Neuroptimal Personal Trainer Review Part 1

A new quest begins.

What is it?

‘The NeurOptimal® Personal Trainer Bundle is a highly recommended, neurofeedback training package that helps people reach peak performance, happiness and well being. NeurOptimal Neurofeedback users enjoy the benefits of reduced stress, improved sleep and relief from conditions that used to hold them back from becoming all they were meant to be.’

In Brief:

  • NeurOptimal is a premium biofeedback device; despite being expensive, it is potentially far more cost effective than some other biofeedback tools.
  • It is produced by Zengar
  • It will be featured periodically as part of our ongoing series of biohacking and biofeedback reviews.
  • It is a recent addition to Note’s (Joshua) biofeedback tools and so far he likes it.
  • We would love to hear from other people who’ve tried Neuroptimal.

Full disclosure, I am a little obsessed with biofeedback and I’ve had some really huge positive changes from using it.  One of the things I consider essential in any biofeedback toolkit is the Heartmath EmWave2 – I’ll get into that on another post, but that is one little, fairly inexpensive piece of kit that helped me get myself together in 2012 and end up in San Francisco making new friends and kicking butt in a way I hadn’t done for years.  Over 2011-12 though that had happened at brief points with the help of biofeedback.  So again, heartmath is a definite in my book but today we are admittedly talking about something that would fall under the ‘premium’ label when it comes to biofeedback, and yet compared to other options, it works out to fairly cheap.   More on that later.

Shipping a neuroptimal device comes with some complications, not least that to get it to England (through Australia and Canada) you’re going to hit some seriously hefty import duty and taxes, that caught me completely by surprise (probably my bad, I likely missed the warning!) and was really not a nice experience.    Luckily, the delivery was a device designed to make me feel better, so all in all it wrapped itself up pretty nicely.

I’m going to update this as I go along and most these updates will be retroactive, I got this a few weeks ago and we have had much to do that I didn’t get the chance to start writing this stuff up.

Where shall I begin?

‘Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.’

Well, fair enough then.

The experience of Neuroptimal is fairly unique as far as my own personal journey so far.  You have 5 electrodes attached to your ears and head (3 ears, 2 head) with an ‘ice cream scoop’ of paste on each one which feels odd at first and needs to be washed off properly after the session.  It’s done on an Acer laptop that comes with the equipment which at first seems a little slow and clunky (also note there are instructions not to use the laptop for anything other than neuroptimal training) the software admittedly doesn’t really look great but as with other biofeedback software that is expected, this is after all about the effects, at some point when biofeedback becomes more mainstream I’m sure that this will change.  It does take a little learning to set it up at first.  There’s a really helpful book and DVD that comes with it and after a first follow through you should have the set up procedure down; after you’ve used it once or twice you don’t think about the software looking a bit outdated and it (at least with me) becomes quite a fun experience to set up as you know you’re probably going to have a fairly noticeable reaction during the forthcoming session laid on your bed.  Again, this is one for the serious biofeedback folks right now… I’m sure one day it will all become a lot simpler and probably easier to use, smoother, cheaper and more easily available, but for now the neuroptimal is a really interesting experience.  They provide pretty comprehensive customer service that I haven’t yet taken advantage of (at least it seems that way) and I will no doubt speak to one of their advisors soon for tips and recommendations on using the device.

My Neuroptimal Asus unit and electrodes.

Session one of using this equipment was almost an error, and in fact it caused a little upset… why?  I didn’t hit the right setting, and instead of beginning with the intended 3 warm-up sessions, I went straight down the line for the standard session (again, unintentionally) and I think I might have had a bit of a negative reaction because of that… my favourite 2 words ‘Full-disclosure’ come up again; the last few months have been a tremendous time for me and there have been really great things, really hard things, I’ve ended up in hospital and concerned about someone close to me which strangely took a toll far greater than I’ve expected and I’ve had opportunities all over the place, made new friends, lost old ones, and been very inhibited in my options, all whist trying to get my health on track and start my own business…. phew.  The point being that during this session, a lot of that came out.

I like it.

There I said it.

It’s expensive, but I like it so far.  I will get into the sessions more closely later and how effective it’s been at different times, and my recommendations for using it.  But right now back in session one, I’m hearing beautiful music being interrupted periodically by clicking sounds… and at first it is weird.  The clicks are supposed to be feedback when your brain isn’t operating in an optimal state.  The device is intended to have its primary effects on your subconscious whilst you relax, day dream, meditate or whatever you choose to do whilst you stay pretty motionless.  If you don’t start thinking about things as they come up and then start mentally poking and prodding by thinking of things that upset you to see if the clicks go off (they did with me every time) then maybe you and I are very different people, hoss.  It’s hard not to start heading down the rabbit hole with any kind of biofeedback but this was a very powerful first experience.  Things came up I hadn’t thought about in a long time and since some of the other folks I’ve talked to didn’t have comparable experiences (and one did) it’s important to remember that no matter what, you’re going to have an individual reaction to biohacking and biofeedback, and that’s what it’s all about.

My first Neuroptimal Session

My first Neuroptimal Session

After the session ended I was a bit of a wreck, I’d just spend a good chunk of an hour being reminded of things that hurt (to me this is a good sign, if they’re there then maybe they need to be dealt with) and being forced to spend some time with them.

I got a call from someone special and suddenly found myself calling a cab and dashing to an atm (cashless) and then cheering my mini-bus driving, highly metallic (he has over 60 piercings… at least as far as I was prepared to investigate) and thoroughly lovely driver on as we made it only 25 minutes later than I’d hoped into the city to grab a burger.   Some people are worth the stress, even if it’s just for a bite.

I was not myself though, I’ll admit that, and my temper was short, but luckily I’d brought my Heartmath with me and calmed down before arriving, it really must have been an odd scene, like a very strange detective show from the 70’s cooked up by junkies, a guy covered in metal and a businessman trying to make a little light turn green on a heart-rate variability monitor before he gets to the city to meet the girl.

One way or another, it had a big impact, that I couldn’t deny.  I had to text one of my best friends 5000 miles away to tell him as he’s a Zen practitioner and despite the seemingly negative first experience, I was all too keen to take the blue pill again (figuratively speaking) the very next day… and had a very, very interesting experience indeed.

 

Stay tuned for more adventures of the Stickmen, as they lift weights, run great distances and traverse the world of technology and upgraded health and existence, on Stickman Fridays!

 

Seriously though, as we’re just getting our readers bit by bit, it’s unlikely that many of you will have tried this particular piece of technology, but if anyone has, please share with us what you think of it and what you experienced.  I think you may have gathered, but inspite of my early quite negative first try, I’m enjoying my Neuroptimal experience and looking forward to trying it out more and comparing it with the other things we have coming soon!

My Recommendations:

 

Author: Note

Joshua Note is the host of The Note Show (www.thenoteshow.com) He's a children's author and his debut book is due for release in 2014. A talk radio maven, he also enjoys jazz and gadgets.

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4 Comments

  1. Ooh, interesting. I heard Dave’s podcast with Val on Bulletproof exec, sounds like something I’d love to try.

    And it sounds from your first experience like it’s a powerful piece of kit.

    How’s the training going? Looking forward to the next installment!

    Post a Reply
  2. Hey Rich! First of all thank you for reading and replying, this was one of my first blog posts and I worried that it was a bit scatterbrained but I will definitely follow this up soon for you. It’s a really interesting experience, one thing I would say though is that when I first got it, I wanted to hit it every day like I would with say heartmath or the bulletproof focus headset, they just plug and play and I really like that… I don’t think you can tell from this post but I’ll stick a picture of my head with the Neuroptimal set up on the next one and you’ll see why it’s maybe a little difficult to make it a daily routine. It does get easy to set up even though the first time you’re gonna be sat getting intimately familiar with your scalp in a way that most people are unlikely to have done before… but it’s still quite a process, and cleaning up afterwards is too. I found using a cotton bud to get the paste out of the metal is the best trick and a wet wipe…. also, since using it more the other issue that I have is that removing the paste can be a bummer after a session because you find you’re so relaxed you want to fall asleep!

    All that aside… I think once a week or a couple times maybe, it’s been worth it so far. I’ve feel really relaxed afterwards and in truth something about the fact that you have to go through a lot of set up might make the impact even stronger. I imagine there are psychological effects involved there, you know it does feel like you’re doing something more significant than those easy devices… so two sides of the coin.

    I’ve tried a few things out lately and when we’ve got time I’m gonna do a few combo posts, I don’t know if you’ve used any other equipment but I’d love to hear if you have and what you can recommend, or maybe what hasn’t work for you aswell. When I say combo, I mean I’ve been running little tests using different biofeedback techniques in different circumstances and some devices with others, like measuring my results (say pertaining to stress – which might just be a subjective attempt at objective journaling!) after cooling my body temperature, or sleeping at a different time. I’ve been finishing my children’s book and working with my publisher lately so there’s not really been the time to get a set of concrete data (as personal as it all is) but I will be getting back to it soon.

    Again, if you have any thoughts of things that you really enjoy I’d love to hear.

    Have a great day and thanks again for reading and commenting.

    Note

    Post a Reply
  3. Hey Note, thanks for replying!

    Interesting to hear about the NO setup process.

    The testing sounds like a great idea.

    The only other device I’ve tried is Heartmath – to be honest, I didn’t get much out of it. I didn’t find it that effective for either relaxation or focus – as a perfectionist I would end up just trying too hard and actually stressing myself out when I fell out of coherence, haha.

    There are some general lifestyle tweaks that I really like:

    -Cold showers – amazing for mood, upbeatness, energy!
    -Bulletproof/paleo diet – the stable energy levels and mood are great
    -Coconut oil – again, great for focus and energy. When I was doing dual N-back, I also noticed that my level would be consistently 1-2 levels higher if I’d had a few spoons of coconut oil that day. You can almost feel it charging your brain up.
    -Sleeping early! This is a huge one… I run at about 50% capacity if I get to bed too late.
    -Exercise, of course – I like the classic paleo approach, strength training and interval training. Love kettlebell swings for intervals, and bodyweight/freeweights for the other stuff.
    I like to do strength training in the morning, wakes me up and gets my blood/hormones pumping before settling down to work.

    HEG sounds very cool as well… definitely need to try that!

    Btw, are you tracking changes with NO in some kind of journal form atall? I’ve read from Zengar that change can be so seamless that you don’t notice it, so it pays to make regular entries for areas you’re looking to improve in.

    Anyway I’m still seriously keen to try NO – hopefully get a few sessions with a trainer to see how I take to it, then if all good, I’ll buy the Personal system (would love to hear your experience with that on the customs/VAT that front too!)

    Cheers, looking forward to reading more!
    Rich

    Post a Reply
    • Hey Note!

      Any updates on your NO training? Did you go on with it, or is it collecting dust? (and if so, how much ££ do you want for it? 😉 )

      Looking into getting one myself soon. Would love to hear what you make of it now a few months have passed.

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