The aims of biofeedback and mindfulness are, to a certain extent, overlapping. Both aim to make you more aware of your body, your mind and how the two interact. In today’s post we write about how the techniques and effects of biofeedback and mindfulness overlap and how you can use them in combination.
Techniques. Mindful meditation can be hard if you’re not used to it. Our brains just aren’t used to or very good at maintaining attention on something that isn’t a work deadline, a chore or an upcoming event. For this reason, mindfulness meditation practitioners and researchers use techniques to give your mind something to pay attention to while meditating. Some of these techniques involve body scanning – becoming gradually aware of your body and all of the sensations it is experiencing – and breathing methods that allow you to focus your awareness on your breaths. These techniques are well established means of improving meditation as well as relaxing the body and the mind. These same techniques can be used when practising biofeedback. Biofeedback also aims to give you an awareness of your body and mind. When you use techniques such as the body scan or breathing methods while using a biofeedback tool you can not only see how your body is responding before you use these techniques but how it responds both during and after. It therefore gives you a window into your body’s reaction to stress and relaxation allowing you to tailor your practice to what works best for you.
Effects. So are mindfulness meditation and biofeedback useful? The research seems to say yes. When used in the right way both techniques seem to have powerful effects on reducing stress. In fact, recent studies have started to compare the two to see if there is any difference between them. Most studies are still in the early stages but the most recent randomised controlled trial found that both mindfulness and biofeedback were equally effective at reducing stress, improving self-compassion and reducing worrying .
Combination. So how can you combine biofeedback and mindfulness? If you are already experienced at mindfulness meditation techniques you can try to apply these to a biofeedback tool and see how your body responds. Someone who is more experienced is likely to be able to sink into a state of relaxation, and see this reflected by the sensor, more quickly than someone who is still learning. Whether experienced or not you can use a tool like The Pip and accompanying app, Clarity, that provides guided meditation techniques that you can then apply to biofeedback sessions.
As we always say at Pip stress can be both good or bad, what differs is how you respond to it. Giving yourself a way to relax and take time out when you need it is a powerful means of helping your mind and body survive and thrive in this busy world.
- De Bruin, E. I., et al. (2016). “A RCT comparing daily mindfulness meditations, biofeedback exercises, and daily physical exercise on attention control, executive functioning, mindful awareness, self-compassion, and worrying in stressed young adults.” Mindfulness 7(5): 1182-1192.