Have you heard about Heartmath and you're wondering what Heart Coherence is all about, and why it is supposed to be so good for your health and wellbeing?
In this article we’ll be exploring the science of coherence, what it means to your health and wellbeing, and how you can get more of it simply and easily.
Before we get on to what coherence is in a physiological context, we need to understand what coherence is in general terms. Coherence, in any system, from the human body to social affairs, refers to a logical, orderly and harmonious connectedness between parts of a system or between people. Here’s some examples of coherence in our lives. Think of moments in a film when the music brings out the emotional punch of a scene, such that the soundtrack and the imagery, when combined, seem to resonate with us far more than on their own. For me, it’s moments such as in Braveheart when William gives his speech about Freedom and James Horner’s theme is gently refrained in the background. Or even in Apocalypse Now when the helicopters swoop in to view to the Ride of the Valkyries.
These moments of perfection in movies stay with us long after the film has finished because the sound and imagery were in perfect harmony. And we see this in nature all of the time, it’s why we find the swaying of trees in the breeze or the sound of the ocean waves splashing on the beach so calming. Nature is in coherence, things fit together and find a way of co-existing in harmony over thousands and thousands of years. And of course that natural coherence is found in us.
When we speak of coherence in a Heartmath context, we are referring to the natural ebb and flow of our heart rate with our breathing. When we are relaxed, we see that our heart rate follows the pattern of the breath in an ordered and sine-wavelike pattern. From a physics perspective, when we are in a coherent state, virtually no energy is wasted because our systems are performing optimally and there is synchronisation between heart rhythms, the respiratory system, blood-pressure rhythms, etc.
Most of us have been taught in school that the heart is constantly responding to “orders” sent by the brain in the form of neural signals. However, it is not as commonly known that the heart actually sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart! Moreover, these heart signals have a significant effect on brain function – influencing emotional processing as well as higher cognitive faculties such as attention, perception, memory, and problem-solving.
In other words, not only does the heart respond to the brain, but the brain continuously responds to the heart.
So I hear you asking what gets in the way of coherence? Well it’s modern living. Stress, poor diet, not enough sleep, not enough exercise all put a load on the heart, and this puts your heart out of sync because it’s too busy trying to supply blood to all of the organs that are under stress.
You can see this easily in the heart rhythms of your average person. And by practicing coherence you actually improve the heart’s ability to deal with all of these demands, and more efficiently process the stress that your body is under. Of course if you can reduce the amount of stress that you are under, that will help too. So when the heart is in coherence with your respiratory system, research has found that people experience increased composure, more energy, clear thinking, enhanced immune-system function and hormonal balance.
The easiest way to measure coherence is to get yourself a Heartmath Inner Balance device. This device connects to your smartphone and gives you real time feedback on your coherence levels, such that you can learn to improve your coherence over time. You can find other videos here on my channel on the Heartmath Inner Balance and how to get the best from it