Research FAQs

Question: What is Heart intelligence?

Answer: Heart intelligence is the flow of intuitive awareness, understanding and inner guidance we experience when the mind and emotions are brought into coherent alignment with the heart. It can be activated through self-initiated practice. The more coherent we are and the more we pay attention to this deeper intuitive inner guidance, the greater our ability to access this intelligence 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 HeartMath Institute talks a great deal about coherence – heart coherence, heart-rhythm coherence, physiological coherence, social coherence and global coherence. Coherence, in any system, from the human body to social affairs, refers to a logical, orderly and harmonious connectedness between parts of a system or between people. When we speak of heart-rhythm coherence or physiological coherence, we are referring to a specific assessment of the heart’s rhythms that appears as smooth, ordered and sine-wavelike patterns. From a physics perspective, when we are in a coherent state, virtually no energy is wasted because our systems are performing optimally and there is synchronization between heart rhythms, the respiratory system, blood-pressure rhythms, etc. Among the many benefits of personal coherence are increased composure, more energy, clear thinking, enhanced immune-system function and hormonal balance.

Each of us is capable of achieving, increasing and maintaining our personal and social coherence. One of the simplest and quickest paths to personal heart coherence is through the intentional self-generation of positive feelings such as compassion, care, love and other renewing types of emotions. In contrast, we can quickly become incoherent when we experience attitudes and emotions such as anger, fear and anxiety. An effective first step for learning how to increase your coherence is using HeartMath’s Coherence Coach®, a downloadable, interactive software application that includes the 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®.

Question: What is the difference between “coherence” and “entrainment”?

Answer:  Entrainment is an aspect 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. For more information and detailed discussion, see Science of the Heart: Exploring the Role of the Heart in Human Performance or The Coherent Heart.

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. Physiological coherence is derived from HRV. Coherence is a measure of the pattern in the heart’s rhythm, which is independent of the amount of HRV, and reflects an orderly and harmonious synchronization among various systems in the body such as the heart, respiratory system and blood-pressure rhythms. The amount of coherence we have in our heart’s rhythms can be measured with a monitoring device such as an emWave2®, emWave® Pro or Inner Balance™ Trainer 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 physical activity, thoughts and feelings and breathing patterns all influence our heart-rhythm patterns.

Thoughts and emotions can change heart-rhythm patterns, and these changing heart rhythms can affect other bodily systems as well, including the brain and 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 positive feelings such as care, compassion, courage and love to advantageously affect our heart rhythms and overall well-being. Learn more about this topic at Heart Rate Variability defined.

Do you offer HRV Services? 

Answer: HeartMath provides a low-cost heart rate variability analysis service to certain clinics. An AAR, or autonomic assessment report, quantifies 24 hours of HRV data. This service is available to health-care, research and wellness professionals. We use the BodyGuard2 HRV recorder, a device that makes it easy to collect HRV data. HMI has spent many years investigating how various clinical disorders, as well as healthy and optimal function are reflected in autonomic function as assessed by HRV analysis. This assessment can validate the effect of various interventions on autonomic function, including pharmacological, conventional or complementary interventions. This service also enables HMI researchers to more fully characterize autonomic dynamics in a wide range of populations and clinical challenges and conditions. Contact the HMI Research Center at research@heartmath.org for more information.

Question: What is Global Coherence research?

Answer: HMI and HMI’s specail project Global Coherence Initiative (GCI) conducts Global Coherence Research. The Global Coherence Initiative is a science-based, co-creative project to unite people in heart-focused care and intention, to facilitate the shift in global consciousness from instability and discord to balance, cooperation and enduring peace.

Two key areas of GCI research are the study of the interconnection between all living systems; and the Earth’s magnetic fields. GCI’s Global Coherence Monitoring System (GCMS) comprises a series of state-of-the-art magnetic sensors located around the world that are collecting data to determine the relationship between activity in Earth’s magnetic field, collective human emotions and behaviors, and global events. Other areas the GCMS is exploring include how changes in Earth’s field affect human and animal nervous system activity; and the long-term research goal of correlating human coherence-level data collected from the GCI community with changes in various social, environmental and health outcomes. Learn more at the Global Coherence Initiative.

Question: Who funds HeartMath Institute Research?

Answer: The majority of funding for the HeartMath Institute comes from private-sector donations – the typical donations people might make to charitable organizations, ranging from as little as $5 to greater amounts. These include simple one-time contributions, recurring monthly donations, special campaign contributions or long-term gifts in the form of annuities, bequests, etc. HMI also receives some funding in the form of grants from various organizations and foundations.

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

Answer: Yes, the HeartMath Institute encourages independent studies that explore the findings of our basic research as well as outcome studies that use HeartMath’s self-regulation techniques and technology. Many independent studies have been conducted and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, many of which can be downloaded from the HMI’s Research Library.

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

Answer: There are many research publications, but a good overview is provided in the paper titled Coherence: Bridging Personal, Social and Global Health. 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 a simple discussion of the science behind HeartMath as well as other practical information and easy-to-learn HeartMath techniques. You’ll learn about how the heart is central to many of the body’s systems and health. The techniques that are included 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.

There are also many independent studies conducted at various universities and research centers that can be found in our Research Library.

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. Here is a link to a lot of those publications: 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 the TestEdge program can 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 about Test Anxiety and TestEdge® in the Education Research papers.

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

Answer: The answer to both questions is yes. The HeartMath Institute 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. They 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: What does the Institute mean by energetics and emotional energetics?

Answer:  Interest in energetics, the study of energy flows, may date back as far as the ancient Greeks. HeartMath researchers have been interested in the field of emotional energetics and epigenetics for many years and how it relates to the energetic interactions within and between people and between people and their environment and how this may affect genetic expression.

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 electromagnetic field generated by the heart 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, Calif., conducted an internal study with a random sampling of 75 patients who had 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 HMOs’ pharmacy costs dropped thousands of dollars per month because of improvements in patients’ health.

Because both the emWave and Inner Balance technologies measure your heart rate variability (HRV), which is the normal beat-to-beat changes (normal sinus rhythm) in your heart rate, they cannot be used for assessing HRV or HRV coherence during periods in which any type of arrhythmia such as atrial fibrillation are occurring, or if the heart is being paced by a pacemaker. A-fib and other forms of arrhythmia, however, only occur once in a while for the majority of people with these conditions. During normal sinus rhythm, the emWave and Inner Balance technology can be used to assist with emotional management, stress reduction and coherence-building. Some people also use the devices to look at their pulse waves to help detect whether they are having an episode of arrhythmia. Note: The pulse wave cannot be used to quantify the type or frequency of arrhythmias.

Even though you cannot use the emWave or Inner Balance during periods of A-fib, you can use HeartMath techniques, which, many people report, are helpful in reducing the frequency of all types of arrhythmias.

Question: I know HeartMath has conducted lots of research related to stress and emotions. Has HeartMath researched other illnesses as well, such as congestive heart failure or hypertension?

Answer: Yes. Along with various research collaborators, we have studied many debilitating conditions, including those mentioned in the question along with PTSD, ADD/ADHD and chronic pain among others. It is well established that stress and emotions greatly influence a wide range conditions, and learning to lower stress and self-regulate emotions has provided a number of significant benefits. Among these are pain relief, improved energy levels, enhanced immune-system functioning, and hormonal balance. Click on the links below for information on specific examples. You will find many other examples and further reading at HMI’s Research Library.

  • Congestive heart failure study: A Controlled Pilot Study of Stress Management Training of Elderly Patients with Congestive Heart Failure.
  • Hypertension study: Impact of a Workplace Stress Reduction Program on Blood Pressure and Emotional Health in Hypertensive Employees
  • ADD/ADHD study: Coherence Training In Children With Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • PTSD study: Cardiac Coherence and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Combat Veterans