The Intuitive Heart* Among HeartMath’s most popular research is a series of studies evaluating how we receive and process information. Participants in these experiments were shown a series of photographs chosen at random by a computer on a screen in front of them. Some of the pictures were pleasant (flowers, children playing), while others were emotionally unsettling (a snake, a car crash). Before being shown any images, participants were connected to sensors to record their brain wave activity, heart activity, and heart-brain interactions. In surprising results, it was the heart that responded first, and even before the photograph was visible on screen. The heart responded faster to coming images than the brain, and the type of signal sent from the heart to the brain matched the emotional content of the picture. The flow of information went from heart to brain, and then participants became consciously aware of the experience. According to researchers, the implications are that the heart, and then brain, have access to a field of information not bound by time and space, and that the energetic system of the heart is first to receive this information.
Physiological Coherence and Regenerative Processes** Evidence from experiments conducted by HeartMath researchers and colleagues suggests that the heart plays a particularly important role in emotional experience. Based on findings, HeartMath scientists introduced the term physiological coherence to describe a number of related physiological phenomena associated with more ordered and harmonious interactions among the body’s systems. In particular, they have found that “coherence tends to emerge with the activation of heartfelt, positive emotions such as appreciation, compassion, care, and love,” which “suggests that such feelings increase the coherence and harmony in our energetic systems which are the primary drivers of our physiological coherence.” There is compelling evidence that “increased coherence and alignment in turn facilitate the body’s natural regenerative processes.” Based on evidence, HeartMath tools and technologies use coherence-building approaches. Some demonstrated benefits of physiological coherence: • Increased efficiency in fluid exchange, filtration, absorption between capillaries/tissues • Increased ability of the cardiovascular system to adapt to circulatory demands • Increased temporal synchronization of cells throughout the body • Greater system-wide energy efficiency • Improvements in cognitive performance and mental clarity • Increased emotional stability and wellbeing • Significant blood pressure reduction in individuals with hypertension • Improved functional capacity and reduced depression in congestive heart failure patients • Improved psychological health and quality of life in patients with diabetes • Improvements in asthma
*See McCraty, R. & Childre, D. (2010) “Coherence: bridging personal, social, and global health.” Alter Ther Health Med 16(4): 10-24. See also McCraty, R. (2003) The energetic heart: Bioelectromagnetic interactions within and between people. Boulder Creek, CA: Institute of HeartMath. **See “See McCraty, R., Atkinson, M., & Bradley, R.T. (2004a). “Electrophysiological evidence of intuition: Part 1. The surprising role of the heart.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 10(1), 133-143. Also see “Electrophysiological evidence of intuition: Part 2. A system-wide process? Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 10 (2), 325-336.
Sufism: An Inquiry Vol XVI, No. 2