Heart-Brain Coherence

Have you ever felt the unspeakable radiance while witnessing somebody speak from their heart? Or felt that magnetic pull to a stranger that’s practically unexplainable?

HeartMath’s mission is to connect people with this innate inner guide that  lies at the heart of humanity. A global shift is underway to connect more deeply with one another and our own personal intuitive guidance of the heart. Through choosing to lead with love, we are choosing to care for not only our own prosperity, but the prosperity of others and of the planet. 

 

Heart-Brain Connectio

While we may have been taught that the brain is running the show, constantly sending out instructions to the rest of the body, what is not widespread information is the heart-brain connection and its heavy reliance on a bottom up system. In fact, the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than vice versa. 

It has been known since the late 1800s that there lies an intrinsic cardiac nervous system or “heart-brain,” and the field of neurocardiology has studied the nuances. This heart-brain is an intricate network of complex ganglia, neurotransmitters, proteins, and support cells just like those of the cranial brain. The heart-brain’s neural circuitry enables it to act independently of the cranial brain to learn, remember, make decisions, and even to feel and sense. 

Direct pathways from the heart to every major brain center exist and allow the heart-brain to communicate with the cranial brain. For example, one of the most integral pathways is the one connecting the heart directly to the thalamus. Since the thalamus synchronizes cortical activity, there are direct implications on foresight, decision making, social awareness, and self-regulation based on the feedback it receives from the heart. 

The heart is a global synchronization system working through rhythmic activity and transmitting information via neural impulses, hormones, neurotransmitters, sound waves, and electromagnetic energy. These continuous signals to the brain influence higher cognitive processes of perception, cognition, and emotional processing. Better understanding the heart helps us better understand our perception, emotions, intuition, and overall health.

 

Heart Rate Variability 

A key concept within the heart-brain connection is Heart Rate Variability (HRV). Our hearts beat at different patterns depending on multiple factors. The different patterns are what we refer to as HRV.  HRV is a measure of the time variation between each heartbeat––the beat to beat change. This variability is taken into consideration when analyzing the health and fitness of individuals since it shows how effective and resilient the heart can be. It regulates multiple physiological functions such as heart rate, breathing, digestion, and blood pressure. An ordered steady variability has been shown to increase lifespan and our ability to adapt mentally, emotionally, and physically.

 

An ordered variability would be characterized as coherent, even, regular peaks. Since it is organized, the heart-brain is able to send coherent information to the cranial brain allowing for globalized synchronization within the body. This type of variability allows for higher brain function and optimal performance. 

 

A disordered variability contains incoherent, jagged, irregular peaks. During this mode, the heart is radiating chaotic energy to the brain, making it so the systems become out of sync. This creates a cascade of effects within mental, emotional, and physical health. Impaired brain function and performance are symptoms of disordered variability. 

It is important to note here that HRV is not the same as relaxation or heart rate. Heart rate can be accelerated or decelerated, but a healthy HRV would mean that it is an even acceleration.  

So how does HRV change from disordered to ordered or vice versa? 

 

The Role Emotions Play 

It is known that emotions are one of the biggest influences of heart rate variability, and the connection between HRV and emotion acts as a feedback loop.  Having an organized HRV stems from emotional and behavioral stability and awareness. The more control we have in self-regulating our emotions and behaviors, the more stable our HRV is. Using this model, it all starts within––with our own emotions and perceptions. 

We can see distinctly different patterns in HRV when looking at “positive” and “negative” emotions. 

When we look at characteristically negative emotions, we are talking about anger, frustration, anxiety, sadness, etc. These types of emotions result in erratic disorganized patterns in heart rhythm. As we were discussing above, this is the type of disordered variability that presents itself with uneven jagged peaks and causes impaired performance and brain function. 

Think about the last time you got very angry with somebody. Did you blurt things out you did not mean? Or act in a way that did not seem rational later on? The next time you got angry with this person, did you uncontrollably behave in this same pattern? 

This may be because the connection from the heart to the thalamus has become disorganized, and the ability to think clearly, remember correctly and make conscious decisions becomes stunted. Neuroplasticity takes charge and this quick reaction becomes a feedback loop. 

This negative pattern causes heart incoherence. We are not connecting with our deeper selves, and the result is an imbalance between the heart, the brain, and the rest of the body. 

On the other hand, when we look at characteristically positive emotions, we are looking at love, appreciation, connection, etc. These positive emotions are associated with an organized heart pattern. This organized pattern reinforces higher cognitive processing and emotional stability. The heart sends clear signals to the brain so that the two parts of the autonomic nervous system, sympathetic and parasympathetic, become balanced and the heart has facilitated globalized synchronization. This is called heart coherence.

 

More on Coherence

Heart coherence is the ability to become more aligned with your inner self and more aware of your ability to self-regulate your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. It is the harmonious behavior of a complex system, connectedness in communication, stability, and efficient use of energy. 

Through actively engaging sustainable positive emotions, we are able to move into a state called psychophysiological coherence. This state actually changes our physiological and psychological functioning. Physiologically, we see efficiency and harmony within the body. The body is able to adapt more effectively, build resiliency, and ebb and flow as it should. Psychologically, we see increased emotional balance, mental clarity, cognitive performance, intuitive discernment, and reduced mental chatter, as well as a less negative perception of stress. The increased sensory awareness, harmony, and emotional stability lead to a more intentional way of being. Our heart’s electromagnetic field becomes more organized, and by becoming aware of our own field, we can start to become more aware of others. 

We all tend to get “stuck” in certain maladaptive behavioral and emotional patterns. Through using this bi-directional communication system that exists between the brain and the heart, we can learn to reset these patterns through neuroplasticity and positive reinforcement. By focusing on your perception of emotion, your heart rhythm, and your breathing, it is allowing the heart to send out coherent signals up to the brain and facilitate synchronization. A sort of “self-induced positive emotional state”. There lies a trickle-down effect to a globalized synchronization within the entire body.

In contrast,  if we are constantly living in an incoherent state, repeating the same behaviors and rehearsing the same emotional reactions, our heart patterns are constantly disorganized and jagged. This leaves no room for synchronization. 

 

So how can we change this? 

 

We are able to make the conscious decision to go from heart incoherence to coherence by being aware and loving towards our inner selves and the world around us. 

Maintaining emotional and behavioral stability personally and socially starts within the self. One of the first causes of instability is an inability to self-regulate. Failures within emotional self-regulation cause those incoherent heart patterns. Working on strengthening the ability to step back, evaluate and respond versus react will reap the positive benefits of heart coherence. 

Your inner self can be related to an inner battery. How are we charging it? What is worth depleting it? Through achieving this personal coherence, our mind and emotions are brought into alignment with the heart’s intuitive guidance and energy. 

 

The Heart’s Energetic Field

The heart produces a strong electromagnetic field––clocking in at 5000 times stronger than the brain’s field. It penetrates every cell in the body and, with delicate magnetometers, can be detected several feet away from the body and between two individuals. This field acts as a carrier wave for information to the brain and branching out to the entire body. We can start to see how important it is to fill this powerful electromagnetic field with stable and coherent information. 

 

Energetic Communication

When we think of communication, we often think of language, gestures, and expressions.

Additionally, however, evidence has been presented that a fine yet prominent electromagnetic field exists just out of reach of our conscious awareness. We all communicate subliminally within this electromagnetic field without even being fully aware of it. This energetic communication may provide answers to the “magnetic” attractions and repulsions we feel towards other people. 

Akin to how a cell phone passes along information, the heart’s powerful electromagnetic field consists of information and coding radiating throughout and outside of the body. The nervous system can tune into these electromagnetic fields, so the question we have to ask ourselves is, “What am I feeding this field?” A coherent heart gives off the most organized and stable field. 

By focusing on heart-centered interactions and shifting your inner experience of emotions and thoughts, a higher vibration has room to occur within yourself, between others, and even on a global scale. As we all actualize into a more balanced functional state, this ability to communicate through energy enhances, producing a much deeper level of understanding and empathy suggesting a higher level of consciousness within the social arena of life. It may affect the way we show up in our relationships and the world. The more in tune you are with your heart, brain, and nervous system, the more in tune you may be with this energetic communication. 

 

HeartMath’s Research 

The HeartMath Institute has been working for over 30 years to improve emotional balance, performance, and overall health through the heart-brain connection. In the early 1990s, HeartMath was one of the first to reveal the effects of emotion on our physiology and how it relates to Heart Rate Variability. 

 

HeartMath approach to self-regulation and psychosocial well-being

Findings within HeartMath’s research show that intentionally focusing on the heart while also intentionally self-inducing positive emotions can bring about coherency in the present and the future through neuroplasticity (McCraty & Childre, 2010). These findings bring many questions: Can this coherent field transfer to other individuals over close proximity? What about longer distances? Can an individual who is feeling depressed, angry, or frustrated be influenced by positive emotions? While the answer to the last question has been proven, the answers to the first two are still under study. HeartMath is aiming to better understand the effects of human energetic fields over long distances and has launched the Global Coherence Initiative in 2008 in order to better understand it all. GCI is a science-based initiative using multidisciplinary approaches including the geosciences, astrophysics, and a wide range of data from human and animal studies in correlation to global and social events. In addition, GCI utilizes a coherence monitoring system collecting diverse sets of data on the Earth’s magnetic field and the effects and influences on human emotions. 

 

Energetic Communication: Heart-Brain Synchronization During Non Physical Contact 

Another study by the HeartMath Institute looked at the heart-brain synchronization during nonphysical contact utilizing an EEG reading of two subjects. The data presented show it can be possible for the electromagnetic signals radiating from one person to influence the brain patterns of another. This happened at multiple distances with multiple conclusions. 

 

Nonlocal Intuition

A meta-analysis analyzed the data from nine experiments studying physiological activity that happened before a future event that would otherwise have been unable to predict.  Eight of the nine studies showed statistically significant evidence. There is convincing evidence that shows that the heart receives information about an event and responds to that information before the event actually happens.

 

HeartMath Tools & Techniques 

Since 1991, HeartMath has aimed to provide tools and techniques for individuals to deepen one’s connection to their heart and bridge the gap between the heart and brain. The effects of being more aware of your heart’s rhythms will trigger a whole-body alignment leading to more emotional balance, clarity, empathy, personal strength, confidence, and resilience. 

Through learning to use your heart’s intuitive guidance and practicing techniques for emotional and behavioral self-regulation, we are able to reach a higher level of balance, connection, intuition, and creativity.

HeartMath’s techniques will teach you how to work with stressful events while bringing your heart, brain, and body into sync to effectively tackle the problem and maintain coherence. 

HeartMath has a combination of learning programs, coherence technology, and certified professionals. On the HeartMath website, you will be able to find the different segments depending on where you would like to start on your journey. 

 

Learning Programs 

HeartMath recommends you start with the HeartMath Experience, a free 90-minute introduction to the science, information, and the different assets of heart coherence and its importance.

If you prefer to start with other courses, books, or blogs there is an array of information on the website as well. 

For example, the “quick coherence technique” will guide you through heart breathing, heart focus, and heart feeling to better understand the relationship between you and your heart. This type of program is utilized for short-term, quick relief. 

 

Coherence Technology 

The Inner Balance Trainer is a Bluetooth device that measures your heart’s pattern through sensors and sends the information directly to your phone. This visual feedback will help you train yourself to shift from stress and other negative emotions into a more balanced and resilient way of being. 

Global Coherence App. The goal of this app is to build a coherent community with real-time data to support our planet and the people on it. Through collective heart coherence, we are able to achieve a higher vibrational frequency of consciousness and create a momentum of heart-centered individuals with high impact. Through heart rhythm synchronization, this app will connect people from all over the globe who have this desire to harmoniously collaborate within the realm of heart coherence.

The heart’s intelligence is vast, and we have only touched the surface of its guidance and intuition. Connecting through the heart means living a life that empowers self-regulation to reach great amounts of personal balance, insight, health, and creativity. It is a life that sees the importance in our inner guides and how they speak with others.

Through feeding our energetic fields with more love and care for each other, we can all start to shift into a world that is more compassionate and cooperative. Through recognizing there are higher ways of being, we can foster higher global and personal vibrations through a more coherent signal. We are at a transformational period in recognizing that love is the new intelligence.

Are you ready to shift your focus?

 

Works Cited

Firstbeat. 2021. What is Heart Rate Variability (HRV) & why does it matter? | Firstbeat Blog. [online] Available at: <https://www.firstbeat.com/en/blog/what-is-heart-rate-variability-hrv/> [Accessed 8   June 2021]. 

 

HeartMath Institute. 2021. Chapter 07: Intuition Research – HeartMath Institute. [online] Available at: <https://www.heartmath.org/research/science-of-the-heart/intuition-research/> [Accessed 8 June 2021]. 

 

HeartMath. 2021. HeartMath. [online] Available at: <https://www.heartmath.com/> [Accessed 8 June 2021].

 

Jorina Elbers & Rollin McCraty (2020) HeartMath approach to self-regulation and psychosocial well-being, Journal of Psychology in Africa, 30:1, 69-79, DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2020.1712797 

 

McCraty, Rollin., Raymond T, Bradley., & Tomasino Dana. Feb. 2005. “The Resonant Heart: An electromagnetic field produced through the heart that can be detected several feet from the  individual”. Heart Fields. 15-19. [accessed 7 June 2021].

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