Waking up to the power of HeartMath

This summer I finally took the leap and enrolled on the Heart Math Coach training course.  It is a course I have been wanting to do for some time now.

I had been practicing and sharing HeartMath techniques for a while now, but I wanted a deeper understanding for myself and my clients.

I am still very much at the start of this HeartMath Journey, but I thought it might be interesting to document my learnings along the way.

So, what actually is HeartMath?

HeartMath is a system designed by scientists to help us reduce or manage our stress which is the underlying cause of so much lifestyle disease. It combines breathwork with emotional regulation techniques, and also includes optional access to biofeedback technology that can measure our baseline physiology and monitor progress over time as we practice the techniques.

As someone who has struggled to manage her own stress and sleep over the years, often due to my own struggles managing my own emotions, Heart Math made so much sense.

So many of us struggle with continual self- deprecating mental chatter, which is so depleting of our energy and can really inhibit our enjoyment of life.  Fortunately there are many different approaches and practitioners now to support people overcome these challenges. There are numerous tools and techniques that people can use, and my hope is that everyone will find the techniques that work for them.

However, I am excited to now be able to share really simple techniques that people can use to emotionally self -regulate, the first one being the incredibly simple, Heart Focused Breathing.

I imagine everyone can resonate with the exhaustion that follows after a period of high stress, or after a time when we have experienced intense and heightened emotions.  Stress and emotions are physically and mentally exhausting. If we start to imagine that we all have an inner battery of energy reserves, we can also start to recognize how draining and depleting stress and negative emotions might be on our inner battery…

The aim of HeartMath techniques therefore is build our capacity back up; to recharge that inner battery!

All too often we try to ignore stress or push down uncomfortable emotions. It is not surprising. It is difficult to sit with discomfort and often we try to avoid it at all costs.

Unfortunately, ignoring things doesn’t often make them go away! We might then find ourselves berating ourselves for having negative thoughts or emotions or even try to ‘think our way out of the negative thoughts’.

All of this is exhausting, depleting, and also very often ineffective.

So, what might be an alternative?

Well, this is where the heart comes in.

I have heard over and over from the many teachers who I’ve had over the years that ‘We are not our thoughts.’

But how do we escape the relentless inner voice that threatens to overwhelm us so often?

Quite simply bringing our attention to our heart, the real core of who we are.

The scientists who founded HeartMath created the HeartMath institute to research and investigate the role of both the physical and metaphorical heart and its impact on our health. What they discovered was that negative and depleting emotions cause chaotic incoherent patterns in our heart rhythms. They also discovered that these chaotic incoherent heart rhythms also created incoherent brain waves, disrupting our brain functions such as our ability to think clearly, or assimilate information…

Most importantly, they discovered that by making a consistent practice of focusing our attention on the heart, and slowing down our breath we are able to create coherent heart rhythms and bring the heart and brain back into coherence.

Step 1: Heart Focused Breathing

Heart focused breathing is literally as it sounds: it is simply making a conscious choice to focus your attention away from your head and into your heart, and making a conscious effort to slow down your breathing into a steady balanced way..( e.g. a steady 4 x 4 pattern or  5 x 5 breath pattern.)

This simple technique will have profound impact on your physiology. We are not ignoring our feelings, but we are simply choosing not to get lost in the story behind them in that moment, and instead focusing our attention on our heart. We are not using huge energy reserves to try and force anything at all. We are doing quite the opposite, building our capacity/ recharging our inner battery by simply focusing on our heart and simply slowing down our breathing. We are creating that beautiful, sweet spot between stimulus and response. That neutral place.

As Viktor Frankl so beautifully describes:

‘Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose
our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.’

Heart focused breathing simply takes us to this neutral space. At this point we are not making any conscious choice to respond in any particular way. We are simply calming everything down and focusing on the heart. We are creating coherent heart rhythms that change our whole physiology and create coherence between our heart and brain.

When our inner battery is depleted and we are running on empty, we do not have the capacity to think or feel differently. We can however simply bring our attention to our heart, to the centre of our chest, and to breathe.

Much of our mental torment comes from worrying about past or future concerns, and mindfulness brings us right back to the present moment which is so powerful. Bringing that mindful attention to our hearts can therefore be transformative.

There is so much I can write about HeartMath from my own practice and from sharing it with others. I have shared various HeartMath techniques, but I am finally beginning to understand the power of Heart Focused Breathing, the simplest technique of all.

Eyes wide open

I am also realising the power of practicing Heart Focused Breathing at frequent moments throughout the day, with eyes wide open! The beautiful Beverley Eve explained to me last week that when we meditate with our eyes wide open it is so much easier to focus on the heart! When we close our eyes, we can easily get lost in the runaway thoughts that so often threaten to overwhelm us.

I have started to practice this myself ever since, and I am finding myself ‘waking up’ to all the beauty and possibility all around me. When we take time to practice Heart Focused breathing with our eyes wide open it helps to shift our perspective! I have listened to many wise Gurus over the years including Deepak Chopra, who talks about ‘waking up’ and I recently loved this podcast with the renowned Yogi, Sadhguru who also says we should stop focusing on sleep, and instead focus on being awake! It is a wonderfully inspiring listen!

There is so much I could write about HeartMath, but I will save that for another blog. In the meantime, please do reach out if any of what I have written so far has resonated, or if you would like me to guide you on your own Heart Math Journey. It would be an absolute honour and privilege to share it with you.

However, I really hope for now that I might have just inspired you to take a moment to try this incredibly SIMPLE, but incredibly POWERFUL technique.




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2 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing your Heart Math journey Harriet. How beautiful to experience the benefits of being focused on our hearts, and enjoying those moments throughout the day, instead of being lost in our thoughts. The technique sounds so grounding and balancing🤗

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