There is a training technique designed for brain-body healing, so simple that it can be learned in minutes. And yet, it is profoundly effective. Don’t just take my word for it. A few years ago, research done at Cornell University in New York found that with just three months of practice, participants scored 15.5 points higher in a brain function test.*
What they practiced was Dahn Yoga, and what we’ve learned in the four years since that study, through more observation and testing, is that the key to this success lies in our brain stem, the part of the brain tied directly to the spinal cord and through which all information to and from our bodies must pass. The cerebral cortex, the “gray matter” of the brain, does the conscious thinking; the brain stem regulates our physical functions and serves as the gateway between thought and action.
Our stressful lives put pressure on our brain stem and cerebral cortex. Have you ever lain awake at night, worried about something at your work, or because of family stress? Have you ever experienced stress so high that your brain felt “fuzzy?”
If so, the problem may well have been that your brain stem was out of balance with the rest of your body. The brain waves produced in your cerebral cortex are real, and affect your body’s overall balance. So, the very simple exercises involved in Brain Wave Vibration, a practice incorporated in Dahn Yoga technique, can have a profound effect on your ability to focus, think clearly, heal your body and find peace.
Brain Wave Vibration
Brain Wave Vibration exercises use repetitive rhythmic vibration to tone down the activities of the neocortex (part of the cerebral cortex), activate the limbic system, and allow you to connect with the life energy that resides in your brain stem. Many people like to use music with a strong drumbeat when they practice Brain Wave Vibration; however, it is important to use music that does not require you to think about the words. The idea is to calm the area of your mind which keeps stress switched on – the neocortex.
Brain Wave Vibration – Standing Posture:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Let your hands hang at your sides in total relaxation.
Begin by slightly bouncing your knees up and down. Let this movement expand through your whole body, until every part of your body is shaking in unison.
Gradually let the natural vibration of your body take over. Let your body create its own rhythm. Feel everything in your body, including your lips, tongue, eyes and skin. Your breath will naturally become synchronized with your movements.
As you continue to vibrate, imagine your brainstem, located at the base of the skull, glowing with energy. Imagine this energy slowly spreading up into your brain, down your spine, and out through your nervous system until every cell of your body is bathed in energy.
Your conscious awareness will disappear as you become aware of only the vibration. Once your body feels relaxed and loose, slow down the vibrating gradually, and sit quietly.
Observe your pulse, breath and mind. Calm your breathing and focus your mind on your lower abdomen.
While sitting and resting, focus intently on your pulse, breath and mind. Feel gravity pulling your body toward the earth, and feel the circulation of energy throughout your body. Focus on your abdomen to pull the energy toward your body’s center.
Music and Your Brain
In his book “This is Your Brain on Music,” neuroscientist and musician Daniel J. Levitin discusses the effect music has on the human brain. He notes that music is unique in its ability to stimulate all areas of the brain at once. He says, “Musical activity involves nearly every region of the brain that we know about, and nearly every neural subsystem.”
Over the years, I have worked to develop Dahn Yoga into a Brain Education system, one that integrates all parts of the brain to work together harmoniously. Dahn Yoga itself comes from a Korean tradition rather than an Indian background; but like all yoga, it is concerned with regulating and invigorating the energy flow in our bodies. I have tried to take the idea a step further and consider the effects of such energy flow on our brains. The brain-body connection is so crucial in overall health and well-being that I feel no one can be truly healed without both elements in harmony.
Since the goal of Brain Education has been brain integration, and that means getting the various parts of the brain working harmoniously, rather than competing with each other, music seems an ideal tool to use. I think, as does Levitin, that this may explain why children who study music seem to be more successful in learning difficult concepts.
When I train people in the Brain Wave Vibration method, I use sa-mul-no-ri, the traditional drumming art of my native Korea. It has very ancient roots, originating in farming rituals thousands of years old. Many – if not most – ancient cultures used drumming and other heavily rhythmic styles of music in their spiritual rituals. I doubt this was by mistake. They saw the difference this made for them in focus and concentration, not just during the rituals but afterward in the peacefulness and happiness of their people. Everyone involved had been doing a form of Brain Wave Vibration.
In this 21st century world of honking horns, buzzing cell phones and jarring office environments, it seems to me we need Brain Wave Vibration even more than our ancestors did, with their lives already tied to the rhythm of the seasons and the natural world.
Tapping Your Energy Flow
If you have experienced Dahn Yoga, you have been introduced to “tapping.” This is a technique which, while very simple, brings the energy flow of your body to the part you are concentrating upon. Very simply, tapping brings blood flow to your brain, abdomen, legs – and through that blood flow the energy comes. You can count out the rhythm, let music take you there, or feel it through a drum beat played during your exercise.
The point is, your body and brain are integrated – one. It is very important to pay attention to the experience of energy in your body as you practice Brain Wave Vibration. Energy is the real stuff of life, and it is through energy that oneness reveals itself. If you can quiet your mind sufficiently, you will sense this in your body as a subtle but consistent vibration.
If you allow this sensation to expand, you will glimpse the infinite nature of the universe. To connect to this cosmic energy is to connect to the ultimate energy pulsing through all of existence. There is a part of your brain that exists to connect to this energy.
The Process of Brain Wave Vibration
There are three distinct phases in Brain Wave Vibration – all of them simple, but one must come before the other. It may take a few repetitions, a proper environment, and some extra time to fully experience all three phases.
Step 1: Deliberately make vibrations in your body.
When you begin, you will be very conscious of making vibrations. You may follow the beat of a song, or follow a rhythm that seems appropriate to you. At this stage you should focus on relaxing the body as you move to the rhythm. Begin by gently shaking the head left and right. As the neck starts feeling relaxed, shake the shoulders up and down. Let the sensation spread through your body. As you shake, imagine you are shaking off all your concerns. Try to release all tension from your body.
Step 2: Let your entire body ride the rhythm.
Once your body is fully relaxed and your mind is quiet, you can begin to follow the natural rhythm. Focus intently on your physical sensations. Allow the vibration to spread out to all parts of your body. As the body starts riding the rhythm, it becomes completely relaxed, and your skin will even feel the vibration. Breathing becomes natural, and motions will follow their own rhythm. Your body will begin to make spontaneous movement. This is natural and it means your body is healing itself.
Step 3: Follow the flow of energy.
Once the vibration becomes natural and familiar, you will become increasingly aware of the movement of energy within your body. Allow yourself to follow that flow. The increased energy will speed up and strengthen the waves of the vibration in your body. While movements tend to get bigger at this point, they will also become more graceful and free-flowing.
Your body’s natural healing instincts will take over at this point and you will find that you automatically assume unique postures that promote healing for your particular bodily condition.
Tap Those Toes
There is another Brain Wave Vibration exercise that can help many physical problems, including headaches, insomnia, and circulation problems. Toe-Tap Vibration helps return the body’s energy balance to a healthy state by bringing energy down to the lower body. It is also a very good mind-body coordination exercise. Because the feet are so far away from the brain, you may find at first that they do not want to cooperate with you! But keep working at it and keep trying to increase your speed and the evenness of rhythm.
The feet contain a wide variety of acupressure points that are stimulated through this exercise. Because all the energy lines in the body end in the feet, you can energize your whole body when you stimulate your feet.
Lie down on the floor comfortably. Place your arms and legs on the floor and close your eyes. Breathe in and out several times to release excess tension.
As you are lying there, gently shake your head from side to side, allowing your shoulders, arms, legs and your whole body to relax. Imagine that all your stress is melting into the ground.
Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth, making a whooshing sound.
Repeat this 3 times.
Touch your heels together, tap your toes together; then part the toes again, trying to touch the sides of the feet on the ground. Repeat several times in quick succession. Adjust the speed on this motion depending on your comfort level, but repeat at least 50 times without stopping.
When you begin to feel fatigued, slowly stop tapping and rest. Feel the subtle vibration going through the end of the toes to the knees, thighs, hips and waist and to the top of your head. Challenge yourself to do a greater number of repetitions each time you practice.
Your Energy and the Universe
The ultimate goal of Brain Wave Vibration is actually 7-fold:
Maintain healthier brain waves
Manage your stress
Activate all parts of your brain
Develop positive habits
Restore a healthy energy condition to your body
Expanding your awareness of yourself and the universe Brain Wave Vibration, by quieting the thinking mind, allows you, at least for a few moments to tap into the greater rhythm and flow of the of the universe as a whole.