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Developing Your Intuition

What is Intuition?

Intuition is the process of perceiving or knowing things to a high degree of certainty without conscious reasoning: knowledge of events such as an act of nature that has yet to happen; or knowledge of a distant material object such as an as-yet unseen obstruction blocking the highway ahead. Researchers with the Institute of HeartMath and many others who have conducted numerous controlled and scientifically validated studies over more than half a century have expanded the definition of intuition to include not only conscious perception by the mind alone, but also by the body’s entire psychophysiological system. This perception often is evidenced by a range of emotions and measurable physiological changes exhibited or detected throughout the body, according to the study Electrophysiological Evidence of Intuition: McCraty, Atkinson and Bradley, 2004.

At the center of this nonbrain perception is the human heart, which encompasses a degree of intelligence whose sophistication and vastness we are continuing to understand and explore. We now know this intelligence may be cultivated to our advantage in many ways. (See our Recommendations)

"The only real valuable thing is intuition."

– Albert Einstein, 1879-1955

Taking into account the array of intuition research, along with findings from years of experimentation at its research facilities in Boulder Creek, Calif., and elsewhere in the U.S. and abroad, HeartMath theorizes that intuitive abilities we’re unable to attribute to subconsciously stored memories and experiences or to the conscious brain’s analytic processes, make sense in another context: The body is connected by sensory perception to a field of energy that enfolds the information we attribute to intuition.

To help us understand this concept consider an established scientific fact in the area of quantum physics that could not be explained by classical physics in the early 20th century: We know there is virtually instantaneous communication of information in the subatomic world between particles separated by vast regions of space and these particles act is if they have knowledge of events before they happen. This "nonlocal communication" seemingly exists outside the confines of space and time as we currently understand them.

What the Heart Knows

What we know today about what the heart knows is truly exciting and the implications are great. Relying on a variety of data from numerous studies and experiments, particularly heart-rhythm-pattern measurements, IHM’s findings point to the human heart as playing a key role in the intuitive process, and a recent study concludes the heart actually receives intuitive information faster than the brain – by a second or slightly more. This would seem to attribute some independent intelligence to the heart: In fact, the concept of a "heart brain" is widely accepted today.

It has been established that the heart has a powerful electromagnetic field and its own complex nervous system and circuitry that generates up to an estimated 60 times the electrical amplitude of the brain. The electromagnetic signal our heart rhythms produce actually can be measured in the brain waves of people around us. It is no wonder that the findings by researchers at HeartMath and elsewhere conclude the heart has its own organized intelligence network enabling it to act independently, learn, remember and produce feelings – all attributes which, until recently, were nearly universally held to be solely in the brain’s dominion.

"… but it is wisdom to believe the heart."

– From a poem by George Santayana, 1863-1952

You and Your Intuition

Perhaps the knowledge that the heart possesses this intuitive intelligence doesn’t mean much for you because your experience has been that although some people seem capable of tapping into their intuition, you haven’t been able to do it. As far as you know, you’ve never experienced intuition, or it is such a rarity that you readily dismiss all such instances as mere coincidence or sheer luck. No matter, say researchers who have studied the intuitive process for decades, because the heart, like the body, is constantly engaged in activity we are not even aware of, and it keeps right on intuiting – receiving loads of information before the brain, processing it, then steering us in directions it deems beneficial to us.

What would it mean if you could fine-tune this intuitive ability? Is it even possible? Well, it could and does mean a great deal – in so many areas of your life, including the level of stress you experience, the overall health you enjoy, your creativity, the myriad choices you make daily, and your success at school, work and in your relationships. The Institute of HeartMath’s extensive scientific studies indicate you can develop and enhance your intuition. In tandem with its years of research, HeartMath also has engaged in comprehensive development and testing of tools and programs to help you develop your heart’s intuitive intelligence and use it advantageously. (See our Recommendations)

"Heart intuition or intelligence brings the freedom and power to accomplish what the mind, even with all the disciplines or affirmations in the world, cannot do if it’s out of sync with the heart."

– The HeartMath Solution, 1999, Childre and Martin

The Rhythm of the Heart

After years of research, the very core of HeartMath’s findings regarding the ability of human beings to improve their lives emotionally, physically and mentally is the revelation of what is known as "heart-rhythm coherence." In simple terms, here is what heart-rhythm coherence and incoherence mean, followed by a description of what happens when the heart is in or out of coherence:

  • A coherent heart is one that has smooth, ordered heart-rhythm patterns such as might be seen in an electrocardiogram.
  • An incoherent heart is marked by jagged, disordered or irregular heart-rhythm patterns.

As testing has shown, events, sights, sounds and other stimuli in the environment around you contribute to your heart-rhythm patterns, and regardless of the favorability or unfavorability of these patterns, the heart transmits them to the brain for processing. This process includes storing and remembering these patterns for future use. When the brain receives emotional information, it also issues a recommended response based on past experience, which could be any or a combination of countless possibilities: an immediate physical action of some sort, a feeling of sadness, perhaps a sense of physical pain, or maybe no response at all. It all depends on what you’ve done before and what the brain remembers. When heart-rhythm patterns are coherent, the heart’s ability to perceive intuitive information is heightened. Stress chemical pathways reverse, paving the way for increased synchronization between the heart and brain. It is in this synchronized state, which athletes call being "in the zone," that you can achieve optimal mental clarity, cognitive performance and perception of intuitive information.

When you have a coherent heart, you are at your best. If you are accustomed to being appreciative, caring, compassionate, etc., all of which lead to a coherent heart, the favorable heart-rhythm patterns your heart sends to the brain trigger responses to these feelings that you’ve had in the past: Say, for example, that generally, when you sense certain situations could benefit from a caring attitude, you routinely respond in a caring way, perhaps uttering a kind word, giving a simple nod of support, maybe even tendering a gentle and loving reprimand. Your heart processes your caring attitude and responses into coherent rhythm patterns and these are sent to the brain, which in turn triggers remembered responses appropriate to or learned from previous similar situations.

When heart-rhythm patterns are incoherent – disordered and irregular – your heart sends these unfavorable patterns to the brain, which then searches its stored heart-rhythm patterns in search of a match and simply triggers a remembered emotional response – what you might call learned behavior. Say, for example, that on occasions when things irritate or anger you, more often than not you respond by shouting or slamming a door, or with other negative reactions. What do you think the brain is likely to recommend as an emotional response the very next time something angers you? The odds aren’t good for a positive response—even if it means your brain is contributing to the following vicious cycle: Anger leads to incoherence, which leads to a negative response, which leads to continued incoherence, etc.


The Coherent Heart (Heart-Brain Interactions, Psychophysiological Coherence, and the Emergence of System-Wide Order

McCraty, Atkinson, Tomasino, and Bradley

Read more about what achieving heart coherence means for you in this HeartMath selection. The Coherent Heart explores communication within and among the body’s systems through the generation and transmission of rhythms and patterns of psychophysiological activity.


A HeartMath Tip: Try the Quick Coherence® technique to shift your emotional state and send positive emotions through your system.

  1. Heart focus: Shift your attention to the area of the heart and breathe slowly and deeply.
  2. Heart breathing: Keep your focus in the heart by gently breathing – five seconds in and five seconds out – through your heart. Do this two or three times.
  3. Heart feeling: Activate and sustain a genuine feeling of appreciation or care for someone or something in your life. Focus on the good heart feeling as you continue to breathe through the area of your heart.

Benefits of Developing Your Intuition

  • Make better, heart-based decisions more often
  • Improve physical, mental, emotional health
  • Increase effectiveness at home, work, school
  • Reduce stress
  • Maximize your creativity


Tools For Developing Your Intuition

The Institute of HeartMath has compiled compelling evidence of the intelligence and intuitive capability of the human heart and designed tools you can easily master so you can begin taking full advantage of this capability.

  • emWave®2: Regular use of this entertaining and scientifically validated, heart-rate monitor helps you build resilience – a state of poise and readiness for effectively dealing with stressful feelings that can deplete your mental, emotional and physical systems. Easy to use and noninvasive, you can use it as a handheld or connect to your computer to review past sessions or play any of the resilience building games.

  • emWave® Desktop for Mac and PC: The emWave Desktop turns your computer into an advanced heart-rate monitor. When combined with HeartMath’s widely acclaimed resilience and coherence building techniques, you’ll soon learn how easily you can create an optimal state in which your heart, mind and emotions are more in-sync and balanced. In this balanced state, individuals tend to experience more energy, focus and mental clarity. With practice of the HeartMath System can help you begin feeling healthier and happier and start living life more fully.

    † Formerly known as Freeze-Framer®

  • Heart Lock-In Technique®: Using what HeartMath considers to be one of its foundational techniques for achieving synchronization between the heart and brain, you’ll to learn achieve and maintain a coherence level that will allow you to distinguish between the voice in your head and the one in your heart, where positive feelings of love, caring, appreciation, etc., will quickly transform you in ways you may never have dreamed possible. Learn the steps of the Heart Lock-In technique in the powerful book The HeartMath Solution, Childre, Martin, 1999.

(Note: Use the emWave2 or emWave Desktop for Mac and PC to help regulate your emotions in preparation for events you know may trigger your stress response and to help you recover from stressful episodes and get back on an even keel fast.)

Learn more…

  • Before Cognition: The Active Contribution of the Heart/ANS to Intuitive Decision Making as Measured on Repeat Entrepreneurs in the Cambridge Technopol: This report, presented at the Fourth AGSE International Entrepreneurship Research Exchange in Brisbane, Australia in February, 2007, provides the preliminary results of a study on the psychophysiological basis of entrepreneurial intuition possessed by that unique sector of persons in the business world "who have extraordinarily accurate hunches about the locus of new future business opportunities." Repeat, or so-called serial entrepreneurs, were selected for the study "because they have beaten the odds against success."
  • Emotional Energetics, Intuition, and Epigenetics Research: Learn about HeartMath’s current and future research to further scientific understanding of the energetic interactions within each person, between individuals, and between people and their environment; the heart and brain’s ability to receive and process information outside of the normal reasoning process; and the theory that coherent energy structures organized according to principles of quantum holography serve to maintain and evolve the organization of biological and physical structures.

Take me to the HeartMath Store now to learn more about IHM’s life-changing tools, training programs and other resources, or call us: (800) 711-6221.