The Way of the Heart
Understanding the power of the heart .
We all equate love hearts as a symbol for love .Palpitations as a disturbing sign and use words such as heartbreak ,heartache, sweetheart, brave heart, big hearted, kind-hearted, heartfelt descriptively to describe emotions and sentiment and phrases such as “you touch my heart”, “love you with all my heart” “put your heart into it” as we touch our hand to our chests .
It would seem that this common symbol of emotion is more than just a blood pump .Intuitively we have always known what some rather interesting and enlightening scientific research conducted by the Institute of HeartMath has uncovered .
I have incorporated short extracts from the Heartmath institute which I strongly endorse .
The Institute of HeartMath®, a nonprofit 501(c)(3), is a recognized global leader in researching the critical link among emotions, heart-brain communication and cognitive function. IHM’s 15 years of research, with the insight of founder Doc Childre, into heart intelligence is the foundation of our practical, scientifically validated solutions. These solutions are aimed at empowering people to reduce stress, fine-tune performance in all areas of their lives and foster greater health, well-being and their innermost sense of self.
This newfound empowerment is a result of their ability to access a greater portion of their heart’s intelligence which is the purpose of our solution set. Improved accessibility of heart intelligence prepares individuals to connect better with others and co-create a more coherent environment in the classroom, the workplace, the home, and ultimately, our planet.
The importance of emotion
Science of The Heart: Exploring the Role of the Heart in Human Performance – An Overview of Research Conducted by the Institute of HeartMath
For centuries, the heart has been considered the source of emotion, courage and wisdom. At the Institute of HeartMath (IHM) Research Center, we are exploring the physiological mechanisms by which the heart communicates with the brain, thereby influencing information processing, perceptions, emotions and health. We are asking questions such as: Why do people experience the feeling or sensation of love and other positive emotional states in the area of the heart and what are the physiological ramifications of these emotions? How do stress and different emotional states affect the autonomic nervous system, the hormonal and immune systems, the heart and brain? Over the years we have experimented with different psychological and physiological measures, but it was consistently heart rate variability, or heart rhythms, that stood out as the most dynamic and reflective of inner emotional states and stress. It became clear that negative emotions lead to increased disorder in the heart’s rhythms and in the autonomic nervous system, thereby adversely affecting the rest of the body. In contrast, positive emotions create increased harmony and coherence in heart rhythms and improve balance in the nervous system. The health implications are easy to understand: Disharmony in the nervous system leads to inefficiency and increased stress on the heart and other organs while harmonious rhythms are more efficient and less stressful to the body’s systems.
More intriguing are the dramatic positive changes that occur when techniques are applied that increase coherence in rhythmic patterns of heart rate variability. These include shifts in perception and the ability to reduce stress and deal more effectively with difficult situations. We observed that the heart was acting as though it had a mind of its own and was profoundly influencing the way we perceive and respond to the world. In essence, it appeared that the heart was affecting intelligence and awareness.
The answers to many of our original questions now provide a scientific basis to explain how and why the heart affects mental clarity, creativity, emotional balance and personal effectiveness. Our research and that of others indicate that the heart is far more than a simple pump. The heart is, in fact, a highly complex, self-organized information processing center with its own functional “brain” that communicates with and influences the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system and other pathways. These influences profoundly affect brain function and most of the body’s major organs, and ultimately determine the quality of life.
The Heart Brain
The intrinsic cardiac nervous system, or heart brain, is made up of complex ganglia, containing afferent (receiving) local circuit (interneurons) and efferent (transmitting) sympathetic and parasympathetic neurons. Multifunctional sensory neurites, which are distributed throughout the heart, are sensitive to many types of sensory input originating from within the heart itself. The intrinsic cardiac ganglia integrate messages from the brain and other processing centers throughout the body with information received from the cardiac sensory neurites. Once information has been processed by the heart’s intrinsic neurons, the appropriate signals are sent to the sinoatrial and atrioventricular nodes as well as the muscles in the heart. Thus, under normal physiological conditions, the heart’s intrinsic nervous system plays an important role in much of the routine control of cardiac function, independent of the central nervous system. Dr. Armour and his colleagues have shown that the heart’s intrinsic nervous system is vital for the maintenance of cardiovascular stability and efficiency, and that without it, the heart cannot operate properly.
In our internal environment many different organs and systems contribute to the patterns that ultimately determine our emotional experience. However, research has illuminated that the heart plays a particularly important role. The heart is the most powerful generator of rhythmic information patterns in the human body. As we saw earlier, it functions as sophisticated information encoding and processing center, and possesses a far more developed communication system with the brain than do most of the body’s major organs. With every beat, the heart not only pumps blood, but also transmits complex patterns of neurological, hormonal, pressure and electromagnetic information to the brain and through-out the body. As a critical nodal point in many of the body’s interacting systems, the heart is uniquely positioned as a powerful entry point into the communication network that connects body, mind, emotions and spirit. Numerous experiments have now demonstrated that the messages the heart sends the brain affect our perceptions, mental processes, feeling states and performance in profound ways
“Since emotional processes can work faster than the mind, it takes a power stronger than the mind to bend perception, override emotional circuitry, and provide us with intuitive feeling instead. It takes the power of the heart.” Doc Childre, founder,
Institute of HeartMath
“Living from the heart is business – the business of caring for self and others. Understanding this will take us past the age of information into the age of intuitive living.” Doc Childre
Many companies have discovered that the information age requires a new type of intelligence for people to sort through, filter and effectively process an incredible flow of information. As laid out in the Introduction to this overview, the physiological incoherence created by unmanaged reactions to stress may actually inhibit brain function, reducing us to extremely limited perspectives. Sadly, many people have adapted so thoroughly to the stressful conditions around them that they hardly realize just how limited their perspectives actually are. The basic premise of Inner Quality Management (IQM) is that as individuals learn to maintain a coherent internal environment through mental/emotional management, the heart and brain synchronize, and a synergy of intellectual, intuitive and emotional intelligence takes place. This expands our perspectives, allowing us to transform stressful reactions into healthy responses and effective solutions. It becomes quickly obvious that the benefits extend far beyond stress reduction. Studies with many major organizations have revealed that the IQM tools, sincerely practiced, allow individuals to maximize their personal balance, physical health, intelligence and performance. These benefits, extended to the organization, lead to enhanced interpersonal communication and team dynamics, more effective creative and intuitive problem solving, improved planning and decision making, greater care for customers and coworkers, and over-all increased actualization of the organization’s full potential
“We are educated in school that practice precedes effectiveness, whether in reading, writing, computers, or whatever. We are rarely taught how to practice care, compassion, appreciation or love-essential for family balance.”
Our educational systems focus on honing children’s cognitive skills from the moment they enter the kindergarten classroom. But virtually no emphasis is placed on educating children in the management of the inner conflicts and unbalanced emotions they bring with them every day to school. As new concepts such as “emotional intelligence” become more widely used and understood, more educators are realizing that cognitive ability is not the sole or necessarily the most critical determinant of young people’s aptitude to flourish in today’s society. Proficiency in emotional management, conflict resolution, communication and interpersonal skills is essential for children to develop inner self-security and become able to effectively deal with the pressures and obstacles that will inevitably arise in their lives. Moreover, increasing evidence is illuminating that emotional balance and cognitive performance are indeed linked. Growing numbers of teachers are agreeing that children come to school with so many problems that it is difficult for them to be good students. At IHM we are showing, conversely, that when mental and emotional turmoil is managed, the increased physiological coherence and heart-brain entrainment stimulates greater mental clarity and expands the mind’s capacities. Compiled by Rollin McCraty, Mike Atkinson and Dana Tomasino. HeartMath Research Center, Institute of HeartMath, Publication No. 01-001. Boulder Creek, CA, 2001.
Extract above from Science of the Heart
Exploring the Role of the Heart in Human Performance.
Price: $14.95 A comprehensive document providing key background and detailed summaries of IHM’s research studies in a variety of fields.
The science behind the HeartMath system! This comprehensive, insightful document compiles years of innovative research at the Institute of HeartMath. You’ll develop a new understanding of the scientific discoveries that have shaped the development of the tools and techniques that comprise the HeartMath system. Charts, diagrams and full explanations are presented in a form that is both easy for the layperson and complete for the science professional. (72 pages)
HeartMath – Hidden Power of the Heart (e-Book) Price: $15.95
Powerful, warm adventure story giving new insights into the power of the heart to increase intelligence and heighten emotional satisfaction. Mind-stretching topics include holographic awareness, the dimensional shift and DNA blueprints. You will discover a hidden power available to everyone—a power that can change your own life and create a new future for humanity. A favorite personal reference guide.