain Wave Vibration technique revolves around the belief that we all possess a natural healing ability. There’s nothing especially New Agey about it—rather, it relates to our largely untapped ability to change potentially stressful beta brain waves or vibrations—our normal, wakeful state associated with thinking and conscious problem-solving—to soothing, gentle alpha waves, which encourage feelings of peacefulness, wellbeing and creativity.
In his book, Brain Wave Vibration, (£8.50, BEST Life Media), Lee explains how the most powerful organ of them all—a sort of central computer that controls all the body’s functions—operates: “The brain stem wants to create balance between the sympathetic nervous system, which produces the stress response, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which is in charge of the rest-and-digest response. When our bodies are kept in a constant state of imbalance, disease is the likely result.
The thinking mind
“The part we have control over is the prefrontal cortex, the thinking part of the brain. To put it simply, people today think too much. The thinking brain is constantly sending message that keep our bodies in a state of alarm, and they never have ample time to recover. The trick is to quiet the thinking mind and gain control over the content it produces so that the brain stem has a chance to co-ordinate the equilibrium that it exists to create.”
Given that most of us wage a daily battle with stress and tension, the opportunity to chill out at will, and the by-product of that—more harmonious personal relationships, improved concentration and the opportunity to free up some energy and focus on our human potential is a pretty mouth-watering prospect.
Indeed, Lee’s book contains reams of glowing testimonials from past sufferers of stress, chronic pain, fatigue, headaches, disease and mood swings, whose lives have been transformed. The evidence isn’t just anecdotal either: the Brain Wave Vibration technique has been subjected to independent scientific studies which have shown that regular practice leads to a drop in stress hormones.
My own life which, at the moment, seems to resemble a rollercoaster that’s about to fly off the rails, could certainly do with changing. But here? In a room in Putney, with a soft white floor and walls which remind me a little bit too much of a padded cell?
My surroundings, together with the fact that we—there are five of us—are standing in a circle, slapping ourselves with our fists doesn’t, initially, do much to detract from my feeling that I’ve somehow taken a wrong turning and ended up in the local psychiatric ward. To tell the truth, I’d rather be out dancing, riding, swimming, walking, or meditating to alter my brain waves.
But there is a method in this madness. The slapping, or abdominal vibrations (also known as Dahn-jon Clapping)our admittedly sane-looking instructor explains is a kind of warm-up, a focused way of opening up the meridians, and getting stagnant energy or ki moving.
According to Ilchi Lee, abdominal vibration is one of the best ways of improving balance of energy in the body as it draws heat energy away from the head and into the abdomen. (Being the hot-headed, impulsive sort, I intend to practice this at home. A lot.)
After the warm-up, there’s some gentle yoga and stretching (although unlike every other yoga class I’ve been to, everyone keeps their socks on), made unusual by the Korean phrases that my fellow classmates are rolling off the tips of their tongues. (“Ah Si Won Ada”, for instance, which everyone whispers ecstatically, means: “It feels so good.’)
I have tried all sorts of yoga classes and I have to say this is comparatively pretty tame—but that is no bad thing, given the strain and even physical injuries that a hardcore ashtanga class can induce. Two-thirds of the way in, however, we got to the brain wave vibration stuff, and suddenly it is like no other workout I have done. We sit cross-legged, on soft mats, and some deep gong-like music flows out of the speakers (which up until now has been playing gentle, meditative tinkly sounds).
The instructor tells us to move our heads back and forth, or up and down, and to focus on our brain stems. It is a little surreal, and as the gonging speeds up, my head starts to shake faster in time with the rhythm. However, with all that head-shaking there is no room for nagging worries or thoughts to slip in (although, I can’t quite surpress the little voice inside me that is saying: “Surely you could be doing this in a nightclub, to better music?”)
Afterwards we do an exercise to encourage us to sense to presence of energy. Still sitting cross-legged I raise my hands to my chest level, with my palms facing each other, but not touching. I pull them apart and push them closer. “See if you feel a tingling sensation,” says our teacher, and I do feel the faintest of fuzzy static.
After a few minutes of this, as told, I rub my hands together briskly, then gently sweep my palms over my face, neck and chest—a inherently soothing movement. But for me, the best bit of the class comes right at the end, when we do tea meditation.
As a fan of the tea ceremony, I love this. The teacher brings a try full of special, freshly brewed Korean tea, containing roots and fruits to strengthen our elemental energies, and we each take a cup, close our eyes and meditate on the warmth of the tea. I can certainly feel those healing alpha waves flowing now.
Alas, I discover that I can’t just drop into a class when the mood grabs me—a degree of commitment is needed. After the taster, students need to sign up to the whole Brain Education package which includes both the Brain Vibration classes and workshops. It’s a whole lifestyle programme that includes mind-body training, relaxation, empowerment, spiritual awakening, and one-on-one coaching, allied with physical training.
However, what I have gained is an awareness of my ability to make myself feel good, using some proven practical techniques, and that alone is invaluable.
For more information, visit brholistic.co.uk or call 020 8780 2555. Brain Wave Vibration by Ilchi Lee, is available through amazon.co.uk.
Try these quick exercises by Dr. Claire Gaudry to counteract the brain’s stress response mechanism.
The easiest way to engage the ‘rest and digest’ response of your brain is through vibrations. Practise these two techniques for a few minutes every morning.
- Breathe away tension
Stand comfortably with your feet parallel and about shoulder-width apart, and bend your knees slightly to not exert too much pressure on your lower spine. Join the fingers of your hands together, with your thumbs and knuckles facing your body.
Bouncing on your knees with a comfortable rhythm, tap the knuckles of your thumbs repetitively on the centre of your sternum, while exhaling deeply. With each out breath, try to empty your chest of all tension while you keep bouncing on your knees.
Continue for three to five minutes, emptying your mind of all worries with every out breath. Keep your eyes closed while you focus your attention on the physical sensations around the centre of your chest and imagine any discomfort or pain release with every out breath. Finish by taking a deep breath in and sweeping down the centre of your upper body as you exhale.
- Create a happy brain wave
After finishing exercise one, sit down comfortably without leaning against the back of your chair. Keep your spine straight. Prepare yourself for Brain Wave Vibration training by exhaling any tension out of your body. Focus your attention on the back of your head, at the point of pivot between your head and neck, to connect with your brain stem. Gently start nodding your head back and forth with a comfortable rhythm. Focus on the rhythm and let it grow as your head becomes free to shake in any direction it wants.
The brain wave vibration technique will directly affect your feeling as you keep visualizing yourself bright and relaxed. Keep following the rhythm which now travels down your spine, engaging your shoulders and upper body as well as your head and neck.
To loosen up more into the rhythm, it helps to maintain a light smile while practicing. Keep going for as long as you wish. Finish by slowing the rhythm down and bringing your focus on the centre of your body. Breathe comfortably, focus on the centre fo your abdomen while feeling the clear and peaceful sensation in your brain.
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