A review on NeurOptimal Neurofeedback posted on the BulletProof Forum website.
I just wanted to share my experiences thus far with NeurOptimal after having just completed my 15th session in just under a month. If you’re like I was, you looked everywhere for reviews online and found they were hard to come by. While I can only speculate why that is, I’d imagine it has something to do with the fact that it’s quite a pricey system, whether you’re buying, renting or going into a clinic.
Hopefully, by sharing my detailed experience you can make a more informed decision on whether it’s worth the investment. I’ll assume you know the basics about the system. If you don’t, I’d recommend you go to Zengar.com and read the pages under the “Explore” section which will answer most of the standard questions you have. This post just gives more detail on one man’s personal experience.
First off, I ended up renting a machine as opposed to going into a clinic. I read the manual and watched all the YouTube videos about how to hook yourself up.
The main reason why I wanted to use NeurOptimal is to improve my mental performance and up my game. I’m a fiction writer, and like all writers, deal with fears and uncertainties on a daily basis. While I wouldn’t call it writer’s block, I do find myself procrastinating and cleaning the house when I should be writing. I also wanted more focus and concentration. When I’m not writing, I work in online marketing, and it’s easy to get swarmed into the endless time-sucking websites that are out there!
I’ll break things up into five session chunks. I did journal throughout the process, but I’ll spare you ALL the details. This should be detailed enough!
From after the first session, I noticed "something" was happening. Now, I’m one that tends to overanalyze things, so I was really focused on anything that could be different. Overall, I’d say there weren’t any dramatic differences. The one thing I remember most is going out to dinner with my wife and being a little more present and not off in my own little world thinking about work, etc.
From the beginning, I had every intention of doing a session every day. After talking with Jean, she explained that Zengar said it’s safe to do up to twice a day. But that I'd need to listen to my body and take rest if needed. I didn't play on doing twice a day (almost everyone seems to agree that's too much) but I had every intention of doing it once per day (more on this later).
After session #2, again I could tell “something” was happening. Perhaps that something was a little more prominent, although I had a hard time explaining what it was.
I’d say after my second session I was on a bit of a high. I felt really great about writing, and life in general. I felt optimistic about the future. Part of it I’m sure was that I was really excited that I was finally getting to use NeurOptimal, which was something I’d wanted to try for years.
For my third session, I tried the advanced session for the first time. Just FYI, the regular session is 33 minutes while the advanced session is around 45 minutes.
While my third session was going on, I clicked buttons on the computer, seeing what they did. Well, this really backfired on me. I clicked the “Autonav” button while the session was going and discovered this is something that you don’t want to do. J Again FYI, the newest version of NeurOptimal introduced a feature called Autonav which automatically adjusts the level (aka the number of skips you hear) during a session. After clicking Autonav, I noticed my session went ten minutes without doing any skipping. I knew that couldn’t be right. That’s when I adjusted the settings to a higher level and it began skipping non-stop, which wasn't good either!
So in the short term, I don’t think my third session really counted because I screwed it up by clicking too many buttons. But in the long term, I was glad I found out about this, because I realized the more you use the machine, the more it adjusts to your improved brain function. I was worried that over time, it would skip less and less and I'd get nothing out of the sessions. But as it turns out, the machine will skip roughly the same amount by being a little more particular as your brain gets better.
It was after my third session that I had a really bad night of sleep, waking up about two hours earlier than I normally do and not being able to fall back asleep. While I can’t quantify if this was because I ran three sessions in three days (with one advanced session) or if it was because of a storm that night, I decided to give my brain a break and take my first day off.
On Day 4, I wasn’t 100% confident that the connection was okay. Which seemed to be a common theme from sessions 4-8 worried that the connection wasn’t right. There’s a button called “Return Map” which basically shows squiggly lines. My understanding is the more sporatic the lines are the better, and I noticed mine were geometric-looking. I was told that this doesn't effect the quality of the sessions because NeurOptimal is smart enough to block out what they call line noise, but it did bother me and wanted to fix it.
There was one really interesting thing that happened, and again this could all be subjective at this point, but something else that I do is public speaking and online video courses. I was doing an online video, and I noticed a difference in how I spoke. Usually I stutter a little bit, using filler words like “uh” umm” ahh” “ya know” but I found myself doing that a lot less often. I also had a lot more confidence that I could improv a video as opposed to reading from a script. This was a benefit that I never would’ve expected!
On day five, it was a pretty normal session. I felt really calm afterword and was on a high even an hour or so after the session. While many factors could be at play, I noticed I was a little more drowsy during the midmorning then I thought I usually am. Usually the mornings are when I get a lot of work done, and the afternoons are when I start to feel groggy. When I first began with Neuroptimal, it seemed to be more of the opposite. I was a little tired in the mornings, but around 4 PM I felt good and I wasn’t as mentally drained as before.
In summary, the first five sessions had a lot of highs and excitement. I constantly analyzed how I felt and always wondered if it was because of Neuroptimal that I felt that way or because it was just a natural thing.
Sessions 6-10 were a lot less exciting for me. First off, I worried a lot about whether the sessions were getting hooked up properly. I’d been told repeatedly by Jean, and several other NeurOptimal trainers that the line noise had no effect on the sessions. I did believe this to be true because the music still skipped and played as I thought it should, but I still wanted to get the best connection that I could. I tinkered with different headphones, positioning the computer away from me, and watched the computer screen constantly. In the end, headphones and keeping the zAmp further away from the computer seemed to do the trick.
One thing that I did begin doing is take days off more consistently. Where with before I was in a rush to get as many sessions done as possible, I eased up a bit in days 6-10 and only did it every other day. Jean told me this could be NeurOptimal starting to work for me. That I was in the mindset that “more is better” when in fact that might not necessarily be the case.
After my sessions I didn’t feel the high as they did before. But something I did notice, if anything, was how I handled life situations. NeurOptimal came to me at really a perfect time to test it out because I was in the process of buying and selling a home. That brought a ton of stress that I don’t normally have. I’ll never be able to quantify how I would’ve handled that really stressful week without NeurOptimal, but I’d have to think it did make the process a little bit easier.
Another positive thing that I noticed was I was less anxious around a group of people. I’m an introvert by nature, so while I enjoy being out with a group of friends, if there are eight or more people around I tend to be quiet and feel emotionally drained afterward. Well, I got to hang out with around twelve people one night and it felt like I was calmer than I normally would be. This probably sounds like I was over analyzing things, but this is another thing that I would definitely chalk up as not part of a placebo effect. NeurOptimal really has made me feel a lot more comfortable talking to other people. That is for sure.
While I wasn’t nearly as optimistic as I was after day 10 as I was day 5, I still was looking forward to continuing with NeurOptimal and seeing what it would do for me.
I must say, sessions 11-15 have gotten a lot better! I really was starting to have doubts, but feel like the subtle changes that I started to feel become more ingrained in me.
On session eleven, I played my second round of golf since using NeurOptimal. Zengar mentions on their website that NeurOptimal can help with athletic performance, and they specifically say it can help with golf. I play weekly in a golf league, and my first round was nothing out of the ordinary. I shot a 45, which is a couple shots higher than I normally shoot. However, that was only a couple days into using NeurOptimal. For my second round, I shot a 39, which was my best round in three years of being in my golf league!!! Again, I didn’t want to give NeurOptimal all of the credit. I jhad a really good putting day. But something I have noticed in the rounds I’ve played since using NeurOptimal, I don’t get nearly as angry or frustrated as I used to after a bad shot. Also, I don’t think so much about my score and instead take it shot by shot. I deftly notice subtle changes while I’m playing golf, particularly when I'm standing over the ball about to hit a shot, that I’m convinced has nothing to do with the placebo effect.
Now, I won’t say everything has been perfect. As I mentioned in the beginning, the primary reason I wanted to use NeurOptimal was to improve my writing and concentration. After all of my sessions that I’ve done thus far, I haven’t noticed an extreme difference in this category yet. I’m optimistic that if I continue my sessions, I may start to see better improvements but as of today it’s been nothing drastic. Which isn’t to say that there hasn’t been any benefits in my writing. After my fifteen session which I did first thing in the morning, I got more writing done that day than I had in months. I wrote two blog posts, 1000 words of fiction writing, and I even wrote the first half of what you’re reading here while I was getting ready for bed. So a very productive writing day by my standards.
Some other things I noticed in sessions 11-15, I feel really good afterward, and the sessions in general are very relaxing. I very much look forward to when I get to do a session.
While I am getting a little better about procrastinating, I feel like I still have improvements to be made in this area.
After fifteen sessions, if I can say the biggest shift that I’ve noticed it would be in my communication. I seem to speak a lot more clearly. I’m also a lot more comfortable being around other people. And then even a lot better at listening, particularly to my wife. As an average, I also do seem to get more done at work. I don't get off task as I did before. Finally, I should at least mention that I feel like I’m more empathetic than I was before, but that is something that could just be a placebo effect.
And speaking of my wife, she’s done around six sessions thus far. While she’s the type of person that never would admit if it’s working or not, I have noticed that she deals with stress a lot better. Particularly with our home buying and selling, she’s handled situations a better than I think she would have otherwise. She’s also been sleeping more soundly. Before NeurOptimal, she’d had a three or four weeks stretch where she really was sleeping terrible. While she still doesn’t sleep like a baby, she seems to be a lot more consistently positive in her sleeping patterns.