The Heart of Education

The Student as a Spiritual Being 

Jean Millay, PhD

With a simple SCR machine (Skin/Conductance/Response). Students discover that they are connected electrically when they hold hands in a circle. If any one of them lets go, the sound stops. Together, they complete a circuit.

The heart of education seems to have been lost somewhere in the midst of the ideological chaos that divides our schools, our communities and our government. How did our educational system become so far out of balance with itself? 

History suggests an answer:

Our Founding Fathers valued their freedom to explore ideas. In order to prevent the mind control inquisitions brutally enforced by church controlled governments, they valued religious freedom for others as well. For this reason, all religious organizations must be kept separate from government institutions — especially public education. Because free voting citizens needed to be literate, schools, without religion, focused on teaching reading, writing, math and science, We felt great pride to be part of a country with free public schools that eventually included the children of all classes and beliefs. 

However, as scientific study of the material world grew to dominate which concepts could be accepted as “true,” our pubic educational system changed over time. The scientific rules used to establish “reality” were very strict. If a phenomenon couldn’t be measured, materialists assumed it did not exist. Materialists also took charge of measuring levels of intelligence. The tests allegedly measured the intellect, logic, memory, IQ, and overall GPA, which in turn, classified students in different levels of intelligence. Those judged to have the “most intelligent intellect” eventually formed a “cult of atheist/materialism,” complete with its own form of mind control. This “cult” exerted such dominance, that when well-known scientist Carl Sagan declared, “parapsychology is pseudoscience,” all public supported classes about the subject were cancelled across the country with no public debate. Almost a century of solid scientific research has proven him wrong, yet the taboos are still in place, and ridicule is heaped upon scientists who dare to investigate psychic awareness and heart intelligence. This mind control extends deep into the whole educational system, as art, music and creativity classes are eliminated. In righteous protest to school enforced atheistic “science,” charter schools grew in number. Many rejected all science and reverted to the limitations of creationism as translated over time in the Bible. 

Between the materialists and religious extremists, the heart of education—the student as a spiritual being—was lost. Neither side taught this fundamental fact: We are all connected in energy to the consciousness of life of the whole biosphere. Adults and children alike suffer from ignorance of this fundamental awareness of reality. 

Jean Millay Beers was born in 1929 and lived on a ranch in Wabuska, NV. 1936: Family moved to California, studied art and photography. 1952: Married Bill Mayo, helped him print silkscreen posters. 1959: Divorced. She raised their two children as a single parent. 1961: B.A. in painting from UC Berkeley. 1962: Two teaching credentials, taught art in Oakland. 1963: Taught art and English in Mendocino, CA. 1965: Won an award for a short film, and moved to LA. 1972: Demonstrated a light sculpture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC. 1978: PhD from Saybrook University. 1999 & 2010: Published two books.

Today, children bring their different beliefs to public school classrooms. The word “god” means different ideas to each of them, and therefore must be avoided. But the words about energy connections between humans and with nature can be demonstrated in all types of classes. A child of ten can easily understand the basic fundamentals of electromagnetism. From that understanding, each one can explore, through biofeedback and neurofeedback, the relationship between their own thoughts and their own electrical responses to thought. A class in “Self-discovery Science” allows students to learn to focus attention, manage stress, and establish coherence in heart and EEG rhythms. What neuro/biofeedback, and heart coherence feedback, have to do with the heart of education is very simple. This science can open education to a wider experience of the true nature of human consciousness. It has the potential of giving the power and knowledge of cosmic consciousness back to the student and to the whole educational community.

For over 45 years, teachers and therapists have proved the value of bio/neurofeedback educational experiences. I was a member of this group for many years. 

As a teacher in several different types of schools, and with different ages of students, I have always encouraged them to explore what interested them. My job was to evoke some interest, because I had discovered that students could teach themselves more in one hour, than I could drill into their heads in a whole semester. Since I admit to being somewhat lazy, and not good at drilling, I decided to explore what might motivate this grumpy and rather reluctant group. My oldest sister, Marge King, was a science teacher at a Continuation High School, with an older even grumpier group. We shared our ideas and stories about our experiences, and will share them with you.

First, some background information:

In the fall of 1963, I was privileged to participate in a Peyote experience. All the rest of the major changes in my life and thought were influenced by that first psychedelic “mind manifesting” event. By 1968, I was experiencing unexplained psychic-type experiences. So, when Dr. Barbara Brown called for volunteers for her research study of EEG feedback at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Sepulveda, CA, I bravely volunteered. 

Dr. Brown’s lab required a room full of expensive equipment along with chart recorders to show the changes in the brain’s electrical activity. This early version of a computer, costing from $60,000 to $80,000, had all of 16k (that is 16 kilo bytes, not megabytes, not gigabytes, but only 16k). It was able to sort one EEG signal into frequency categories of beta (fast), alpha (medium) and theta (slow). Brown began by scrubbing several spots on my head (ouch) in order to stick sharp gold needles into my scalp (double ouch). (Gold is the best conductor of electrical signals, and the brain’s electricity is very weak.) With the electrodes on my head, I sat on a chair in front of three bare light bulbs. She asked me if I could (with my thoughts alone) turn the blue light bulb on more often than the red or green light. The blue light represented a relaxed alpha rhythm. This was at first difficult, because of the pain of the gold needles (flashing red). However, when the session was over, I knew that I had been able to control my brainwaves. That knowledge strengthened my self-esteem enough to continue to pursue my own visions, in spite of persistent criticism from others. 

This potential ability to identify one’s alpha rhythm through a feedback tone, and then to be able to re-produce it at will was first discovered by Dr. Joe Kamiya while he was conducting EEG research on sleep and dreams at the University of Chicago in 1958 with an ancient computer similar to the one Dr. Barbara Brown used. She was among several scientists who were intrigued by Kamiya’s reports, including Dr. Elmer Green at the Menninger Foundation. They could replicate his work, because they were already established in places where the expensive equipment was available, and could get the large grants needed to use it. 

One night, shortly after that first neurofeedback experience, I had a dream about a dear friend. The next day, I was surprised when Timothy Scully stopped by for a visit. I told him about my dream and suggested that he join me to meet Dr. Barbara Brown at her lab, and encouraged him to volunteer for her EEG feedback study. Genius that he is, he had no trouble at all controlling his brainwaves. Later I said, “Gee, Tim, we need toys like this to play with. You know the government is not going to study psychedelics the way we want to study them.”

1972 – Jean Millay, PhD, demonstrated the world’s first Stereo Brainwave Biofeedback Light Sculpture (SBBLS) with the brainwave analyzers created by Timothy Scully, PhD, at the first Western Hemisphere conference on “Acupuncture, Biofeedback, the Human Aura, and Kirlian Photography” in NYC, held by Stanley Krippner, PhD. (Photo by Krippner.)

The following year, I went to NYC to volunteer for Dr. Stanley Krippner’s dream telepathy study at the Maimonides Medical Center Dream Lab in Brooklyn. Tim came to NYC on business, and stopped for a visit. Quietly and without fanfare, he handed me a small box with earphones, and said, “Here is your toy”—a phenomenal understatement. He had developed the very first portable EEG monitoring device ever made and gave it to me to “play” with. We were participating in an important historical event, that would one day have the power to change education, as it was generally defined then in the winter of 1969-’70.

During the next few years, Scully developed advanced versions of his portable EEG monitoring devices, as president and owner of Aquarius Electronics. He gave me his first brainwave analyzer so I could study how to design artistic light and sound feedback. We developed the first one by 1971. It used only three channels for either the right or left side of the brain. I was not teaching then, but had a job “selling furniture,” Marge tried it out in her school first with interesting results, which she reported to the National Science Teachers Association in December 1972.

However, I wanted to see the patterns of electricity from both sides of the head interacting at the same time. I also wanted to see if two people could synchronize their brainwaves to improve telepathy. Scully and I completed that project by May of 1972 just in time to demonstrate it at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. This was the first Stereo Brainwave Biofeedback Light Sculpture (SBBLS).

The direction of my life changed, because I was no longer motivated by my teenage dream of being an artist in NYC. This amazing “gift” — this wonderful “toy”— would teach me about my mind and psychic activity, through changes in the frequencies of different thoughts, feelings, and emotions, as registered in the brain and processed by my mind through my established patterns of memory. I had not had time to sit down with both machines until after I returned from NYC. I was playing a favorite melodic CD, while I checked all the electrodes and connections. The music (Ragas and Talas) was by Ravi Shankar and Alla Rakha. As I was settling into a steady alpha rhythm on both sides, I was electrified by the sensation that both sides were absolutely in phase with the fast rhythm being played by Alla Rakha. This experience was qualitatively different from just simultaneous alpha. His fingers must have been hitting the tabla eight times per second. Realization? Brainwaves can be entrained by music. 

That is a very short version of those years, which leads into the story about how my sister Marge and I began to explore the use of biofeedback in the classroom. Marge had always wanted to teach chemistry. However, she was a single mother with four children, and was struggling with an unsupportive alcoholic ex-husband. So, she worked for years for the aerospace industry as a “literature chemist,” a job that demanded extraordinary intelligence and skills. While it did improve her self-esteem, it also paid more than twice what I earned as a teacher. As her kids grew older and became a bit more independent, she decided to leave the stress and smog of LA and finally go for a teaching credential. The school that hired her was a continuation high school, filled with low achieving teenagers who were ordered by the court to attend regularly, or return to juvenile hall. When she was feeling that her early dream of being a chemistry teacher was about to be fulfilled, some delinquents broke into the chemistry lab before the semester began, and broke all the glassware. She was extremely disappointed, and wondered how to deal with such beings that hated school enough to destroy it. Steeped in her own love of science, she wondered what she might actually be able to teach them about science, or anything at all. This first story is how she managed to turn around a whole classroom of hostile juvenile delinquents. By the next year, she had students who enjoyed the “research” and her non-reading, science-hating students were struggling with articles in Scientific American, Psychology Today, and Science.

The unforgettable lesson: We are all connected in energy.

Marge reasoned that they must be interested in themselves, at least, so she started introducing them to several different biofeedback instruments. She began with simple skin temperature probes, and the GSR (or SCR), which measures levels of skin conductance or resistance. When students agreed to handle those carefully, she added the electromyograph (EMG) to measure the level of electrical tension of muscles. One of my favorite stories was about a tough talking boy, who discovered that one hand was colder than the other one, and wondered why. Marge checked his shoulder, and showed him that the tension he held in the muscle was blocking the flow of blood to his hand. She showed him how to work with both relevant biofeedback machines (EMG and Skin Temp), until his hand temperatures were equal. Here is that tough guy’s report:

“My right hand was eight degrees colder than my left hand. I couldn’t get either of them to change. You found a tight muscle in my right shoulder. I used the EMG and got the muscle to relax, so my hand warmed up. Later, I found out why my right hand was colder. My Dad was bitching at me, so I went to my room, because I wanted to hit him. That’s why my shoulder muscles were tight. After that, I pretended I was using the temperature trainer and relaxed right away. He still bitches at me, but it don’t bug me as much.”

When Marge introduced the SCR to the class, she placed one person’s forefinger on one lead, and a different person’s forefinger on the other lead. Then in spite of much grumbling and fussing she insisted that the class hold hands in a circle. When the circle was complete, students were surprised to find that the SCR made a sound. When anyone in the circle let go, the sound turned off. When they patted hands, the sound beeped on and off in response. The energy had to pass through each of them to turn the sound on. The concept that they were part of an electrical circuit amazed them. 

The unforgettable lesson: We are all connected in energy.

Recently, I showed this to an inquisitive ten-year-old neighbor. She responded instantly as she heard the sound of our electrical connection, and said brightly, “Oh, it’s a circuit.” Young people are already tuned into this type of information. It should be made available to them. The students of any age soon learn that the words they speak to each other can cause changes in the conductance of their skin. Anger or mean words cause the tone to go up, while calm pleasant words help the tone to go down. Nervous tension will increase skin conductance and meditation will decrease it. Here is a story from my 5th grade class of ten year-olds, when I was hired as a substitute for seven weeks. This class included many races and ethnic groups in a mid-town lower middle-class school:

Tom was the only one in the class with red hair. His previous records showed him to have been a “C” student. He would become extremely nervous if he had to stand up in front of the class. His parents were concerned and tried to help by enrolling him in a private drama class on Saturdays. Tom hoped to be as invisible in my class as possible. He didn’t volunteer for anything. He pleaded with me to let him settle for the written part of his book report. He did not want to give it orally to the class. Again I was adamant, but friendly and encouraging. As he stood in front of the class, his face began to turn as red as his hair. When he could speak, his voice was so low that we could barely hear him, but he did manage to finish his report. It was well written, perhaps with parental assistance. His classmates empathized with his pain and applauded his success. Soon, he complained about having a terrible stomachache. He asked if he could call his father to take him home, but his father was out of the office at the time, so he came back to class. I gave him the SCR and told him to sit back in the comer of the class and try to bring the tone down as much as he could. I suggested that one way to do that would be to relax and visualize a golden light going through his stomach. During recess, I saw Tom running across the playground. I asked, “Isn’t your father going to pick you up?” He said, “I didn’t call him again, my stomach doesn’t hurt any more.”

Months after that substitute-teaching job was over, I was standing in line at the grocery store, and noticed a small red-haired boy. It was Tom. When he saw me, he ran-up, eager to tell me that he had made the honor roll. He introduced me to his father, because he also wanted to share with us both that he wasn’t afraid to stand in front of the class any more.

A teacher might never hear about some successes. That one came as an unexpected gift that I still treasure. Another treasured success story from that same 5th grade class involved a student that worked with the EMG (Electromyograph). 

Lee was a good student, though he wore thick glasses, and was awkward and overweight. Sometimes the other boys made fun of him, but he was kind and considerate. His parents were both very supportive at home. His father came to school twice a week to help students on the playground. One day, Lee told me he had a headache, so I introduced him to the EMG to relax the muscles of his forehead. After a while, his headache seemed to have been alleviated. He paid close attention when I told the class that learning to focus attention, as needed, was an important key in the process of becoming more intelligent. 

Months later, I dashed into a drug store in Chinatown fairly close to where I could park. I needed some Tiger Balm for a sore muscle. I was delighted to find that the pharmacist was Lee’s father. He was proud to tell me that his son had been transferred into the gifted program. After he learned to control the muscle tension in his forehead, most of his head-aches went away. That had allowed Lee to focus more on his studies, rather than on his pain. His father thanked me for what I had done for them. 

These three physiological feedback instruments, SCR, Skin Temp and EMG are fairly inexpensive and quite simple to use. Ten year-olds learn very quickly how to use them. The brainwave feedback system, though, is more complex. For that reason, I was very careful to prepare them in advance to understand the concept of brainwave frequencies. We prepared them by introducing them to the Electromagnetic Spectrum Chart.

The present system of judging intelligence using tests that value only the intellect and memorization separates individuals from each other, and from their communities.

Students were eager to help me roll out twenty-four feet of lined butcher paper and tack it on the back wall. We marked off the different frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum in order. The students were asked to choose a partner for a major project. Each team put a name in the bowl, and one student drew them out one at a time. As the name was drawn, that team chose which part of the EM chart for their project. One team chose TV, another chose visible light, another chose X-rays, etc. This project prepared them for learning about their own brainwaves, and their relationship to the frequencies of the earth, sun and sound. The students were generally quite excited to be involved in such a project, and their posters and papers were all tacked to the right places on the EM spectrum on the back wall. They could see the sequence of frequencies, and could name the differences between the VHF (Very High Frequencies of TV, etc,) and ELF (Extremely Low Frequencies). They could also see that the speed of the frequencies was related to the length of the waves — why X-rays go through you, and radar bounces off objects, etc. When all projects were done, and good grades were recorded, that is when I brought in the 100 lbs. of the World’s First Stereo Brainwave Biofeedback Light Sculpture (SBBLS) that I had proudly demonstrated at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in 1972. By now they knew that their brainwaves were in the ELF range.

This brings me to a very special story that could have important consequences to our whole concept of teaching and learning and even impacts our concept of intelligence. It has to do with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder). One ADHD student was always causing disruption in class. He seemed to need to be the center of attention, and since he could not focus, he made sure no one else could either, because of his antics.

“Gary” was a hyperactive child who was wonderful at kick ball. He created a constant distraction during class, as though he were always on stage. Many of the children laughed at his pranks, others were annoyed. His reading level in 5th grade was only at the 3rd grade level. When we went to the library to choose a book for a report, Gary would only consider a story about a sports hero in large type. When I suggested another sort of story, he refused, saying, “No! Sports have to be my life. If I’m not picked up by the major’s, by the time I’m out of school, I’m going to commit suicide.” It was clear that he felt already branded as dumb, and his only chance of “success” in life would be as an athlete. When I announced that book reports were due on Friday, Gary complained bitterly. He absolutely needed two weeks to finish his book and to write his report. (I knew that Gary’s parents were getting a divorce, and that his home was not a peaceful place to study.) 

Nevertheless, I insisted that reports were due on Friday. When it was Gary’s turn to see and hear his brainwaves in the SBBLS, I personally checked to see that the students had properly connected his electrodes, and sat beside him to make sure he understood what he was hearing and seeing. I then quietly suggested, “If you could learn to focus your attention, you could be a genius. Do you believe that?” He didn’t speak, but shook his head, “No.” So I pointed to one of the dials on the brainwave analyzer (which was continuously fluctuating between beta, alpha, theta, as I expected the EEG of a hyperactive child to do). I tuned the machine to provide a feedback tone in the faster beta rhythm (13 Hz to 25 Hz). The percentage of his beta rhythms was about 30%. I said to him, “See if you can raise the number on this dial by focusing a lot of attention on it.” After that I left him and turned my attention back to the rest of the class. 

When his turn was over, Gary returned to his seat and began his reading assignment. Eventually, one of the children spoke up and asked, “What happened to Gary? Ever since he was on the brain machine, he’s been quiet all afternoon.” Gary had raised his Beta rhythm percentage from 30% to 60%, and he was impressed with his own ability. The next day, Gary came to me with great personal pride and excitement, “Dr. Millay, Dr. Millay, I finished the book in two hours!” For the first time in his life he discovered that he could gain voluntary control over his mind. No one could ever convince him again, that he was just born dumb and that there was nothing more he could do about it. 

Recently, I read about a research project by a major institution that had studied the brainwaves of thousands of children and “found” an EEG signal that would indicate ADHD. I was concerned for two reasons: 1) I knew it would be there, because I had seen it; and 2) This discovery would be used to prescribe more drugs. If those doing the measuring would even consider using EEG feedback, most children thus labeled, could learn to stabilize their focus of attention in a much shorter time, and most could do it without the drugs. 

In most city schools, 5th grade is the last grade before middle school. Students have one major teacher to relate to and each student has a personal desk—a place to BE in that one classroom. If stress management has not begun for these children sooner, it should begin here, before they are separated into multiple classrooms with multiple teachers. By 5th grade, students know very well where they stand in the range of abilities as graded on standardized tests of intellectual activity. The pressure is on them, and if they are not guided at this time, unhealthy habits of dealing with stress might be locked in for life at this age. Those stuck at the 3rd grade reading level are nervous, with low self-esteem. Those who are judged to be “average” are nervous, because of pressure to do “better.” And those who read at the 8th grade level are nervous, because their unique abilities are often derided through social pressure. 

Responses from Marge King’s high school students using this machine were very perceptive. She required them to take notes during physiological feedback practice, and write a paper at the end. Here are some comments from her students after using the SBBLS. 

1) “I’m in beta when I add, I’m in theta when I’m mad, therefore I can’t add when I’m mad.” 

2) “I’m in alpha when I float with the music, I’m in beta when I listen to the words, and I saw theta flashes on the downbeat in time with the music.” 

3) Beta evaluates. Theta realizes.

4) “I’ve learned a lot about bodily functions – how the heart, eyes, lungs, muscles and glands work. I really understand how they work. Not a textbook paragraph of which I can quote but a real understanding. I can now explain in my own words how they work in detail. I’ve also gained a lot of self-control and a better understanding of people. I’ve learned to improve my memory, how to relax, meditate, and I can identify all (practically) of my emotions.” 

One morning before class started, a 16 year-old boy ran in and asked to use the SBBLS. Marge helped him to set it up, and to adjust his electrodes. He watched his brainwaves intensely for a time, and then told her why. 

5) “This morning I had a 6-pak and a Valium before I left home, and I wanted to know if I could still control my brainwaves. I can’t hold a steady beta rhythm, now. No wonder I have trouble doing math when I do that.”

I have observed over the years, that in some cases, biofeedback and neurofeedback hold a strong potential for alleviating (legal as well as illegal) drug use and/or abuse. This next story is about using the SBBLS with young adults.

When I began teaching parapsychology at Santa Rosa Community College in 1974, I wanted to explore the possibility that a person might be able to synchronize their brainwaves between both hemispheres. The Light Sculpture could only give me an indication when both sides were in the same frequency, but not when they were in “synch.” So I contacted Scully again to ask him if he could build a phase-comparator for me to add to the equipment I already had. He delivered the first portable EEG phase-comparator to me just before my class and PhD research project began. The importance of phase-coherence neurofeedback is now being recognized among bio/neurofeedback therapists and researchers. Scully’s machine was the first of its kind, my study was among the first, and today computers have advanced this important aspect of human consciousness. * . * 

Students came from all over the country to study humanistic psychology and parapsychology with Dr. Eleanor Criswell at CSUS (Sonoma State). By then her department had two of Scully’s brainwave analyzers, but students could only check out one at a time, and the waiting list was long. When they found that I also had two brainwave analyzers, some of them also signed up for my class at the Community College, or volunteered to participate in my research.

It will fall to the young people to live with the massive changes that are happening to the living conditions on Earth.

My research project involved training individuals to bring coherence to their alpha rhythms between both sides of their cerebral cortex. The following are comments from a few who participated in this first training of interhemispheric alpha phase-coherence

1) First time—after—felt clear headed all day. 

2) When in Sync with myself, I have no thoughts in my head. The Synch tone is very calming and I seem to blend with it. A very complete feeling. 

3) Extremely calming and centering.

4) Sustained focus in nonverbal sensuality…. The tone is on when words are absent; as soon as I tell myself about it, the tone stops. 

5) Sustained Sync elicits a feeling of being grasped in a beam of cosmic rays, an immobilization, an electric shock of energy, like being center stage in a spotlight. 

In this short presentation, I have not begun to discuss the importance of the HeartMath program, though I highly recommend it. Here the goal is to establish a coherent heart rate. The research suggests that a coherent heart is a happy heart. We know that a coherent brainwave is most likely peaceful, and can in some frequencies be related to deep meditation.

The present system of judging intelligence using tests that value only the intellect and memorization separates individuals from each other, and from their communities. The present philosophy that equates higher education with higher salaries has missed the point of education. College is so expensive, that graduates become “educated slaves” to the corporations, and must “think” and “perform” according to the profit motive, rather than for the good of the society at large. Those who act according to conscience are fired. The rush to install government sponsored “high-stakes” testing, values memorization, and as teachers must teach for the test, the time to exercise reason and insight is minimized.

This flawed system of education separates each of us from the Consciousness of Life of the Whole Biosphere, though the truth is that we are all intimately connected. Each of us is alive because of our electrical and magnetic activity. We live on a planet that has a biosphere because of the electric and magnetic fields generated in the core and rotation of the planet. It is time we included that bit of information in our educational system. Brainwaves are in the same ELF frequency range as that of the Earth itself. Education must include the practice of learning to resonate in the ELF range, so humans will not continue to be limited to the mind control hypnosis of the VHF and UHF ranges of television that corporations blatantly use for profit, for the control of elections, politicians and for the usurpation of our government.

We must instead encourage free, creative, thinking for ourselves, and for our children, to overcome this new form of mind control. Teaching them how to establish coherent brainwaves, and coherent heart rhythms, returns consciousness (without any specific religion) to education. It will fall to the young people to live with the massive changes that are happening to the living conditions on Earth. Our children must develop a great deal of creativity just to re-balance those intrinsic changes that have already separated our political institutions. 

Here is at least one scientific answer to the question, “Who are you?” You are a resonating circuit between earth and sky. Ask yourself how do you feel when you think of yourself in that way? Are you actually separate from anything on earth, or from the rays of the sun, or from the radiations from the cosmos?