During a HeartMath session, you are connected to a computer or phone app thru an earlobe sensor. We talk a bit about how stress affects you. I generally teach you one or two HeartMath calming practices. You practice the calming exercises for a few minutes. Then we review the computer readout.
The graph shows Heart Rate Variability. The rhythm of your heart changes beat to beat. Smooth changes in heart rate denote calm, coherent breathing, thinking, emotions. This variability is an indicator of health, resilience and how you manage stress. In the graph above, the left side is recorded during session questions, the right half is recorded practicing calming practice.
In the coherent state, these smooth changes in our heart rate facilitates clear thinking, stable emotions, and balance in our heart brain communications which affects our entire body. This means that learning to generate increased heart rhythm coherence, by sustaining positive emotions, not only benefits the entire body, but also profoundly affects how we perceive, think, feel, and perform.
The software is available to purchase if you’d want but the goal to me is to get you to see how calming practices, breathing and directing your emotions benefits your body physiology. Once you can see the results, all you have to do is keep practicing the calming skills.
Book a session and learn about this experience for yourself. I’ll send you home with a handout to help you remember the calming practices we did plus a password for access to my portal site where clients have access to more info.
Cost– $65 for 1 hr, $35 for 1/2 hr. Return visits to check in on progress are $20 for half hour.
Way more information from the HeartMath.com ‘s website.
The Heart–Brain Connection
Most people believe that the brain runs everything in the body. In the West, many of us really identify with our brain… as if that organ is who we are. Yes, your brain is great, a powerful onboard computer that is essential. However, did you know that it’s the heart that sends more message to the brain and the rest of the body than the brain sends out? The heart is also our seat of deeper emotions and is likely more a part of the person you see your self as. Scientists at the HeartMath Institute have done extensive scientific research by looking at how heart activity affect the brain’s functioning.
HeartMath research has demonstrated that different patterns of heart activity accompany different emotional states. These patterns have distinct effects on cognitive and emotional function. During stress and negative emotions, when the heart rhythm pattern is erratic and disordered, the corresponding pattern of neural signals traveling from the heart to the brain inhibits higher cognitive functions. This limits our ability to think clearly, remember, learn, reason, and make effective decisions.
In contrast, the more ordered and stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect – it facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive feelings and emotional stability. This means that learning to generate increased heart rhythm coherence, by sustaining positive emotions, not only benefits the entire body, but also profoundly affects how we perceive, think, feel, and perform.
Your Heart’s Changing Rhythm
The rhythm of a healthy heart-even under resting conditions – is surprisingly irregular, with the time interval between consecutive heartbeats constantly changing. This naturally occurring beat-to-beat variation in heart rate is called heart rate variability (HRV).
The normal variability in heart rate is due to the synergistic action of the two branches of the autonomic nervous system (ANS)—the part of the nervous system that regulates most of the body’s internal functions. The sympathetic nerves act to accelerate heart rate, while the parasympathetic (vagus) nerves slow it down.
Scientists and physicians consider HRV to be an important indicator of health and fitness. As a marker of physiological resilience and behavioral flexibility, it reflects our ability to adapt effectively to stress and environmental demands.
Heart Rhythm Patterns and Emotions
Many factors affect the activity of the ANS, and therefore influence HRV. These include our breathing patterns, physical exercise, and even our thoughts. Research at the HeartMath Institute has shown that one of the most powerful factors that affect our heart’s changing rhythm is our feelings and emotions. When our varying heart rate is plotted over time, the overall shape of the waveform produced is called the heart rhythm pattern. HeartMath research has found that the emotions we experience directly affect our heart rhythm pattern – and this, in turn, tells us much about how our body is functioning.
Coherence: A State of Optimal Function
The HeartMath Institute’s research has shown that generating sustained positive emotions facilitates a body-wide shift to a specific, scientifically measurable state called psychophysiological coherence. Physiologically, the coherence state is marked by the development of a smooth, sine-wave-like pattern in the heart rate variability trace. This characteristic pattern, called heart rhythm coherence, is the primary indicator of the psychophysiological coherence state, and is what the HeartMath technologies measure and quantify. Physiological entrainment during coherence.
The top graphs show an individual’s heart rate variability, blood pressure rhythm (pulse transit time), and respiration rhythm over a 10-minute period. At the 300-second mark (center dashed line), the individual used HeartMath’s Quick Coherence® technique to activate a feeling of appreciation and shift into the coherence state. At this point, the rhythms of all three systems came into entrainment: notice that the rhythmic patterns are harmonious and synchronized with one another instead of scattered and out-of-sync. The left side of the graphs shows the spectral analysis of the three physiological rhythms before the shift to coherence. Notice how each pattern looks quite different from the others. The graphs on the right show that in the coherence state the rhythms of all three systems have entrained to oscillate at the same frequency.
Not only are there fundamental physiological differences between relaxation and coherence, but the psychological characteristics of these states are also quite different. Relaxation is a low-energy state in which the individual rests both the body and mind, typically disengaging from cognitive and emotional processes. In contrast, coherence generally involves the active engagement of positive emotions. Psychologically, coherence is experienced as a calm, balanced, yet energized and responsive state that is conducive to everyday functioning and interaction, including the performance of tasks requiring mental acuity, focus, problem-solving, and decision-making, as well as physical activity and coordination.