This Journal is an introductory writing about what our hearts are doing besides moving blood around. A deeper dimension of heart health, as well as overall health, will be presented here. In past Journals I have mentioned many of the facts in the reading below. In this writing I attempt to round out and bring together more information about the importance of heart energetics in our lives.
You can approach this writing as 6 little chapters of a short story which you can read as your time, curiosity, and interest allow. There are helpful links for your exploration. The chapters can be read in any order. The resources, references, and quotes at the end serve as their own chapter. Here is the table of contents:
- The Harmony of Brain and Heart
- How I learned about the heart
- Heart Resonant Frequency
- Heart Rate Variability
- The most important thing I learned in medical school
- References and Quotes
The information in this effort may seem to be extended, but it is really only just a small part of the story as it has been currently developed. The implications of this information for health, world harmony, and spiritual development are so vast. As this information becomes more mainstream in the world’s cultures, as more people write more books about it, as the medical and health industries promote the full scope of heart health, and as more religious and spiritual paths embrace and extend heart teachings…then we will have an even fuller story, and we will begin to transition into becoming a healthy and peaceful human culture.
This Journal entry hearkens back to the ending comments of the prior Journal where I stated that the most important thing which has to happen to help humanity and the planet survive is a strong and positive advancement in human consciousness. Such a shift in consciousness will not originate in our thinking brains. It will originate in the heart, and the heart will then inform the brain. This will happen at individual and collective levels.
Despite the advent of science, literature, technology, philosophy, and religion, it is obvious that after thousands and thousands of years, people still can’t get along with each other, the animals, or the environment. The evolution of heart based consciousness is what will help save our world.
The next several Journals will present some deeper science about the heart’s more subtle, but life sustaining functions. Somewhere on our journey we may stop trying to explain reality. Instead, we may want to experience it directly. This will put us in touch with the inventory of deep inner feelings which we harbor, many of which are of a shadowy traumatic nature, and may feel so intimidating for us that we give up on crossing the bridge of knowing.
In the first half of life we develop a sense of identity, a sense of our own and other people’s boundaries, and a sense of order and control. In the second half of life we may choose to build a bridge into a deeper immersion with reality. The heart is the facilitator of this bridge building. We cannot think our way across such a bridge.
The Harmony of Brain and Heart
It has been our thinking brains which have produced all of the current world problems. It is time to develop another kind of approach to solving our problems. The heart must lead and the troublesome thinking brain must learn to follow the lead of the heart. As the noise from the brains of misguided humanity begins to dissipate, our old troublesome ways will recede and be replaced with more loving thinking and behavior.
Currently most of humanity has been conditioned and desensitized to regard violence, war, and environmental destruction as a sort of normal ongoing status quo human behavior. The horrors and heavy tolls of such activities are anything but normal. Making war and other globally destructive activities will have to diminish and be evolved out of the earthly realm if humanity and the planet are to continue.
Our hearts begin pulsing in the womb at about 5 weeks of gestational age without any signal from the brain, which is still in a very early stage of formation. Something formless and supremely radiant initiates that first pulse of life.
In this time period our hearts begin to entrain with the mother’s heartbeat. From our earliest days in the womb, our hearts begin to serve a more subtle and vital function…propagation of the rhythm and intentions of consciousness into all of the body, as well as into the field of consciousness which surrounds and sustains our lives. The heart functions as the pulsing organ center in our lives which downloads information from the field of consciousness at the same time that it uploads its own communication back into the field of consciousness.
The reception and return of information by the heart from and back to the field is always “on.” It is never in the “off” mode. Thus, the field of consciousness is processed through the heart, and the heart simultaneously extends what is being processed back into the field in an ongoing fashion. The deepest mystery of this exchange is beyond time, and is said to exist in the eternal Now.
Those people who are gifted to freely receive and to freely give to the field of life all around us have a heart that literally glows with the ability to share the deeper mysteries of existence, as well as quiet miracles which seek no attention. Such is the spiritual function of the heart. The heart is a processor of Divinity.
From a perspective that is neither denominational, nor agnostic, nor atheist, I describe one definition of spirituality as an evolution and healing of body, mind, emotions, and spirit via the central organizing intelligence of the human, which is the heart.
This is the basic spiritual premise I work with when addressing a client’s health concerns. Having a religion, a spiritual path, being agnostic, or being atheist is not a problem as long as the client can access heart mindedness by releasing brain mind biases which they may have taken on from church going, from spiritual teachers, or from being entrenched in their unknowing about Creation. Our brain based biases and judgments can become a real health challenge, especially if we allow ourselves to become defended and overly rigid about our viewpoints.
The real purpose of spirituality is to know who we are. The real challenge for us is Creation itself. Every decision that we make either moves us toward our ego and personality, or toward Creation and our soul. How do we learn to chose love? As each moment unfolds we have the opportunity to opt for forgiveness, which is the decision that opens us to the heart. The path to love is through the heart. We cannot think love into existence in our lives. Love is always present and is always coming through the heart. The brain must learn to not override this foundational reverence.
As a neuromuscular pump the heart has extraordinary power for an organ which weighs only 11 ounces…enough to move 2000 gallons of blood through an estimated 60,000 miles of blood vessels every hour. This physiological function brings blood and blood borne nutrients to all cells, and it also carries cellular waste products on to their destinations for recycling or elimination.
The heart transmits electromagnetic information to all cells via the blood which carries this electromagnetic impulse 3 times faster than air. This same radiant heart electromagnetic field also broadcasts for a distance of 10 to 20 feet away from the body. Obviously, such a powerful emanation completely permeates all of our body’s cells, sub-cellular structures, and the DNA.
In addition to this electromagnetic field effect which the heart has on all cells, the heart also projects its biophysical pulse pressure wave to all cells and this energetic assists in cellular synchronization in all organ sites. Other heart functions, discovered in the mid 1980’s, have led to the heart being classified as an endocrine organ due its secretion of atrial peptide as well as the catecholamine neurotransmitters dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. The heart also secretes as much of the “love hormone” oxytocin as the brain does. Thus, the heart is a neural, endocrine, and vascular organ. It is also an organ of supreme energetic significance in our lives.
Compared to the electromagnetic field produced by the brain, the electrical component of the heart’s field is about 60 times greater in amplitude. The magnetic component is approximately 5000 times stronger than the brain’s magnetic field. The power of these electrical and magnetic field projections allow for the fact that the heart’s energetic propagation can be detected at distance away from the body.
This field of energy has been measured using a type of magnetometer known as a super quantum interference device (SQUID). This device was developed by J.E. Zimmerman and was first used to measure bio-magnetic fields in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The heart emanates the strongest of the fields which can be detected from individual organs. If we had more sensitive instrumentation than the SQUID we would probably be able to measure an individual’s heart electromagnetic signature at greater distances, or even at infinite distances in the quantum field.
Interestingly, the eyes emanate the second strongest energy field projection away from the body. The eyes transmit quanta packets of information and intention, which is known as ideoretinal light. This reality gives rise to the expression known as the power of the gaze, or, the power of the glance as well as other expressions which imply intention such as, “if looks could kill.” We also experience a jolt of excitement and love when we perceive someone blessing us with their eyes.
The field of life which surrounds us is felt to be toroidal in its configuration. Our body is held in the heart’s electromagnetic field which also emanates as a toroid around our body. The heart’s toroidal emanation is thought to be entangled with all levels of multidimensional creation, universal consciousness, and Source energy. Here is a short video which will help you visualize and understand more about toroidal energy flow.
In 2005 I heard Deepak Chopra describe this entanglement effect as “a-causal, non-local, quantum mechanical inter-relatedness.” He was saying that consciousness is without cause (is self creating), is in all locations at all times, and is wrapped up with itself, inside of itself, as itself, in an infinitely fractal manner. Non-local correlation implies that everything is correlated and synchronized with everything instantly. In this consideration, time and distance are not linear. Time and distance are circular and holographic. One part (holon) of a hologram contains the whole which recurves into itself infinitely in all of its parts…in infinite dimensions…worlds without end.
A more practical distillation of these lofty descriptives and mind expanding concepts is to just ponder the question, “What is God’s idea of Itself as my life?” In contemplation of this question we begin to align with Creation and we become co-creators with this process. This co-creation occurs via the workings of the heart. Developed as such, the heart becomes the organ of conscious alignment with Divinity.
The electromagnetic informational effect of the heart was first pondered when heart transplant surgery became more developed in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The heart’s field effect is such a force of communication that in heart transplant recipients the heart communicates with the brain via an energy field rather than through a nervous system. Despite all nerves to the heart being severed in heart transplantation, the transplanted heart sends messages from the donor heart to the recipient brain such that many heart recipients have taken on personality characteristics of the deceased heart donor. This phenomenon is well documented and has eclipsed anecdotal consideration.
In current day circles of understanding, we are beginning to realize that the brain is not the sole source of our intelligence. It is a partner to the heart, and is not its master. The brain is primarily designed to carry out the wishes and intentions of the heart. Interestingly, it has been known for well over a century from anatomical studies that there are more neural signalling pathways from the heart to the brain than there are from the brain to the heart.
However, in most people the brain overrides the heart via a constantly echoing brain noise which I have come to call “other peoples’ voices.” OPV springs from the collective repository of our trauma inventory which we largely learned and took on from other people, and their voices. This effect is memoried and held in the flesh in a subconscious fashion.
OPV reverberates in our thinking as impostors of our true Self, and presents in our conscious awareness as the forever looping ruminations and aggressions of the judge, the critic, the skeptic, the pusher, and the victim. These intrusive thought-feeling behavioral states always smother and stress the heart. Because we have a fear of letting go of what is familiar, we tend to subconsciously and consciously create our reality to retain our limitations.
The questions everyone must face at some point are…What fears and beliefs anchor me to all of the old paradigms in my life? How can I learn to release my fears, and the grief that these fears are based on? How and where do I learn to trust?
Healing becomes the life process of taming the judgmental brain states and negotiating with them as they arise. This arising of judgment is a continuous arising. Life growth healing is facilitated by embracing faith and forgiveness. Through this practice, non judgment eventually begins to emerge. At some point in our healing and life growth curve, we begin to lose interest in judgment as we begin to notice that judgment causes more pain in our bodies and in our lives.
We are not these judgmental states of OPV brain thought activity. Our true identity is also not the physical form in which we masquerade as separate ego units. Beyond our thoughts and physical form is the consciousness and the observer of these states. The meditative experience deepens this awareness and links our thinking and feeling awareness more solidly to our innate Divinity.
Most people have so much energy and effort tied up in their mental and emotional world that there is little energy left to focus on the journey of spirit in the body. In quieting the brain thought waves, as in the practice of meditation or prayerful contemplation, we achieve a state of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a quiet brain, and this state allows for the information of the heart to come forward and inform all of the body, as well as the space and field around and beyond the body.
As we practice breaking the lethal covenant of brain overriding the heart, we are able to listen deeply to the silence of the heart, which lies beyond the first and second heart sounds, and beyond all of the accumulated clutter of our lives. Interestingly, the Sanskrit name for the heart center is “anahata” which means unstruck sound. Here are some basic considerations of this energy center from the human and yogic perspectives.
I refer to the heart’s more subtle functions as heart based consciousness, or heart mind.
How I learned about the heart…
I began to learn about the heart in a very rote manner as all freshman medical students do…in an anatomy course with books, professors, and a cadaver. In that course I was not taught that the heart contracts and broadcasts its electromagnetic impulses in a spiral fashion due to its intriguing muscular anatomy. The myocardium actually has layers of muscle which coil upon themselves and are wound in a double helical spiral. This anatomical fact is only a recent discovery, as of 1972. I shall attempt a composition about the implications of the heart’s muscular anatomy in the next Journal entry.
I also did not learn that the heart and the vascular system are functionally one organ, not two, even as the heart and blood vessels appear to be separate organs in the anatomical sense. My medical school professors and surgical residency professors did not ever speak about the holism of the cardiovascular system. The vascular tree is not only a conduit of nutrient rich life sustaining blood, but it is also recurves back into itself (arterial phase back into venous phase); both phases pulsing as an antenna and assisting the energetic transmissions of the heart.
While this latter fact about the oneness of the heart and vascular tree should be self-evident, it was not so evident to me during the time of my medical school years. This is only because of the compartmentalized way I was taught about separate organ systems and functions and maladies. I learned about the holism of the heart and blood vessel system being a single pulsating organ after many years of operating on blood vessels and by reading from original lecture monographs of Sir William Osler, arguably the greatest physician of the last century.
Osler lived and taught in a golden age of medicine, before the pharmaceutical industry and other smothering and limiting paradigms of health teaching took over. I sometimes peruse a copy of Osler’s 1912, 8th edition, The Principles and Practice of Medicine, a 1200 page text which was the gold standard for the first half of the last century, and is beautifully written.
My physician mother gave me this text at the very end of my junior year in medical school. By that time in my medical school journey many professors had told us that most of what we were learning from them would be out-of-date useless information within a few years. The pharmaceutical industry and the medical paradigm itself made sure this statement came true many times over. If you peel away much of these paradigm impositions, Osler’s information is still good today, especially the information about the heart.
In the second half of my sophomore year of medical school I began to learn about the physiology of the heart. At that time in the early 1970’s there was no information available in conventional Western scientific circles about the heart’s other subtle and vital functions. This vital health information is still not taught in medical schools at the present time.
During my last 2 years of medical school and during all of the years of surgical residency training I was also immersed in studying a variety of Eastern spiritual paths and teachings. Studies in these paths culminated in 1979 with exposure to a special trans-cultural teaching that the heart is regarded as the seat of the mind. From that point forward I began to regard the heart as much more than a neuromuscular pump.
As a student of the Siddha yoga tradition in the late 1970’s, I became familiar with the life work and teachings of Joseph Chilton Pearce who was also a student of this spiritual path. Joe has written many books on child development and human evolution. In those days, his lectures on subtle heart function were very compelling, and served as their own sort of immersive experience.
Joe once gave on of those lectures in my home in Boulder, Colorado, but I didn’t get to hear it, unfortunately. I was entangled in a day filled with some urgent surgery. Some of my invited colleagues and friends heard it, however, and they gave me very positive reviews.
Our teacher repeated the words of his own teacher on a daily basis….“The heart is the hub of all sacred places…go there and roam.”
Since first hearing these words in 1979, my spiritual life began to take on deeper meaning and growth, especially as the Western science on heart electromagnetic dynamics began to emerge. As I continue to explore the meanings of this statement, my sense of separation from Divinity continues to fall away. This is an example of ongoing healing and life growth which silently happens in all of us in an automatic fashion. All we have to do is to align with the movement.
Joe wrote 13 important and highly regarded books on human development. His later books focused more and more on subtle heart dynamics and the heart’s influence on human evolution. His last book The Heart-Mind Matrix: How the Heart Can Teach the Mind New Ways to Think, was published in 2012. He passed on in August, 2016, at the age of 90.
I spent the 1980’s and 1990’s engaged in a busy surgical practice. I raised 2 sons. In addition to the surgery and parenting practices, I practiced martial arts and meditation. After years of these activities and pursuits, the entire foundation and fabric of my life was rebuilt.
In 2000 I began to study and work with the teachings of Paul Pearsall, Ph.D, a psychoneuroimmunologist, who wrote a book on the newly emerging science of the heart entitled The Heart’s Code. This book opened my awareness to information about cellular memory and the role of the flesh as a memory storage capacitor in healing and life evolution.
Meanwhile, the HeartMath Institute (HMI), founded in 1991, was researching and publishing good information on the primacy of the heart in all physiological, psycho-emotional, and cognitive functions. Over the years, the voluminous amount of research from HMI has been published in a cross section of noted publications such as Harvard Business Review and The American Journal of Cardiology, and many others.
HMI research continues today and has expanded into the Global Coherence Initiative (GCI). This ambitious project seeks to further our understanding and practice of assisting the evolution of human consciousness and world peace by helping humanity understand how the heart and heart resonant frequency can positively affect population groups as well as global society. The GCI project researches the interconnection between humanity and the Earth’s magnetic fields and energetics using 6 magnetometers which are located around the world. The current locations are in California, Canada (Alberta), Lithuania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, and New Zealand.
As one spokesperson for HMI stated, “It is our mission to help the world change by helping people change. The root of most of the world’s problems is a lack of emotional management, a lack of understanding, care, respect, and compassion. Most organizations and governments are fairly dysfunctional because their leaders lack skills to manage themselves emotionally, let alone be an example for others to follow. That dysfunction damages the planet every day. We offer tools that are needed to eradicate major challenges and problems and to prevent wrongs.”
After discovering HMI in 2001, I privately consulted with one of my psychology colleagues, Bob Whitehouse, in 2005, to learn more about HMI’s heart frequency biofeedback software. In 2006 I attended gatherings at his home where he introduced the attendees to a variety of important heart dynamics: the heart’s toroidal electromagnetic emanations, Arthur Young’s Theory of Process, heart anatomy (both physical and energetic), and the various HeartMath techniques for achieving heart resonant frequency.
In independent studies which I conducted along the way, I learned that the heart is a neural organ whose cellular make-up is 60% to 65% neural cardiocytes. These heart muscle nerve cells are remembering, knowing, longing, and dreaming. These cells are imaginal cells. They do not think and know and communicate in brain based word abstractions. Heart knowing is non-verbal and infinitely fractal. It is based on and is informed by our entanglement with the quantum field, which has also been called the Mind of God by some quantum physicists.
As clusters of imaginal cells and their inherent connectivity build up and reach a critical mass on an ongoing moment by moment basis, the heart sends forth a pulsating vibrational message. As long as our brain is not attempting to override the ongoing message of the heart we can literally dream a new reality into being. It was Einstein who once said that all true science is based on imagination. This is one of the secrets of how we manifest a life process.
On a related note, Einstein also said, “Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it. Match the frequency of the reality you want and you cannot help but get that reality. It can be no other way. This is not philosophy. This is physics.” Apparently, Einstein understood the principles of manifestation.
The heart not only loves and feels, but it also thinks, remembers, desires, and communicates with other hearts. The heart does not think in words like the brain’s cognitive circuitry does. The heart “thinks” (or knows) in a fractal energetic which I am challenged to explain with written words.
The heart also contains stored information that continually pulses throughout our body and into the infinite field of conscious energy surrounding our lives. The heart communes with all cells and substrates of the body in an ongoing exchange of information which has no time increments to compartmentalize this flow. The heart converses with the field of the body and all surrounding dimensional fields in fractal time, all of the time. Just as the heart and the blood vessels are one organ, the heart and the field are one organ.
In November, 2001, after a 20 year practice of general, vascular, and trauma surgery, I retired from this medical offering and I began offering holistic lifestyle advice in the quaternary of body-mind-emotion-spirit. First envisioned and developed in February, 1999, to assist my surgical patients’ life process concerns, the Haelan LifeStream health model which I offer is founded upon and organized around heart based consciousness.
Heart Resonant Frequency
The heart has an inherent resonant frequency of 0.1 cycles per second, or Hertz. This is the natural native resting electromagnetic frequency of a healthy heart which is not being perturbed by negative outer influences or a nagging brain. When the heart is in this frequency we feel calm, we can access higher emotional states, higher cognitive ability, higher intuitive ability, and our heart can entrain other hearts into this frequency due to interlocking toroidal heart field dynamics.
All mammalian hearts have this same resonant frequency. This fact helps explain our attraction to and our kinship with our animal friends. Our heart field entrains with our animal friends just like it does with our human friends. The entrainment, known as resonant coupling, is initiated by either party. The world of Creation beyond the human is communicating essential information to us through a variety of its forms. Indeed, when we exchange gaze with an animal and look into its eyes, the experience can be numinous. Information from beyond can be transmitted in this gaze. As Carl Jung once said, “When religion stops talking about animals it will be all downhill.”
When the heart is operating in a range of 0.08 to 0.15 cps, with 0.1 cps being in the middle of this range, we describe this frequency band as being in high coherence.
This coherent frequency range is positioned in the middle of the spectrum of a range of lower and higher frequencies which the heart can also project. This broader band width of projected frequencies is aligned with the entire range of frequencies of the autonomic nervous system, or ANS. The ANS is comprised of the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). These 2 branches of the ANS govern all organ function.
The ANS comes out of the brain, and is governed by the brain. If the ordinary brain had more sense it would calm itself and allow the heart to project high coherence resonant frequencies more often in the course of a day. This kind of heart projection into the tissues of the body and into the field would help our health and happiness, as well as help the health and happiness of all of the world.
More people have to get to this state on a more frequent basis if we are going to evolve out of our self imposed destructive chaos, and be able to continue as a spiritually evolved human race.
Amazingly, when one is in heart resonant frequency, research shows that the transmission of the heart and its beat impulse can be detected in the brain waves of anyone within 5-8 feet of the resonant heart. The late Karl Pribram, M.D. (1919-2015), trained and certified as a neurosurgeon, is considered to be the greatest neurophysiologist of all time. He gave us the research basis for the holographic brain as well as the mapping of higher prefrontal cortical and limbic system connections. His research has led to the fact that when the heart is in resonance we can connect more deeply with one another, and we can access higher intuitive states via our connection to the holographic quantum field of information.
Another very important researcher in this field is University of London quantum physicist David Bohm (1917-1992), a protege of Einstein’s and an independent contemporary of Pribham. Along the course of his illustrious career of contributions he had these things to say about humanity’s disparate course from peace and harmony.
Joseph Chilton Pearce used to quote Bohm often in his writings and lectures. Here is a sample quote from his book The Biology of Transcendence…”The physicist David Bohm once said with genuine passion, as he gestured from his heart to his head, ‘When that realm of insight and intelligence leaps up, it can take out the dysfunction of the mind and make it functional in an instant.'” Bohm was referring to the healing power which the heart can exert on our dysfunctional brains. Joe thought that Bohm was the closest thing to being a true sage that the realm of 20th century science ever produced.
In lower frequency states of 0.005 to 0.08 cps, the heart is in low coherence and the sympathetic nervous system is stimulated. This causes the feeling of “fight or flight.” When overstimulated we feel a sense of arousal, activation, startle, alarm, and being triggered. When functioning in a baseline ambient fashion the SNS serves to speed and contract organs.
In higher frequencies of 0.15 to 4.0 cps, the heart is also in a low state of coherence and the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated. This frequency band causes the feeling of “freeze.” When overstimulated we feel a sense of withdrawal, alienation, isolation, depression, apathy, and overwhelm. When functioning in a baseline ambient fashion the PNS serves to slow and relax organs.
On biofeedback technology developed at HMI, the heart can display varying volumes of frequency energetic all along the course of the spectrum…from very low frequency SNS output, to coherent resonant frequency, to high frequency PNS output. The best state is a balance of the SNS and the PNS into the middle of the spectrum where most of the frequency volume is in the band width of resonant frequency, 0.08 to 1.5 cps.
This simple home made depiction might do until I can find or create a better one.
There can also be simultaneous high volume in the SNS (“foot on the gas”) and high volume in the PNS (“foot on the brake”). This feels much like the parallel automotive experience, which is a feeling of chaotic lurching, uncertainty, and difficulty (fear of) moving forward.
The ideal resting state is to be able to achieve resonant frequency in an effortless fashion. This feels like being calmly active and actively calm, as another one of my yoga teachers explained it. We require a healthy balance of SNS and PNS activity for normal day to day engagements.
When we are in too much SNS frequency we will feel anxious and hypervigilant. When we are in too much PNS frequency we will feel dissociated and disconnected. If left untended, these states will translate as anxiety disorders or depression. If both high volume SNS and PNS frequencies co-exist then there can be both anxiety and depression, which is a very uncomfortable combination of a foot on the gas and a foot on the brake type of experience.
HeartMath has simple biofeedback equipment which one can purchase to learn what coherence feels like and how to practice and achieve it through the relaxation response (proper breathing), witness consciousness (learning how to disengage from identifying with one’s thoughts and feeling states), and mindfulness (quieting the mind). These 3 components of the meditation experience are explained in the past Journal entry entitled Minding your Meditation.
Being able to achieve and maintain resonant frequency is associated with good health outcomes and a happy life. A happy heart is a healthy heart.
Heart Rate Variability
High coherence is an important predictor of good health, and it is associated with a particular vital sign born in the heart known as heart rate variability, or, HRV.
Heart rate variability is a very important vital sign which should be measured, just like pulse, blood pressure, temperature, and respiratory rate are measured. A few thousand studies and articles since the 1960’s have shown that HRV is an important predictor of health.
HRV is an accumulated result of the unique variation which occurs in the beat to beat distance with every heart beat. It was once thought that a healthy physiological state was reflected by a steady heart rhythm where the time between each heart beat was the same. However, we now know that a good amount of variability in heart rate is a marker of good health. Having a high level of HRV is related to our ability to be flexible, adaptable, and resilient in the face of changing situations and challenges.
HRV is analyzed as incremental variations in the length of time between heart beats. Each beat is like a snowflake…it is unique in its duration. These variations are collated and can be displayed on graph read-outs showing the number of beats per minute on the vertical axis and elapsed time on the horizontal axis.
You can think of it as how much difference there is between the faster and slower beats over a period of time. Using the technology of power spectral analysis, a particular type of wave form results from the translation of the instrumentation detection and reading onto the graph which allows us to see if we are in low or high heart rate variability. Higher HRV readings are desirable.
HRV is primarily influenced by 2 variables: 1) the normalcy of how we breathe, and 2) by our thoughts and associated emotional states.
The best breathing pattern occurs when we practice the following steps…relax the abdominal wall so that the thoracic diaphragm can descend into the abdomen to fully open the chest space, take in a deep full breath in a relaxed and effortless fashion, filling the lungs from the bottom to the top, and then effortlessly exhale the same. This sequence creates beneficial induction currents in the vagus nerve (10th cranial nerve). The vagus nerve is the main nerve trunk of the calming “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system. Such a breathing pattern is called the calming breath, the cleansing breath, the sigh breath, and the yogic breath. It is also simply called the normal breath. It is usually described in yogic texts.
If our breathing pattern is inhibited and shallow, then the sympathetic nervous system toning of more fight-flight arousal energy will predominate. This is because there is not adequate balancing from vagus nerve parasympathetic inflow due to a truncated breathing excursion and poor abdominal wall relaxation. Abdominal wall relaxation should accompany the normal breath. The SNS and the PNS will skew out of balance if we are tight and contracted and not in the flow of being coordinated to the situation we are in.
Emotional states also strongly influence HRV, perhaps more so than our breathing pattern. When we are in the shadow emotional states of grief, fear, and anger, then the HRV will be displayed on a graph read-out with a wandering choppy baseline and with wave forms of low amplitude.
On the other hand, when we can access higher emotional states such as neutrality, optimism, acceptance, appreciation, compassion, joy, and happiness, then the HRV will be displayed as one with a stable smooth baseline pattern and a higher amplitude wave form.
The illustration below shows this difference.
On the left side of the picture when the subject is feeling frustration, the wave form shows an average HRV of about 5 beats per minute. The baseline wanders and the wave form is choppy. After the subject shifts their emotional state from frustration to appreciation, the wave form becomes smooth and full with an average HRV of about 20 beats per minute.
HRVs of 20 beats per minute are fairly typical of young people and their young hearts. For someone over the age of 50 years, an HRV of 11 beats per minute is considered to be healthy.
As we age, the physical heart becomes less flexible and less resilient to physical and emotional stresses. Physical exercise and cardiac conditioning positively impact HRV, just as positive emotions do. If we have done little to practice physical exercise and emotional intelligence and expression, then our heart becomes deconditioned and HRV will be negatively impacted, and less able to reflect high coherence. Such a trend will negatively affect all aspects of our lives.
The signals which the heart sends to the brain travel to higher centers in the brain and have a profound influence on our higher level mental functions. The heart’s energetic transmission affects the activity in our cerebral cortex, which governs thinking and reasoning capacities. States of high coherence facilitate healthy and positive brain function, and all other physiologic functions as well, including the ANS. States of low coherence inhibit healthy brain function, as well as other physiologic functions, including the ANS.
The HeartMath Institute has created several practical exercises which can be practiced in real time to assist the development of high coherence when under challenge or stress. Some of the HeartMath practices are known as Freeze Framing, Quick Coherence, and Heart Lock-In. These techniques are simple to learn and practice. More information on the techniques can be found on the HeartMath website.
Each of these techniques involves focusing your attention in the area of the heart while using a normal breath to assist your awareness of the heart’s presence in your chest. Follow your breath to where it merges around your heart. Next, you activate and sustain a regenerative feeling such as appreciation, care, or compassion. Or, recall a positive, joyful, fun-filled event in your life…a special memory which you savor. While holding that positive feeling in your heart, you then inquire within what might be the best response to the situation you are facing. You then listen to the inner advice from your heart, and you try to act on the heart’s response. It is a practice…practice makes the master.
The most important things to practice which facilitate high coherence and high HRV is learning the natural flow and mechanics of the normal breath in your body, and being able to maintain self regulation by accessing higher emotional states when under duress. You also want to begin to become aware of your heart’s presence and activity inside of your chest.
Ongoing feeling and thought states which are judgmental, biased, impatient, anxious, grief filled, and unforgiving will smother the heart and will assist in the generation of heart disease, as well as all of the other common ailments.
I recommend a study of heart chakra energetics, traumatology, and psychology as is found in Anodea Judith’s excellent book Eastern Body, Western Mind. If you go to this link, please click on the “Listen” link on the left side of the page underneath the picture of the book’s cover to hear some helpful words.
This particular text is a book of great value…a pearl of great price.
The most important thing I learned in medical school…
My 4 years of being a medical student at Tulane Medical School from 1973 to 1977 gifted me with many valuable teachings. One deceptively simple teaching has stood through the long test of time and has become the main theme in my life and practice. Around this simple teaching many healing principles have emerged in my awareness as the past 4 decades have gone by.
This teaching came in our first course when we were under the instruction of Professor Charles Dunlap, M.D., who was Chairman of the Department of Pathology. He gave our first lectures; some of which were on wound healing and tissue repair. The invisible and mysterious process of tissue repair can be described using a number of biochemical and histological steps and milestones. Dr. Dunlap so informed us on all of these steps and the known science of wound healing.
Upon enlightening the class on all of the technical and science based aspects of wound healing, he then registered a personal anecdote about the progress of an old cut which he had sustained on one of his fingers many years before. He simply said that despite the age of the cut, that his body was still healing the cut, and that the remodeling and healing was an ongoing process whose progress he was able to observe as the years went by. The delivery of this anecdote was simple, elegant, beautiful, and was meaningfully registered in my awareness.
I’ll never forget this teaching from Dr. Dunlap’s lecture series. I often contemplate the workings of this healing mechanism in my own life, and in the lives of all who I encounter and work with. I have learned that healing is always ongoing in all 4 parts (quaternary) of our being…in body, mind, emotion, and spirit. All healing occurs under the guidance of what I have come to respect and refer to as the Divine Healing Intelligence, or, the DHI.
If we do not pick at and sabotage the healing attempts which life is trying to bring us, then the silent forces of our lives will lay down the matrix and scaffolding on which the wounds and hurts will be repaired over time. The repair process will persevere and continue throughout the course of a lifetime. I have had cuts, and broken things, and all manner of wounds in the quaternary of my life, and they still heal on.
On the unpredictability inherent in all biologic systems, Dr. Dunlap is still also somewhat well known for this salient quote, “If a man kicks a stone, he can predict what will happen, but if he kicks a dog, nobody can tell what will happen.”
All that is required is our inner alignment with the DHI so that we learn how to not sabotage and contaminate its merciful efforts. We learn to assist the efforts. This is a common sense principle of healing, unsaid by Dr. Dunlap, but apparent nonetheless.
Furthermore, please ponder and consider another healing balm…that forgiveness is the only way we heal. Others have said a similar and related kind of thing…that unconditional love is life’s most powerful healer.
You can create your own breath based mantra to use in heart and life healing. There are many available and useful mantras which have been tailored to the breath over the ages. A couple of good mantras are explained in the earlier Journal posting Minding your Meditation, which was mentioned in the text above.
You can also imagine and create your own mantra. As an example…breathe in forgiveness and breath out faith. After some time, switch it around and breathe in faith and breathe out forgiveness. Upon following the breath to the heart, such a simple mantra of the breath will help get you into your heart. Once you are there, you can roam for a while.
It has been said by many that we are not the ones who are doing the breathing. It is said that Creation is the One who is breathing us. Just let your breath out and wait for the next one to come…it always will. Who and what is driving this effort? Is it your separate sense of you and your air hunger and your reptilian brain reflexes that drives the breath? Or is it a higher intelligence that desires to participate in its own experience through your life?
The structure (heart) plus the process (breath) equals love. Our hearts have been anatomically and functionally created in such a way that only an infinite union with infinite love will do in the complete spiritual journey of a lifetime, and thereafter. This union is always present and accompanies us over time and dimension. This is the basis of our true identity.
Because our ego consciousness creates the perception of being a separate self that has to find God, we always tend to perceive God as being separate from ourselves. However, as our ego based thinking begins to experience and give way to meditative awareness, we begin to know that Divinity is nearer than breath, nearer than heart beat.
God is not so difficult to find…God is difficult to ignore.
The poet William Blake once penned a simple statement about Divinity…“God became as we are that we may become as God is.”
Thank you for reading.
Signing off from Crestone and Beyond.
Below are some some further references for your consideration…
- Monthly Global Coherence Initiative Synchronized Care Focus…occurs every full moon…a collective heart awakening to the need to get along with each other for the greater good.
- HeartMath Trauma Recovery Project…an important program to create and nurture one of the most important environmental programs of all…alleviating trauma and restoring hope in a world filled with much chaos.
Three Excellent Short Videos:
- Gregg Braden…speaking on behalf of the Institute of HeartMath…6 minutes
- HMI…The Heart’s Intuitive Intelligence: A Path to Personal, Social, and Global Coherence…7 minutes
- Resilience–A Key to Fulfillment…a 4.5 minute video from the HeartMath Institute about the importance of developing resilience
Other References and Suggested Reading, and a few Quotes:
- “The Resonant Heart” by Rollin McCraty, et al.,…originally published in the IONS quarterly publication Shift: At The Frontiers Of Consciousness, a good essay on heart resonance, from HeartMath, 2004.
- The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot, 1991…largely based on the work of Stanford neurosurgeon and neurophysiologist Karl Pribham, M.D., and London physicist David Bohm, FRS. This is one of the best early comprehensive writings on the holographic field.
- The Field, The Quest for the Secret Force of the Universe by Lynne McTaggart, 2002…more evidence and science for what spiritual masters have always said about our reality and Identity
- Heart Intelligence, Connecting with the Intuitive Guidance of the Heart by Doc Childre, et al., 2016, a HeartMath publication.
- The HeartMath Solution by Doc Childre and Howard Martin, 1999…a HeartMath classic.
- The Heart’s Code by Paul Pearsall, Ph.D., 1998…linked in the writing above.
- Energy Medicine, The Scientific Basis by James Oschman, Ph.D., 2000. A biophysicist sets out to debunk the debunkers of energy medicine with a seminal book on the subject. He has become one of the foremost global advocates and proponents of energetic healing. Here is his website.
- The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav, 1989…our evolution towards the authentic power of the spirit via the heart.
- The Heart of the Soul by Gary Zukav and Linda Francis, 2001.
- The Holy Trinity and the Law of Three by Cynthia Bourgeault, 2013.
- Tending the Heart Fire, Living in the Flow with the Pulse of Life by Shiva Rea, 2014…a beautiful book filled with yoga, great illustrations, and pictures…see pages 140-141.
- Eastern Body, Western Mind, Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self by Anodea Judith, 2004…linked in the writing above.
- The Biology of Transcendence, A Blueprint of the Human Spirit by Joseph Chilton Pearce, 2002.
- The Heart-Mind Matrix: How the Heart Can Teach the Mind New Ways to Think by Joseph Chilton Pearce, 2012…linked in the writing above.
- Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping, 2002.
- “A Brief History of Heart Transplantation” from Columbia University Department of Surgery…no mention of the donor heart to recipient brain communication phenomenon which was mentioned above…sorry. But you can read all about it in Dr. Pearsall’s book (#6 above).
- Love and Survival: The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy by Dean Ornish, M.D., 1998.
- The Book of Secrets, Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life by Deepak Chopra, M.D., 2005.
- You Are the Universe: Discovering your Cosmic Self and Why It Matters by Deepak Chopra, M.D. and Menas Kafatos, Ph.D., 2017. Dr. Chopra teams up with a noted physicist to explain the participatory universe in which we become co-creators.
- The Body Bears the Burden, Trauma, Dissociation, and Disease by Robert Scaer, M.D., 2001.
- The Trauma Spectrum, Hidden Wounds and Human Resiliency by Robert Scaer, M.D., 2005…a friend and neurologist colleague in Boulder, CO, writes 2 of the most important foundational texts on trauma and human disease.
- The Heart of Healing, From Trauma to Health and Harmony by Christine Hibbard, Ph.D., 2017…another Boulder friend and psychologist colleague travels all over the globe to help and heal trauma victims. She tells inspiring stories about the power of the human spirit and the work she did in other cultures and post-war zones.
- Resurrection…On Creation, Infinity, and All Things Great and Small…a Journal written on this website on 4-5-15, offering some related information and personal story.
- Minding your Mind…a Journal from 7-26-14 addressing our most common human addiction.
- On Life, Heart, and Life after Life…the earliest writing on this website about the heart…and also how fear affects it.
Some Relevant Quotes, and a Quip…
- One of my favorites is, “Go to thy bosom, knock there, ask what thy heart doth know.” It reads like Shakespeare could have penned it. It also could have been written by Yeats, Shelley, Blake, Wordsworth, Rumi, or Jesus. Maybe David Bohm wrote it. It’s a good one.
- “I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. I am.”…from the unhappy and troubled heart of Pulitzer Prize winning poet Sylvia Plath (1932-1963).
- “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of… We know the truth not only by the reason, but by the heart.”…from Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer, and Christian philosopher.
- “I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts.”…from the Old Testament Book of Jeremiah 31:33.
- “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”….Proverbs 17:22.
- “In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.”…from Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948).
- “The less you open your heart to others, the more your heart suffers.”…from Deepak Chopra.
- “Everything that we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real. If quantum mechanics has not profoundly shocked you, then you haven’t understood it yet,”…from Neils Bohr (1885-1962), a founder of quantum physics. Einstein concurred with this statement.
- Buddhist people carry the mantra, Om Mani Padme Hum….the Jewel is in the Lotus of the Heart.
- Of course, a summary perspective on this composition is a simple quote that I have heard from a number of lecturers who have waded deep into the mysteries of the field, the heart, and our existence, and is borrowed from Dorothy as she quipped in wonderment in The Wizard of Oz…”Now I know we’re not in Kansas.”
- An old Sufi maxim… “You can’t catch the wild horse by running, but nobody who is not running will catch the wild horse.” Stated differently, we do not find the great Love except by finding ourselves, and we cannot find our true Self without falling into the great Love. The heart is required for this leap.
- About carrying on with life in the face of all that we know and don’t know, from a well known Zen Proverb…”Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water…After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”
All of the ideas and facts presented above describe how a Divine source of energy flows to us, through us, around us, and from us by constantly recurving and circulating in the toroidal field which surrounds our hearts.
The mind, once stretched by new ideas, never regains its original dimensions.