Elinor Bazar has a B.A. In Psychology and Religious Studies from Georgetown University, an M.A. In Counselling Psychology from the University of Victoria. Before opening NeurAlive Neurofeedback Centre, Elinor worked in private practice specializing in play and expressive arts therapy with children of all ages and was a school teacher early in her career.
Three years ago Elinor was on the lookout for more tools to help my family and my counseling clients. When she found Neurofeedback, I was intrigued. Something that we could simply and painlessly connect our brains into for training self-regulation was showing powerful results for a range of mental, emotional and behavioral issues in people of all ages. She researched the technology for two months and decided that I’d like to try it for herself. She chose NeurOptimal® Dynamical Neurofeedback®, for its ease of use,safe and holistic approach. Many people were reporting excellent results from using this system, relieving symptoms associated with a variety of issues, like ADHD, PTSD, chronic fatigue, anxiety, depression, brain injuries, neurological and developmental disorders and more.
Over the course of 3 years, she used the technology with my clients, primarily children, and my family. She saw fairly consistent results ranging from mild improvement to almost miraculous improvement for a variety of conditions.
What is Neurofeedback?
Neurofeedback involves using an EEG device with sensors on the brain to track electrical activity in the brain. Displaying this information on a monitor allows the brain to self regulate. Elinor uses the NeurOptimal® Neurofeedback system which allows the brain and the nervous system to self-correct by giving it information about itself.
How would you define self-regulation?
The nervous system is constantly processing information and detecting a change in the environment. A self-regulating system is flexible, resilient, and can adapt to change easily. It can bounce back from negative events. A lot of people are suffering from an overburden nervous system, and that can show up as anxiety, depression, fatigue, headaches, poor sleep patterns, and poor digestion. Having better self-regulation in the nervous system can help ease all of those symptoms.
When we go through a trauma or a stressful event, does that interrupt the body’s ability to regulate itself?
Trauma can impact the nervous system, and we can get stuck in a flight or fight state. It always feels on guard; it doesn’t feel safe and can be on high alert.
I first discovered Neurofeedback in 2013. I reached out to a therapist because I was struggling with ADD/ADHD, and she suggested Neurofeedback. It was pretty incredible. I only did it for a couple of months, but I felt calmer and more organized. I could definitely see the difference. It was pretty incredible. I had the sensors on my head, and there was quiet music which dropped in and out due to activity in the brainwaves. I have also done a version where I was playing a game by doing something with my brain. I love that it can provide an alternative to medication and can be a tremendous holistic tool for anxiety, ADHD and depression. And not a lot of people know about it.
It is non-invasive and natural. The NeurOptimal® approach it is to meet the brain where it is in that moment and feedback the to the nervous system. This allows the inherent healing capacity of the nervous system to self regulate.
Why do you think not a lot of people know about it?
Elinor had heard of Neurofeedback but didn’t know what it meant until one day she looked it up. She discovered all the research showing how effective it is. It is only now becoming more accessible to the public due to the cost of equipment becoming more affordable. NeurOptimal® was created by Dr Sue and Val Brown, two clinical psychologists in the biofeedback field. They developed NeurOptimal® when they realized, through their clinical research, that it’s not necessary to push the brain because it will self-correct. Just giving the brain the information is enough. It’s so easy to use that it is possible to rent or own a unit. A big part of Elinor’s practice is renting systems for home use.
How did you get into Neurofeedback?
Elinor was a therapist specializing in working with children through play and nature therapy. At the time, she had just gone through a separation, and life was stressful. She was having all the symptoms of an overburdened nervous system. The word Neurofeedback popped into her brain, so she looked it up and spent hours researching the topic.
So what did you discover? You had these symptoms and used Neurofeedback. What happened?
Elinor bought a NeurOptimal® system and started using it on herself and her daughter. Once she got to 10 sessions she realised that she was no longer experiencing her previous levels of anxiety, she had more energy and was much happier. For two years she had experienced heart palpitations every single day. They went away completely. She used to find that drinking coffee aggravated her nervous system too much, but now she was able to start drinking it again. She used the system with her daughter who experienced stress at school, which was manifesting as ticks in the body. She would repeatedly stretch her neck. After three sessions, the ticks were completely gone.
Elinor has found that Neurofeedback can be incredibly impactful for children. She had a child who was dealing with severe separation anxiety when going to school and after 4 session was able to go to school.
Kids brains can be so receptive and malleable. Adult brains are less so, but they are still malleable. Can you speak a bit about the adult brain and how it is still receptive to this type of intervention?
Due to neuroplasticity, it is possible to change how our brains are wired. Sometimes change happens quickly, and sometimes things happen more slowly. Adults need to take a holistic approach with the Neurofeedback. We still need good sleep and good nutrition. It can give you more motivation to put other things into practice like exercise and meditation.
There are different brainwaves like alpha and beta. Can you explain a bit about brainwaves?
Types of brainwaves is a way of categorizing ranges of brainwave frequencies. In conventional Neurofeedback they look at those categories of brainwaves to see what needs to be altered whereas NeurOptimal® trains all the frequencies simultaneously.
When someone does a neurofeedback session is there a length of time the session should last for?
With NeurOptimal® a session lasts for 33minutes long. It depends on the person for how many sessions will be suitable for them.
How does that 33min session work? Do they have to do anything else?
With the NeurOptimal® system, there isn’t anything you have to do. It works at an unconscious level. Adults will lie back and close their eyes. It can be deeply relaxing. Children can play with lego or color while they have the sensors on and the earbuds in.
What about Muse? Are you familiar with that?
Elinor hasn’t tried it but is aware of it and think it seems great. But it is intended to produce a meditative state. It’s cool to get the real-time feedback. One of the other technologies Elinor likes to use, particularly for meditation is, Heartmath, which is heart rate variability training.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t give up.
What would you recommend to somebody who is listening to this podcast and this is the first time they have heard about Neurofeedback?
Google it and find the research. There are so many different approaches and systems. Do your research and follow your gut instinct about what is right for you.
Do you think that Neurofeedback is going to be something everybody knows about in 10-15 years?
Elinor thinks that we are already reaching the tipping point where it becomes mainstream.
What do you think about prescription drugs? And how do you see that playing out with the ability to also have Neurofeedback?
There is a time and a place for prescription drugs. You can use Neurofeedback while you on prescription medication, but it is worth keeping doctors informed. Sometimes people find they need to reduce their medication as their bodies become more receptive.
If people have questions and want to know more, can they reach out to you?
Elinor can be contacted at NeurAlive:
David Wood is a personal and business coach. David left his cushy Park Avenue job 20 years ago to explore both the outer world and his own inner world.
At the individual level, he helps high performing entrepreneurs, executives, and leaders to Play for Real – in their own growth, in their relationships, and at work. By integrating three main principles of Real Truth, Real Daring, and Real Caring. At the corporate level, he helps companies to improve performance and retention. He has consulted Fortune 100 companies – such as Sony Music, Proctor & Gamble, and Exxon. He was recently voted into the Transformational Leadership Council, along with such thought leaders as Stephen M.R. Covey, Jack Canfield, John Gray, and Marianne Williamson.
In this interview we get real honest, in fact, David reveals something he has never shared on a podcast before — The real question is….what will “Play for Real” mean to you?
I’ve been coaching for over 10 years, and when I first started coaching your website came up a lot. You were owning the life coaching scene.
There was a point where David was the top 3 results on the search engine. He was fully committed to coaching. After becoming burnt out, David retired, but he is now back on the coaching scene with renewed passion.
You have figured out how to do something most people dream about, which is living an abundant life, making a huge contribution, and having a blast every step of the way. What is your secret to success?
David is very self-directed. He creates a vision he can be excited about, and then he uses hacks to create productive days so he can do what needs to be done to fulfill his vision. It can be hard to carry out consistent action in the face of no results. For people who can’t do that, a simple hack is getting yourself a coach.
David considers himself a possibility generating machine. Other people assume that something can’t be done. If David is told that something can’t be done, he will go out there and do it.
What are some of those hacks? How do you get yourself in the right state if you aren’t feeling it?
He has had a lot of depression and anxiety in his life, which can be several weeks of darkness but can also manifest as not wanting to send an email or do anything at all that day. But his job requires that he does stuff to bring in revenue. One hack is caffeine (although he restricts himself to one cup of coffee and one cup of tea a day). Once a week he takes adderall which enables him to get a solid 8 hours to work done. He likes to do morning pages which are supposed to be 3 pages of stream of consciousness writing and never read it. But David likes to use it to uncover the things he wants to do.
Some of those hacks are things that people often try to steer us away from, such as caffeine and other stimulants. Particularly in the self-development field. Thanks for sharing that.
David used to think that all medication was bad. It is worth being wary about medication as humans have a tenuous relationship with addiction. If you like coffee, you’ll probably drink more of it and run into problems because you are abusing it. David went from thinking all medication was bad to taking antidepressants. The turning point came when he was talking to a colleague who took Welbutin and asked her why she took it since she was into personal growth. She told him that she likes herself better when she’s on it. So he got off his high horse. He tries to be careful with how he takes medication by doing research and mixing things up to avoid tolerance.
Is that part of the caring element you were talking about?
David believes in 3 core pillars – Truth, Daring and Caring. He acknowledges that caring isn’t the sexy part. David had a breakdown. He would be unable to sleep because adrenaline was shooting through his boy. A doctor friend told him to go on medication, but he refused because he wanted to heal it naturally. David had reached rock bottom and realized that there is a time and a place for daring, but if you don’t acknowledge your limitations and nurture other areas, things will fall apart. He realised he needed to add the 3rd pillar of Caring.
You had all this success. Then you had these breakdowns. Would you agree that in many ways breakdowns can actually become the catalyst to success?
Recently, David heard someone say - “Your core wounds can become your greatest gifts.” Many of the people in the coaching community have some kind of wound or past trauma they have had to overcome. If David hadn’t had the breakdowns or experienced childhood trauma, he wouldn’t be on this path. When he was 7 he watched his 5year old sister get killed in a traffic accident. He learnt how to shut down his emotions and not feel anything. This is when he started to be solution-focused. In his 20s he went to a psychiatrist who helped him to realize that he hadn’t grieved. He has now spent the last 25 years reconnecting to his emotions and learning how to feel. He now gets to bring that to other people who are system and task-oriented but would like to have deeper connections with themselves, their partner, their kids, and all the other people in their life.
How do you understand yourself so you can find those gifts that allow you to get paid for who you are?
David used to teach people how to be a coach. Then people asked him how he was able to travel and coach all over the world. So he wrote the book Get Paid For Who You Are. Now he’s interested in how do you love your life. He wants people to be able to be on their deathbeds and have no regrets. Part of how you do that is to have fulfilling and gratifying work.
How do you find your gifts?
There isn’t a magic answer. When David started coaching, it happened organically, but then he stopped. Recently a friend suggested that he get back into it and he realized how much he loves it. Then within coaching, he has found the core themes which light him us - Truth, Daring, Caring and Connection. The short answer is to read the book The Passion Test and get yourself a coach.
I like how you say it takes time. Sometimes we don’t respect the process.
You have to take action. Even if you don’t know if it’s the right action.
How do you view the coaching industry at this point in time?
David is fascinated by the state of corporate coaching today. The role of coaches is now accepted in the corporate world.
What are some of your favorite coaching questions?
What question would you most like to be asked right now?
What coaching would you give yourself on this?
You have an app right?
David has an app called Get Real.
I found this question on there. If you had to make one rule which everyone must follow, what would it be?
That you must speak the truth all the time with the exception that if you lie you must preface it by saying I’m going to lie to you right now.
So many people are lying to themselves as well as to others. It’s so toxic because people are afraid to say the truth.
It takes a lot of guts to tell the truth. What if they don’t like who I am because of something I said? What if I don’t get a promotion because of saying that? It can be transformative to share your inner dialogue. It can take a lot of courage.
One of the greatest hacks you can play on yourself is to tell on yourself. Tell someone your inner thoughts and dialogue.
Do you have a question that you repeatedly ask your self?
What did you get done today? David finds it useful to acknowledge what he achieved in order to appreciate himself.
What is one thing you would love to do before you die?
David wants to play drums in a band for one public gig. He has done it as a guitarist and now wants to experience it as a drummer.
How can we get in touch with you?
David has a new podcast – http://playforreal.life/podcast/
David invites people to request a discovery session with him at http://playforreal.life/
Get Paid For Who You Are by David Wood
The Passion Test: The Effortless Path to Discovering Your Life Purpose by Janet Attwood and Chris Attwood
The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron
I talk to a lot of people who want to find more clarity in their lives. And I want to talk about subtle ways that can have a profound impact on your life. This is a practice that you can continue to do because once you connect with clarity, it doesn't stop there. It's a practice that you want to continue to engage in.
Here are three steps.
In 2005 the National Science Foundation published an article regarding research about human thoughts per day. The average person has about 12K to 60K thoughts per day of those thoughts. 80% are negative and 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before.
If you're finding yourself cycling around negative thoughts you are not alone. What we need to understand is that we have a "negativity bias."
What does that mean?
It means we pick up negative information faster than positive information. And the reason why is because we're wired for survival. We are not wired for happiness.
We've all had the experience of getting feedback and somebody tells us a bunch of positive information - things we're doing really well but then somebody gives us one piece of information that's slightly negative. And what do we seem to harp on? That one piece of information that's negative. And that's because we have a "negativity bias." We need to know that that's operating and it's operating to help us to protect us to look out for danger and to not believe those negative thoughts.
The way that you can start to change the pattern is by actively seeking the good. Dr. Rick Hansen is a neuroscientist and he talks about this concept of taking in the good and really absorbing it. You take in a positive experience for an extra 10, 15, 20 seconds. As you absorb these good moments what happens is they gradually weave good experiences into the fabric of the brain. Instead of good experiences being passing mental states, they become net lasting neural traits.
Here's how I practice this: When it's a moment that I see my son playing - I really take that moment in that moment of joy that I feel when I'm watching him play. If I'm driving in my car and listening to a song that I'm really enjoying -- I really take in that moment. Since the weather has been so nice when the sun is shining and I'm feeling the sun beating down on my face -- I love that really taking that in.
There's a saying in Tibet: If you take care of the minutes the years will take care of themselves.