Today (or a few days ago, really, since I’m writing this post after the fact), I spent the day in a beautiful beachfront community attending a by-invitation-only course on hypnosis with a handful of other “healing professionals.” At the end of the series, I’ll be certified in hypnotherapy (see Day 2 for more details on hypnotherapy vs. traditional hypnosis), another service I’ll be bringing to my Communications Coaching clients. In addition to the usual coursework, today’s class included a guest presentation by Stephen Dynako on HeartMath. Who & what, you ask? Read on.
In a nutshell, Stephen is a pastoral counselor who has received additional education from the HeartMath Institute on emotional management, stress reduction & overall improved health. HeartMath was created by psychologist Lew Childre initially as a means of studying the science of the heart, especially in relation to spirituality & psychology. The organization wound up compiling all the data in just about every study of the heart, through their research & others’, into a tome they call Science of the Heart, Exploring the Role of the Heart in Human Performance. It looks a lot at how our hearts react in stress situations, like fight-or-flight, plus in no-stress situations like meditation & others. Furthermore, they link the body’s other systems (digestive, respiratory, etc.) with the heart & with brain function in all of these circumstances & posit some awesome ideas for just why we’re wired the way we are. You can read all about it—it’s intense!—online at their website.
Right before Stephen’s visit to our group, we meditated (under hypnosis, of course, since that’s what we’re studying) & visualized our breath coming & going from our heart chakra, or the center of our chests. In HeartMath terminology, this is known as heart breathing, & it’s one of the many tools proponents of HeartMath like Stephen teach for coherence. Coherence is another HeartMath term with 3 distinct definitions:
- Clarity of thought, speech & emotional composure; the quality of being orderly, consistent & intelligible (e.g. a coherent sentence)
- Synchronization or entrainment between multiple waveforms; a constructive waveform produced by 2 or more waves that are phase- or frequency-locked
- Order within a singular oscillatory waveform; an ordered or constructive distribution of power content within a single waveform; auto-coherence, e.g. a sine wave.
Each of these definitions applies to the HeartMath term coherence.
Stephen used a special app developed by HeartMath & Apple called Inner Balance to scientifically prove to us how heart breathing could bring us back to coherence—& a neutral emotional state, being grounded & centered—after inducing fight-or-flight by recalling a recent argument. Those of us who tried it admitted to a little performance anxiety, knowing our results were being measured for all to see. Even so, the app’s data showed our heart rate variability & other pulse metrics were even keel & healthy after being exacerbated & unstable during the argument memory recall. To put it simply, it was super-cool.
Day 1 Mini-Mindfulness Tool:
Heart Breathing, or visualizing your breath coming & going from your heart as you breathe deeply, in & out.