HeartMath™: The Body and Mind in Sync
Over the last few years I’ve heard mention of the benefits of heartmath technology. The subject has come up in the context of how to help people find a daily practice that is quick and effective to decrease stress. When I saw an opportunity to be certified in HeartMath Interventions earlier this year, I decided to sign-up as I wanted to learn about the science and research behind this tool. To supplement the didactic learning I began practicing HeartMath on a daily basis. I was able to quickly notice positive benefits from the practice. I started to feel more like I do when I’m on vacation — I noticed a mellowing out in the midst of my busy life.
First, let me give you a little background. The heart has its own complex nervous system which can be thought of as the “heart brain.” The heart has the ability to act as the “global coordinator” in the body’s symphony of functions to bind and synchronize the system as a whole. With the goal of wanting to help individuals, organizations, and the larger community benefit from the heart’s intelligence, HeartMath LLC which was founded in the 1990’s as a non-profit research and education organization.
Heart-rate variability (HRV) is a measurement of naturally occurring, beat-to-beat changes in heart rate. Research shows that our emotions and breathing patterns are constantly affecting our heart rhythms. Measuring one’s heart-rate variability, then, is a way to measure the heath of one’s nervous system which has health implications for a person’s mental and physical health.
Stress can be thought of as the wear and tear the body experiences in reaction to everyday tensions and pressures. Illness, accidents, and major life changes like adoptions, marriage, divorce, changing careers and retiring are common causes of stress. But it is our response to the day-in, day-out hassles and tensions of life that can be the most damaging to our health. Another way to think about stress is this: stress is the body and mind’s response to what is perceived as an overwhelming demand.
Feelings have a powerful impact on the human body. Emotions (sometimes referred to as negative emotions) like frustration, insecurity and depression tend to be depleting, whereas positive emotions, like appreciation, care, and love, not only feel good, they also promote health, performance and well-being. (There is lots of confusion about the so-called negative emotions such as anger, fear and sadness. Even though they are depleting and add more wear and tear on the body, they are also necessary to our overall health and well-being as they provide us with vital information.)
HeartMath’s research has shown that the practice of intentionally shifting to a positive emotion results in a healthier pattern of heart rhythms. A shift in heart rhythms may not seem important but in fact it has a big effect as it creates a favorable flood of neural, hormonal and biochemical events that benefit the entire body.
To learn more about HeartMath tools and technology, take a look at their website: www.heartmath.com. If you are curious to learn more about the possibility of adding heartmath interventions to our work together, please ask me and we can discuss it further.