Brain tapping has a lot of positive impacts on your mental health. So be prepared for a life worth living and tune into this episode. Dr. Patrick K. Porter summarizes the benefits of regular use of the brain tap device. Dr. Patrick is an award-winning author, speaker, and the founder of BrainTap, the leader in technology-enhanced meditation. Over the years, he has experimented with a blend of a lot of different technologies. He was very interested in looking at how we can change brain states. He pioneered the use of brainwave entrainment to improve clarity, sleep, and energy. When your stress levels are so high, you can’t function in your daily activities. You need clarity and focus. Brain tapping is the answer.
Watch the episode here:
Listen to the podcast here:
Brain Tapping For Clarity, Peace, And Mental Wellness With Dr. Patrick K. Porter
Patrick K. Porter, PhD is an award-winning author, speaker and the Founder of BrainTap, the leader in technology-enhanced meditation. Dr. Porter pioneered the use of brainwave entrainment to improve clarity, sleep and energy, and remains at the forefront of scientific research. Dr. Porter, thank you so much for joining us here.
It’s great to be here. Thanks for having me.
I hope you can start us off by telling us a little bit about how you got into the work you’re doing and what drives your passion for it.
I was born into a house with a good Irish Catholic family. My father was a chronic alcoholic so we were struggling like most kids. I’ve spent my time with Alateen and Al-Anon going to see my dad go off once a year to rehab centers. One day, finally the church came along, Father Fitzpatrick and Sister Mary said, “Michael, we’re going to teach you how to relax.” My dad went to what was called the Ultra Relaxation Seminar at the church. We found out later that it was the Silva Method. He went there, he learned how to relax his body and he stopped drinking. It was crazy.
He didn’t realize that he was prescribing alcohol as his solution to his stress problems. Once he figured out that he could go to levels, it’s what they called it then, they were using the galvanic skin response system. That’s how I got into machines, meditation and how all that works. Back then, this was in the ‘70s, cassettes were just coming out. My father thought, “If this is good enough for me, it’s good enough for my nine kids.”
He went on, took all their training, and became the Southwest regional trainer for the Silva Method. I grew up setting up chairs, doing seminars and helping him out. If there weren’t enough people to fill the chairs, then it was the kids. We were all there. We probably did about 300 Silva seminars. With my dad’s voice is in my head, all I could hear were four-letter words and none of them was love. I was thinking back to when he was abusive but he had changed. He had helped me to create my first affirmation cassette when they first came out.
I remember waking up to an alarm clock that would wake you up to your cassette. I would wake up with this message. I was a very negative kid. I was held back in second grade. There’s trouble everywhere. As soon as my dad taught me, “Calm down. Let’s train you with this GSR machine.” Most people might not know what that is. It’s Galvanic Skin Response where you put your fingers in it. They still sell them on Amazon for a couple of hundred dollars. You can do a lot of alpha training. What we did was we started looking at what my triggers were. What was triggering my reactions? I was letting life control me like a ping pong ball. I realized that once I started calming down my brain, I was a pretty smart kid.
If you get somebody out of alpha into alpha and minimize their beta, they’ll be in pain.
My mother also worked within the area of nutrition. She got us off the white flour and white sugar. Our whole house did a whole makeover. You’ll probably appreciate this and some of the younger readers won’t. In high school, I was tagged in my senior year yearbook to replace Euell Gibbons in the Grape Nuts commercials. The first health food store in the world was in Battle Creek, Michigan, so we grew up with that.
My passion comes from, “It helped me. Here’s this struggling kid that thought the world was against them,” to find out, “The world is conspiring with me if I’m willing to make some changes. If I’m not willing to make changes, I can’t change the world but I can change myself.” That’s been my theme ever since then. What drives me now is seeing how can I help people to disengage their nervous system from what we call the survivor brain to the thriving brain? That’s been my life’s work for many years.
The GSR device stands for the Galvanic Skin Response. What I’ve told people for decades is that it was the first commercially available biofeedback device. With that in mind, what you’ve done over the years is blend a lot of different technologies. Can you tell us about that?
I was very fortunate in the ‘80s to partner with a company. There’s a whole long story behind that. They can read one of my books to review that. I became involved with a group called Light and Sound Research. This happened because we were using sound. Silva had a sound which we might call Isochronic Tones, which is monaural and not binaural. People hear binaural all the time but it’s a monaural sound that triggers the brain to go into these different states.
We have technology that can record it. Back then, it was almost like voodoo or magic because we didn’t know. We could tell by respiration, hand temperature, and all the things you’d look at through biofeedback but we didn’t know exactly what the brain was doing. Someone came along named Anna Wise and wrote the book The Master Brainwave. That’s when they first came out with EEGs that could read out on LED slides.
You’d see the brain’s right side and left side. You could see if the brain was functioning. That equipment was very expensive. You leased it because it was so expensive. Now we can buy used devices which are $200 and measure brainwaves. We started to figure it out through respiration, hand temperature, heart rate variability, but we were looking at how we can change brain states. Their research was all about pain control. Most people don’t realize that pain only happens in one brain frequency, the beta brainwaves. If you get somebody into alpha and minimize their beta, they’ll be in pain-free states.
This was before the opioid revolution, evolution or however you want to look at it because people are misusing them. We wanted to show how we could trigger these morphine receptors in the brain. We do that through light, sound and vibration. First, it was just sound. Sound was effective. There’s a lot of good research out there about sound. What we found was, and this happened through our research, our eyes control 30% of our hearing. Most people don’t know that.
I usually use the example that if you’ve been to a lecture and you couldn’t hear the lecture but as soon as you’ve got a line of sight to the lecture, you could hear them. That’s because you activated that default mode network that says, “Out of these 25,000 pieces of information that our ears are hearing, I want to listen to that one.” Like any finely-tuned radar device or something, our brain tunes into that sound.
Another example for the readers is if you and I were sitting, talking at a restaurant, having a great time and somebody three tables over said, “EMDR.” Our ears would perk up and would go, “There’s somebody over there working with somebody with traumatic injuries or some kind of emotional issue.” We wouldn’t hear the rest of the conversation.
This is what we’re looking at in the brain. This happens in the limbic system. We’re looking at, can we change physiology without the conscious mind being involved? Our conscious mind sometimes can hijack our health because it starts thinking about shame, blame, guilt and all the other negative emotions. Emotions are good. That’s what makes us humans but if we’re not in control of them or we’re not in the flow with them, they can hijack us. We can get one bad text in the morning and the rest of the day we’re disrupted. What we wanted to show was how we can use sound first and then we went to the light.
This happened because I’m always looking at ancient traditions. I had an experience, which I wrote about in one of my books. I wouldn’t call it a near-death experience but I was well on my way. My body was failing and I had instantaneous healing. Nobody could explain it. They kept me in the hospital for two months to figure out how they healed me but they didn’t do anything. My body healed itself through some pretty amazing situations.
What happened was I started thinking, “What happened to me? How did I go from being this sick person into healing my body?” It was an industrial accident where I had bisulfite poisoning. That got me into looking at ancient traditions. I was brought up Catholic. The only thing I knew was if the Pope said it, it was true. They came out with LEDs. In the ‘80s, LEDs were very expensive but they weren’t tuned like they are now. People say, “I’m using 840 or 830 LEDs for infrared. I’m using 470 nanometer light for blue.”
We didn’t know. There were only red LEDs. What we want to do is we wanted to find out what would happen with a flickering response. This came from something called the Jyoti Meditation. A lot of people will do this. It’s a biofeedback technique too but they don’t use it as much as they used to because we have the technology. You could put a candle out about a foot away from you. When the candle is flickering, you breathe and you make the candle flicker.
They thought it was because of the breathing, which is part of it, but the reality is the candlelight flickers at ten-hertz frequency. The reason that’s important is our brain has these little cells on the brain that is always interpreting the frequencies of the world around us. If you and I were on a spaceship coming toward Earth, we would see our Earth resonates between .01 hertz to 100-hertz frequency. Some people will say up to 400 hertz.
We’ve had some Buddhist monks get their brains evaluated and spiked gamma up over 400 hertz, which is amazing. Most people will never see more than 60 hertz. They’re doing it based on love and gratitude. What it was doing was the brain was seeing the candle flicker, then it was matching that frequency and the body would go into a state of alpha. The whole thing back then was all about alpha. For instance, we go to the mountaintop and we meditate. People go, “Why do gurus go to the mountaintop?”
When you’re sitting in a cave on a mountain, your body is resonating or tuning to the frequency of the mountain. That mountain has a resonant frequency of 7.8-hertz frequency. Our body is vibrating, resonating to it and then matches it. If you do breathing techniques with it, that’s even better. The problem most people have that we found as we were doing this science was their old thinking kept getting in the way.
You can overdrive a lot of good things with negative thoughts. The optimistic person can get results in areas where the pessimists can’t because the pessimist closes the door to opportunity while the optimist opens the door for infinite potentials. The brain, being the most powerful pharmacy on Earth, activates these different neurons.
One of the things we’re doing is the Brazil study where the Brazilian government, on their own dime, is spending $250,000 to prove BrainTap is a digital drug because we prove that we can up-regulate 54 different neurotransmitters and down-regulate the stress hormones. They’re proving that through lights, sound and vibration. When the light came along, it changed the game.
Emotional memories are dependent upon emotional charge.
Instead of having maybe 60%, 70% opportunity to help people move their brain states with audio, we were seeing that as long as there were no organic issues with the brain, any brain can follow the sequence into theta within three sessions. We proved this. We did a study with 1,000 people that are non-meditators. It wasn’t BrainTap at that time because this was years ago. It was one of my earlier pieces. We showed that the brain of every student followed the algorithm every time. It’s the way our body works.
We’re not teaching the body to do something new or different. We’re teaching the body to use its natural sync and rhythm to tune the brain up. That’s where it all started. We saw that the words were getting in the way or maybe their own internal dialogue, I started creating different positive psychology messages. They have a mix of NLP. I trained with Richard Bandler and John Grinder when they were still together. I got to train with all the people that split off.
One of the things my dad was big at and I’m still at is that if you’re not growing, you’re rotting. As we’re having this conversation, there’s probably somebody out there creating some wonderful new therapy or behavioral change technology that we won’t hear about for twenty years because they’ve got to prove it out or something. I always want to be right there with what is new and different.
We need to tune up the brain in light. Especially since 2020 where they’re telling people not to be outside, not to ground and stay in the home, we need to get the body back into that balanced state. I believe what William Cousins said. He said that light is the most under-prescribed nutrient on Earth. That’s where we’re at. We’re going to feed that light. When somebody says, “Why do you have the light in the eyes?” When we activate the light in the eyes, we’re activating 30% more of the neuro networks in the brain.
When you close your eyes, what we can show on things and others is the power of the brain goes down just by closing your eyes. The brain is going, “It must be time for sleep.” If we stimulate the cranial nerve too, it’s that’s not the way we see but it’s saying, “What’s going on over there?” It’s like when we’re in the cave, we could see shadows and light but we’re activating different regions of the brain. What we then said is, “What can we do with the ears?” A lot of people always go, “Why do you have lights and ears? That’s the most bizarre thing.” That has to do with frequency. We’ve talked about frequency already.
There are two different groups of frequencies and research that we look at. One is called solfeggio. What they know is there are certain harmonics that when our body is present to those, we have a physiological effect. We could play certain solfeggio music and we started feeling good. We could play different music like the baroque classical time period. That music would make our brain work better. They call that the Mozart effect.
As we tune our brain with this music, we thought, “What if we did that also with light?” This is something most people don’t know about but every cell of our body has something called chromophores. Think of them like every cell has a battery. That battery stores the energy that your body produces called ATP. If we have enough ATP in that cell, it’s like our batteries in our cell phones, they’re not going to overcharge. They’re going to pass that energy onto the next cell. This comes in the form of light in our bodies.
We need food or drink water. We get energy from that. The main form of energy in our system is light, sound and vibration, and how we translate that at the cellular level. When we’re young, we have all this energy. Our body is teeming with the production of ATP. There’s not a lot of disharmony in the body so we can get away with a lot more. As we get better-looking and more intelligent with age, certain things happen to our bodies. The main thing we find in our activities as we get older is dementia and traumatic brain injuries. This is one of the things that we’re at. This is what I’m passionate about working with.
We’ve done some case studies on people over 100 years old. Their brain was still able to improve. The one study we published in 2020 with the National Institute of Health showed 39.8% improvement with women 55 to 65. We had 100 people in the study. We have 500 people in that same study and we’re still getting 38.5% to 38.9% improvement in their first session. That means the body has the potential to change.
I need to be very cautious here because it’s not a permanent change. Nothing in the nervous system is permanent. I wish it was but it’s like going to the gym. If you work out, you’re going to have physical strength. We’ve seen a washout of six months for the training. If somebody wants to do it for six weeks, we’ve seen it six months afterward, we had still had the same brain entrainment going on there. These are some of the things we’re going to publish. Neurofeedback has no long-term studies that show any result outside of the actual practice.
It’s like what I’m saying about going to the gym. If we go to a personal trainer, we get strong and healthy but if we get tired of paying them $50 to $100 or whatever we’re paying and we don’t go to the gym, then our body is going to atrophy. The same is true with our mental state or brain state, what they called neuroplasticity. We’re very interested in that. We have some cool studies going on that maybe we can touch on with Alzheimer’s.
The device itself, the BrainTap, is a set of headphones with lights in the ears, a visor that drops down over the eyes and has lights in the eyes. Can you say a little bit about if there’s a cautionary aspect for people that might have an adverse reaction to lights in the eyes or the flashing?
Our lawyers tell us to tell anybody who’s had epilepsy to not use the visor lights. Although we’ve been very fortunate that over the years, there were no epilepsy and seizures that have happened. We had hundreds of thousands of people on it. If you have photonic epilepsy, you’ll know because if you’re driving through the woods and the trees are going by and you get sick, you probably don’t want to use the visor lights.
We finished the study but Valencia College down in Florida is taking it on and doing 150 person study there. In Brazil, we have another 150 students. We’re going through this. I want to tell people sound works as well if you can’t use the lights. We took a 45-minute recording. The first five minutes were blank space. We had them hooked up to heart rate variability and EEG. We want to look at what their brain and heart are doing.
For those wondering what heart rates got to do with it, we have 4,000 neutrino cells in our heart, which means our heart has a brain. That’s the brain that controls the show. For anecdotal evidence, you have to look at Monday mornings. There are more heart attacks on Monday morning than on any other day of the week. When your heart is not in your job and your life, it disrupts everything. That’s why we’re bringing that equanimity in. As we go through the process here of working with the lights, sound and vibration, we’re looking at each time training the brain to become more neuroplastic.
The idea is that when I use the BrainTap device, the headphones and the visor if I can use the visor as well, I’m increasing the energy that my brain and body have access to. I’m also changing the brain state from that tense, anxious or confused state to something that’s more relaxed and calm. How would you summarize the benefits of regular use of the BrainTap device?
In that 45-minute study, five minutes first was HRV-EEG. We had them listen to just music. When you listen to this baroque classical music, we know there’s so much science out there of how well it helps the brain to create neurotransmitters, acetylcholine and GABA production. This helps people to sleep better. The same thing you would see with sound therapy, we would see with ours. We only did ten people in the pilot study. Now, it’s the bigger study. When they did that, they downregulated their sympathetic so their parasympathetic increase, which means they’re rest, relaxed and digested. Their thriving brain or their nervous system came online.
At the end of that music, we were still recording for a five-minute washout, their brain went right back to its original state. No change, no brain and fitness training. We took that same music and we put our algorithm in the background, which is the isochronic tones, binaural beats, Solfeggio frequencies. It’s a blend of those. It’s not just one frequency like you see on YouTube, which I can prove doesn’t work in the long term. It only works for 2 to 3 sessions and the brain goes, “I know that song.” To make changes, it’s like going to the gym. We’ve got to do something different all the time.
We took that same music. We put our algorithm in the background. We dropped them down. We saw the same response except for maybe a little bit deeper. It could have been because they listened to it and they want to relax a little bit more. It took them down into a deeper state of alpha and theta. This was only five minutes. It takes about seven minutes to get theta training to happen. We drop them down and show them.
What we found was at the end of that recording or that training, we kept recording even after the session was done. We laid there and breathed. It didn’t go back to its normal state for 72 hours. When we tested them, we had an effect on their nervous system that said, “We’re going to upregulate how the brain works.” This is because we’re sending energy to the brain.
If you do a little bit of research, Dr. Hamblin from Harvard did this study on photobiomodulation in the brain. The guy that wrote his chapter on photobiomodulation, I hired him. His name is Francisco Cidral. He’s our science officer. He’s helping because he has the research. I know what I’m doing but he has the actual clinical research. He’s on the board of four different neuro journals. It’s nice to have somebody who’s checking your research to make sure everything’s working. What he said was, “If this is true, then we can prove brain fitness.” We could do the same thing with neurofeedback because neurofeedback is a good way to train the brain.
What we’ve been doing, and this is what I do at Quantum University when I teach people using biofeedback and neurofeedback equipment, is once you’re done stressing the brain, have them do a BrainTap session. Even the counselors that we work with, once they’re done doing the work, whatever that work is, it could be rapid eye movement, touching or tapping. Whatever you did to change that neurology, Hebb’s Law says that those neurons that fire together, wire together.
There’s a 20-minute to 1-hour golden window when you make a neurological change to get that exercising. It has to do with the laws of learning as well. If you can use something within five minutes of hearing about it, your brain has a better chance of remembering it. What we’re doing is we’re teaching the brain to go in and out of these different brain states to build behavioral flexibility on the nervous system level, not on the conscious level. Probably a better way to say it is on a subconscious level because it’s not about the conscious mind at this point. The conscious mind is about maybe some of the wording and things like that. What we want to do is we want to show what happens.
Most people tell us that the number one thing they feel with BrainTap is they sleep better. This is because we get into what’s called neurological lock, especially those who are under stress. They go to sleep stressed. They wake up clenching their teeth. Some people wake up in the fetal position and they don’t even know why they’re so upset or angry. I love the book Feelings Buried Never Die because they’re still in their bodies. When I researched you, you know a lot about that as well. They’re festering in there so we need to somehow liberate the energy.
All stuck states have one thing in common. There’s no breath like anger, fear, frustration and anxiety. We’ve got to get the energy moving again. What most people tell us is they have a heightened degree of energy but it’s calm energy. I tell people that we live in an energy economy. When you think about a lot of the negative foods we consume, people are so scared about EMFs, and everything that’s going on. They should be. There are lots of things to be concerned with but if you focus always on the negative, that’s going to shut down the system.
Brain Tap helps people sleep better. The long-term benefits are the same thing you would see with sound therapy.
We focus on psychoimmunology. We focus on how your psychology affects your immunity. Your immunity starts with your gut. That’s the second brain. They have them numbered wrong, in my opinion, but that’s the way science does it. They say, “This is the first brain. The gut is the second brain. The heart is the third brain.”
The heart controls the show and the gut is next. This brain is almost like a Google laptop. It doesn’t even have an operating system. It goes to the cloud and gets the information and shares it with you. Consciousness, in my opinion, runs the show but we don’t know how to measure it. We can’t figure out where it’s at. It’s like when somebody dies, we know they’re not there but we don’t know, on a conscious level, where they’re at.
One of the first things that people see as a benefit is an improvement in sleep. What I’m imagining, as we’ve seen, is when we get people to shift from the habitual negative thoughts and the traumas, you were talking about how when you started the relaxing, but you had all these negative tapes in your head from your dad and it didn’t go so well. We have to do something about that. Some would call it reprogramming or deprogramming. There’s a lot of that happens in your BrainTap protocols. How many protocols do you have?
We have over 1,000 sessions. Those that are in therapy and they’ve been through NLP training will see that the person is learning to be a practitioner of NLP, but each of those techniques is in there. When they start with number one, we’re teaching them first to disassociate because if you identify with your problem, you amplify it. What you think about, you bring about. We need to disassociate them. I’m only going to do a couple of them so you get the idea.
The second one is I believe that everyone has all the resources they need to accomplish anything that needs to be done. They just don’t have access to it when they need it. This comes from something Buddha said over 5,000 years ago. He said, “All in happiness stems from unfavorable comparisons.” When you’re living a life you don’t like and you know in your head that there’s a better life but your stress levels are so high that you can’t make that change. It’s almost like being in a test and you know you studied all night long but when you get to the test, you can’t remember the name or that answer.
Stress makes it worse for you and we know this. All of this goes into doing that at night. Two-thirds of the American population isn’t sleeping well. One-third has chronic insomnia problems. That’s a big issue. It’s more to do with the state of affairs but this was even before anything’s going on in 2020. Hundred years ago, the average person slept twelve hours and now the average person sleeps less than six.
They did a study with professional basketball players. They had them sleep one hour longer than they were used to sleeping. Their free throw percentage went up 10%. Their shooting from the field went up 15%. These are elite athletes. I always tell people, “Sleep is when you incubate your superpowers for the next day. If you don’t get to sleep, you don’t have the resources or the mental capacity to do things.”
One of the studies showed that somebody who has poor sleep for three nights in a row is equivalent to drinking three alcoholic beverages. If you got pulled over for driving with three beers, let’s say, you’d get a ticket. This impairs our thinking and our judgment. Some people have chronic sleep problems. That’s number one.
Number two is clarity and focus. What we found out in our Alzheimer study was that the left hemisphere of these elderly women that we were reviewing was going slower. The voltage in the frontal lobe on the left side was less than the voltage on the right side. The problem with this is our brain synchronizes all information. A lot of people think, “I’m going to go back and get a memory. There’s a filing cabinet back there with this holographic memory that I’m going to go get.” That’s not exactly how the brain works. You could activate up to eight or more different regions of the brain for one memory.
If your right hemisphere and left hemisphere across the hippocampus have been compromised because of stress, anxiety or maybe even damaged in an accident or from life, if our brain gets a signal even a millisecond late, the brain will stop it. It has to do with Hebb’s Law. Those neurons that don’t fire together will unwire together. That’s why we lose our memories. This is a part of our nature. It’s not to say that we shouldn’t have great memories up until the day we die. Our ancient people didn’t give all the tribal information to the young. They gave it to the elders.
It’s a matter of how we maintain our brains. Recovery is the biggest piece that people are missing in their life. They go, go, go. It’s the American way. Do as much as you can, as fast as you can, and get the biggest payout you can. They say the average person doesn’t live five years past retirement. They retire and expire because they haven’t prepared for a life worth living. They’ve only had a life that they had to live.
Help me with the follow-through on recover. What do you mean by recover?
There are a couple of the different studies that we did with professional athletes. There’s a group in Kansas City, The Kansas City Sport, which they put in a big healing and recovery center for professional athletes. We wanted to show them what would happen after a workout if they started doing BrainTap after they worked out. These guys worked hard. They’re on their feet. We did an HRV. We have our own professional version. We measure nine different parameters. We showed them what their energy level was before the practice.
After the practice, we showed them how much energy depletion. This is normal. You’re going to use up the energy. They have a twenty-station room where there are twenty BrainTaps set up and they have these lymphatic drainage boots because they got to get the bad blood out too. I said, “While they’re doing that, let’s put the headset on and see if we can get a change in recovery.” We found out that we could reclaim up to 80% of the energy they had before practice and it only took twenty minutes. They drink whatever they drink to stay hydrated but they didn’t eat any food. There was no stimulant. We said, “If that works for professionals, what can we do for the average person?”
We’re finding that some people at 2:00 every day need to recover. Genetically, we’re all from the Serengeti. What do all the animals do around 2:00 PM in the Serengeti? They all take naps. What we do is we go get coffee, tea, sweets or something to keep our biology going. What we showed was instead of doing that, you could up-regulate using your electrical system, which is turning off the sympathetic system and turning on the parasympathetic. Too many people use their neurohormonal for that. That’s when you use coffee, tea and chocolate.
One of the biggest groups we work with is chiropractors because the chiropractor will work the neurology when they’re doing the adjustments. During that twenty-minute window after the adjustment, we showed a 19% improvement in neurological function, even after a chiropractic adjustment. That’s the recovery I’m talking about. The body needs to downregulate.
They call it a recovery score in neurofeedback. If we stress out your system, how quickly can you recover? As we get older, this is one of the things that happen. Somebody gets upset in the morning. They’re still upset in the evening, maybe even two days later. It’s because their brain can’t reorganize around that one negative effect. It could be from PTSD or some other thing that is triggering that.
What we find is that we can unlock the nervous system. The beta lock is when you’re so frustrated, upset or angry, you can’t breathe. We’ve all seen this with little kids. For my grandkids, it didn’t take me long to stop telling them to breathe because they get angrier. If you pace them and get them to relax, they got to get out of that, the body gets locked. That’s where the light, sound and vibration come in. The brain goes, “What’s that light doing? What’s that sound doing? What’s going on?”
That’s why we call it brain fitness because the brain is doing a little exercise. It has nothing to do with conscious thinking. It has to do with your physiology. When you’re in the state of alpha and theta, you’re in a state that’s very similar to hypnosis or something like that in that physiological state. The reality is that you’re in a chemical wash of your own best acetylcholine or alpha.
If you’re sitting next to the ocean, for instance, that ocean would resonate at a 10-hertz frequency. Your body then matches that. You start to create acetylcholine. You start to feel good and people start going, “I love the ocean.” Do they love the ocean because of the ocean or do they love the ocean because of the chemical reaction they get in their bodies? All these things play into it.
We did some studies with PTSD and psilocybin, which I don’t know what’s the experience because I personally have never done that. The doctors in Dallas that were in Rosenthal put together a study. Some of the soldiers did not want to take psilocybin because they had addictions. I said, “Let’s do some brain scans with the people that want to do psilocybin. What are their brains doing?”
What we found was they had a high degree of gamma activity. It’s a very new brainwave for what we’re talking about. Li-Huei Tsai at MIT showed that she could get a 6% increase in gamma with her blue light therapy in a room that cost $10 million. We showed her how we get 21% more gamma with a little headset that costs $640. She goes, “How did you do that?” We didn’t intend on that. It just happened.
We mirrored that gamma activity that the psilocybin was getting. People were getting psilocybin trips without psilocybin because our brain has the receptors for those like cannabis or opioids, for instance. That’s why we could work with helping people through painless surgeries and things of that nature that can’t use anesthetic because the brain creates that response anyway.
You made a statement about the brain being such a fabulous pharmacy and the original pharmacy. What you’re talking about here is activating that even without having to ingest plants, tree bark or eat a specific insect. We’ve known for lots and lots of years that when we help people shift the focus of their thoughts and move them into that more relaxed state, all kinds of good stuff can happen. Some of the places where it doesn’t happen are because that energy you’re talking about got locked down because of trauma or whatever someone perceives as trauma.
This is a wonderful tool and set of tools that you have. Let’s imagine that we’re running close to the end of the interview and there’s something you want to make sure you get in that we haven’t even asked you about. What is another aspect of this work with the BrainTap or something else that you want to share with us?
The biggest thing that I would like to share is that the brain is neuroplastic. Most people know that now. They’ve heard that the brain can change. That used to not be the case many years ago. We also know that you have to change it up. Start researching brainwave entrainment, which is what we do. We’re using each one of these, whether you use light to do it.
There are lots of different techniques with light. It doesn’t have to be BrainTap. There are a lot of ways that light does it. You can do it with eyes open or eyes closed. It’s a pleasant experience with the eyes closed. Each time you do something different, we need to challenge it. We only learn when we’re outside of our comfort zone, not inside of it. If you go to the gym and only do things that are easy for you to lift, you’re not going to stimulate any muscle growth. The same is true with your brain.
I’m not against brain games and things like that. They’re good. After you do them, you need some recovery. One of the things that I usually teach people is simple breath. It’s the 4/8 breath where you breathe in to a count of four and breathe out to a count of eight. This is an exercise for your nervous system because when you breathe in, you’re triggering the sympathetic system.
This is a caution for people. It might bring up some stuff because memories are dependent upon emotional charge most of the time, so they’re going to bring it up based on your emotional state. Breathe in slowly to the four. You don’t have to get a bad experience or anything like that. Maybe you might be a little anxious. If you see someone who’s anxious, they’re breathing high. You then breathe out slowly to the count of eight. If you can practice that before you go to bed, even without the BrainTap, your sleeping will improve.
We were published in PubMed. I was surprised we had two papers published by PubMed and they were both on breathing techniques. We work in Bhopal India with AIIMS Institute. This was sound so it wasn’t anything with our light. It was our algorithm for sound with some Kriya breathing, which is a breathing technique that is similar to what I’m doing here but they speed it up over time.
They were able to show that people that have never meditated, as long as they have that algorithm, they could get more and more of this alpha activity. The key first is to start developing the alpha. The reason for that is the more stressed we get, the more we start to lose a brainwave between alpha and beta. It’s called SMR. That sensorimotor rhythm has to do with balance.
Most people don’t realize that pain only happens in one brain frequency, the beta brainwaves.
What I would like to say, especially if you’re reading and you want to improve your brain’s function, maybe because you’re scared of dementia or Alzheimer’s, the old saying, “Use it or lose it,” is very true. Exercise your brain, have conversations, and do different things using those neuropathways. Lights, sound and vibrations is an easy way to do it. There are other ways if you need to do it. I want people to know this isn’t the only way to do that. There are other ways.
We try to find an easy way that you just press an app and click the button. They can try our stuff out for free. We do have a freemium model so if they can’t afford it, they can use it for free and de-stress. We do this at Duke University. We created a program for the students called Healthy Duke. If they have any issues on campus, those counselors will tell them, “Go listen to this session on the BrainTap app.” They have a little bundle there that teaches them how to de-stress.
What you’re sharing is that people can get some benefits for themselves even by just practicing that breathing before they go to sleep at night. I recommend people do that multiple times throughout the day to do what you’re calling recovery. Give it a little rest and recharge period. The more people do that and drop themselves out of those higher stress levels, the better results they get in all kinds of areas in their life.
A lot of people don’t realize it and they go, “I can’t believe Jim died of a heart attack. He never got upset.” He should have gotten upset. It’s not about getting upset at someone. There are some ways to raise our heart rate and some ways to slow down our heart rate. We need to have both of those things. Most Americans are pushing the limits of their stress all the time and they have no recovery. They go until they drop. Unfortunately, we have 250 channels on our television because there’s always something to entice our creativity or imagination. People just sit there and zone out.
Not in the way that would facilitate this kind of recovery that you’re talking about. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. It’s a delight. I’m going to keep using the BrainTap and see where we go from there. I’m grateful that you’re mentioning that there’s that free trial for people. You mentioned a couple of books. Can you tell us the primary books that you’ve written that you would recommend people to learn more about this?
When you share the free link, they’ll get a copy of Thrive in Overdrive for free. They can keep that book whether they do anything at all. It’s a real book. It’s not a web book but you have to read it on your Kindle browser or something like that. That’s there for you. The next book is Awaken the Genius, which is my first book. There are nine books in between but the Awaken the Genius was about accelerated learning.
That information hasn’t changed. I wrote that book in ’94. It was the best self-help book of the year that year but it’s still very relevant, especially if you have children or you want to improve your learning skills because it’s all about accelerated learning, how our brain works and some techniques. Those are probably the two books I would recommend.
If somebody is a therapist out there and they want to know what the background information behind these sessions is, I wrote the book Discover the Language of the Mind and that’s my summary of the thirteen core techniques that I use in BrainTap. That book is for therapists though. If you’re not a therapist, you probably wouldn’t get as much out of that book.
Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us. I greatly appreciate it and I look forward to your next discoveries.
Thank you for having me.
Patrick K. Porter, PhD is an award-winning author, speaker and the Founder of BrainTap, the leader in technology-enhanced meditation. Dr. Porter pioneered the use of brainwave entrainment to improve clarity, sleep and energy and remains at the forefront of scientific research. Dr. Porter founded BrainTap with the goal of making this technology accessible to everyone. BrainTap offers over 1,000 original audio sessions in twelve languages and serves a worldwide user base with its mobile app and headset. Dr. Porter has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, People, Entrepreneur, Inc., ABC, NBC and CBS as an expert in brain health and wellness. In 2020, Dr. Porter received the IAFNR Lifetime Achievement award. Please visit www.BrainTap.com.
- Alateen and Al-Anon
- Books – Patrick Porter’s books
- The Master Brainwave
- Feelings Buried Never Die
- AIIMS Institute
- Healthy Duke
- Thrive in Overdrive
- Awaken the Genius
- Discover the Language of the Mind
About Patrick K. Porter, Ph.D.
Dr. Patrick K. Porter, PhD, is an award-winning author/speaker and the founder of BrainTap®, the leader in technology-enhanced meditation. Dr. Porter pioneered the use of brainwave entrainment to improve clarity, sleep & energy, and remains at the forefront of scientific research. He founded BrainTap with the goal of making this technology accessible to everyone. BrainTap offers over 1000 original audio sessions in 12 languages and serves a worldwide user base with its mobile app and headset. Dr. Porter has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, People, Entrepreneur, INC and on ABC, NBC, CBS as an expert in brain health & wellness, and in 2020, Dr. Porter received the IAFNR lifetime achievement award. Please visit www.braintap.com.
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the On Your Mind Community today: