Q: What is HeartMath?
The HeartMath Institute was founded in 1991 on one basic, guiding principle: that the heart is a source of intelligence. The founders set out to build a research institute that could provide scientifically validated tools to help people “listen” to the wisdom of their own hearts. The e-book Science of the Heart, written and published by the HeartMath Research Center and available online, sums up over two decades of research into the connection between the heart and the brain, or what HeartMath calls the “heart brain.”
The theory rests on the notion that the rhythm and pattern of your heartbeat actually sync with various emotional states such as anger, anxiety, contentment and happiness.
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The most common way health professionals and individuals use HeartMath’s practices on a daily basis is with an app called Inner Balance, a kind of heart-rhythm feedback monitor and personal trainer. You hook a sensor up to your earlobe that sends data to your smartphone about your heart rhythms, translates them to a visual pattern and lets you know when you are in a desirable state called “coherence.” The guided sessions make it pretty easy to use. Being in a state of coherence means that your physical, mental and emotional systems are in sync – working more efficiently and harmoniously. HeartMath has shown that this state has wide-ranging benefits for your health.
There are over 300 independent, peer-reviewed studies validating HeartMath’s approach, underscoring how “restorative” emotions – forgiveness, love, acceptance, gratitude and the like – have a measurable effect on your physiology such as calming stress and lowering blood pressure. Users are told to focus on these restorative emotions while doing 5-minute sessions of self-monitoring using tools such as Inner Balance. (Other, more sophisticated multi-user systems are also available using the same technology.)
My take: HeartMath is a great way to center yourself, focus on positive emotions and get into a calm, relaxed state. I personally use it daily.