Jim Cahill is a new student enrolled to begin the master’s program in Saybrook University’s School of Mind-Body Medicine, in January 2013. Jim Cahill is a certified biofeedback practitioner, and is the developer of Mindfulness-Based Biofeedback Therapy(tm), combining ancient Indo-Tibetan self-regulation techniques with modern biofeedback. He was on the Board of Directors of the Biofeedback Society of California, edited the magazine California Biofeedback, and practices at both Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine and Scripps-XiMED in La Jolla, California.
Jim will appear at 8 PM Eastern time on Saturday December 22, in a radio interview with Dr. Paul Christo, a prominent pain specialist and past Director of the Blaustein Pain Treatment Center and the Multidisciplinary Pain Fellowship Training Program at The Johns Hopkins Hospital. Dr. Christo hosts the Aches and Gains radio show on WBAL (1090 AM).
Jim’s interview in the January 22 radio broadcast will describe his unique integration of biofeedback with Eastern meditative approaches to optimize interventions for chronic pain and other disorders. Jim reports that: “Biofeedback has a long history as one of the earliest and best-researched complementary modalities in healthcare. As traditionally practiced, biofeedback techniques assume that trainees exposed to ‘feedback’ on internal states in real-time will be able to modify these systems in beneficial ways. This ability to modify the so-called involuntary (autonomic) nervous system is thought to occur at both conscious and unconscious levels. The graphic displays, audio signals and other feedback serve as mirrors, allowing trainees to ‘connect the dots’ between subtle and transient internal signals and the external feedback from medical monitors. This traditional model, and the assumptions underlying it, has shown efficacy for a wide range of disorders.”
Jim Cahill developed a new conceptual model and training approach, based on a synthesis of Eastern disciplines with Western biofeedback. This is the core of Cahill’s model: “… as good as it is, and despite all the good it has done, the model contains assumptions that when challenged may lead to a new era of efficacy for biofeedback. In the West, researchers since William James have assumed that the attention span is very limited, although acknowledging its importance in all learning—if it could be trained. This bias resulted in a de-emphasis on the role of attentional skill in biofeedback training. James assumed the attention span was about 3 seconds; the researcher who holds his job at Harvard now, some 100 years later, assumes an attention span of only about 7 seconds. Yet Eastern contemplative masters, who agree that attention is central to all learning, disagree that it is biologically limited, claiming the ability to attend central-pointedly for hours at a time to any object they select, whether external or internal—if properly trained.”
Jim Cahill developed Mindfulness-Based Biofeedback Therapy(tm) to address this overlooked aspect of traditional biofeedback. According to Jim, “ MBBT specifically addresses the HOW of paying attention, using methods of training that have been continuously refined for at least 2500 years in unbroken lineages of scholarship. Attentional training is the essence of authentic mindfulness training, as traditionally taught in the Indo-Tibetan lineages. “ Jim had trained for over 30 years in mindfulness and hatha yoga techniques in California, yet was nevertheless surprised at: “… the level of specificity and precision of the authentic techniques as taught by qualified scholar-practitioner-teachers, such as the Dalai Lama’s translator, B. Alan Wallace, from whose work I derived many of the techniques I now apply in MBBT.”
According to Jim, his East-West hybrid science of self-regulation offers many advantages. In his words, the MBBT model offers: “superior instructions in attending to feedback, increased home practice compliance, a stronger sense of internal locus of control, and contextualizing all practices in a lifestyle and world view.” Jim reports that: “I have frankly been surprised by the high level of efficacy for chronic pain and other disorders of traditional biofeedback, given how little emphasis is usually paid to the role of attention. And I have been gratified to see very good efficacy in my patient population when including the Eastern practices and understandings. Many aspects of chronic pain are ideally addressed by the beautifully nuanced and refined Eastern methods, which explicitly aim at reducing suffering.”
Jim Cahill believes that “the future of biofeedback will largely reflect a return to the past, and a re-discovery of the original self-regulation techniques of the masters, skillfully combined with the latest sense-and-display medical technologies.”
The WBAL radio broadcast is now available as a podcast at: www.paulchristomd.com