Theta chamber with Mike Thompson

Mike Thompson and his Theta Chamber.

OCONOMOWOC – It looks like a hibernation pod from a spaceship or H.G. Wells’ time machine or, more down to earth, the mother of all tanning beds. It occupies the space once reserved for the dining room table in Mike Thompson’s house on Okauchee Lake.

Thompson said his Theta Chamber, a multi-modality neuro sensory stimulator, would make me a better golfer.

He wanted me to get in.

I’ll try anything if I think it will help me shave a stroke or two, but this thing? You lie down, put on goggles that supply visual pattern light stimulation and ear clips that send frequencies to your brain via microcurrent signaling. You wear a headset and listen to binaural beats, along with music and a voice – sometimes two voices at once – that repeat affirmations such as, “You are the tiger, hunting the gazelle.” While you’re in the chamber, it spins horizontally.

Of course, I got in.

After 30 minutes, a span during which I lost track of time and might have dozed off, I emerged a bit disoriented but none the worse for wear. We drove immediately to Deertrak Golf Club, a few miles from Thompson’s house. I shot a 2-over 38 for nine holes, my best score of the year.

Thompson wasn’t the least bit surprised. He’s seen the Theta Chamber help people with anxiety, depression and sleep disorders by changing their brain frequencies. It stands to reason, he said, that if the chamber reduces fear and anxiety and helps improves focus and concentration, it should benefit golfers and athletes in other sports.

But how?

The combined modalities, Thompson said, put your brain in theta state. Theta brainwaves occur most often in sleep but also are dominant in deep meditation. Theta is our gateway to learning, memory and intuition.

“The brain runs on electrical impulses,” he explained. “Frequencies and wave forms are the language of the brain. People have come up with technologies that figure out a way to have a positive effect via frequencies.

“An analogy would be AM radio, you’re turning the dial and you get close to 620, you hear a little static and scratching, then all of a sudden, you’re right on 620 and you hear a voice. Our brain is like that, too. The frequencies can be kind of garbled. We’re trying to adjust the frequencies.”

Thompson speaks fast, changes topics mid-sentence and uses words I don’t often hear, unless I’m watching “Jeopardy!” My brain was spinning, and not because of the Theta Chamber.

I kinda, sorta bought it. But I needed more proof.

A few weeks later, I went back to Thompson’s house for a second session in the Theta Chamber and we again played nine holes at Deertrack. I had two bad holes early in the round but didn’t subject myself to the usual stream of negative self-talk. It’s not often that I’m calm after chipping out of the trees, topping a shot into the water and three-putting on the way to a quadruple-bogey.

Normally, that would be harder to shake than a piece of Styrofoam stuck to my finger. On this day, I parred four of the last five holes. Even Dick Wallace, a longtime PGA professional and friend with whom I’ve played dozens of rounds, noticed a change in my on-course demeanor.

I didn’t feel different, at least not in a way I can easily explain. I was maybe a little calmer, a little more patient, a little more in the moment. I didn’t suddenly develop 110 mph swing speed or start pounding my driver 300 yards. My thinking seemed to be a little clearer, or sharper. That’s how I’d describe it.

Thompson, 54, has a physical education teaching degree and is a certified athletic trainer. He owns four Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation Therapy (S.M.A.R.T) clinics at Elite Sports Clubs in Mequon, Glendale and Brookfield. His clinics were the first in Wisconsin to offer ARPwave, which can dramatically improve flexibility and range of motion by stimulating the nervous system through direct current and high pulse frequency.

“It cuts rehab time by 50 percent to 80 percent,” Thompson said. “People always ask about research and my comment is if there’s research from the floor to ceiling that tells me what this thing does, I would never believe it unless I put it on me. You have to just try it.”

The Theta Chamber, Thompson said, “is to the central nervous system what the ARPwave is to a musculoskeletal problem.”

“We’re electrical in nature,” he said. “We’re beings of frequency. We are more vibration than we are matter. You’re getting to the core root source of everything.”

Thompson estimated that there are a couple dozen Theta Chambers in the U.S. and only a handful in the Midwest. His is the only unit in Wisconsin. It’s a $65,000 investment.

Theta Chambers have been used to treat addictions, overeating, depression, sleep disorders and PTSD. Thompson also uses the BrainTap headset developed by Dr. Patrick Porter, a leading expert in brainwave technology who has written hundreds of affirming programs for the brain while it is in theta state.

It was Porter in my ear, telling me I was a tiger hunting a gazelle.

Thompson, who uses the Theta Chamber almost every day, has seen improvements in his own golf game. He hopes to start marketing it as a tool to help golfers. His grand plan is to buy an RV and take the chamber on the road in the winter, to tournaments and outings in Arizona and Florida.

“If it’s as effective with golf as we think it is so far with our initial trials, then I want to go to where the golfers are,” he said.

If you’re interested in taking a spin in the Theta Chamber, contact Thompson at (262) 435-0094 for rates and appointments.

You won’t turn into Tiger Woods. But the gazelles should be worried.

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