Part One: An “E-Interview with Rayma Ditson-Sommer, Ph.D.
Editors Note: Dr. Rayma Ditson-Sommer has done more to promote the positive benefits of light and sound stimulation than most of us combined. From Anthony Ervin (Olympic Swimming Gold & Silver Medalist) and Nate Chittick (St. Loius Rams, 1999 Super Bowl Champions) to Lee Trevino (Senior PGA Golfer) and Kim Hayashi (BMX Bicycle Junior WorldChampion), Dr. Sommer has repeatedly proven individuals can improve their performance levels through light and sound with biofeedback.
Dr. Sommer has spent many years as an international lecturer, having degrees in Music Therapy, Psychology, Specialized Education and Child Development. She attended Southwestern Medical School with an internship at the Menninger Clinic in biofeedback and psychiatry. And to quote Rayma: “I continue my lifetime of interest in children with a constant burning passion for light and sound and a deep reverence for those who have crossed my path, teaching me many lessons in life I needed to learn. (It is) better that people know me as a researcher, developer and teacher of modalities, used to bring change for a better life, for those who find their way in my direction.”
I am just one of many who refer to Dr. Sommer as my mentor. And I thank the late, great Rob Robinson of InnerQuest for introducing us. I am proud to call Rayma my friend, and honored for her taking the time to participate in this interview. All of you will gain from reading this interview, and for those of you wanting to contact Dr. Sommer directly, you can reach her at: Opnet2@aol.com or visit www.optimalfocus.com.
Q: When did you personally start using light and sound stimulation, what instrument did you use and what were your first thoughts about applying it to learning disabled children?
A: “I personally began to study light and sound after the death of my best friend, my husband in 1989. He had been working with light and sound with Rob Robinson of InnerQuest, Inc., and SMR research with Dr. Joel Lubar of the University of Tennessee. When I was filing away their research papers I became enthralled with the possibilities offered by this modality.
I immediately thought of ways I could use AVS for brain wave training to enhance focus, decrease impulsive behavior and improve logic. It seemed the perfect way to ‘wake up’ the leftbrain hemisphere in learning disorder individuals who were almost totally right brained. It was exciting and provided me a road to travel other than grief and loneliness. I remembered a quote from Alfred Whitehead that states: “Ideas won’t keep, something must be done about them.”
This spurred me on and I established the Mastering Alternative Learning Techniques Laboratory at Arizona State University. The MALT Lab was continued and at that time I wrote programs for Synetic Systems, later joining the InnerQuest staff as Director of Research and Development. I then spent many exciting months uncovering ways to help people learn. We carried on eight (8) pilot studies with exciting results and implications for further study.
After leaving InnerQuest I developed a private practice in Phoenix which has evolved into a training center for Olympians, elite athletes, golf pros and many children needing various approaches in learning to improve their quality of life.”
Q: How often do you personally use light and sound? What is your favorite session? Do you incorporate other modalities, such as biofeedback or tactile stimulation, during your sessions?
A: “I use light and sound whenever I have difficulties being creative or focused. I also use it for calmness when I have heard one too many stories concerning hurtful behavior relating to one of the children. I use music to therapeutically enhance my session. I have found that music excites the agents for brain endorphins known as peptides. They promote a positive attitude towards learning by activating the flow of associative memories that travel across the Corpus Collosum embracing synchrony waves for better learning balance. I also use it to help me read and retain information at a faster rate. The type of music used should relate to the intended outcome. For example, alertness relates to Bach, Vivaldi or Paganini. Deep concentration and focus are better influenced through Mozart or Brahms. Modern music, such as Enya or New Age, are best for deep rest and sleep.
My favorite unit is, of course, the second generation Focus Trainer by SportsLink. I put many hundreds of research hours into this new unit and developed it for areas of need in sports, learning, emotionality, rest and relaxation. There are many more high technology based units developed by engineers and those who devote themselves to the improvement of the field. My basic goal was to develop a unit that was scientifically based for learning, easy to use and safe.
The Focus Trainer was actually developed for active use with the clear glasses providing an opportunity for enhanced visual learning.
My overall goals were to:
A. Increase Productivity
B. Improve Mental Balance
C. Develop and Maintain Wellness
D. Achieve Calmness
E. Accelerate Learning
As I stated previously I use the Focus Trainer, light and sound for a specific purpose, usually session 7 or 1, for mental balance and alertness concerning creativity and enhanced development. Reaching the ‘zone’ requires brain synchrony and a relaxation response according to Benson’s research. I find myself training for this state often.
In our training center we use many other therapeutic modalities with light and sound. Although varied, the synergism between the modalities has been very successful. These include:
A. Galvanic Skin Response biofeedback for tracking the autonomic nervous system.
B. Vestibular stimulation to energize the reticular activating system promoting a learned response.
C. Auditory process training stemming from the Tomatis methods.
D. The Pfeiffer Clinic Nutritional Protocol which excludes foods containing large amounts of copper such as chocolate or food dyes. Dairy and wheat are also restricted in some cases.”
End of Part One
Copyright: Rayma Ditson-Sommer, Ph.D., author and AVS Journal, Michael Landgraf, publisher (2006) Granada Hills, CA. All rights reserved.