Illustration of coherence: blue wave is coherent while red is not. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Science and the Heart
Neurocardiology, Psychoimmunology (Mind-Body) and Energy Psychology have all made significant contributions to what we now know about the heart and how we can “work” with it. TheInstituteofHeartMath, a research institute inBoulder Creek,CA, has been a major contributor to this research and has helped to provide a much clearer picture of the heart’s role in emotions, heart-brain communication, and stress physiology than ever before.
The Institute of HeartMath (IHM) is a non profit research and educational foundation that was founded in 1991 by stress researcher Doc Lew Childre and a multidisciplinary team of professionals.
IHM furthered research into heart physiology by looking at the HOW of heart logic and more specifically how it influenced behavior. They determined that through cultivating ‘heart intelligence’ …that is by using a method that creates coherent heart rhythms… the primitive emotional centers of the brain no longer dominated and a clearer perspective emerged that enabled greater intelligence to be brought to the management of emotion.
I have seen this approach work very effectively in my personal life as well as with my clients. As we learn how to focus on our energetic heart in an open spacious way we can bring calmness to emotional turmoil, and often spontaneously have realizations that lead to greater understanding, meaning, resolution or healing of the particular dilemma underlying our distress. These realizations come easily, effortlessly and often lead the in a whole new direction that is much more beneficial than if we solely relied on the lower mind to problem solve and try to plan or mentally bully our way out of problems.
The Intuitive Heart
Another area that has been studied extensively at IHM is intuition. It has been found that not only is emotional intelligence enhanced by engaging the heart but it is also possible to develop greater wisdom and intuition as the heart is “used” in positive and health enhancing ways.
IHM has developed a simple straightforward approach to developing the strength, intelligence and influence of the heart on overall level of well being. It involves focusing on the heart, breath and feelings of gratitude or appreciation for a period of time as in meditation or using it on the spot in stressful situations. This helps to lead people out of knee jerk reactivity based on negatives emotions and helps to restore inner harmony. In addition to the psychological benefits, this method also has been found to have a highly beneficial effect on physical health.
Some of the benefits are:
Balanced heart rhythms and hormone levels
Increased DHEA (Helps slow changes associated with aging)
DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone) is a natural hormone produced by your adrenal glands that helps to regulate the overall balance of hormones in your body. DHEA fuels your body. Your body produces the highest levels during your twenties and then naturally declines with age. Insufficient DHEA contributes to problems with your immune system, fatigue, depression, bone and muscle mass and much more. Getting adequate rest, regular exercise and some exposure to sunlight contribute to healthy DHEA levels.
Studies have also shown beneficial effects on blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, ADD and a myriad of psychological conditions. The magic of heart based approaches seems to be a result of the creation of coherent heart rhythms which result in more healthy and effective signals to the brain that encourage it to send healthier signals back down through the whole body.
Over the past few decades it has been learned that the heart actually has a brain of its own and that IT sends more messages to the brain than the other way around. This means that the heart with proper management can be a source of emotional intelligence that can help to calm the more primitive impulsive reactivity of the brain in addition to helping to develop intuition and insight.
Key Information You Can Capitalize on for Health, Wealth and Happiness!
1. Even though the brain does send signals to the heart, the heart has a system to selectively decide whether to obey them or not. In other words it has an intelligence of its own.
2. On the other hand when the heart sends signals to the brain, they are obeyed!
3. Messages from, or conditions in, the heart influence behavior. We are all aware of people who seem to have an angry heart and their behavior matches their internal state! With training in how to produce coherent heart rhythms, emotions will shift and then behavioral change follows.
4. The pulsations of our hearts are an intelligent language that influences how we perceive and react to the world. When we focus in the heart and produce coherent rhythms we see more clearly, are less influenced by the primitive brain and are more open to receiving input from our higher centers. This input has wisdom and creativity that our lower brain centers are not capable of.
5. The electromagnetic power of the heart is five thousand times stronger than that of the brain. This amazing fact points to the centrality of the heart in all areas of our lives.
6. The electronic signature of a person’s heartbeat can be found in the ECG of a person they are physically in proximity to. Once again we have new science showing why we feel some of the things that we do—such as feeling in or out of phase with another. This also holds clues as to why we feel certain ways with certain people.
7. The energy field of the heart can project out 10-12 feet from the body. With this kind of projection it follows that we are sensing and feeling a great deal of our environment but perhaps not registering or understanding the ramifications of that sensing.
8. Coherent heart rhythms have been shown to positively combine with intention and attention to create biological change.
9. Coherence internally has been demonstrated to affect external structures such as DNA in test tubes. Coherence is quite likely an important factor in the creation of our life experience.
If you are interested in more specifics regarding the research at IHM: