In the last few years, more people than ever — from different backgrounds and walks of life — are talking about the heart. More company mission statements make a point to mention the importance of the heart in leadership and customer care. More speakers, articles and books, both spiritual and non-spiritual, are referring to the heart. Whether people mention speaking from the heart, listening to the heart, connecting with the heart, or following the heart, it is a clear sign that there is increased energetic awareness of the importance of the heart in all of life’s decisions.
As a result, a new understanding of “heart” is emerging—one that moves the view of heart past a philosophical, often soft characterization into the realization of the heart as a dynamic, creative intelligence. The intelligence of the heart encompasses physical, emotional, intuitive and energetic/spiritual aspects of heart, essential for providing discernment and guidance to navigate life and experience wholeness fulfillment. Bringing the physical, emotional, intuitive and spiritual aspects into coherent alignment leads to a new way of perceiving, acting, re-acting, and relating —called Heart-Based Living.
Heart-based living refers to all intentions and actions that express qualities of the heart in daily life. These heart qualities or core heart values can include appreciating or caring for others, expressing kindness to those around you, and giving back by volunteering to work with others to relieve suffering and to help the planet. Heart-based living allows us to experience less self-centeredness and separation, less judgment, more intuitive discernment and more genuine fulfillment.
For the last eighteen years my colleagues and I at HeartMath have been exploring the power of the heart physically, emotionally and spiritually. The HeartMath organizations (for-profit and non-profit), founded by Doc Childre, have developed a system for personal and organizational development consisting of techniques, innovative and useful concepts, tools and technologies designed to utilize the power of the heart to improve performance, health and overall well-being while reducing stress. The entire system is underpinned with breakthrough scientific research on heart-brain communication and the many beneficial effects of experiencing positive emotions, like those long metaphorically associated with “heart”.
For me the exploration of the heart, which led me to HeartMath many years ago, began with a genuine desire to become a better, self-empowered person and to find ways to live a life that was more balanced, caring and fulfilling. I read and studied many books and often saw the heart being referred as having influence over our thoughts, feelings and values. I wondered what “heart” was really all about and did it hold an essential intelligence? Little did I know that the future understanding of heart would usher in new views of physiology and psychology.
Researches here at HeartMath, working in consort with others, have discovered some amazing new understanding about the heart. For me this information was eye opening as it confirmed much of what I intuitively had felt about the heart being a source of wisdom and intelligence.
We all know that the heart pumps blood throughout the body, but new research shows it does a lot more. In fact the heart acts like a master control system sending powerful, healing commands to the brain and the rest of the body. It does this in four ways.
First, the heart has a very complex nervous system consisting of neurons, proteins and support cells that sends information to the brain. Scientists around the world who study this nervous system actually call it the “brain in the heart”. The information it sends travels through a nerve pathway that originates in the heart and terminates in the higher perceptual centers of the brain. This means that there is an important neurological conversation taking place between heart and brain. When scientists map out this biological conversation they clearly see that the heart is sending a lot more information to the brain than it receives.
The heart also influences brain function through what is called the blood pressure wave. This is the wave of energy created by the beating heart that pushes blood through the arteries and veins. This blood pressure wave influences the electrical activity in the brain. As the blood pressure wave changes so does brain activity. In essence researchers now know that brain function is critically dependent on information it receives from the heart through the heart’s nervous system and blood pressure waves! This new knowledge put the phrase “listening to your heart” in a new context for me.
The third way the heart communicates to the brain and body is through hormones. In 1983 the heart was reclassified as part of our hormonal system. It produces several important hormones and one of them, atrial peptide, helps to reduce the release of the stress hormone cortisol. So, in this third instance, we have a chemical communication going on between heart and body all of the time.
The fourth way, however, is where things get really interesting. The heart is an electrical organ producing by far the largest amount of electrical energy in our bodies—forty to sixty times as much power as the second strongest source, the brain. This energy permeates every single cell in our bodies. The signal is so strong that it creates an electromagnetic field that surrounds the body in 360 degrees and can actually be measured up to three to four feet outside the body. That’s right, the electrical energy produced by the heart radiates outside the body into space. The heart’s field is not static. It changes, depending on what we are feeling. For example, when we are feeling emotions like anger or frustration, the frequencies in the field become chaotic and disordered. On the other hand when we are experiencing emotions like compassion, care, appreciation or love, the frequencies in the field becomes more ordered and coherent. In a sense, through the electromagnetic field created by the heart we are literally broadcasting our emotions like radio waves.
As we examine the heart’s energetic communication, we move beyond biology and into physics—how electromagnetic and energetic fields relate to one another. How does the heart’s field affect the brain? How do fields created by living systems, like people or animals, affect one another? How does our field interact with the magnetic fields produced by the earth itself? Is the heart producing a non-linear field that extends out far beyond just a few feet? These are all questions that HeartMath researchers are looking at and I’m confident more exciting discoveries about the heart are in store.
At the very least, new scientific research is providing a modern understanding of many of the things that have been said about the heart’s qualities for thousands of years. These discoveries are revealing that the heart is really a crucial part of our overall intelligence systems. What the ancients said thousands of years ago appears to be truer than we thought. Adding scientific understanding doesn’t take away from the softer or intuitive view of heart. We’ve found that science adds a grounded, empirical understanding appropriate for modern times, which lends value to the importance of developing heart-based living.
Our research led to development of techniques and training programs which have been delivered to hundreds of thousands of program participants in large Fortune 100 companies, health care and educational institutions, and to many, many people in pursuit of personal growth. This was our way of providing a practical, mainstream approach to developing the heart and serving others. It also led to the development of innovative new technology that’s good for you. Technology that can help people connect with the intelligence of their heart and improve the all-important communication with the brain and body that provides.
The emWave PC® software and sensor that connects to the USB port on a computer tracks the subtle beat-to-beat changes in our heart rhythms and the emWave Personal Stress Reliever®, a hand-held device, does the same These changes in our heart rhythms reflect shifts in emotional state and the quality of our heart/brain interactions. Through a patented process, the emWave algorithm tell us how coherent or ordered these rhythms are; the more coherent the better.
emWaves not only give us valuable real-time feedback about the quality of our heart/brain interactions, they train us to improve them. As we do, the benefits gained are remarkable. When we increase coherence and see the changes registering on the emWave, stress levels go down, brain function improves and we have the ability to feel positive emotions that regenerate us. This all leads to more awareness, intuitive discernment and the ability to live a more heart-centered life.
The speed of change on the planet is moving faster, creating an epidemic of stress. Global problems that seem to have no solutions are mounting and we are at a point in time where important choices need to be made to insure our collective future. Accessing more of the heart’s power and intelligence to enhance creativity and engender more compassion and care is needed more than ever. emWaves don’t work magic, but they do offer a convenient way to facilitate awakening this intelligence.
Here is a short video of HeartMat’s CEO Bruce Cryer talking about stress, heart/brain communication and the emWave PC
Learn more about the emWave Personal Stress Reliever at http://www.emwave.com/
I was asked a questioning in a recent media interview, “Howard, after many years of exploring the heart what has it done for you?” I paused and this is close to what I said.
“I’m still, of course, working every day to be a better man, but I can say that through the heart I’ve become someone who has learned to love more and judge less. I’ve experienced a lot of fulfillment in my life and I want others to have their own version of fulfillment as well.”
You to make choices—without fear—that you know are right for you while still sensitively respecting others.