A change of heart changes everything

All you need is love, sang John Lennon. The only challenge: How do you create love?
A startlingly simple answer was found in the redwood forests of Boulder Creek, California. Since 1991, the Institute of HeartMath has generated a body of scientific evidence that shows it is possible to create love. HeartMath’s research shows that emotions work faster and are more powerful than thoughts. And that when it comes to the human body the heart is more important than the brain to health and well-being—even to cognitive function—than anyone but poets believed.
Re-experiencing a cherished memory creates synchronization—coherence—in your heart rhythm in seconds. This increases the release of healthy, energizing hormones, while decreasing levels of stress hormones, at the same time your immune system is strengthened, blood pressure decreases … and health and focus increase. Using exercises that anyone can do anywhere in a few minutes, HeartMath is successfully battling the greatest threat to health, happiness and peace: stress.
To measure the heart’s reaction to events, HeartMath uses a relatively new concept as an indicator of a healthily functioning body: heart rate variability (HRV). HeartMath’s research team has discovered that certain patterns in the heart rhythm correspond to particular emotional states.
When people experience love, they not only feel happy and joyful but their heart rhythm becomes coherent and they produce, for example, more DHEA, the hormone that prevents aging and gives us feelings of youthful vitality. At the same time, the production of damaging stress hormones like cortisol is reduced. By contrast, a “loving body” absorbs less cholesterol, thereby preventing arteries from clogging while boosting production of immunoglobulin A, a biochemical that boosts immune function.
And so HeartMath concludes that love is both an emotional and a physical state: Positive feelings—like love—generate health. The reverse is also true. HeartMath’s slogan—a change of heart changes everything—pretty much sums it up.
But how do you “change your heart?” According to HeartMath research, it is simpler than it looks. The Freeze-Framer is an award-winning computer program with an innovative sensor that anyone can install on their computer at home or at work.
The research is convincing. A group of managers from Motorola attended a HeartMath workshop and were tested six months later on the results of their daily exercises. One-quarter of the managers had high blood pressure at the start of the project. After six months, they all had normal blood pressure levels.
Less stress and more health is, of course, enough of a recommendation for following HeartMath’s system. But there’s more: studies show that the electromagnetic field of the heart can be measured between six to nine feet from the body. So if someone has a coherent heart rhythm, it has a positive effect on others (and the reverse is also true). Just think about how you feel in the presence of someone who is caring compared to being close to someone angry.
That means that if your heart rhythm is coherent, there is a greater chance that your environment will behave coherently. It means the health of your environment starts with your health. It means that changing the world starts with you.
This article is a description of an article that appeared in the June 2005 issue of The Intelligent Optimist. Members can read the full article here. Non-members can become a member here.

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