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Brief Strobic Photostimulation

There have been many new discoveries in medicine and psychology in the past ten years, but possibly none more exciting than the use of light. We have seen new drugs dazzle people with their quick fixes only to discover that they are also often dangerous or no longer effective. More and more people are seeking natural means to remedy health problems and find lasting solutions to suffering.

After observing hundreds of people who were exposed to rhythmic colored light, Dr. Steven Vasquez developed a comprehensive system to maximize the effects of light and color. He continues to practice and teach and has made advances in his approach to healing. Brief Strobic Photostimulation ( BSP) is now offered in many countries. The Healing Arts Center has a practitioner in this methodology as well as a list of other practitioners in the world.

Light – The Ultimate Catalyst

In most cases, Brief Strobic Photostimulation is not a separate therapy in itself, but instead it is used to deepen or speed up improvement in a variety of healthcare methods. Just as a psychotherapist or a chiropractor may use music to enhance his work, so too can light stimulation be used to help achieve goals. Therefore, it can be a part of many procedures. It can also stand alone as a therapy for many types of disease.

Entrainment, photic driving, and color can all assist in focusing the mind for therapeutic purposes, but interactive guidance by a skilled facilitator may be the most important component for getting the results you want. Technology alone is limited in its ability to help people because only a human facilitator can provide compassion, understanding and discernment when adjustments are needed. Research by Dr. James Pennebacker demonstrated that when people confide their deepest secrets, not only do they improve emotionally, but also their health improves in numerous measurable ways. Therefore, when a facilitator can help a person talk about his/her issues, progress is greatly enhanced.

Although thousands of people have received this approach, it is still considered experimental because there is not enough scientific evidence to verify its effectiveness. One empirical study has been completed and other projects in various stages exist. Excitement is spreading because of its use is particularly valuable when other methods have failed, and it provides an alternative for hope.

A Brief History of Light and the Mind

The use of light for therapy may be as old as humankind’s discovery of fire. As far as we know for sure, Peking Man, who lived about 400,000 years BC, may have been the firsts to use fire, not only for cooking and warmth, but to awaken the mind. Native Americans have a history of seeking visions through looking into a flickering fire. In about 530 BC, Sidhartha Gautama. The Buddha, described enlightenment as a direct experience of the divine illumination by light. In his treatise "Protagorus," Plato described sight as the coalescence of inner and outer light. It wasn’t until Alhazen’s book, Optics, in 1050, that the eyes were seen as "darkened chambers" that only received light and the spiritual concept of inner light was removed from our understanding of sight. In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton startled other scientists when he showed that white sunlight was actually composed of various combinations of all the rainbow’s colors when a prism was used to filter it. Thomas Edison changed the composition of light that most people are exposed to on a daily basis when he invented the incandescent light bulb in 1879. Then, in the 1900’s numerous scientific studies took place about color preference and the effects of various colors on plants, animals and man. Dr. Harry Riley Spitler of the College of Syntonic Optometry developed the use of colored light into the eyes for vision improvement and other benefits. Other innovative studies have increasingly demonstrated profound effects of light on humans.

Light Therapy and Winter Depression

Around 1980, Norman Rosenthal, M.D., identified a type of depression that occurs only during certain seasons, usually winter. He also developed the use of a light that bears some resemblance to sunlight to treat what he called "seasonal affective disorder" or S.A.D. This treatment has some things in common with BSP, but is not the same. Both approaches affect the circadian rhythms, which are the brain’s response to light and dark cycles that change with the seasons. Both approaches are known to affect brain chemistry. BSP, on the other hand, is used to affect a broad range of conditions. S.A.D. treatment uses white light while BSP primarily uses colored light. S.A.D. uses a "continuous" light while BSP uses strobic light. S.A.D. does not require interactive processing or dialogue; whereas, BSP usually involves a trained facilitator. However, S.A.D. treatment has been much more extensively researched and uses a symptom management approach. This means that it helps to control the symptoms of winter depression when used daily. While S.A.D. treatment is a symptom management approach, BSP seeks second order change. This type of change attempts to change the casual factors themselves, with symptom improvement as a by-product. In this perspective, S.A.D. is viewed as a condition that is a consequence of several factors. Most of these factors are psychological, and when winter brings less light this final factor brings forth depression. When the core issues are changed, seasonal depression is often reduced or ended altogether. S.A.D. and BSP are simply two different approaches with different goals.

What is the light therapy experience like?

The human response to light and color has a broad range of reactions. Generally, women are more sensitive to variation in color. The process works by simply seating the person about 18-24 inches in front of a device that flashes light and color into the eyes. While this is occurring, a facilitator will guide the verbal interaction. The person receiving the light stimulation benefits most if he is honest and willing to participate. Depending upon the objective and the responsivity of the individual, the session can bring forth everything from deep crying to absolute peacefulness. Sessions can provoke previously forgotten memories or completely eliminate unpleasant emotions. Part of the success is due to the skill of the facilitator; part of it is due to the efforts of the patient.

Charlene’s Story…

One example of how BSP can assist healthcare is in the field of psychotherapy. A 40-yr old woman came to counseling seeking relief from stress. She is married, has one teenage son and has an office job. She initially reported stomach discomfort and did not have a clear idea about the nature of her stress or if it was related to her stomach discomfort. She was given blue light stimulation and asked to describe her issues. She became very able to describe details about her experience. Then, she was given red orange light, and she reported the following:

"My body feels really heavy. I see a dark shadow in the light. I have been feeling overwhelmed about my work. I cannot seem to get caught up. I feel tension in my shoulders and my body feels really heavy. I spend a lot of time driving my son around. I feel heaviness in my lower back and stomach. If I could get everything organized, I would be okay. I get frustrated, hopeless And feel like I don’t have time to get done all the things I need to do!"

The color was then changed to yellow. As she talked about her discomfort while looking at the light, she began to undergo a rapid change. During this 3-minute activity, both her verbal expression and specific light stimulation brought forth the following experiences:

"My body now feels relaxed but at the same time I feel at attention. I no longer feel hopeless, frustrated or like time is a problem for me. My body feels fine. I feel at peace with everything."

This lady left the session feeling happy and reported the same happiness days later. It is difficult for many people to grasp the depth and rapidness of change that routinely takes place with this approach. This case example illustrates why we refer to this work as transformative. When emotional states change, perspectives also change and accompanying physical symptoms often disappear. The BSP approach in psychotherapy can be used to awaken awareness or to discharge unresolved emotions. In some cases, there are more issues to be pursued for an overall satisfaction to occur but it is not unusual for much to happen in one session.

How Does It Work?

Brainwave Patterns and the Power of the Mind

Each time a nerve cell gives off an impulse, it also gives off a tiny electromagnetic wave. These are billions of nerve cells that comprise the brain and, at any given time, different ones are firing, depending upon what the brain is doing. When several nerve cells give off waves, they give off cumulative patterns that can be measured. These "brainwave patterns" are associated with specific states of awareness or consciousness. Specific brainwave patterns are known to occur with dream states, normal waking states, deep states of relaxation, etc. Most of the time, people go to healthcare professionals because they are in emotional or physical states that they want to change. If a facilitator could change brainwave states easily, it could assist enormously in helping people change from their unpleasant experiences.

The Magic of Entrainment

In 1665, Christian Huygens, of the Netherlands, first noticed that when two pendulum clocks were put next to each other, over a period of time, their rhythms aligned. He referred to this as mutual phase interlocking, but it was later referred to as Entrainment. When one tuning fork brings forth a similar vibration in another, it is called resonance. It was later found that living things like plants, animals, and even humans resonate or entrain with each other. When two women work around each other on a daily basis, their menstrual cycles often align with each other. Now, we know that non-living things like a musical beat or a strobic light can entrain human brainwave rhythms. There are devices that capitalize on this concept.

The Secret of Metamorphosis: Disentrainment

For some purposes, it is important to entrain brainwave patterns and, for other purposes, it is equally important to break up a brainwave pattern. This ability to interrupt a brainwave pattern is helpful when a person is entrenched in an unpleasant state. Examples are when emotional blocks, unwanted thoughts or behaviors, or habit patterns need to be disrupted. This is accomplished by first entraining and then using a variety of techniques to disrupt the pattern and also to discover a healthier one. Most of these procedures use a facilitator who is trained in how to make these changes.

Turning on the Brain: Photic Driving

In the 1930’s, Dr. W.G. Walter placed electrodes on the skull of a person while he emitted a strobic light into the person’s eyes. He found that the brainwave rhythm changed to match the rate of the strobe light. Then, it was found that light into the eyes also stimulated the entire brain! About 80% of all sensory stimulation to humans are visual in nature. When light enters the eye, it follows three direct routes: one to the visual cortex of the brain that allows us to see, another to the hypothalamus, and a third to the brainstem. What this means is that light stimulation into the eyes either directly or indirectly affects virtually all significant areas of the brain and ultimately the biochemistry of the entire body! Therefore, the use of different colors (wavelengths) of light has different effects on the brain and the body. It is now known that light stimulation affects seratonin production in the brain. Seratonin is the most widespread neurotransmitter in the brain, which is known to affect moods. Of course, the amount of brightness, length of time, and other factors play a role in how light will impact the human body. The use of both strobe and light stimulation through the eyes is known as photic driving. This phenomenon is well-documented in scientific journals.

The Mystery of Color Unveiled

It has long been known that specific colors bring forth certain moods and corresponding thoughts. For example, red is well known to be related to moods of passion or anger. There are many theories about the meanings of colors, but these viewpoints do not agree with each other. There are two reasons for the meaning of color. The first reason is that we develop an association with a color by the experiences we have such as the conditioning of stopping a car when we see a red light. Through association, people could develop completely different meanings for colors depending upon their experiences. In this way, any color could be learned to be related to any experience. A second reason for the meaning of color is that there may be a universal human response to colors. These are called "inherent meanings". Dr. Vasquez discovered inherent meanings after exposing hundreds of people to a wide variety of colored light into the eyes and listening to both the content of what they said and the moods that occurred. These deeper or inherent meanings usually arose after the associated ones. Since there can be so many different reactions to colors, Dr. Vasquez developed an assessment procedure to identify and develop a profile that can be used to custom-tailor procedures for the patient to receive optimum benefits.

The Incredible Impact of Color on States of Consciousness

Color has the tendency to bring forth specific states of consciousness. The term "state of consciousness" refers to a subjective awareness that includes thoughts, moods and physical experiences. For example, a person has a distinct state of consciousness during certain aspects of having sex, laughing, or crying. When this tendency to bring forth specific states of consciousness by the use of color is combined with rhythmic light stimulation, it helps to pinpoint the experiences optimal for making a psychological or physical change. There has been scientific research in the fields of architectural design, stage lighting, and psychology on how color affects states of consciousness.


What types of devices are used?

Either the Lumatron or Photron is used for BSP. They are very precise and durable. The strobe rate ranges from 1 to 60 cycles per second and can be controlled to a tenth of a second. They have eleven colors plus white. The brightness is 40 watts. Other devices on the market are basically entrainment or disentrainment and usually only one color so they are not really usable for BSP.

What can BSP be used for?

BSP can be used in conjunction with so many healthcare approaches that the limitations are not yet known. It has been extensively integrated with psychotherapy. Therefore, almost anything psychotherapy is used for can be an application. It has a particular strength when used for improving neurologically-based disorders because it is a form of brain stimulation. Some of the best known uses of BSP are:

  • Trauma recovery
  • Depression resolution
  • Weight loss and eating disorders
  • Learning disabilities
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Griefwork assistance
  • Calming anxiety disorders
  • Creativity stimulation
  • Forgiveness
  • Addictions treatment
  • Sleep disorder resolution
  • Reliving physical pain conditions such as low back pain, headaches, TMJ, neck pain, etc
  • Healing the stress component of life-threatening illnesses such as cancer, heart disease
  • Improving immune system conditions such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, SLE, fibromyalgia, etc.
  • Recovery of closed-head injuries
  • Accelerated recovery of injuries in general
  • Development of capabilities in sports, work, the arts, etc
  • Spiritual awakening

What are the risks?

Generally speaking, the risks are low because it is natural and uses a light source that is no brighter than a 40-watt bulb. BSP can only bring forth states of consciousness that already exist within you but are sometimes out of your awareness. This means that emotions could come forth during the healing process or that unpleasant physical states may temporarily emerge in the process of resolving an issue. Other than those events the only concern might be the chance of a rare seizure disorder that occurs primarily in the presence of a flashing light. The facilitator should go over a list of possibilities for caution and you should sign an informed consent form explaining these risks before you experience the procedure. Just like any procedure, it can be misused. As long as humans operate things, they are subject to error.

What makes this technique different?

All practitioners go through a training that teaches them skills that dramatically capitalizes on the effects of light stimulation. The photic eye movement technique is extraordinary. The photic release technique is a major leap in changing emotions and the dream resolution approach is a breakthrough. This approach combines the best of technology with the best of guided interactive procedures to yield the next generation in healing.

While brief strobic photostimulation is not currently available at our center, many other valuable techniques are effective in treating anxiety and stress. If you or someone you love is suffering from stress-related illness or extreme anxiety, the warm and caring practitioners at the Healing Arts Center can help you. For more information or appointments contact one of our counselors at (509)685-2300 or 143 Garden Homes Drive, Colville, WA 99114


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