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A Qualitative Study of Heart-Mind Coherence Techniques for Stress Relief and Mental and Emotional Self-management

Harold Reich
Ph.D. Dissertation, California Institute of Integral Studies, 2009.

For a PDF version of the complete paper, click here.

Abstract

In this dissertation, I explore the experience of living and practicing heart-mind coherence techniques as taught by the HeartMath Institute. What is the experience of individuals who have had heart-mind coherence training? How do they use these tools in their daily lives?

This is a qualitative study of heart-mind coherence as taught and developed by the HeartMath Institute in Boulder Creek, California. This study is based on the journaling (via a Weblog) and the reflections of 8 HeartMath® practitioners. These individuals agreed to practice the HeartMath techniques daily, keep a journal, and respond to three research questions for a 30-day period.

During this study the research participants posted their responses to the following three questions:

  1. How did you apply the HeartMath tools in your life today?
  2. What effects did you experience as a result of utilizing the HeartMath tools?
  3. What aspects of your life were touched or impacted by your use of the HeartMath tools?

The research participants posted their responses to the above three questions on a secure blog. They posted every day for 30 days. Their postings were then transferred to an NVivo database. Once all the data had been entered into the database the data was coded using the NVivo applications utilities. This coding process is iterative and additional codes can be added during the analysis phase.

After the NVivo coding is completed the application reveals common themes or findings in the research data. Five salient findings emerged from the data analysis. These findings are:

  1. Increased level of coherence or calmness
  2. Improved stress management
  3. Increased energy
  4. Better focus
  5. Improved performance

These findings indicate that the research participants had several common experiences that they each described in their own individual terms. All of the participants wrote about how they benefited and broadened their life experiences through utilization of the HeartMath tools.