WHAT IS BRAINSPOTTING?
BRAINSPOTTING IS A NATURALLY OCCURRING EXPERIENCE
You’ve tried willpower. You’ve tried problem-solving. You’ve tried substitutions.
These things might work for a short while, but then you’re right back where you started, and you feel like a failure. Now you might be worried that not being able to easily get over this problem means there’s something wrong with you.
Brainspotting helps when you feel like you’re stuck in a cycle of stopping and starting because it takes the issue out of your “adulty” neocortical brain and lets your deep, subcortical, survival brain solve the problem the same way we let your brain and body do things like digest food, fight off stomach bugs, and heal paper cuts.
Have you ever caught yourself staring at nothing and thinking about something that felt totally random, wondering how in the world your mind wandered to where it did?
You were brainspotting.
Our brains and bodies naturally process our daily experiences and file them away in ways that allow us to learn and move forward.
But sometimes, an experience can get stuck in the process or get misfiled in a way that doesn’t serve us well.
For example, your brain and body might have filed a glass of wine under “relaxing” and “fun,” when, in reality, the relaxing and fun parts are short-lived compared to the racing thoughts, extra calories, sluggish brain fog, anxiety, and crappy sleep you have after one glass too many.
Brainspotting takes our brain and body’s natural method of processing and filing this information and uses it to make sure things (like that glass of wine) get filed away in the most healthy way for you.
It’s as simple as finding the eye position connected to the misfiled or unprocessed issue, whether that issue is alcohol, motivation, imposter syndrome, or even an argument with your spouse.
WHAT HAPPENS IN A BRAINSPOTTING SESSION?
Brainspotting can be done in 3 settings:
- with a professional,
- in a group, or
- by yourself (also known as self-brainspotting).
When you work 1 on 1 with a professional, they will help you find the specific eye position for your topic, and then your professional will hold space (like emotionally and metaphorically having their hand on your back for support) as your brain and body to the work of processing the issue.
Brainspotting in a group combines the presence of a professional to hold the space with the energy of a group with similar experiences, struggles, and goals.
Self-Brainspotting is a gentle, focused mindfulness practice that harnesses the power of brainspotting without the drive to an office or the coordination of a group schedule. Self-brainspotting sessions can be a short as 10 minutes and as long as 30 minutes.
In any setting, a brainspotting session includes the 4 steps of finding a brainspot then allowing your brain and body to examine the issue, decide what to keep and what to file away or release, and then the resolution of the issue.
HOW LONG DOES BRAINSPOTTING TAKE?
Some issues will resolve within on session while others take longer or multiple sessions.
That’s why with self-brainspotting, I recommend developing a regular practice.
Some people find it helpful to do some type of focused mindfulness daily for 10-15 minutes. Others develop a regular practice of a longer weekly session.
If you work with a professional or in a group, the professional or coordinator can give you their recommendation based on your specific goals.
WHAT EQUIPMENT DO I NEED TO USE FOR SELF-BRAINSPOT?
You can use brainspotting with no equipment.
Many people find the bilateral sound to be helpful. You can listen to bilateral music using headphones. It is music (sometimes combined with nature sounds) that alternates gently between your left ear and right ear.
This gentle side-to-side alternation can prime your subcortical brain and calm your nervous system, allowing you to more easily drop down from your neocortical brain and into processing.
Some people also find it helpful to have something on-hand to mark the eye position once they’ve found it. Whether it’s a pointer/stick being held be a cup of coffee beans or a post-it stuck on the wall, anything that can help you easily find the original eye position can be a support during your self-brainspotting work.
HOW DO I SELF-BRAINSPOT?
I recommend learning how to self-brainspot by booking a coaching session with a certified brainspotting professional or reading the book Brainspotting by Dr. David Grand.