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Brain Training

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Every now and then, I find myself pondering over those anti-narcotics commercials I remember seeing as a kid—you know, the ones that warned youngsters just how yolky their brains would look, all drugged up. As a mother, I'm now convinced that the campaign slogan had originally read "This is your brain on parenting" before some teenage heroin overdose took broadcasting precedence.

Seriously, imagine how many mom/dad brain-eggs are getting cracked and fried each day. I know mine has seen its fair share of scrambling, and my son hasn't even turned six yet.

But parent or nonparent, drugs or no drugs, the brain is a complex place. Which brings me to Bill Allen, a certified hypnotherapist and the owner of BrainPilots (brainpilots.com), a training center in downtown Bend with just one major focus: fitness for the brain.

Think about it. We live in a world obsessed with diet regimens and exercise programs—all designed to give us sexier bodies and healthier lifestyles. But what about our brain performance? What about stress management and mental relaxation? What about increasing our chances for better sleep, better focus, and better behavior?

I recently had the opportunity to experience some of this brain-training for myself and its technology system that tracks developing brainwave activity and allows the brain to self-regulate in real time and on its own terms.

"In other words," Allen says, "it makes the brain aware of its own state in the moment, giving true feedback immediately to the central nervous system. It's a clean interface between the user and the software, and because we don't manipulate brainwave activity to anchor a state, the brain receives this feedback and then determines what the next step should be."

And this natural, noninvasive process requires nothing more than sitting in a cozy chair, attaching a few signal-reading sensors to your scalp and ear, and relaxing to the sounds of worldly music.

And yes—safe for the kiddos, too.

If you think about a child's brain ("We learned about giraffes at school today. Hey Mom, did you know that my favorite kind of ice cream is—oooh look, a tiny rock!"), the inability to focus and maintain control can eventually become a major burden in a child's life.

"Remember: this is not treatment; this is training," says Allen, who earned his BA in Psychology from California State University, Fullerton. "By making the brain aware of its current state—and doing so below conscious awareness—the training is passive, which means anyone can do it."

Go ahead, give your and your child's brain a workout...it really does build the core muscles. Fire away!

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