The mystic Edgar Cayce predicted that science would one day ‘prove’ God and spirituality ‘by backing into it’. Working with and alongside scientists for 2 decades, I believe that day is imminent, if it hasn’t already happened. I also believe that the heart – the human organ of the heart – is key. Let me explain.
Long before we are born, indeed just shortly after we are conceived, our heart begins beating all on its own. At this time the brain has not yet begun to form so we know it could not be ‘instructing’ the heart to beat – in fact we have no knowledge about how or why the heart begins to beat on its own – it just does. There is a lot more about the heart we don’t know, but there is also a great deal that scientists are finding out, discoveries that are so recent that they have not yet made their way into mainstream consciousness. One such discovery is the power of the heart’s electrical signals.
HEART RATE VARIABILITY
Most people know that the condition of the heart indicates levels of physical fitness. What is not so widely known is that the heart can also reveal our emotional state and our ability to cope under pressure. When we experience stress, or emotions like anxiety, anger or frustration, stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released into our system, causing, among other things, the heart to beat faster.
The heart rate changes constantly without any physical or mental exertion. There are also minute differences in the time between each heartbeat that vary continuously. These changes in the variety of time between heart-beats are referred to as Heart Rate Variability or HRV, and create a pattern in the heart’s electrical signals. By looking at the changing pattern of these electrical signals we can determine how fit someone is and how well they are able to handle stress and emotional pressure.
HRV is easily measured using an electrocardiogram, or can be also approximately calculated (usually for educational purposes, i.e. as a bio-feedback tool) by measuring the heart’s pulse waves. HRV patterns vary immensely and on-going studies are finding how the dynamics of HRV relate to the various emotional states we experience. What scientist know already, is that the HRV changes according to the emotional experience of the person in question; the HRV pattern becomes more erratic and less coherent, in proportion to the degree of upset, stress or anger a person feels:
The HRV pattern reflects the quality of the electrical signals emitted from the heart which travel to the brain and to every cell in the body, and which may be erratic or coherent depending on our emotional state of being. The electrical signals that travel to the brain, effect it’s functioning. When the variance or HRV is weak, signals from the heart are chaotic and disordered; this means that the messages received by the brain are also chaotic and disordered! The result is that clear, intelligent thinking is inhibited. This is what we experience when we are in a stressful situation and we feel like we can’t think straight! The part of our brain that is responsible for intelligent thinking and higher consciousness begins to, literally, shut down. Conversely, when we are in a state of calm and emotional balance, our heart rate variability pattern reflects this, sending strong, coherent and harmonious signals to the brain. Effectively, this ‘switches on’ the brain, allowing us to operate at a more intelligent and conscious level – a level that, I would dare to suggest – is more needed now than ever before!
On some level, we all know that we function better when we feel good, – that when we feel cheerful we are more likely to behave kindly towards others, have creative ideas, to problem-solve better, and to say clever things. However, now that science has proved it, we can move into the ‘feel good’ state with increased confidence, knowing not just intuitively, but factually that we are actually biologically designed to function best when we feel happy!
Jennifer Day is a coach and facilitator, working with organizations and individuals, specializing in executives and parents. She is available for coaching sessions – offering HRV feedback technology to gage needs and progress – at Calmer Clinics and privately.
This Blog post is an excerpt from BEING WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE by Jennifer Day. Available at all good bookstores, and at Calmer Clinics.