Tapping your Heart’s Intelligence to Reduce Stress

woman wearing a green jacket holding up a red heart
I'm Emma!

Creative success coach, Photographer, rescue dog mom, book worm, INFJ, Enneagram 3, doing my best to be mindful, kind & help people be their most authentic, purposeful selves.


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I’m sharing this on Valentine’s Day which is seems apt and timely for a blog post about tapping into heart intelligence.

More than ever, as a collective human family (which we are whether we like it or not) we need to be living from our hearts, not our heads.

We’ve lost touch with the fact that we affect each other, not just with our actions and our words, but with the energy we hold in our bodies which often we’re unaware of. Our hearts produce an electromagnetic field that can be detected up to a metre around the body in all directions. Our emotional states (which I’ll share a bit more about shortly) are encoded in this electromagnetic field, hence it feels good to be around someone who’s happy and it’s generally quite awful to be in the presence of a person who’s seething with rage. You can literally sense their vibe before they’ve so much as uttered a word.

In 2022 I qualified as a HeartMath practitioner. What drew me to HeartMath was the prospect of learning a tool that could help me live more in alignment, feel happier and cope better with what life threw at me and as someone who loves being in control, the allure of being able to better regulate my emotional state at will was irresistible.

I was fed up of living at the mercy of my unruly emotions, stressed one minute by the feelings of worry and anxiety about my business or something changing in my personal life and on top of the world the next when something went well. The way I felt each day was due to external circumstances which whether I liked to admit it or not were out of my control. When I handed off responsibility for my happiness to people, events or results that were unpredictable and at the mercy of fate, it’s no wonder happiness and fulfillment were so elusive and fleeting for me.

Life is difficult, there’s no sugar coating it. You’ll enjoy periods of highs and lows ad infinitum until you die, that’s the way it is. You might find yourself clinging to the good times, or never really enjoying them because you’re constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop a.k.a. foreboding joy. Worse still, you might take the view that there’s nothing good about life at all.

What if there was a way to better navigate the waters of life, regardless of the turbulence? That’s the beauty of tapping your heart’s innate intelligence with HeartMath.

Your heart isn’t just a vital organ that pumps blood around your body; it’s also an intelligent center containing over 40,000 neurons (as many as various limbic centers in your brain) that works with your autonomic nervous system (ANS*) to communicate with your brain. The messages sent from your heart to your brain influence your emotions, thoughts and overall systemic wellbeing. HeartMath allows you to positively influence these messages.

*A quick note about the ANS. This is composed of two parts; the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for the fight or slight stress response and the parasympethetic which is the one trying to put the brakes on and keep your body in check, sometimes referred to as rest and digest. When they are in balance your body works harmoniously, when they are not, due to stress, your system gets confused and things go awry.

Our heart intelligence is the seat of our emotional intelligence which affects the quality of our lives through the relationships we have with others as well as ourselves. I can share from personal experience that as I have improved my relationship with myself, by using HeartMath tools on a daily basis, my interpersonal relationships have improved too. Win win.

“Heart intelligence is the intelligent flow of awareness and insight that we experience once the mind and emotions are brought into balance and coherence through a self initiated process.” – The HeartMath Solution, Doc Childre & Howard Martin

You’ll likely be very familiar with your stress response; a surge of adrenaline, a racing heart, a tight feeling in your chest, shoulders or gut, an inability to focus, ruminating thoughts and either the urge to make a hasty exit from wherever you are or pick up the nearest blunt instrument you can find and prepare for battle.

Not only does feeling stressed cause mental distress and physical discomfort, when you’re constantly stressed over an extended period of time, your body’s hormonal system is always out of whack thanks to a never ending stream of cortisol racing around keeping you on high alert. Too much cortisol has an inflammatory effect on the body which can cause disease plus all the stress creates uneven heart rhythms which, guess what, contribute to the risk of cardiovascular disease. Prolonged stress can literally kill you.

Au contraire, when you’re able to bring your heart, head and nervous system into a state of coherence and calm you’ll feel more physically relaxed, be able to think clearly and operate from a state of measured responsiveness rather than reactivity. On the inside, a heart-brain coherent state increases the production of the anti-aging hormone DHEA, lowers blood pressure, reduces strain on your heart and boosts your immune system. A calm state is a healing state.

The question is “when was the last time you felt calm and relaxed?” If your answer is ‘I can’t remember’ I have something for you here.

What, you might ask, is ‘coherence’?

Imagine an orchestra playing Bach’s Air on a G String perfectly, all the musicians are working together fabulously to produce a beautiful symphony. Then substitute the musicians for systems in your body working together and you have a visual and auditory metaphor for coherence. 

Then imagine all the musicians playing their individual parts two notes behind each other at differing volumes, creating nothing but an awful noise and you have incoherence. This is the internal struggle that goes on within your body when you’re stressed.

Internal coherence can be measured and monitored by observing your heart rate variability (HRV). HRV refers to the beat to beat changes (measured in milliseconds) in your heart rate and it’s regulated by your ANS. The greater the variability in your HRV, the better shape your heart and nervous system is in. Stress reduces your HRV which puts more strain on your heart and ANS.

The good news is that you can improve your HRV with HeartMath tools that calm your ANS down and help bring your heart and brain into alignment. I’m going to share one with you now called Heart Focused breathing:

  • Focus on the area around your heart
  • Imagine you are breathing in and out of your heart area
  • Slow your breathing so you’re breathing in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 5
  • Continue for two to three minutes

When used in conjunction with other HeartMath tools practiced on a regular basis such as Quick Coherence and Freeze Frame alongside mindset and/or lifestyle changes, you can literally transform how you feel on a daily basis and consciously exert influence on how your life unfolds.

When you feel calmer, happier and in a more positive state, you’ll show up better and, thanks to your heart’s electromagnetic field radiating your good vibes out into the ether, other people will respond to you very differently. I challenge you to try out the Heart Focused Breathing and make a note of how many people randomly smile at you in a day. I promise you, magical things happen when you shift your energetic state.

I’m passionate about getting these powerful techniques out to more people and I would like to extend an invitation for you to join my ‘Intro to HeartMath’ course where you’ll learn the essentials of HeartMath and the skills required to shift yourself out of a state of stress and anxiety and into greater coherence whenever you want. I’ll work with you 1 on 1 over three weekly sessions to help you improve your life. In the spirit of self love this course is available for just $197 in February and you can book using the link here or pop me an email for more information – emma@emmaobriencoach.com 

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