The final view of brain activation we’ll discuss is called Deep States.
Commonly the targets people present for training their brains relate to conscious or physical functions. These tend to be safer, more acceptable areas to admit as problems. A person with a history of trauma and uncontrolled emotional drive often focuses training objectives on sleep, pain, memory or attention.
Just as fixing the roof on a house with a crumbling foundation will likely have a temporary effect at best, training to change cognitive function in a brain dealing with significant emotional stress or trauma is not likely to have a lasting result.
The subconscious mind resides in those areas of the brain beneath the cortex. The sub-cortical subconscious is older and perhaps less developed than our cortical conscious minds, but it tends to drive much of our lives. Avoiding, blocking or covering up emotional issues over time results in problems in nearly every part of our function. In the next sections of this book, we will talk about tone, stress and trauma and show how those subcortical issues can come to dominate lives. Anyone who has found herself making the same poor choices over and over in her life—despite consciously swearing never to make the same mistake again—is experiencing the power of the subconscious.
What’s down there
The three main functions that flourish in the soil of the sub-cortex are emotions, memories and programs.
We can distinguish between emotional states, such as being angry about something which happened, and emotional traits, such as being irritable and angry much of the time. We all experience emotional states from happiness and joy to anger, anxiety and depression. When we block ourselves from expressing these feelings, however, the unresolved pressure that remains brewing beneath our conscious minds can cause them to dominate to such an extent that they drive our daily experience and actions. They can become traits. As we’ll see in the next section, they can even transform our body functions.
Memory is a repository for experience and information we wish to be able to access as we move through our lives. Memories also store emotional responses to events that have occurred throughout our lives. When such events are too overwhelming, some brains will dissociate—or block off—areas of memory so they are no longer accessible.
Subconscious programs are the source of what we feel and do, over and over, though we don’t want to—a behavioral equivalent of the stable activation patterns embedded in our brains. The man who chooses a series of negative, jealous mates, though he knows many women who are not like that, is demonstrating a subconscious program. A woman who stumbles and stutters through a presentation of material she knows very well, because there is an audience present is also playing out a program.
Accessing sub-cortical states
We’ve spoken recently about the sources of sub-cortically-generated frequencies. The band of 6-8 Hz is called hippocampal theta, since it is produced by a generator in the hippocampus—the brain’s memory center. In the rear of the brain, 6-8 Hz is also the frequency of visualization (and imagery is the language of the sub-conscious). We’ve also said that alpha (8-12 Hz) bridges the conscious and sub-conscious, while theta (4-8 Hz) is subconscious. The 6-8 Hz band is the first step off the bridge into the sub-conscious.
Especially in the back of the head, 6-8 Hz should be a strong frequency. When we see it “scooped out”—much lower than the frequencies around it—or barely present, that’s an indication of material buried in the sub-conscious which the individual does not wish to experience or process. This often goes along with serious emotional or physical disturbances including chronic fatigue or pain.
Training into the subconscious
A training called Alpha/Theta (A/T) focuses on taking the brain into the alpha (observer) state, then easing down across the line at 8 Hz separating the bridge from the 6-8 Hz band of the subconscious. Done in the back of the head with eyes closed, this training has been shown to be a very powerful approach to changing people in a deep way.
People training A/T often release emotional material—often without knowing exactly what it is about—in early sessions. It’s also common that trainees will remember things that have long been buried or make connections they had never made before. Finally, A/T is often used with a visualization process to create new programs or break up old ones within a very few sessions.
I like to include A/T sessions every 5 sessions in a Whole-Brain Training Plan, since it seems to help the brain integrate changes it has produced in prior trainings.