"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.” CS Lewis

Licensed Professional Counselor, Pawleys Island, SC

Biofeedback - HeartMath


What is HeartMath?

The HeartMath Interventions (HMI) program is a biofeedback program that emphasizes the role of the heart and heart rate variability (HRV) as a key component to the emotional system. Recent biomedical research has clarified that the heart is much more than a simple pump. It is indeed a highly complex, self-organized information-processing center. Research has confirmed that the messages the heart sends to the brain not only affect physiological regulation, but also can profoundly influence perception, emotion, behavior, performance and health.

HMI combines emotional restructuring with biofeedback and relaxation techniques to assist your body in establishing a healthier response to stress. People who have utilized these techniques report results that are sustained over time because the HMI program helps create a change in your body's baseline emotional and physiologic response to stress. However you may respond when you are experiencing increased stress-yelling at the kids or your spouse, high blood pressure, anxiety, PTSD, back and neck pain, or headaches-HeartMath can help. Self regulation is an empowering tool for those suffering from the effects of stress.

Mind Body Impact of HeartMath on Health

The HeartMath program shifts from a disease-based model to one that bridges the chasm between mind and body. It is a self-empowering program that offers tools and techniques that blend increased self-awareness with emotional self-regulation skills. By intentionally making internal adjustments with the initial support of HeartMath, individuals can self-regulate their emotional states to inhibit poor
behavioral responses, re-establish stability and improve health and relationships.

HeartMath offers techniques to interrupt self-defeating cycles and provides opportunities to develop dynamic new patterns (efficient heart-rhythm patterns using heart rate variability (HRV) training) through positive emotional shifts and by reinforcing them until they become familiar. We offer practice through access to equipment at no charge. “By learning to access the intuitive intelligence of the heart, we are better able to care for ourselves, our families, our community, and the world itself.” Rollin McCraty, Ph.D. Institute of HeartMath.

Stress Reduction and HeartMath

Stress has become an all too familiar household word. “It's just stress” is a phrase often used to dismiss an emotional outburst, forgetfulness, headache, pain, or illness. From a body-mind perspective, emotions are the main ingredient in the experience of stress; indeed, it is emotions—feelings such as anxiety, irritation, frustration, lack of control, overwhelm, hopelessness—that individuals experience when they describe themselves as “stressed.” HeartMath research indicates that emotions, even more than thoughts, activate and drive the body's physical changes that correlate with the stress response. Thus, the key to optimal health and vitality is directly related to our ability to self-regulate our emotional experience. Simply stated, the emotions we often label as “negative” do, in fact, disrupt optimal physiological and mental functions. Conversely, the emotions we often refer to as “positive” facilitate a wide range of physiological functions, renew our energy, and optimize the body's natural regenerative processes.

How Does HeartMath Work?

HMI utilizes intentionally generated heart rate rhythmic patterns (heart rate variability or HRV) with positive emotion based coherence building techniques to help create a permanent shift in the physiologic and emotional response to stress. The changes in HRV are monitored and give the user feedback on how their practice is changing their body's response to stress. Stress is ever present. Stress reduction comes with reducing our response to the stress.

What is a Session Like?

After baseline measures are taken, a practice protocol is developed that results in a change in the pattern of signals sent to the brain from the heart, which serves to reinforce the self-generated positive emotional shift that is part of the practice plan. Participants report a sense of empowerment resulting from the ability to self regulate previously unhealthy responses to stress or other life events.

Emotional Physiology:

A key area of focus at the HeartMath Research Center is exploring our emotions and how they affect our physiology, with an emphasis on the physiological effects of positive emotions, especially intentionally experienced positive emotions. Studies already have revealed there are pronounced beneficial changes in the patterns of activity in the autonomic nervous, immune and hormonal systems and the brain and heart when we experience emotions such as appreciation, love, care and compassion. There are indications these physiological changes may help explain the connection between positive emotions, improved health and increased longevity. IHM researchers have shown that the heart plays an important role in the generation and perception of emotion.

For more information: www.heartmath.com