40 Years of Zen Review

40 Years of Zen review

I attended the 40 Years of Zen (YoZ) training for 5 days from Jan 1 2018 to Jan 5 2018. There were 3 other people in the cohort along with 3 core staff members with whom we mainly interacted: Dr. Isvari Story specialized in the psychology aspects of the program. Dr. Drew Pierson and Sam Tullman were lead the neurofeedback training. It was a pleasure to chat with them in between sessions and share meals together. The facility was a large house in a woodsy semi-rural area. I rented a car and drove from accommodations at Cedarbrook Lodge but would recommend finding a nearby rental to avoid driving after intense mental exercise.

40 YoZ is unique due to its forgiveness-based approach to neurofeedback. Skipping some details, I essentially learned techniques to search my memories for negative experiences and undo the defense mechanisms my ego employed to protect itself at the time. If is often tied to a (unconscious, unrealized) grudge or feeling of animosity towards another or even yourself. Early on I found one very strong repressed negative experience from childhood which was definitely holding me back. The task then is to “release” this “knot” with forgiveness, and later, to overwrite the negative memory in a positive manner.

There were many extended sessions (60 – 90 minutes) dedicated to performing this forgiveness protocol in an alpha state. Sometimes they ran current across your head beforehand which was sort of fun and really put me in a “fuzzy” chilled-out state. Later on there were computer game exercises while training where the on-screen visuals reflected the degree my brain was training in the right direction. A few times I felt external noise distracted me during these and I let the team know. There were also some heart rate variability training sessions sprinkled in. It was interesting to figure out my optimal breath pace for this. I’m already a proponent of HRV and was already practicing it sporadically. After the training I learned that HRV is really is something one should stick all the time, even after the 40 YoZ training, for a minimum of 5 minutes a day. Otherwise, I find the tendency is to return to a fight-or-flight state when life gets demanding. Towards the end we trained our gamma frequencies which was said to possibly feel pleasurable however I didn’t experience that. At the end of each main session we saw time series charts depicting our alpha levels. Due to the tiredness and fatigue the cohort’s levels actually decreased throughout the week, especially after the third day, and, by the end, our brains were worn out. That being said I never felt overwhelmed and appreciate the measured pacing and difficulty of the program. Twice we had one-on-one sessions with staff to discuss the details of our brain readings and we were given hardcopies of the results.

Brain-focused supplements were provided before in between sessions including methyl b vitamin, ‘unfair advantage’ pqq, aniracetam, phosphatylcholine, etc. The in-house chef, Gil, made an amazing, top-notch lunch and dinner that adheres to the Bulletproof diet. Also, in the mornings, they provided Bullletproof coffee.

I went to bed way earlier than I normally would, around 8pm and woke up early at around 5am. Returning home I was mentally exhausted and could only really perform at a basic level for the first week. During this time I had very limited ability to tackle hard novel tasks. I would estimate that I felt properly rested after about two weeks.  After the training it was recommended to begin a nontrivial supplement regiment for neuronal growth including fish oil, lion’s mane mushroom etc. This lasted about 6 weeks afterwards and I suggest purchasing and preparing these supplements in advance of the training.

Representatives said that if I were to attend again the focus would be somewhat less on forgiveness and more on specific frequency band training. The most similar program, BioCybernaut, makes IQ / EQ claims, however, 40 YoZ does not. It was argued that these measure are singular measures of the benefits of a complex change. Their litmus test is more about the power gains in the alpha band as I understand it. All this being said, one regret I have is not taking an IQ test before and after to be able to make more quantitative statements. I am writing this review on Dec 24-25th 2018.

Benefits
- Calmer and more patient
- More relaxed in conversations
- Increased ability to break habitual behavior and thinking and adopt new practices
- Increased ability to think at a higher level of abstraction
- Less ego-based thinking and awareness when it does happen

Drawbacks
- Return on investment not seen right away; but perhaps over a year or two
- Pricy; I feel I paid a bit of a premium given the scarcity of supply and poor economies of scale for running the operation for only 5 customers at a time
- Debriefing sessions were welcome at first but grew rapidly less productive
- Involves a lot of sitting which made my legs very sore and stiff; foam rollers were available and helped somewhat