Have you ever felt that the impact of traumatic experiences has limited you and caused you to react in a way you can’t understand, with fear, anxiety, anger, sadness or despair? And although you know it’s not an ideal way to respond, you feel incapable of getting a proper hold on it and changing it? You may need to re-set and optimize your brain functioning. The question is, can you?
Trauma And Stress On The Brain
Rory Park-Ross, a Johannesburg Brain Optimization™ practitioner, believes you can. He explains the impact of past trauma and stress on the brain: “Stress and trauma can compromise your overall well being. Past stress or traumatic experiences – which are any experiences that the person interprets to be stressful or traumatic, and can differ from person to person – can cause the brain to get ‘stuck’. They create set points which prevent normal brain functionality and create an imbalance in the way in which the brain operates. Of course, by ‘normal brain functionality’ I mean the default or optimal state of functioning for each individual person’s brain – as we are all unique.”
Park-Ross continues: “These events create deep imbalances in brain patterns, which affect thought and behaviour processes, and are difficult to change. This happens because, at one point in time, the brain considered these thought and behaviour processes to be necessary for survival, and so the brain learned to always behave in this way when it perceived itself to be under threat; however, this pattern is no longer useful and, in many cases, has become self-destructive. Thus the pattern needs to be unlearned. However, it can be difficult or take many years to unlearn these patterns through treating the ‘mind’ with psychotherapy or other methods; this is why, with Brainwave Optimization™, we address brain function.”
Brainwave Optimization™ (BO) is the brainchild of Lee Gerdes, who holds a degree in maths, physics, psychology and theology. He was previously a systems analyst, management consultant and vice-president of solutions for NetPerceptions.
Gerdes developed a computer-based modality that assists clients in achieving a deep state of relaxation. A deeply relaxed brain may support stress and trauma recovery (both physical and emotional), enhanced well being and performance optimization. It has a fast recovery response time and requires little engagement from the waking consciousness of the client in the healing process.
Using A Brain Mirror
BO is best described as a catalyst that supports the brain in optimizing itself. It kick-starts a natural process in which the brain moves towards a state of balance in its own time and on its own terms. The foundation of this technology is advanced bio-metric data collection, or the measurement of your unique biological signals.
The process is experienced as a feedback loop of the brain’s own frequencies, to itself, in real time and in a manner which allows it to “observe”’ itself. It then alters its patterns so that it can function in a balanced fashion. This is achieved through the use of precision measurement instruments and sophisticated algorithms which create an Acoustic Brain Mirror™.
Individuals are seated on comfortable chairs, in a safe environment, with bio-metric sensors placed on their scalps. They listen to the translated frequencies of their brain functioning, in the form of sound, through earphones. This process results in their falling into a state of deep relaxation, and their brain are able to start regulating their own rhythms, “unblock” any blockages created by past stress and trauma, and optimize their functioning.
Clients have commonly reported the following positive results:
- better sleep,
- release of chronic stress or trauma,
- improvement in areas of cognitive difficulties or learning challenges,
- improved performance and memory,
- and reduced addictive personality tendencies
Gerdes says: “People often ask how I came up with this simple, yet powerful modality. I wasn’t a doctor or even a brain researcher. I was a computer geek. Most of my life revolved around computer science, though my background does include a degree in theology and extensive work in psychology, as well as maths and physics.
“Assaulted by four youths wielding a baseball bat in 1991, I understood that I was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Though I went through a raft of treatments in addition to extensive psychotherapy, they were only of limited help. To some degree they alleviated my physical condition, but they were unable to affect the edge I was on all the time. Anyone could press my buttons and evoke a lightning-fast response – a response that was out of proportion to what was appropriate, and a huge waste of emotional energy.”
Harnessing Technology To Heal Trauma
Gerdes says that, alongside his fascination with computers, he has a deep interest in science, as well as certain branches of mechanics; as a result, the development of BO was, in a way, an accident. It suddenly dawned on him that the insights of the newer branches of mechanics, teamed with highly sophisticated computer technology, could enable an individual to make progress in the treatment of stress and the impacts of trauma on the brain.
“It was then – in the year 2000 – I began training my own brain. After benefiting from the techniques for some weeks, I set it aside, never imagining it would some day help thousands of people. My son began having problems during his teen years. Falling in with a tough crowd, he left school and was rapidly going downhill toward a dysfunctional life. I believed he could benefit from the brain training, so I essentially bribed him to give it a try. The effect was stunning. He cleaned up his life, returned to school and immediately made the dean’s list. Today, he is my primary partner, chief information officer and advocate for balancing brains.”
Gerdes then took the technology further, slowly testing the procedure on more and more people until the client base was large enough to start a company. He is now the head of a business that has 175 affiliates in 20 countries around the world, and has assisted over 100 000 people.
A Journey to Recovery Became A Life Purpose
Park-Ross is one of these affiliates, and found his way to becoming a BO practitioner through a health journey of his own.
He explains: “I got glandular fever several years ago and ended up with chronic fatigue. At this time I was a mechanical engineer working as a partner in a cast aluminium furniture factory.
“It took five months before I could go back to work full-time and, even then, I wasn’t really present, as the chronic fatigue had taken its toll and I continued suffering from a combination of debilitating pain, lack of focus, depression, anxiety, insomnia and irritability. The impact on my colleagues and my family was so severe that I knew I had to do something about it,” says Park-Ross.
“I had heard about BO which had been developed in the United States and had apparently helped people with chronic fatigue and many other conditions. I was desperate enough to fly there to see if it could help me,” he recalls.
“Within a month of returning home, the pain that had wracked my body had gone, my sleep had normalized, my depression had lifted and I felt healthy again. My GP at the time, John Cumming, was amazed by my recovery. This was the turning point for me. After being ill for such a long period and then experiencing this life-changing transition, my perspective completely changed and I wanted to offer others the same opportunity,” he says.
Park-Ross then moved out of his formal job and set up a local office for the BO.
What should you expect?
Should you choose to embark on the journey of BO, you will enter into the following process:
The first step is to find a BO practitioner near you.
When you call to set up an appointment, you will be booked in for an assessment. This takes about an hour and a half and is essential to the success of your sessions. In your assessment, the practitioner will explain the process of BO to you more clearly and answer any of your questions. He or she will then show you case studies of previous patients, and will measure your current brain functionality in order to establish your unique starting point for the treatment.
This process requires that you are seated comfortably in the treatment chair, with bio-metric sensors placed on your scalp. You will be asked to refrain from moving, so that the reading is accurate. Your brain frequencies will be measured, first with your eyes closed and later with them open. This reading will be used to create a graph of your brain functionality. The practitioner will use this graph to explain to you where your brain diverges from optimal brain functionality, and at what age you experienced the traumas which are still affecting you today. There is no requirement for you to discuss what these traumas were, but if you want to do so, you may. This graph will also provide information about your sleep patterns, and levels of anxiety and fatigue.
A second graph, from the same reading, will be used to show you whether you are overwhelmed by feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, and whether your dominant response is defensive or attacking. It will also be used to describe to you how your brain activity will look once your brain is in a state of balance.
Your practitioner will then decide on the best course forward, prescribing between four and seven two-hour sessions of BO. This may need to be done intensively or less intensively, depending on your unique circumstances.
You may also choose to fill out a questionnaire at the end of your assessment, where you rate your physical and psychological condition before treatment, and then, three months after the treatment, you will be asked to rate it again using the same criterion. This allows you to measure the improvement that has taken place.
FAQs About Brainwave Optimization™:
Rory Park-Ross answers some of the most frequently asked questions
Is the EEG safe?
Yes, the EEG is purely a listening device. There are no electrical or magnetic fields generated.
Can you be on this treatment and other medication?
Since we are not medical practitioners, we recommend that clients inform their prescribing practitioner before embarking on the process. It is possible to undergo BO while medicated, but it can take longer for the brain to reach a relaxed state, so additional sessions may be required. In addition, it would be wise to be re-assessed by the prescribing practitioner after the sessions, as the need for medication should reduce as the brain becomes balanced and calm.
Are there risks for people with specific problems – for example, epilepsy or bipolar disorder?
Since all we do is use a technology-based relaxation tool for this process, there is no risk. The brain is a self-serving organ that will accept the process only if it feels its own function will be enhanced. Some conditions, such as bipolar, usually indicate deeply etched stress patterns and may require extra sessions. We’ve also assisted many epileptics. Anxiety is often a trigger for seizures, and we focus on the anxiety and fatigue markers, which are related to brain coherence/neuro-plasticity.
How old do you have to be to undergo the treatment?
While there is no age barrier, it may be very difficult for small children to sit still. Therefore, usually children below five years old are not recommended.
An Educational Therapist’s View:
Educational therapist Rina Pelse, who works predominantly with adults and is a trained hypnotherapist, says: “BO is not the same process as therapy. Working with mental and emotional issues is not specific to the process of BO, as its focus is quite literally on balancing the brain. This is a result that you cannot achieve with therapy. BO removes the underlying tension which people so often have; it takes the learnt pattern of stress, as a result of past trauma, away.
“The positive impact this has is great. If one is able to think without this stress, one is able to concentrate better, be more creative, make better decisions, sleep better, work more effectively; you just become a more efficient human being. It is a really profound thing to do for yourself; a two-hour session can be seen as the equivalent of a fantastic night’s sleep for an insomniac,” she explains.
“It also facilitates the therapy process. The clients that I have seen who have come from BO make good progress; they are more aware of how subtle occurrences from childhood, or throughout their life, can have a negative effect on them that they never previously realised were there. They are also more able to identify and deal with these past experiences; they release them more effectively.
“Probably the most fantastic aspect to it is that it is not a major intervention, and yet you feel so much better afterwards,” Pelse notes.
A Chiropractor’s View:
Park-Ross works in conjunction with a chiropractor and a bio-kineticist at Peak Performance in Fourways Sandton. We spoke to Dr Michael Barbour about the synergy between BO and his chiropractic practice.
“I have found that if I send my patients through for BO with Rory, the results that I get with them are significantly higher. Two reasons for this are: firstly, that their improved sleeping pattern aids in their physical healing, and, secondly, that BO settles a person’s nervous system, which significantly improves their progress from a chiropractic point of view.
“A third reason for this improvement is that many people come to me with pain that has not been caused by a physical injury, but rather for emotional reasons – such as stress. Therefore, although I can temporarily assist them with the pain, I cannot ensure that it will not return, as they may continue to experience this stress. As a result, working in conjunction with BO produces more effective results,” explains Barbour.
“It is important to remember that Rory works on balancing brainwaves within the brain itself, while my job is to connect the spinal column to the rest of the body. The brain is connected to the body through the spinal cord; as a result, if the spinal cord is not properly connected to the body, the body will not function correctly,” Barbour notes.