What that means is our heart rhythms – it’s different than heart rate. Timing between heart beats changes between every single heart beat.
And as you map this out, very complex patterns emerge. It shows you a lot about what’s going on in the body, about our physical health, and about the quality of heart-brain communication.
In both of these, you see 200 seconds of data across the horizontal axis, you see beats per minute on the vertical axis. In the top view we have someone at HeartMath’s research lab experiencing the feeling of frustration. What happens is their heart rhythm patterns become very jagged and irregular, all over the place.
It’s not good for our physical health and it sends signals to the brain that begin to shut down the higher perceptual centers in our brain, called “cortical inhibition.”
The bottom view’s the same person, a few minutes later. What have they done? They’ve shifted from feeling frustration to feeling a heart-related emotion: appreciation. Now you see the smooth sine wave-like pattern. This is what high performance looks like.
This is what high-quality communication between heart and brain looks like, is when you see that sine wave-like pattern. This is really good for our health and it sends a signal to the brain that opens the brain up. It activates higher perceptual centers in the brain. It’s called “cortico-facilitation.”
We have access to our higher thinking capacity, and that’s where we solve our problems, isn’t it? All this relates to changes going on in heart, not just in brain.
The old term that we’ve all heard, “a change of heart changes everything,” takes on new understanding. Now, once we discovered all this, we developed technology, software that can measure changes in our heart rhythms, display those changes, and then determine the quality of them by using what’s called a measurement of coherence divided into low, medium, and high.
And right now I’m going to demonstrate that for you in real time and show you how powerful this really is. So I have a willing volunteer that I met backstage just a few minutes ago, a brave young woman named Allie who’s agreed to come out here. Allie, if would you join me on stage.
There she is. You knew I’d have to pick a pretty one, didn’t you? Have a seat, dear. I will attach this sensor to Allie’s ear. It’s just a sensor that’s going to plug into you. Would you please take your earring off? I have a collection of these.
Attach this to your ear please. To your earlobe. This is just plugging into the USB port of the computer. If you guys could make sure we’re switched over now to the computer on stage. What I’m going to do is start this, and it’s going to first of all make sure that Allie’s got a good pulse.
And you’ll see that come up at the bottom pretty soon. In a few seconds, you’ll see Allie’s heart rhythms happening at the top of the screen in real time. This is what her heart rhythms look like right now.
Now she’s up here on stage in front of a whole lot of people. I’ve already let you know that these heart rhythms reflect internal emotional states so I’m sure there’s no reason for her to be nervous.
And you can see there are changes occurring in real time as we do this. Now, one thing that I’d like to know from you, Allie, it’s the only real question I’m going to ask you, is: Are you good at singing? Can you sing?
Howard Martin: Really. Why not?
Allie: Umm, I don’t have good pitch.
Howard Martin: Okay, well I’m not going to make you sing then.
Here’s what I would like you to do. I’m going to make sure I’ve got this adjusted right. Now what I want you to do is I want you to close your eyes, and I want you to focus your attention right in the center of your chest, right in the area of the heart.
And now I want you to breathe naturally and normally. You’re okay; I’ll let you know what’s going on. Breathe naturally and normally, but just a little bit deeper than you normally would. Nice deep breaths.
And as you do, I want you to pretend as if the breath is flowing in and out right through the center of your chest. This is called “heart-focused breathing.” And by the way, you’re doing just fine, dear.
Now I want you to stay with that heart-focused breathing. And now I want you to feel a positive emotion. Maybe it’s the love or care you have for someone or something in your life. Don’t try too hard, just make it an easy-does-it process, and make sure you’ve got the breathing going on at the same time. And feel a positive emotion; love or care you have for someone or something in your life.
I’m going to stop this now. First of all, we all owe Allie a round of applause.
Allie: I did okay?
Howard Martin: Yeah, you did great. Now what we see here, if you see where she started on the left-hand side, that’s her heart rhythm, she’s up here, she’s a bit nervous, and then right in here somewhere is where I started picking on her about singing. You can see that pattern.