What's Contemplative Biofeedback™?

CB is the first therapy to combine modern biofeedback with Medical-Grade Mindfulness™. It provides you the tools to first sense and then control your nervous system’s responses to triggers such as stress, pain, fatigue, and mood shifts.

Biofeedback uses medical-grade sensors that serve as a “dashboard” of the body, revealing real-time shifts in all your major body systems—as they happen.

Mindfulness uses classical mind-training and calming techniques to provide the method of controlling those shifts, on-screen (which means in your mind-body).

Together, biofeedback and mindfulness offer the best of Western and Eastern techniques for calming, soothing, and controlling the mind-body: the sort of control you may have sensed, but have been unable connect with.

CB brings two remarkable, medically accepted self-control technologies together for the first time. We believe it to be the most powerful self-regulation training program in medicine today.

Is it a fit for me?

Yes!... if you want to actively participate in your healthcare, are willing to challenge old patterns, and are patient enough to stay the course. 

If you are inspired to learn practical, proven methods of controlling your mind-body reactions to stress, pain, sleep, illness, and fatigue then you have found a powerful resource here. You simply need to show up, do the work, pay attention, and remain steady.

Not so much…, if you are expecting a quick fix, or are solely invested in the use of drugs and surgery. Of course, such tools can be invaluable, but they are seldom enough. Contemplative Biofeedback™ (CB) is mind-body medicine, and it is both very modern and very old-fashioned. While we leverage technology and seek efficiency, we avoid the quick-fix claims of the alternative medicine and pop-mindfulness marketplaces.

CB is research-based, and is focused on the fundamentals. Clearly, it takes time and proper methods to cultivate a deep, healing calm state in both body and mind. Patterns of stress and disease emerge over time, and it takes time to counteract those patterns. The research shows this, and common sense realizes it.

We use every possible shortcut. We use the latest medical monitors and the best-researched training methods—and we get results. Our methods have been recognized by our medical colleagues, in the media, and in textbooks for physicians and therapists.

Is this REAL medicine?

Yes. The field is called psychophysiology, meaning the study of mind-body medicine. Biofeedback is the clinical application. Mindfulness is the fastest-growing mind-body intervention in medical settings, with over $100 million invested yearly by the National Institutes of Health to research and document the effects of mindfulness-based interventions for health.

Contemplative Biofeedback™ was developed to combine all of these proven approaches into one comprehensive program. This is integrative medicine as it was meant to be practiced, and it is rare to find this combination of competencies in a single program.

Does insurance cover biofeedback?

Each case is different. Most insurance companies claim to cover biofeedback (CPT code 90901), and many physicians will write orders for biofeedback therapy. In fact, several physicians in San Diego County who have themselves been through the training can review your case and determine whether to recommend biofeedback for you. 

Your chances of reimbursement from insurance are much better with a physician’s orders. We will provide you with a superbill, if requested, to aid you in seeking reimbursement. However, you are responsible for payment. 

We do not contract with or communicate with insurance companies on your behalf. We do provide records, upon request.

Your best bet for reimbursement is to have a physician’s orders, the biofeedback code CPT 90901, and to be relentless in following up with your insurance provider.

What's a Medicine Mind?

It’s a mind trained to serve as your best medicine. It’s your inner gym and your First Responder. It’s a medical clinic, natural food store, long-term care facility, and your native homeland, all rolled into one. It is the only place you will ever experience anything, and the greatest source of command and control, release and acceptance, in your life.

A Medicine Mind is a mind specifically trained to react calmly in the face of stress, pain, injury, and disease. It is your best ally for mental and physical health.

A Medicine Mind reacts differently in the face of adversity than does the untrained mind, whether that adversity is in the physical, mental, emotional, social, or spiritual areas of life.

There is no more important target of training than the mind, because nothing has more widespread effects than the mind. 

Our expertise is in practical mind training, for cultivating exceptional mental and physical health. We help you grow your own Medicine Mind.

How do you train the mind?

Gradually and precisely. 

Effective training must be frequent, enjoyable, practical, and relevant. It should be science-based, including the inner-sciences gleaned from authentic healing traditions, and it should have proven outcomes.

If there’s a shortcut to health, this is it: use what works, has proven effects, and get busy training. Find a teacher, a method, and practice with patience and consistency. Don’t expect sudden breakthroughs and quick fixes to do for you what only systematic mind training can do. 

Of course, we use every available efficiency and shortcut, but mind training is gradual. Fortunately, it is also highly reliable.

Your mind is the First Responder to stress. Your habits of mind determine your reactions, behaviors, and outcomes. By learning to react differently, you can transform your experience of any condition that you face.

Contemplative Biofeedback™ teaches you to cultivate your own Medicine Mind by targeting your individual needs. Mental and physical habits of reactivity are identified and targeted for training. The primary target is your habitual reactivity to stressors. We monitor bodily reactions, and then train the upstream mind reactions that cause them. This requires both medical monitoring (sensing) and precise mind training (controlling).

We all respond in highly patterned ways, even when those reactions cease to serve us—or even harm us! So by changing these reactivity patterns, especially patterns of tension, distraction, rumination (the non-stop mind) and over-reacting (catastrophizing), we can change how the mind affects the body.

 This frees the body, letting it remain loose and relaxed, thus avoiding the toxic effects of constant, low-level activation of your fight-0r-flight nervous system. A body-mind system that is at ease and in balance is the most powerful source of healing.

Still here?... Okay, more FAQ

Is it safe? Painless?

Yes, Contemplative Biofeedback™ is safe and painless. If you are able to sit still, and can tolerate a bandaid on your skin, then you'll be fine. This is simply a behavioral training and uses no drugs or painful procedures. 

Of course, while drugs may be useful and necessary in your comprehensive treatment plan, drugs alone are rarely enough. Behavioral training should be a part of any comprehensive plan.

Is if affordable?

It certainly is, especially if you take the long view. The cost is on par with many forms of therapy, and is lower than most medical visits. 

Most feel the skills learned save them not just distress but also future medical costs. That’s because by working with the basic balancing and maintenance systems of the body and mind, Contemplative Biofeedback™ (CB) delivers “generative change,” which is change that continues to unfold over time. 

What you learn in the first few sessions, and develop more fully as your practice deepens, can prevent future illnesses and stress-reactions, which are the greatest sources of modern diseases. 

Also, CB teaches behavioral practices that do not add to your drug load or other medical burdens. And the skills you’ll learn often inspire change in those around you (see recent Harvard study) as they adjust to your new way of being and the health, well-being, equanimity, and self-control you demonstrate daily.

How long is the training?

It depends on your condition and your commitment to the practices. Most people can learn the most powerful, foundational methods within 10 to 15 sessions. You may decide to continue training beyond the basics to deepen your skills and understanding of this one-of-a-kind training.

Contemplative Biofeedback™ (CB) requires that you internalize the trainings; that you make them habits and make them your own. This shifts the ‘locus of control’ from others to you. This is a major shift in the approach to health and personal empowerment. It is both a responsibility and an opportunity. 

It’s a major event: a power shift from others treating you to you maintaining yourself. With CB, your self-knowledge and sensitivity to internal balances grow as you become the true authority on your well being. 

You grow more sensitive and vigilant, as you realize you truly are the best- and first-responder to any threat of internal imbalance. 

As you come to know yourself better, you recognize imbalances sooner and adjust your physiology, mental focus, and behavior more and more automatically. Your body communicates to your mind more clearly, and you communicate to your health care providers more clearly. 

Listening, sensing, and communicating are specifically enhanced by this training.

Why "Self" Regulation?

Because effective Self care begins with you. You own your mind-body systems and you are the closest to them—although you may not realize it! 

You are the first-responder to any health crisis and you are in charge of maintenance. Everyone else is simply a helper.

Self-efficacy refers to the sense of ability and control that grows from training in self-regulation. It’s a shift from passive acceptance to proactive health maintenance. 

Some feel a sense of oppression and lack of control from living with the bewildering array of pains, energy fluctuations, and emotional shifts that are the human condition. However, one need not feel abandoned to these ‘winds of life.’ 

Early on in Contemplative Biofeedback™ (CB), it becomes clear that there is a great deal of choice in how we sense and respond to changing circumstances. There is a grace and equanimity that can be cultivated and applied directly to those processes that may otherwise seem beyond our control. 

The science and practice of CB grew out of the recognition that we can actively change a great deal of our physiology and psychology at will, with the right training and the ability to visualize the effects in real-time. But personalized coaching and immediate feedback are essential to achieve this. So, even though we emphasize "Self," we are there with you all the way.

Can't I just do this on my own?

You can buy biofeedback devices, and you can listen to meditation apps, but that's not Contemplative Biofeedback™ (CB). 

This training is based on coaching, education, monitoring, and ensuring follow-through. It was specifically developed to provide these missing features. 

Generally, you should not go it alone, if you can help it.

Most of us can make impressive lists of what we should do—even ought to do. But few of us find ourselves happily checking things off that list. Instead, the list grows, things go undone, and exhaustion, confusion, and old habits—especially bad ones—set in. 

It can be lonely and embarrassing. Who wants that? And who really wants to tackle their health issues on their own? 

That’s why a major focus in CB is gentle coaching, and continuity and consistency in trainings. Habit formation is a master art and science. It’s where the ‘rubber meets the road’ and it’s a strong focus of CB. 

Compelling theories, enthusiastic and competent practitioners, and committed patients are very important to the healing process, but they are subordinate to the importance of habit formation. In CB, habit formation is cultivated by clear expectations, attainable goals, accountability, and compassionate coaching.

What's the big deal with homeostasis?

It’s the medical term for what you may call “inner balance” or simply “feeling well.”

One of the main pillars in science is called the Principle of Parsimony. It states that the best theory is that which is the simplest and yet explains and predicts the most. A central theory underlying biofeedback as a means of self-regulation and optimum health is homeostasis (from Latin, ‘to stand equally’): the concept that all living things must maintain a balance among all components of all their systems.

Interestingly, this maintenance is achieved not by locking-in to one condition, but instead by constantly changing, fluctuating around an average condition. Like a champion tennis player, swaying back and forth on their toes awaiting a serve, so too does the body oscillate in all kinds of ways in preparation for whatever life serves up. Examples of body systems that do this include temperature, hormones, immune system, digestion, levels of alertness, blood pressure, respiration, heart rate, etc. 

Every vital sign does it. They all oscillate between high and low levels over time. They know when to switch directions because they have sensors that listen for ‘feedback’: when the system swings too far in one direction, the sensors trigger a reversal to compensate.

In fact, the overwhelming impression one gets when looking at the massive posters one sees in academic biochemistry labs, the posters depicting the known life-chemistry reactions, is one of circles. These circles are just a graphic representation of the feedback principle in hundreds of biochemical reactions. Biofeedback simply extends this concept by adding a new array of sensors (medical wires/sensors) and an alternative type of feedback (graphic displays and/or sounds). 

The body is already wired to work this way; in biofeedback we’re just tapping in to an existing system in just the way it’s used to functioning.

This is working with the body, respecting it’s core mechanism, and taking advantage of this natural strategy for regulation and stability. 

This principle of physiological balance is actually a particular instance of a much more universal theory of system regulation studied by systems theorists across many fields, from economics to astrophysics (even the universe oscillates!).

Still reading? Impressive!... Last FAQ

Why haven't I heard of this before?

You probably have heard of the parts that make up Contemplative Biofeedback™. There's nothing really new here; it's just a new integration of two tried-and-true forms of medicine. 

We hear a lot about Integrative Medicine, as if it is something new and esoteric. This is certainly a misperception. The integration was simply a recognition of what was already there: a whole person. It’s a return to the original medical understandings of wholeness and wholesomeness. A return to the question, ‘What’s best for this living thing—in the big picture?’

Early medicine started out with very basic theories, and general observations about health and wholesomeness. But as we began to look closer, in our attempt to understand the human body, we were overwhelmed by details. The academic response was to slice up this confusing mass into more manageable topics. Hence the rise of specialties in the West, so that one could at least gain some understanding of some small part of the immense complexity.

Much is gained by specializing, but much is lost too. The various sub-disciplines that developed, as physicians learned more and had to specialize more just to stay current in their fields, worked in ever-increasing isolation. There was so much to measure and track that the more subtle systems-level theories, the functioning of the whole, and the means by which balance is maintained, were overlooked or simply ignored.

Biofeedback and mindfulness training represent a return to basic understandings of system maintenance: oscillations and dynamic equilibrium. In Contemplative Biofeedback™, I work with the fluctuations in basic body systems and feed information back to you in real-time, so that you can begin to make associations between the timing of changes, the subtle sensations that occur with changes, and the ways to alter the systems towards a healthier balance. 

This is a very conservative approach, but its firm basis in basic physiological theory assures its value.

Mindfulness training teaches you to maintain focus and correct attentional imbalances on the spot. This mental balance is essential for attending and sensitizing to moment-by-moment shifts in physiology, thoughts, and emotions that signal either the stress response or the relaxation response. The more rapidly you notice these shifts, the sooner you can intervene and self-regulate them at will.

Should I quit my other healthcare providers?

Only if they are not helping. 

But most of my clients see a variety of other health practitioners, and Contemplative Biofeedback™ is always customized to complement and work with your other treatments. 

As a behavioral treatment, it does not cross-react with medications and has no toxic side-effects. However, you may find that as you increase your ability to self-regulate, you may need to ask your physician to lower the amount of medications you’re using. This is commonly the case in asthma, chronic pain, hypertension, and other disorders. 

Also, as you master self-regulation, you will find that your symptoms may shift, your ability to cope on your own improves, or your symptoms may lessen or even resolve fully.

Should I quit my medications?

Not without very careful consideration and consultation with your physician(s).

Your medications, if properly used, can actually open up the space you need—the energy and mobility—to really focus on Contemplative Biofeedback™. They may actually help you get the most out of your training, if you use them wisely. 

Once you learn to self-regulate via this behavioral training, you're better prepared to consider whether and how to taper carefully from any medications that no longer serve you.

You may already realize that medications that are initially effective may cease to be so with continued use, as the body adjusts to them. And all medications have some side-effects, which can range from undesirable to outright toxic. 

We just haven’t been able to find what drug developers dream of: finding that “silver bullet” drug that only hits symptoms and has no side effects—they all have side effects.

So, we move carefully and wisely, in consultation with your physician, when changing any medication patterns of use.