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Many people think the heart is just a pump.
Yes, it does circulate blood throughout our body, but it is so much more than that!
The Heart-Math Institute is dedicated to scientific research on the heart. As a science girl, I love science-backed research. This organization has been studying why people experience feelings of love, gratitude, compassion, kindness, and other positive emotions in the area of the heart.
If we think about someone we love or something that makes us happy, we often automatically touch our heart.
The heart is the centre of the emotions.
Another area of research at the Heart-Math Institute is how stress and different emotional states affect the autonomic nervous system, hormones, immune response, the heart, and the brain.
What they found is that the most important measure of the relationship between psychological and physiological responses is heart-rate variability (HRV). High HRV is associated with being peaceful, calm, and overall better health. HRV increases when we take long, slow, deep breaths. This allows for a variation in successive heartbeats and puts the heart and brain in a state of coherence.
In other words: harmony.
Harmony between the heart and the brain.
Many of us are used to measuring our heart rate, using a heart rate monitor, or simply counting pulse beats. HRV is something different; HRV is the variation in the time between successive heartbeats. When a person is relaxed, a healthy heart will have more variation between heartbeats. So, if the intervals between heartbeats are fairly constant and regular, HRV would be low. In general, higher HRV is a sign of general health and fitness. In other words, the more irregularity between successive heartbeats, the healthier the heart. So, more variation in heart rate is normal and desirable!
HRV is linked to the autonomic nervous system. When in parasympathetic mode (the rest-and-digest/rejuvenate state), the heart rate is lowered and there is more room for variability between successive heartbeats. When in the sympathetic mode (the state of fight-flight-freeze) the heart rate speeds up, resulting in less room for variability between successive beats. Therefore, when in a relaxed state, in general, the heart rate is lower and HRV is higher. This is obviously a preferred state for our health. The autonomic nervous system goes into a state of rest and rejuvenation. In this state, everything works better in the body, including the immune system.
HRV can be increased on a moment-to-moment basis, creating harmony between the brain and the heart, and the best thing is that you can create this harmony yourself in just three minutes!
Try this for yourself right now. Get in a comfortable position and gently close your eyes. If it feels right for you, touch one or both hands to the heart area of your chest. Start to slow your breathing down, taking long, deep breaths into your belly and exhaling slowly. Bring to mind a person, place, or event that makes you feel happy, joyful, compassionate, excited, peaceful, or any other positive emotion. Keep thinking about this and focus on your heart for a few minutes.
That’s it! In just three minutes you have created harmony between your brain and your heart. You have reset your immune system and other positive physiological systems.
Well done, you!
If you prefer to follow a guided visualization, check out my Heart Focused Breathing video below:
You can repeat this as many times as you like—the more the better! You can do it anytime, anywhere, and it’s free. Encourage people around you to try this and you will all feel better.
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