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  • Heartmath Information

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    What is HeartMath?

    HeartMath is a unique system of rigorous scientific research, validated techniques, leading-edge products and programs, and advanced technologies for people interested in personal development and improved emotional, mental and physical health. HeartMath is internationally recognized for our practical solutions to transform the stress of change and uncertainty and bring coherence and renewed energy into people’s lives.

    Who uses HeartMath?

    The HeartMath system of techniques and technologies is being used by hundreds of thousands of individuals around the world, thousands of health professionals, as well as hundreds of companies, health care systems, educational institutions, and government agencies. In our work with organizations we deliver programs for all levels of staff from leadership training, to management teams to employee wellness and professional development programs. Train the trainer programs are commonly implemented to expand the HeartMath program rapidly through an organization. For consumers and health professionals we offer a variety of products and programs, including the emWave® interactive technology products, one-on-one coaching sessions, phone-based programs, e-training programs, e-booklets and audio programs, and books. In our educational trainings (provided by the Institute of HeartMath) we work with educators, students, and administrative staff. The Institute also certifies educators so that they can integrate HeartMath programs into their curricula for students.

    Is HeartMath’s research peer reviewed?

    All major scientific journals have a rigorous peer review process and HeartMath’s research has been published in a number of scientific peer-reviewed journals such as American Journal of Cardiology,Stress Medicine, Preventive Cardiology, Journal of the American College of Cardiology, Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science and Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.

    Why the word HeartMath?

    Although the words “Heart” and “Math” are rarely used together, Doc Childre, founder of the Institute of HeartMath and HeartMath LLC , felt that this combination reflected the two essential aspects of our work. Heart—The word heart has meaning to almost everyone. When we think of heart, we think not only of the physical heart but also qualities such as wisdom, love, compassion, courage and strength — the higher aspects of all human beings. Math—Math is commonly understood as a comprehensive system of equations, formulas and ways of understanding the world. In the context of HeartMath, the word math refers to the stepping stones or the nuts and bolts for systematically unfolding the qualities of the heart. It also refers to physiological and psychological equations for accessing and developing the incredible potential of the heart. The term HeartMath represents the importance of both aspects in our exploration of the heart.

    What’s unique about HeartMath approach to stress?

    The HeartMath approach is based on extensive research into the physiology of stress and emotions, and the importance of coherent communication between heart and brain. Our techniques, technologies and programs are scientifically validated and provide sustainable results. HeartMath’s approach goes beyond traditional methods of stress reduction by incorporating two key elements: the heart and positive emotions. In the early ‘90s, HeartMath researchers identified a distinct pattern in the heart rhythms that is characteristic of positive emotions like appreciation, care, love, and compassion. These patterns reflect physiological coherence – when the heart, brain, and nervous system are working in harmony. Emotions move faster than thought and are registered by the heart before the brain. The heart pulses out a rhythmic pattern that reflects our emotional state, transmitting this information to the brain, rest of the body, and even into the environment – via an electromagnetic field. Based on these discoveries, HeartMath created a set of positive-emotion-focused techniques that foster a state of coherence. These techniques have been proven to increase heart rhythm coherence and reduce stress and anxiety. There have been dozens of studies on these practices demonstrating the profoundly beneficial effects on the heart, cognitive functions, and overall health. HeartMath research demonstrates that we have more power over our emotional experiences than once thought.

    Isn’t HeartMath just about relaxation and breathing techniques?

    While relaxation and breathing techniques are valuable methods to achieve greater balance and calm, HeartMath’s approach goes considerably further. Our techniques do incorporate the physiological benefits of relaxation and many of the HeartMath techniques also include a step in which you are instructed to do heart-focused breathing. However, use of the HeartMath emotional shifting techniques and technologies lead to a very different physiological and psychological state than relaxation or rhythmic breathing. We call this state coherence. This emotional shift is a key element of the techniques’ effectiveness and produces a wider array of benefits than those typically achieved through breathing alone. These include deeper perceptual and emotional changes, increased access to intuition and creativity, improvements in cognitive performance, and favorable changes in hormonal balance. Many individuals believe that if they could just learn to relax then they would be healthier and happier. Relaxation and breathing techniques are important and beneficial in that they calm the system and temporarily draw attention away from distressing feelings and reduce physiological arousal. In fact, breathing at the appropriate rhythm facilitates an emotional shift and for this reason, heart focused breathing is the first step in a number of the emotional refocusing and restructuring techniques developed at HeartMath. While the breathing step is helpful for calming, sustaining shifts in engrained attitudes and strong emotions takes much more than that. This is why we focus on teaching people how to increasingly shift the significance out of negative emotions and build replacement attitudes. This is done by learning to engage the power of the heart’s intent. The important part of the process is learning how to shift attention to the heart and activate a positive feeling or attitude replacement. That’s why the HeartMath techniques are designed to help people shift the feelings, not just the thoughts. Once the feelings shift, then the thoughts automatically become more positive. Another important distinction is this: the majority of relaxation practices are essentially disassociation techniques. Scientifically speaking these disassociated states are characterized by an overall reduction in autonomic outflow which results in a state specific reduction in heart rate variability and a shift in autonomic nervous system balance towards increased parasympathetic activity (the relaxation response). In other words, disassociating calms you down. While the ability to relax is an important skill, relaxation typically decreases performance. By contrast, the HeartMath techniques focus on maintaining internal awareness and self-activated positive emotional shifts which leads to increased coherence. Coherence is associated with an energetic calm and increases cognitive performance – i.e.: improved memory, discrimination, focus, reaction times, etc. This is why Olympic athletes, medical professionals, soldiers, police officers and business executives find our approach beneficial. Their professions demand that they stay attentive and energized yet balanced and calm.

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