Biophysicist, clinical psychologist, doctor, and zen master, C Maxwell Cade lived his life at the intersection point of science and mysticism. In the 1960’s he became a trailblazer in using biofeedback instruments to hack the mind.
Why does biofeedback matter? In his book The Awakened Mind: Biofeedback and the Development of Higher States of Awareness, he talks about its importance:
“Essentially, biofeedback is a new way of learning about ourselves, or a way of relearning, or realizing for the first time, what the body already knows— how to act, how to feel, even how to heal— if we listen to it.
With biofeedback instruments and techniques, the art of listening to internal cues can be restored, or established. Since one cannot control that of which one is unaware, biofeedback can be said to provide the means to become aware— acutely aware— of ourselves, and thereby to gain the possibility of self-control.
For we are an inseparable body-mind unity, and it is only by becoming aware of our related mental and bodily functions that we recognize their unified effect on our health, well-being and inner development. If we are to achieve domination over our individual experience and growth, then it follows that we must develop maximum awareness of ourselves, of our own bodily and mental states.”
Cade was one of the first teachers to use Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) instruments to aid in meditation. He eventually turned towards Electroencephalograms (EEG) to measure the electrical activity of his student’s brains.
He created a custom EEG device called the Mind Mirror to analyze subjects such as swamis, yogis, Zen masters, healers, mediums, clairvoyants, and many others who had a high degree of control over their mind. To his surprise, he started to find the same brainwave patterns repeated while they were experiencing higher states of consciousness (regardless of their philosophy, religion, or mind contents). He named this mysterious brainwave pattern the Awakened Mind.
In this article, we’re going to explore Cade’s work around the Awakened Mind. In doing so, you’ll come away with a clear-cut plan to attain this holy grail of brainwave states for yourself.
Types of Brainwaves
Before we get deeper into The Awakened Mind, it’s worth covering what brainwaves are and the various types of brainwaves categories the mind can produce.
The billions of neurons throughout your brain communicate to each other through electricity. By placing electrodes on the scalp with a device called an electroencephalograph (EEG), scientists have discovered that electricity travels through the brain in rhythms. These electrical rhythms are called brainwaves. The speed at which these rhythms oscillate (recorded as cycles per second or Hz) is linked to various mental, emotional, and even physical states.
For example, slow brainwaves are associated with things like relaxation and sleep, while faster brainwaves are associated with things like alertness and problem-solving. By looking at one’s brainwaves, the state of one’s consciousness is revealed.
Let’s briefly go over the types of brainwave categories and states of consciousness linked to them.
Beta (38hz – 12hz) – Normal waking consciousness occurs in the beta range. This category is associated with cognitive tasks such as problem-solving, decision-making, verbal communication, and general mind wandering. Higher levels of beta brainwaves can be linked to stress, anxiety, and panic.
Alpha (12hz – 8hz) – Awake, but deeply relaxed. Simply closing your eyes will produce alpha brain waves. This category is associated with daydreaming, visualization, imagination, light meditation. Brainwave expert Anna Wise called the alpha range the bridge between beta and theta.
Theta (8hz – 3hz) – Light sleep, dreaming, REM sleep, creativity, access to unconscious material, access to long-term memory, emotional healing, intuition, deep reverie, and spiritual wisdom. Hypnotists have found theta to be the range of hyper-suggestibility, where one can program or reprogram beliefs.
We created an in-depth guide on theta brain waves if you want to learn more.
Delta (3hz – 0.2hz) – Deep, dreamless sleep. Intuition. Empathy. Brainwave expert Judith Pennington calls it the doorway to Universal Consciousness and “A radar that scans the environment and psychically picks up information and energy.” According to British physicist C. Maxwell Cade “There have been reports that delta waves appear at the onset of paranormal phenomena.”
The Mind Mirror
In 1976, Maxwell Cade partnered with electronics engineer Geoff Blundell to create a custom Electroencephalogram (EEG) to measure these brain frequencies of meditators, naming it the Mind Mirror.
What’s so special about the Mind Mirror?
The brain is a complex system, and every area of its network fires off various types of brainwaves at once. It is the combination of these brainwaves which can give a deeper insight into a person’s state. For example, someone who has low levels of beta waves and elevated levels of alpha/theta waves, tend to suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD). Those that have elevated levels of beta waves and low levels of alpha waves tend to suffer from anxiety.
Cade’s Mind Mirror was the first device of its kind to visually represent the interplay between the various brainwaves from both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. This gave him a radically more accurate display of his subject’s mind states.
In his cult classic Mega Brain: New Tools And Techniques For Brain Growth And Mind Expansion, Michael Hutchinson explains how unique this device was:
“Let me give you an analogy,” said Light. “Now wherever you are in your home, you have the frequencies of thousands of radio and television stations— these waveforms are passing right through your room all the time. If you were to take a weak radio and turn the dial, you would find that some stations come in very weak and others strong. What traditional EEGs do is display only the frequency of the strongest radio station. What the Mind Mirror does is take in fourteen of these, not just the strongest station; and it processes and displays them— the entire frequency spectrum– in a logical, easily understood pattern, and it does it all in real time.
“The problem with traditional EEGs is that many electroencephalographers do not understand the limits of their equipment. So when they set their machine to measure, say, 8-hertz activity at a certain place in the brain, they assume that 8 hertz is only frequency in voltages being generated by the brain at that point. But that’s not true. With the Mind Mirror, on the other hand, you can put an electrode on the scalp on the same point on the occipital lobe, and it will display fourteen frequencies and voltages from that single point. The brain simultaneously produces many frequencies and voltages. What they’re doing with traditional EEGs is filtering out everything and only taking in the highest voltage, and then displaying that frequency.”
Here’s a readout from the Mind Mirror:
The Mind Mirror visually represents the brainwave frequency and the amplitude (I.e. the power of that brainwave range measured in microvolts) from both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. As you can see from the readout above, the vertical axis represents the brainwave frequency range, measured from 38hz down to 0.5hz. The horizontal axis represents the brainwave amplitude, measured from 1 to 16 microvolts. Each side of the horizontal axis represents the left and right hemispheres.
Here’s the various brainwave categories would look like in isolation inside the Mind Mirror:
The Awakened Mind: The Brainwave Pattern of Enlightenment
Throughout the 1970’s and 80’s, Cade studied the brainwaves of over four thousand people.
As we’ve discussed, many of his subjects were swamis, yogis, Zen masters, healers, mediums, and clairvoyants. Over time, he began to see the same brainwave pattern from these types of individuals, naming the EEG readout as The Awakened Mind.
Anna Wise (one of Maxwell Cade’s pupil’s) later discovered that this brainwave pattern was common outside of a meditative setting. High performers in various fields showed the same pattern – from the arts to the sciences, to even the business world.
Wise writes about her finding in her book The High-Performance Mind:
“I found that the awakened mind pattern was produced at the moment of creative inspiration, regardless of person’s spiritual dogma, belief, or tradition. The musician composing, the choreographer creating a dance, and the artist painting all produced this combination at times of peak creativity. The mathematician solving a difficult equation and the science in the midst of an experiment also display this brainwave pattern. The CEO making a decision in the boardroom and the homemaker keeping an exquisitely appointed house both may produce this pattern.”
Tools To Develop The Awakened Mind Brainwave Pattern
Maxwell Cade once wrote:
“Since one cannot control that of which one is unaware, biofeedback can be said to provide the means to become aware— acutely aware— of ourselves, and thereby to gain the possibility of self-control.”
In this section, we’re going to go over some of the best biofeedback instruments to gain greater self-awareness and self-closer, allowing you to experience The Awakened Mind brainwave pattern for yourself.
EEG devices are hands down the best instruments you can use to experience The Awakened Mind. Down below I’ve included two leading EEG devices I’d recommend.
Mind Mirror – As we’ve discussed, Maxwell Cade created a special EEG device to measure the brainwaves patterns of meditators called the Mind Mirror. This is the best option you’ll have to accurately measure your own Awakened Mind pattern. It comes with a hefty price tag costing over $1,600 for the hardware and software. The Institute For The Awakened Mind has a number of training programs to take your practice to the next level. If you want to learn more about the Mind Mirror and The Awakened Mind, check out our Warrior Radio interview we did with Judith Pennington, the Director Of The Institute for the Awakened Mind.
OpenBCI – The team at Open Source Biosensing (OpenBCI) is disrupting the biofeedback industry by radically reducing the cost to produce EEG devices. At around $200, you can purchase their Ganglion Board to power an EEG device, and 3D print the headset for around $50. Here’s their original Kickstarter that gives a better explanation. Here’s a tutorial explaining how to put together your own OpenBCI EEG device.
Coupled alongside a free, open source software solution called BrainBay, you’re able to display Mind Mirror like outputs:
GSR (galvanic skin response)
GSR devices measure the emotional arousal level through the surfaces of your hands and feet. As the body experiences emotions such as fear, stress, excitement, various physiological responses occur, one of which being sweat secretion from the hands and feet (these regions of the body have the highest density of sweat glands). When this occurs, the electrical conductivity of the skin rises, which is measured by the GSR device. If you are emotionally aroused, the meter rises. If you are relaxed, the meter falls.
Before turning to EEG, Maxwell Cade used GSR as his main tool to measure the monkey mind in his meditation students. In his words:
“Skin resistance is a mirror for all our mental and bodily states, both normal and pathological, and it can tell us very much more about ourselves than just our state of relaxation or arousal, which is why we speak of “skin talk” or the “chatterbox organ.”
EMG devices measure the electrical impulses linked with muscle tension. According to Case:
“As a general tool for relaxation training, the EMG is of considerable importance in the development of self-awareness. Early emotional conflicts are often reflected in the body armor a person has built— permanently tense muscles intended as body defense. The electromyograph facilitates specific therapy for these states, and the ability to exercise fine control over muscular tension may be one of the best indicators of the subject’s ability to relax at will, which is the gateway to meditation as well as to improved general health.”
The folks at OpenBCI also have inexpensive solutions for EMG. With the $200 Ganglion Board discussed earlier, you’re able to input data from inexpensive muscle sensors (costing around $40 per sensor) to track EMG.
I’ve interviewed some of the world’s leading neuroscientists on Warrior Radio getting their take biofeedback device recommendations for or mind hacking enthusiasts. By and large, the majority of them have said that simply being more aware of your own body is the best instrument we have available to us.
Devices such as EEG, GSR and EMG can speed up the process towards awakening the mind, but they’re not necessary. Biofeedback simply amplifies the subtle signals of your body in order to aid in greater awareness and self-control. But with practices such as mindfulness meditation, you can train yourself to spot these signals without the use of technology.
Apps such as Headspace, Calm, and Buddhify can aid in your training. Within 6 weeks of daily 20-minute practice, you’ll find you’ll have downloaded a new awareness program in your mind, able to detect and control the body’s arousal signals, naturally inching you closer towards The Awakened Mind.
- The Awakened Mind: Biofeedback and the Development of Higher States of Awareness by C. Maxwell Cade and Nona Coxhead
- The High-Performance Mind: Mastering Brainwaves for Insight, Healing, and Creativity by Anna Wise
- Awakening the Mind: A Guide to Harnessing the Power of Your Brainwaves by Anna Wise
- Your Psychic Soul: Embracing Your Sixth Sense by Judith Pennington
- Anna Wise’s lecture at the Neurotechnology Forum
- Institute for the Awakened Mind YouTube Channel
- Judith Pennington YouTube Channel
- TEDx talk: Annette Gudde on “The Power of Flow, Music and the High-Performance Mind”
- TEDx talk: Biophysicist Discovers New Life After Death: Joyce Hawkes
Awakened Mind Guided Meditation
Photo by Shørsh