by Jeff Lalli – September 10, 2013
People who know I’m writing a blog entitled, “Life After Neurofeedback,” frequently ask me the same question. “What about life BEFORE neurofeedback. What’s so different now?” Truthfully, not too much on one hand and yet, a great deal on the other.
Going through neurofeedback training didn’t make me smarter, better looking or richer (especially the last!). But it did make me more able to be “me” by helping me achieve what a therapist friend of mine calls “mindfulness.” “Mindfulness” is an awareness of the moment, seeing all the elements of your world, not just a limited fragment. Without this awareness, I often found myself in situations that weren’t exactly disastrous, but often made me appear as if I wasn’t “all there.”
Here’s an example of what I mean. During September of 2010, I worked as a bell person at a major downtown Chicago hotel. Remember, this was pre-neurofeedback. And, while I was well-meaning and hardworking, I was also pretty horrible at my job. I broke suitcases when I stacked them on the bell cart, I unintentionally insulted a major preferred guest and even came close to turning a standard Hilton Suites baggage claim ticket into a deadly weapon. This last incident, in particular, is a good example of what can happen when you’re not “mindful” of the moment.
One fall afternoon, I was at the bell desk when an Indian gentleman staying at the hotel brought me his claim ticket to retrieve his two bags and coat. As I was gathering up his items, I envisioned myself as a model Hilton employee in one of their HR videos. I could picture myself front and center on screen, as I helped the guest on with his coat. Still caught up in my fantasy infomercial, I noticed that there was a claim ticket wrapped around the right sleeve of the coat. So, wanting to be helpful, I wrapped my fingers around the chord of the ticket, yanking down.
Suddenly there was a blood-curdling scream followed by a series of curses, before the guest fled the lobby and the building, and hurled himself into a cab – presumably to escape my clutches while his arm was still intact – and sped away. What happened? Damned if I knew!
I tried to follow the fellow out the door to see if I could make amends but he had already taken off. When I told my boss what happened, he just shook his head and laughed. Dwayne, the valet supervisor who was also there and witnessed the whole thing said, “Eh, Jeff, you gotta read the body language.”
Body language, schmody language. The problem was, my inability to concentrate on the moment kept me from saying the obvious – “Sir, there’s a claim ticket wrapped around your arm. Let me get it off for you.” Apparently, my brain waves were too high for me for me to process what was happening and respond appropriately. I acted without communicating my intentions first; completely ignoring the fact that another person would be affected by these actions.
Neurofeedback training changed the way my brain waves functioned. And in so doing, it gave me the ability to process visual information, follow behavioral norms and respond correctly to such situations. Sounds like a little thing. But it has made a huge difference in my effectiveness on and off the job, including allowing me to live every moment of my real life, so I don’t have to try and compensate with a fictionalized version of it. The result? I got to be a whiz at stacking suitcases on bell carts, charmed guests on a regular basis and never endangered anyone’s life or limbs ever again with a hotel baggage claim ticket!