Institute of HeartMath FAQs

Research FAQs

Question: What is Heart intelligence?

Answer: Heart intelligence is the flow of awareness, understanding and intuition we experience when the mind and emotions are brought into coherent alignment with the heart. It can be activated through self-initiated practice, and the more we pay attention when we sense the heart is speaking to us or guiding us, the greater our ability to access this intelligence and guidance more frequently. Heart intelligence underlies cellular organization and guides and evolves organisms toward increased order, awareness and coherence of their bodies’ systems.

Question: What is coherence and how can I increase mine?

Answer: The Institute of HeartMath talks a great deal about coherence – heart coherence, heart-rhythm coherence, physiological coherence, etc. – because the state of coherence is so important in helping each of us maintain our mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. Coherence, in relation to any system, including the human body, refers to a logical, orderly and harmonious connectedness between parts. Borrowing from physics, when we are in a coherent state, virtually no energy is wasted because our systems are performing optimally and there is synchronization between the heart, respiratory system, blood-pressure rhythms, heart-rate variability patterns, etc. When we speak of heart-rhythm coherence, we are referring to smooth, ordered heart-rhythm patterns. Among the many benefits of coherence are calmness, good energy levels, clear thinking and proper immune-system function.

Each of us is capable of achieving, maintaining and increasing our coherence. One of the simplest and quickest paths to heart coherence is through intentional positive feelings – compassion, caring, love and other such emotions. In contrast, we can quickly become incoherent when we experience negative attitudes such as anger, fear and anxiety. A wonderful first step for learning how to increase your coherence is through HeartMath’s Coherence Coach®, a downloadable, interactive software application that includes the highly acclaimed Quick Coherence® technique for achieving coherence, refocusing emotions and releasing stress. Once learned, the Quick Coherence technique only takes a minute to do. All of HeartMath’s easily learned tools and techniques take minutes or less once learned. Read more about the Coherence Coach®.

We also invite you to visit the following HeartMath Web page to learn more about coherence and how to achieve it, so you can begin transforming your life today: Learn about coherence.

Question: What is the difference between "coherence" and "entrainment"?

Answer: As stated in the answer to the question about coherence higher up on this page, coherence, in relation to any system such as the human body, refers to a logical, orderly and harmonious connectedness between parts. When we are coherent, functions such as heart rate, the respiratory system, blood pressure, etc., are in sync and performing optimally. We’re able to think more clearly, have plenty of energy and our immune system is functioning properly, among other benefits. Entrainment is a form of coherence. In human physiology, entrainment describes a state in which two or more of the body’s oscillatory systems such as respiration and heart-rhythm patterns become synchronous and operate at the same frequency. This can occur with multiple systems in the body.

Question: What is the relationship between heart-rate variability and coherence?

Answer: Heart-rate variability (HRV) is the normal, naturally occurring variations or changes in the amount of time between heartbeats. This is different than your overall heart rate – the number of beats that occur in any given minute. It is directly related to coherence, the measure of which derived from HRV, or the heart’s rhythm over time. Coherence reflects the orderly and harmonious connectedness between various systems in the body such as the heart, brain and respiratory and immune systems. When our heart-rate variability is functioning normally, not too great or too little, we are able to achieve this coherence, which can be measured by our heart-rhythm patterns with a monitoring device such as an electrocardiogram or emWave device.

Question: What is the difference between heart rhythm and heart-rate variability (HRV)?

Answer: Heart-rate variability is the naturally occurring, beat-to-beat variations in the time between heartbeats. It is these beat–to beat changes that make up the heart rhythm. A variety of factors, such as exercise, our thoughts and feelings and breathing patterns all influence our heart-rhythm patterns.

Although thoughts and emotions can change heart-rhythm patterns, conversely, changing heart rhythms can affect other bodily systems as well, including the brain – its ability to process information, decision-making, problem-solving and creativity. Heart rhythms also can directly affect how you feel, and how you feel can affect your heart rhythms. A significant finding in this area of research is that we can intentionally experience certain positive feelings such as caring, compassion and love to advantageously affect our heart rhythms and overall well-being. Learn more about this topic at Heart-Rate Variability.

Question: Are there any studies about HeartMath techniques that were not conducted by the Institute of HeartMath?

Answer: Yes, the Institute of HeartMath encourages independent studies of its tools, techniques and technology and many have been conducted, including the following:

  • Effects of Heart-Rate Variability Biofeedback Training and Emotional Regulation on Music Performance Anxiety in University Students, by Myron Ross Thurber.

    The effects of heart-rate variability biofeedback training and emotional self-regulation techniques on music performance anxiety and music performance are examined in this study. Click here to read the study: Music Performance Anxiety.
  • A Controlled Pilot Study of Stress Management Training of Elderly Patients with Congestive Heart Failure, by the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention at Stanford University.

    The effects of a HeartMath program on patients with congestive heart failure were examined in this study. Read the key findings and a summary of the Stanford Study. It begins midway on the page.
  • The Impact of an Emotional Self-Management Skills Course on Psychosocial Functioning and Autonomic Recovery to Stress in Middle School Children, by the Miami Heart Research Institute.

    This study examined the impact of a HeartMath program on psychosocial functioning and physiological responses to stress in students at a middle school in Hialeah, Fla. Middle School Study.
  • The Effect of Employee Self-Management Training on Personal and Organizational Quality, by B. Barrios-Choplin, R. McCraty, J. Sundram, M. Atkinson.

    This research examined the effect of HeartMath’s Inner Quality Management (IQM) training program on 54 employees in the Information Technology Services Division of a state agency that was experiencing change-related turmoil. Read the study.

You can read more Institute of HeartMath and independent studies by clicking the following link: More studies.

Question: I am interested in learning more about HeartMath science and research. What should I read/purchase?

Answer: The e-booklet tilted The Science of the Heart provides a brief overview of the research many basic research studies that have been conducted at the HeartMath Research Center as well as many independent studies conducted at various universities and research centers. This comprehensive monograph gives fundamental summaries of the Institute of HeartMath’s years of innovative research and has an overview of heart-rate variability, entrainment, coherence, head-heart interactions and the scientific discoveries that shaped the tools and techniques developed to empower heart-based living. Learn more about the Science of the Heart.

For more in-depth understanding of how the heart and brain communicate and how the heart affects cognitive functions and many aspects of our health and well-being, we recommend the scientific monograph, The Coherent Heart.

The book, The HeartMath Solution, by Doc Childre and Howard Martin, includes cutting-edge science, practical information and easy-to-learn HeartMath techniques. You’ll learn about the heart as central to many of the body’s systems and health, and the techniques will show you how to deepen your heart qualities of wisdom, compassion, strength and joy and increase your intuitive, creative and heart-centered aspects. Learn more about The HeartMath Solution.

Question: In which scientific journals are your research studies reviewed or published?

Answer: HeartMath studies and research have been reviewed and published in many peer-reviewed scientific journals and a wide range of other publications spanning many disciplines. Here is a link to many of those studies and publications, followed by some examples. Heartmath research/publications.

Question: I’ve heard people say TestEdge can help reduce test anxiety. What research or evidence is there that it works?

Answer: The groundbreaking and nationally recognized TestEdge National Demonstration Study, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, provided definitive evidence that TestEdge could reduce test anxiety and help raise student test scores. Studies also show increases in overall academic performance and social success with family and friends. Learn more at Test Anxiety and TestEdge® and The Science Behind TestEdge.

Question: Has HeartMath created any music? Have you done any music research?

Answer: The answer to both questions is, yes. The Institute of HeartMath has long recognized the importance of music and its potential physical, emotional and spiritual maintenance and healing properties. HeartMath founder Doc Childre, himself a composer, has created some wonderful music that has the effect of energizing and relaxing and serving as effective preventive health maintenance. Childre’s designer music, Heart Zones, Speed of Balance and Quiet Joy, has been used in HeartMath studies assessing the effects of music on mental and emotional states. Use this link to read more about and/or purchase Quiet Joy.

Here are two HeartMath music studies.

  • The Effects of Different Types of Music on Mood, Tension, and Mental Clarity, by R. McCraty, B. Barrios-Choplin, M. Atkinson, D. Tomasino.

    This study investigated the impact of different types of music on tension, mood and mental clarity in 144 adult and teenage subjects who completed a psychological profile before and after listening for 15 minutes to four types of music: grunge rock, classical, New Age and designer – Childre’s Speed of Balance. Read the study.
  • Music Enhances the Effect of Positive Emotional States on Salivary IgA, by R. McCraty, M. Atkinson, G. Rein, A. D. Watkins.

    This study examined the effects of music and positive emotional states on autonomic-nervous-system and immune-system function in healthy individuals. The effects of rock and New Age music were compared to Childre’s Heart Zones composition. Read the study.

Question: Have you done any research on water?

Answer: Yes. Following are two HeartMath studies that reveal some interesting properties of water.

  • New Technology Provides Scientific Evidence of Water’s Capacity to Store and Amplify Weak Electromagnetic and Subtle Energy Fields, by D. Tomasino.

    Research has shown water is a liquid crystal with a pliable lattice matrix that is capable of adopting many structural forms and has an infinite capacity to store information within its matrix. Read the study.
  • Structural Changes in Water and DNA Associated with New Physiologically Measurable States, by G. Rein, R. McCraty.

    While holding a beaker containing the samples, subjects were asked to focus on the samples and intentionally alter their molecular structures for five minutes. Read the study.

Question: What does the Institute mean by energetics and emotional energetics?

Answer: Human interest in energetics, the study of energy flows and storages and energy transformation, may date back as far as the ancient Greeks. Energetics, of course, is tied to all material existence, from the quantum level to the cosmos, so the range of disciplines it crosses into is extensive. HeartMath researchers have been interested for many years in emotional energetics – the energetic interactions within and between people and between people and their environment.

Emotional energetics is an expanding area of interest at HeartMath as we seek to answer questions such as how the various energy systems within each of us affect our emotions, how emotions affect our energy systems and how the energy generated by the powerful electromagnetic field each of us possesses affects other people and our environment – at close range and over long distances. Read more about emotional energetics.

Question: Have HeartMath techniques been shown to help people with atrial fibrillation?

Answer: Yes. Many people with atrial fibrillation and other cardiac arrhythmias have benefited greatly from using HeartMath tools and techniques.

A large hospital in Orange County, California conducted an internal study with a random sampling of 75 patients with atrial fibrillation. Many of these patients had severe conditions and were on aggressive antiarrhythmic and antihypertensive medication regimens; a large number were on "last resort" medications with extremely toxic side effects.

At the end of the three-month period in which they practiced HeartMath tools and techniques, 71 of the 75 patients reported substantial improvements in their physical and emotional health, with 14 of them able to discontinue antiarrhythmic medications altogether. Their HMO’s pharmacy costs dropped thousands of dollars per month because of improvements in patients’ health.

Question: Is there any research related to congestive heart failure?

Answer: Yes. A Controlled Pilot Study of Stress Management Training of Elderly Patients with Congestive Heart Failure was conducted by the Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention at Stanford University to investigate the effects of the HeartMath System in patients with congestive heart failure. Among other improvements, patients demonstrated significant improvements in functional capacity and significant reductions in stress and depression. Click the following link to read a summary of this study in our research section: Read the study.