Full transcript of author and HeartMath founder Howard Martin’s TEDx Talk: Engaging The Intelligence of the Heart at TEDxSantaCruz conference.
Howard Martin – HeartMath
Thank you very much for the warm welcome. It’s an honor and a privilege to be here in my home community, talking about the thing that means the most to me, which is my heart.
And this journey goes back a long way for me now, over 40 years: I started when I was three. But a long time now.
And it started with a couple of realizations. When I was a young man, I realized that life, for me, had to be about continuous growth. That was what was most important.
That seemed to be what life was about, what everything around me was trying to do, whether they were conscious of it or not.
And I also realized that life had to be about service to others. So whatever you gained, you needed to find a way to give it. It was an incomplete feeling or incomplete circuit, if you didn’t give back something from what you gained in your life.
And that process led me to a discovery of heart, an exploration of heart which has been my life’s work.
But enough about me, except one more thing I should tell you, and that is, is that I’ve lived here proudly in Boulder Creek now for 21 years, but I’m originally from the south.
So I think it’s an important time to be alive. We’ve reached the critical juncture where humanity is making choices, where there’s a revolution unfolding socially, spiritually, consciously — all kinds of different ways it’s happening.
And this year, this very year we’re in right now is a very important choice point year. We’re making decisions today that are going to affect our future for a very long time.
Those choices will affect our individual lives, our own fulfillment, and then the future of many, many things in the world, and I think that’s what a conference like today is all about.
It’s people coming together to share new ideas, to help us all make the choices that we need to make. In the context of these changing times, we face challenges, but we also are finding solutions.
And one of the things that’s emerging in the middle of all this, is an intelligence we’ve had for a long time, that we access with some consistency but usually not with regularity, something we’ve all heard about, something we all revere when we really make contact with it: and it is the intelligence of the heart itself.
And HeartMath is a lot of things, but if I look at it simplistically, and say, “What are we really doing there?” We’re really exploring and discovering new things and then passing on information about the intelligence of the heart.
When I speak about the intelligence of the heart, I’m talking about this aspect of us we have inside that goes down to the physical heart where we know new things about our physical heart we never knew before. I’ll share some of those things in just a minute.
But beyond the physical heart, we have a lot more going on in regards to what heart really is. It is a source of wisdom and intelligence within us, it’s high speed, it’s intuitive, it’s discriminating. It’s the place where our authentic self, our really core of our self emerges from.
It’s the birthplace of emotions that we revere the most in our lives: love, care, compassion, appreciation, those kind of emotions long, long ago associated with this word “heart.”
As I said earlier, when we access this part of ourselves, it gives us greater discrimination over things – a new ability to see into ourselves, our world, and to others. It is that place we access when we are able to do what we usually can’t. It’s really our own source of self-security; the place we go to when we need to find answers to things. It’s where the hero within is born from.
And what I like to think about heart, as I’ve gone through my life trying to discover more about it, is it really is my own best friend, and my most reliable guide to making decisions, big and small.
To this point, I’ve been talking, I guess you could call it, philosophically inspirational about heart. And you’ve heard these things before.
At HeartMath, we’ve done lots of scientific research to look at heart in a different way, and to unfold a new understanding of heart that gives us more respect in it, and to do that, we’ve used science. We’ve discovered a lot of things about heart.
The heart is, in fact, a lot more than a blood pump. It sends powerful commands to the brain and to the rest of the body. It does it in four ways: There’s a neurological communication which Doug mentioned. The heart has its own very complex nervous system, sending information to the brain in the head. The brain sends information down to the heart; the heart sends information back to the brain; conversation happening all the time.
When researchers map out the neurological traffic in our bodies, they clearly see that the heart is sending a lot more information to the brain than it ever gets.
If you placed your finger on your wrist, you would feel your pulse; that’s a wave of energy created by the squeezing of the heart pushing blood through veins and arteries, it’s called “the blood pressure wave“, travels through the whole body, it influences everything, including brain function.
In 1983, something most people don’t know, the heart was actually reclassified as part of our hormonal system, because it produces several very important hormones. One is called “atrial peptide.” One of its jobs is to reduce the release of a stress hormone called cortisol.
I found that fascinating. The heart is producing a hormone to back off a stress hormone. I find this interesting.
Lastly, where it gets most interesting to me, is the electrical heart. The heart is an electrical organ; it produces, by far, the strongest source of bio-electricity in our bodies, up to 40-60 times stronger than the second most powerful source, which is our brain.
This electrical energy permeates every single cell in our bodies and is so strong it radiates beyond the skin out into space. It surrounds us in 360 degrees, and can be measured three to four feet outside the body. This electromagnetic energy in this field changes depending upon our emotional state.
This is where it gets intriguing. If we’re experiencing strong negative emotions like anger, frustration, resentment, all those things we can often feel, it produces an incoherent spectra in this electromagnetic field.
Conversely, if we begin to experience emotions, the same ones I mentioned before, long metaphorically associated with heart: love, care compassion, kindness, appreciation, tolerance, patience, non-judgment, those kind of things, it produces a coherent spectra in the field.
And we are broadcasting this electromagnetic energy to every single cell in our own bodies, and then communicating it outwards into space.
So there is an electromagnetic, or communication, always going on, so now we move in understanding heart beyond biology into physics. How does my field relate to your field? How do your collective fields together relate? How does the field in this room right now from the accumulation of association with each other and all the great speakers, how does that field relate to the fields of the earth itself?
And these are the new things that we’re exploring at HeartMath today. We can measure some of this by looking at what’s called our heart rhythms.
The medical term is” heart rate variability analysis.” Didn’t I say that good? I’m almost turning into a Californian “Heart rate variability analysis.”
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.
Remember the pattern I showed you in the other slide where the person was in a state of frustration, which you were not, but this was a hard thing to do.
Then she began to do a simple technique where she began to access the intelligence of her heart: heart focus, heart-focused breathing, and heart feeling. You can see the smooth sine wave-like pattern beginning to emerge. She did a great job being up here for the first time in front of all you folks.
And that shows you the power that you all have inside, that I have inside, to make these changes, and then create different effect in the brain by changing what you do in your heart.
Thank you so much.
We took it to another level and now what we’re doing at HeartMath through the Global Coherence Initiative is we are trying to engender and then measure global coherence. What we found is that there is evidence of a global effect when a large number of people create similar outgoing emotional waves, whether stressful and incoherent, or positive and coherent.
There’s a global effect when a large number of people are experiencing something similar emotionally. When there’s a natural disaster of some kind, or very bad news, don’t you kind of feel that in the air? Don’t you sense a ripple of energy that’s going around the world as people begin to pick up on it through the news, and that sort of thing? Well that, we’re finding, is true.
There’s a global effect depending upon what humanity is feeling emotionally. And we have a hypothesis that strong collective emotional intention has a measurable impact on the earth’s geomagnetic field – geomagnetic field and ionosphere. These are protective layers around the earth, they’re part of the earth as a living system. They protect us from incoming solar radiation, cosmic rays, solar flares, and things like that, and they are part of the earth.
What we believe is that mass human emotion interacts with these fields. There’s a lot of research that’s already been done showing that these fields affect us. Changes in health, changes in social behavior, a lot of things are being tracked now to changes in the earth’s energetic fields.
If they’re affecting us, our belief is, we’re affecting them. And to begin to look at this and to see if this is true, and see if this hypothesis is real, we’ve started the Global Coherence Initiative, and part of that is we are installing sensor sites around the world, very sophisticated sensors that measure subtle changes in the earth’s energetic fields.
We have a sensor in the Santa Cruz Mountains, we have one in Saudi Arabia, we have one in the United Kingdom, we will have one in New York state this month, and next fall we have one going in in New Zealand.
Ultimately, we will need 12. And what we are doing is experimentation around looking at changes that go on in these fields and trying to correlate those with changes that are occurring in society; changes that are occurring in the overall emotional state of humanity itself.
If this works, we will have proved that all of our thoughts, our feelings, our prayers, our intentions, all of that, is more real than we ever believed before.
Thank you. We’re kind of listening in for the first time to the brain waves and the heart rhythms of our planet. What we want to do is not just to prove scientifically that these things exist, but to bring people together, to use the power of our hearts, the power of our love, our care, our appreciation, and our energetic intention, to create positive changes in our world, and facilitate this new wave of revolutionary thinking and revolutionary living that we’re on the threshold of.
Thank you so much and take care.
Thank you. Thank you very much.