HeartMath HRV Biofeedback Training, Coherence, Healthy Aging - LongevIQ Podcast with Deborah Rozman, Ph.D. and Dr. Patti Shelton, MD

HeartMath HRV Biofeedback Training, Coherence, Healthy Aging

In this episode

In this episode, we’ll talk about a biofeedback technology that’s shown to promote certain heart rhythm patterns associated with a state of deep meditation. For those of you who may have struggled with meditation but hope to enjoy its many benefits, this technology may be the missing link that can help.

Our guest in this episode is Dr. Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., a psychologist, meditation expert, and the CEO of HeartMath. For over thirty years, HeartMath has focused on research, and has developed methods of biofeedback training using wearable devices and meditation techniques.

Also in this episode:

  • Dr. Patti Shelton, MD, LongevIQ medical communications officer
  • Amir Ginsberg, LongevIQ founder.

We did a study some years ago where we taught a group of 30 women a HeartMath technique…they did it every day, and we did pre and post-saliva tests… after 30 days the lab manager called us and said, what kind of vitamin pill are you giving these people? I’ve never seen anything like this… An average 100% increase in DHEA accompanied by a 23% reduction in free cortisol…

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Main topics

  • (00:00) Podcast and episode intro, medical disclaimer
  • (01:23) What is HeartMath
  • (03:23) The Heart-brain connection
  • (05:46) Benefits of HRV biofeedback training
  • (08:38) What is heart rate variability, and why is it important?
  • (12:33) HeartMath meditation – Quick coherence technique
  • (17:29) Heart coherence in the workplace
  • (19:13) How often should we practice heart coherence?
  • (22:48) Benefits of heart coherence for organizations
  • (25:10) HeartMath for the family
  • (29:10) Learning about heartMath – websites, books
  • (33:18) HeartMath for athletes and health professionals
  • (34:38) HeartMath for kids, stress, anxiety, and pets
  • (37:27) The HeartMath experience free learning
  • (38:52) Heart coherence with and without the biofeedback training app
  • (40:35) Heart variance, coherence score, and meditation
  • (45:14) HeartMath for sleep
  • (46:50) Sleep and coherence
  • (47:43) Quick coherence technique with and without the device
  • (49:29) HRV, heart coherence, anti-aging & longevity
  • (50:41) HeartMath study on DHEA & Cortisol


This podcast episode was edited to improve readability.

Dr. Patti (00:00): This is Dr. Patti Shelton, and you are listening to the LongevIQ podcast. We discuss anti-aging and longevity science and how to benefit from it so we can all live long, healthy, happy lives.

Just before we get started, a quick medical disclaimer, this podcast is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or to provide or replace medical advice. Please use this information to educate yourself as much as possible and share this information with a qualified health practitioner that you trust.

In this episode, we’ll talk about a biofeedback technology that’s shown to promote certain heart rhythm patterns associated with a state of deep meditation. For those of you who may have struggled with meditation but hope to enjoy its many benefits, this technology may be the missing link that can help.

Our guest in this episode is Dr. Deborah Rozman, Ph.D., a psychologist, meditation expert, and the CEO of HeartMath. For over thirty years, HeartMath has focused on research, and has developed methods of biofeedback training using wearable devices and meditation techniques.

Also joining us today as always is Amir Ginsberg, the founder of LongevIQ.

What is HeartMath?

Amir (01:23): Maybe we can start by talking a little bit about what HeartMath is, heart variance and all these things. What’s the best way to explain what HeartMath is?

Deborah: Well, the best way to explain is just to look at the word, heart, and math. So it’s been an oxymoron to most people. How would those two fit together? But it started when we launched HeartMath in 1991 as a research Institute to look at how the heart, brain, body, and spirit communicate to see what we could research.

Because as meditators ourselves, for many years, we knew that we had to open our hearts, and our hearts were involved in the process. We could see a bigger picture to get intuitive guidance, but there was nothing in the physiology, literature psychology at the time that would validate that there was just Eastern and Western philosophy. And so as we began to start a research lab and brought in researchers from Stanford and UC Berkeley and people who were mostly brain researchers, but wanted to understand what they called the problem of the heart, cuz in brain research, you have to actually quiet the heart signal cuz it’s so strong in the brain.

So they’re actually pushing it out in order to see what’s going on in the brain. But we were trying to find a way to bring it in, to see what’s happening in the heart, and long story short, HeartMath is the whole process of how we get our heart, brain, body, spirit, mind, emotions, the whole system, our operating system aligned and in sync. And what we found in our research over and over is it really starts with the heart and the qualities of love and kindness and care and the qualities of spirit that activate this whole potential.

The Heart-brain connection

Amir (03:23): That’s beautiful. Thank you. One of the inspiring pieces of this is that a lot of people think that the brain is always in charge, but it seems like the communication from the heart to the brain also start from the heart actually.

Deborah: Well, it’s definitely two ways cuz you have to use your brain to say, let me shift focus to the heart, you know, and let me open the heart. But if there are times you look at babies, they don’t have that brain consciousness, yet their hearts are just open, and they respond to feelings and love and care. So the heart is also picking up signals that originate in the energetic field, originate in the heart, and the heart then communicates to the brain and tells the brain what to do.

And you know, it wasn’t since the 1990s, which is fairly recently, that neuro cardiology as a field discovered that the physical heart has its own neurons and intrinsic nervous system with neurons that are sensory, meaning they can sense, feel, learn, and remember. And this little brain in the heart operates independently of our head brain, and it sends information through the vagal nerves and three other pathways to the brain in the head that the brain does not have information about this input from the heart that affects decision making, perception, bigger picture thinking, compassion, empathy, it’s really a whole interrelated system, the heart, and brain.

So HeartMath institute research was really looking at how all this works and then developing tools and techniques by which we could regulate more effectively our emotional responses, our perceptions, our thoughts and feelings, and how that impacts health and stress, our meditations, our decision making. I mean, it’s just really exciting to bring the heart into this whole process. We don’t just live from the head up. There’s a whole body experience and the heart at the center.

Benefits of HRV biofeedback training

Amir (05:46): What are some of the benefits? When you work with the heart and with HeartMath, that are common, so that people know what to expect.

Deborah: I think one of the most important benefits of working with HeartMath and the heart is the physiology of being able to see what’s going on in your body and in your heart rhythms. We discovered that heart rate variability, which is the beat-to-beat changes in heart rate, creates a pattern. And when you map it out on lab equipment, and we’ve created it in consumer devices called the emWave or the inner balance app with a sensor like this, that you flip onto your ear, and it actually takes your heart rate and maps out the beat to beat changes in a pattern.

And when you feel anxious, worried, frustrated, or stressed emotions, the pattern gets really jagged in irregular, and it reflects the fight-flight response and the imbalance in your nervous system where your parasympathetic wants to relax. And the sympathetic wants to speed up, and it’s like driving your car with one foot in a break and one foot on the accelerator.

And that’s what happens when we have a stress response. Whereas when we learn techniques like heart techniques to consciously shift the synchronization of our restoration and our emotion and activate dealings like gratitude, appreciation, compassion, and kindness, it changes the whole heart rate variability pattern to this sine wave, smooth, harmonious pattern, autonomic balance. And also, we call that a coherent waveform. And we know from research that the heart then signals to the different brain centers that there’s harmony going on. And that allows left-right brains to synchronize and opens up our executive functions for more creative capacity. So HeartMath research and tools are all part of a system that anybody can use regardless of their belief system to enhance meditation, sleep better, and get yourself in sync for better performance, but number one, it’s to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. And that’s what we all need right now.

Amir: I think we can all understand and relate to stress and how it impacts our life.

What is heart rate variability, and why is it important?

Dr. Patti (08:38): Could you dive a little bit more into heart rate variability, what that is and why it’s important?

Deborah: Yes, I’m glad you asked that because doctors everywhere are discovering the power of it as well as individuals. Mostly if you see different devices like watches that say they measure HRV, but we’re looking more at what’s called the amount of heart rate variability. Let’s say your lowest heart rate over a minute or two minutes is 50 beats per minute. And your highest heart rate is 90 beats per minute. And it’s all age-related. We have the most variability, the distance between the lowest and the highest in the period of time when we’re babies. And then, as we grow older, there’s a natural age-related decline. If you have less variability, which relates to our emotional flexibility, too, then it is normal for your age. As you get older and older, you can have that as a predictor of all-cause mortality in many disease states.

So doctors more and more are looking at the amount of HRV. And they look at our emWave Pro device to be able to measure that and get a baseline measurement of HRV and then give people HeartMath tools to use over a period of time, which can increase that over. And that’s very powerful. So most are looking at that predictive thing.

And also HRV in the morning reflects how much recovery you had during sleep. Athletes use it for that. That’s an important use of heart rate variability, which as I said, I’m measuring the beat-per-beat changes in heart rate. When you take your pulse, or you use a heart rate monitor and see that your heart rate is 65 beats per minute, that is an average. But every beat rate can be different – it could be 70, 50, 80, or 40 beats per minute.

And then over that minute, the average is 65. What we do is look deeper, look at the amount, you know, how much it’s varying from 90 to 40, which is good, cuz you need that flexibility. And more importantly, for stress response and managing stress, is looking at the pattern. Like I said, originally, frustration, anger, worries, and stressful emotions create a real jagged pattern. Like you can still be 40 to 90 beats per minute, it doesn’t look smooth. Whereas harmonious feelings, peace, calm, joy, love, care, and kindness, when you feel these harmonious uplifting feelings, they immediately send the HRV into a coherent waveform. So looking at the pattern is what enables us to quickly learn how to manage stress cuz we’re not always conscious of that. But when you look at your heart rhythm of HRV on our Inner Balance or emWave device, you see it. And then, we have techniques that tell people how to switch very quickly from jagging and stress into harmony and coherence.

HeartMath meditation – Quick coherence technique

Deborah (12:33): So let me lead everybody through a technique you can use at any time. It is you can start a meditation with this and then do whatever kind of meditation or healing practice you do. There are researchers who are showing that if you do this before Tai chi, Qigong or meditation and then start moving into whatever, there’s a carryover effect that really enhances your practice for personal growth or prayer or meditation or healing practices.

So this is called the quick coherence technique. And if I had you hooked up to our inner balance app and sensor, you wouldn’t see your heart rhythm, and your heart rate variability pattern becomes more and more sine wave coherent. We should do this. It’s really simple. And if it wasn’t simple, I don’t think it’d be as effective as it is. So here’s what we might want you to do.

Shift your attention to the area around your heart. Focus on this area. You can put your hand on your heart if it helps you keep your attention there cuz most of us fall right back up and pretend like our breath is going in and out of the harder chest area, breathing a little slower, a little deeper. Maybe about five seconds in five seconds out to find an even rhythm. This is called heart-focused breathing.

This is step one. This process starts to balance your autonomic nervous system. You wanna do this for about ten breaths, and you find a nice, easy rhythm that’s comfortable. Now, continue heart-focused breathing, and activate a genuine feeling of appreciation or gratitude for someone or something in your life. It doesn’t matter what it is, but you want to evoke a feeling of appreciation or gratitude. Feel a time where you were in nature, a beautiful sunset, a time with your child or spouse or pet. Just breathe that feeling in through the area of the heart. If you can’t feel anything, just focus on heart-focused breathing. It’s all okay.

Incredibly fantastic things are happening in your body. In addition to the heart rhythm pattern, becoming more sine wave coherent is signaling to the brain that the heart and body are more in harmony. The brain responds accordingly and synchronizes with that heart. It’s getting in sync, and then with different hormonal releases happening in the body, your autonomic nervous system, which you’re now connecting with, balancing, and synchronizing, regulates 90% of the body’s involuntary functions and immune response, and also sleep.

And, that’s it. There are ten other HeartMath techniques of what you can do once you’re in that more coherent state, how you connect with the decision-making improvements and intuition. Radiate that state for your heart and magnetic field to others to facilitate healing. But that’s the core quick coherence technique. Get your heart when he’s in that coherent way.

Amir: Wow. That’s wonderful. Thank you. I felt it after one minute, and something there was about to explode with happiness and gratitude.

Deborah: <Laugh> there you go. Well, yeah, powerful. Everybody kinda knows that conceptually.

Heart coherence in the workplace

Deborah (17:29): In our culture at HeartMath, in our company, we start every meeting with a coherent quick coherence break, you know, usually appreciating gratitude for whatever. It doesn’t have to be work-related, but boy does it set a tone, and it starts to open up a more egoless, higher mind communication. It’s just creative, and it’s just effective to do. And it certainly releases and minimizes the feelings of overwhelm or burnout or stress or anxiety. And like I said, it’s so simple. And if you use the heart rate variability biofeedback, you can really refine it. And then what happens in this carryover effect is that you take it into your next activity, your next meeting, answering emails, and a flow state happens. And as you do that, you increase your baseline coherence flow, which is really important for overall health and wellbeing to have more coherence occurring naturally in your system whether they’re using a technique or not. Cause that is the key to longevity, which is another topic you wanted to discuss. Does that make sense?

How often should we practice heart coherence for nervous system reset, stress resiliency & emotional wellness

Dr. Patti (19:13): So I love this idea of starting every meeting with a coherence break. How often would you say for people to increase their baseline coherence and really start to kind of shift into a more permanent state? How often would you recommend that they practice? Is it multiple times a day? Is once a day enough? Do people start their day and their day with this? What would you recommend?

Deborah: Yeah, I recommend they start their day before they start to get, you know, too busy getting into coherence, even if it’s for a minute or two or five minutes. Again, if a lot of people meditate in the morning, do this at the start of that. Believe me. Your meditations would be more effective cuz you’re getting your system, heart, brain, and nervous system in sync. So if you do that first before you get all into the head of the day, that really sets a tone for your day, and there is a carryover back into your next activity. Then if something triggers you cuz we all get triggered, you know, then that becomes to go back and do quick hearing again. Then you don’t allow stress to build up in your body cuz you’re clearing it as you go. And that is super important. So we say prep by getting their coherence and reset when you get triggered, and then it’s building a new habit to do that.

We call it heart phase loop, and that is so healthy cuz it’s emotional wellness, which is so key. It’s underneath the stress habits we see today and the stress and anxiety and depression epidemic. Nobody’s ever taught people how to do this, how to self-regulate their autonomic system or their emotional responses. And that is why so many functional medicine doctors and integrated medicine doctors have adopted HeartMath or taken the HeartMath clinical certification program and why so many recommend it to their patients, and they come to our website to get the HRV biofeedback so they can do it, bring themselves and really see what’s going on. And usually, I’ll tell you, if you go to heartmath.com, you’ll see it right on the homepage. Over 14,000 pre and post-assessments have shown people who said that they experience symptoms like anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, and high stress often to always within six weeks, sometimes six to nine weeks of just practicing a few times a day starts to give them a different perspective of themselves in life, as well as different hormonal and immune responses. And they significantly reduce those symptoms, which are correlated with significant reductions in physical symptoms, like headaches, other body aches, and gastrointestinal problems. I mean, it’s a cascade when you have unresolved stress, and it’s destabilizing and building up in your system. It’s been coarse to chronic diseases until you get to the root cause and shift and start regulating the autonomic system. And that’s really the gift I find the heart has brought to me and million others.

Benefits of heart coherence for organizations

Dr. Patti (22:48): That’s beautiful. And you mention the benefits kind of your corporate culture. So for anybody out there, who’s kind of thinking about trying to bring this into the work world, can you talk a little bit more about what it’s like, to bring that into the company?

Deborah: Well, I’ll tell you, you do it for yourself. Whether anybody else even notices it. You can do it eyes open the technique we just did at the start of the meeting. You can prep and reset, but part of the biggest benefits people tell us when they do it together is it shortens meeting times, it creates more harmonious relationships because you don’t say things that you later regret. You don’t react to that email and press send and go; oh no, I wish I hadn’t done that. You know, we’ve all been there, and you’re more in charge of yourself. So then you bring it into your team organization, and many companies do. We’re in many hospital systems, like the Kaiser system in California, as they realize the benefit of this cuz they are into physiology, and it works very quickly in terms of how these nurse leaders become certified in HeartMath and teach all the others.

So we have certification programs for organizational consultants or healthcare professionals or companies, team leaders, and all of that. And it’s wonderful when you do that with others, but if you can’t, and your company isn’t open to it, just do it for yourself, and you’ll start to notice. You’re less burned out. You’re more in charge. You are more creative and productive. In fact, one of our assessments is called the personal organizational quality assessment, and it asks questions like how your relationship with your boss or your team members. And it’s directly correlated that if you start to manage your emotions, all that improves because you’re more intuitive and wiser about how to relate.

HeartMath for the family

Amir (25:10): We mentioned the organization. We’re talking about the group. Meditation or the technique like Deborah just showed us, when it’s done with multiple participants, it seems to be more effective than on the individual level. So one way to look at this is a community or workforce, but another way to see it, is a household or family. So rather than somebody just doing it by themselves and getting picked by the other partner or the kids. Oh, look at how weird daddy is. Maybe it’s an opportunity to gather all the family, even before dinner cuz breakfast everybody’s stressed, but sometime during the day and utilize that to power everyone. Create your own tribe, if you will. So I’m just wondering, what are your thoughts? And maybe if you have some experiences to share on this because I think this is a big empowerment piece of not only improving somebody’s individual state but actually as a family, as a whole, connecting between parents and kids and the grandparents and everyone.

Deborah: Oh, you’re absolutely right. We’ve done research on team building and people’s heart rhythm synchronizing with each other and the productivity and creativity that can come out of that as well as the sense of psychological safety, bring that into a family. You’re gonna create the same thing. Often family dynamics are such that kids will rebel against anything their parents want to do. So there are ways to introduce this in the family. Like you said before, the dinner dynamics and HeartMath Institute has a whole division on that of programs for kids, like a game called Wild Ride to the Heart that the family can play together, age three and up. It’s a board game. So different ways of gamification to make it fun and engaging. Back in the seventies, I wrote the first book ever written on meditating children. It was research-based that’s I got my master’s degree based on that in public schools.

And it was you, you tried to introduce that to your family. And first again, there are processes to do that where the kids don’t just rebel. And so I just always like to add that because otherwise we get idealistic about the families, all wanting to do this together, but I guarantee you, the beauty of quick coherence is that it’s only one minute, you know, and in today’s attention span, most people and kids and families will agree to do it one minute. But what the kids love on their iPhones or their Android phones is the Inner balance app. And they use that. Or we have one called the global coherence with the sensor, and they get to see their heart rhythm. So it’s making it engaging. And at the same time, the carryover effect is very tangible when they do it.

Learning about heartMath – websites, books

Amir (29:10): Maybe as a follow-up, if there are any links that we can share for those different scenarios. Like if you’re in the workforce, with your kids or teenagers, or there is a relationship problem or tension between husband and wife. Maybe there will be much less conflict, or even conflict will dissolve completely when the heart’s intelligence and love manifest again.

Deborah: We just updated the book that we brought out a few years ago for these times called heart intelligence. And it’s available as an ebook, EUB, or as a hard copy. People can go to heartmath.com, and it’ll give you an overview of HeartMath research and a bunch of techniques and tools you can use and read it as a family, read it with yourself. It’s very powerful. Again, it’s called heart intelligence and is about connecting with the intuitive values and heart to reduce stress and anxiety.

Amir: Something that probably can help out people here is how do we actually, from this point, take them into the practicality of what they are interested in? But now, if we just send them to HeartMath, they may get overwhelmed because there are so many studies and so many things. How can we create that path and experience that if I’m a biohacker, this is the one for me?

Deborah: Well, people have different interests. You’ll see on the top navigation tab all the different things we offer and free resources. And if you are interested in getting a discount on technology, the inner balance sensor, or the emWave, go to www.goheartmath.com. And there’s a discount coupon, which helps professionals send their patients there to get it. Now, if you’re interested in the family stuff, or the research, go to the nonprofit heartmath.org. You can find it there. And you know, the heart is central to everything we do in life. So it’s hard to say, just go here for everything. You have to go to the website and look around and see what resonates with your heart.

Amir: Yeah, exactly. And there are so many just different personas. Like I’m an athlete, and right now, it seems like it can power my workouts, and maybe I’ll achieve a better muscle-mind connection. Great. Or I can focus more before an exam, or if I’m an artist or a musician, I’ll get into the flow state.

I mean, we can just fire those use cases all day long because it’s so, at the core of a human being’s experience.

Deborah: Exactly, right? Yeah.

Amir: Actually, literally, it’s a core.

Deborah: It is literally at the heart of the math, at the heart of a human being, and that’s not a metaphor. It’s really accessing the heart and opening hearts. It’s the only thing that I can see that is going to help people learn to get along with each other and solve our global problems. But until we manage our own stress and get along with ourselves, it’s gonna be hard to get along with someone else really that’s that deeper level resonance, but the opportunity is so incredible to put the heart and the math and the brain and the tools together. And I can’t tell you how much it’s transformed my life and the lives of everybody that I know who uses this. And because it’s not about HeartMath, it’s about you. It’s about you and your own heart in your own autonomous nervous system and helping to activate that to live your higher potential, to be the best version of yourself you can be.

HeartMath for athletes and health professionals

Amir (33:18): And maybe it’s a good time to dive into some inspirational stories you can share.

Deborah: I can tell you about athletes since you mentioned that. One of the world champions, number three in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, was stressed and how he uses the inner balance app and sensor before a match. And so many athletes do that. There are eight major league baseball teams that use the inner balance, and there are golfers who use it through pre and post routines. I mean, I could go on and on. There are thousands of doctors who use it for themselves. If you don’t manage your own emotions and learn to prep and rest with the heart, I’ll tell you the burnout that’s happening because of COVID among health professionals and nurses is huge. And that’s, I think, one reason why we’re growing the fastest in hospitals and healthcare systems. They recognize that the science, tools, and technology work.

HeartMath for kids, stress, anxiety, and pets

Deborah (34:38): So it’s really important. And I can tell story after story, and you’ll find stories in the heart intelligence book and on the websites, too, for each of these areas. Even kids in schools, you know, he was bullying me, and I used my HeartMath, and I was able to let it go and move on and not get all stressed and anxious. And kids on social media these days, it’s the number one intervention. I was just on a phone call before this one. So it’s very recent. Talking with one of our HeartMath master certified veterinarians, who was talking about the anxiety and stress epidemic in dogs because their owners are stressed, and the dogs and children, of course, pick up on that, and they have the exact same chronic diseases.

If the owner has gastrointestinal problems, the dog gets it. I mean, it’s just wild these stories. And then, when the owner starts to get better and sends the love and smooth heart rhythm to the dog, the dog picks up right away. And actually, the dog’s HRV synchronizes with the owners, and we have a slide showing that experiment we did and that touches people’s hearts somehow or another. And you’ll see that in the book heart intelligence, we talk about it too. That sometimes motivates people to do this more than their own illness, as they can bond more deeply with their pets and help their pets. Those are a few stories.

Amir: And Deborah, you said something so powerful that I want to reflect and emphasize that because I think we can educate people about that. Just a reminder, intuitively, we know, but the moment each one of us is stressed or not feeling at our best, it immediately reflects on those we love or close to us. And so perhaps it’s an opportunity to just pause here and say, okay, when this happens, it’s not always easy. There’s not always a solution. Sometimes it is what it is, but it seems like the technique you just shared with us can help that person, which will then help those around him or her. Then folks can look at the app, check the feedback, and see how it works.

The HeartMath experience free learning

Deborah (37:27): That’s right. And they can see when they get to quick coherence and feel that gratitude immediately; their heart rate really changes. And that’s like a, oh wow for people cuz it’s not just in their minds. They see the externalization through the app of their body changes. And that’s very reinforcing to say; that this is not just a philosophy. This is real.

I wanted to mention that we have a free course called the HeartMath experience. It’s a beautiful 90-minute interactive film with five HeartMath techniques, including the one I just taught, that you can listen to it. And the learning management system is video based in 9-10 minutes segments. And it’s free. We decided at the start of COVID when we first launched it. It was a month before COVID, and it was featured at a film festival as one of the first genres of interactive film, and we were selling it.

And then, when COVID hit March 2020, we said the world needed it. Let’s just give it away. And it was the best thing we ever did. As far as a business, that wasn’t their motivation, but it led to so many people buying the inner balance sensor because they wanted to see it in real-time. And we still offer it for free for people at HeartMath experience. You can get that for free with our newsletter and follow along.

Heart coherence with and without the biofeedback training app

Amir (38:52): I think one of the interesting things that we want to mention here, and keep me honest, if this is not true, Deborah, but the beauty about this is that you can use your app with the biofeedback and train yourself and then you don’t always need the app. So you may find yourself in traffic or in some stressful situation, your mind and body already know what to do, and you just do the technique like you just shared with us.

Deborah: Exactly right. That’s the whole goal of the app and why we call it the inner balance trainer. It’s like having training wheels on a bike until you can ride. But even myself, I still use the app cuz there are stress levels just to be honest with myself, you know, just to get there quicker at times, you know, but I don’t need it. Cause during the day I’m too busy, I just shift to the heart, breathe through the heart and find something as I’m breathing to appreciate or feel compassion for or be kind or just broadcast love or send heart to the planet. You know, because again, we’re doing some interesting research at the HeartMath Institute about how the Earth’s energetic resonance and rhythms are synchronized to the heart rate variability more than anything else. And so we can get an amplification of our care and heart and love as we radiate nature.

Heart variance, coherence score, and meditation

Amir (40:35): When people look at their HRV or coherence score, is higher better? Can it show the difference in the meditation quality or whether somebody is in a certain brainwave? And I know it’s big on Dr. Joe Dispenza’s work, where they showed a lot of examples of really crazy Gamma waves. So I’m just wondering if this is something that if somebody’s starting to practice it along with meditation, they should expect to see their HRV or coherence score increase.

Deborah: It’s a really good question. Here’s my answer, which will be a bit nuanced. This is really personal. So you wanna see an increase in score between you and you. And people have different heart rhythms, you know, not patterns, but the amount of HRV. I have a pre-ventricular contraction. I was born with it, and when it’s active, it screws up my score big time, but that doesn’t mean it’s reflecting how I feel inside. You know, again, an emotional state can activate a higher score, but if I have a little arrhythmia, it’s gonna affect that. So it’s really learning about yourself and what the score is really a reflection of you improving and you being able to get deeper in the heart or having that aha intuitive moment. And your score goes way up, and you can’t really compare with other people’s. What you wanna do is increase your own baseline. Whatever it is from level one to level two, that is huge.

And that can activate depending on your consciousness, higher brain waves, gamma, it’s really not directly correlated like higher your score or higher challenge level. It could, but it’s not necessarily gonna be reflecting that you are going into this gamma activation. Like Joe shows, if that happens during the Gamma activation, that’s the heart-brain communication. The brain will then speak back to the heart, and the heart score will go up. It’s just this two-way thing. So I always tell people, don’t get into performance anxiety. It’s not about setting that kind of goal. It’s about how you feel inside and increasing your baseline from wherever you started your next level.

Amir: It makes a lot of sense. Is it a good tool to measure current practices or meditation? For example, somebody’s doing meditation, and their heart variance is just zero. Seriously. It’s all red. Is it something that they can say, well, okay, I need to look back at this cause obviously my fight or flight response is all over the place during that meditation?

Deborah: Well, there are different types of meditation and third eye meditation, which I used to do years ago. And then also different types of visualizations that gonna take you out of coherence because now the mind is active. And so you can’t necessarily say that. Here’s an example, Zen monks. There’s a study we did with them, and they had huge coherence scores and huge HRV. It would take over years of practice of loving kindness and heart-based meditations. It’s going to increase your score. But if you have head-based meditations, even if you’re in your heart, you’re starting to do mental practices. You’re, gonna go out of coherence. Cuz now you’re activating sympathetic. It’s so sensitive the movement or thinking, and all of that’s important. It’s all a part of us. So that’s why we say prep, get into coherence to start reset if you need to. And depending on the type of meditation, heart meditation you do or prayer, or whatever, it’ll determine how much coherence you have. It’s not like this is better, or that’s worse. You’re getting your system in sync in order to perform in order be creative in order to golf, or whatever. And then you’re gonna go out of coherence cuz you’re using your body and your mind in a different way.

HeartMath for sleep

Amir (45:14): Would you use HeartMath to check heart rate variance during sleep? For example, I go to sleep. I put it eight hours. Can I conclude something about the quality of my sleep?

Deborah: We have a booklet called HeartMath solution for better sleep. And it’s how sleeplessness is a huge problem for people these days. And it’s how to use the emWave or inner balance technology before you go to bed or while you’re lying in bed, you get into coherence, get in that synchronization state, and then keep using the technique without the technology until you fall asleep. And that resets your circadian rhythm, and the heart rhythm regulates the body’s other metabolic rhythms, which are your sleep rhythm and your breathing rhythm. And if you do that, it allows you to go into a harmonious state of deeper sleep. And we have so many stories of people who had insomnia, or they’d wake up in the middle of the night and come get back to sleep using a HeartMath technique to reset and go into a state of deep non-REM sleep. People often go to that state.

Sleep and coherence

Dr. Patti (46:50): I know you were going towards something, which is like, while we’re sleeping, are we in a coherent state while we’re dreaming? Would we slip out of coherence more into like a mental type of state?

Deborah: No, we’re not. With REM sleep, when you’re dreaming, you’re in the mind’s going, the brain’s going, you’re not gonna be in a coherent state. Deep non-REM sleep often goes into coherence, which is very regenerative, but not always. I mean, people are different. And again, we always encourage people to get into coherence before activities, before meetings, before sleep, cuz you’re getting synced in, and then you let your body do what it needs to do.

Quick coherence technique with and without the device

Dr. Patti (47:43): We earlier did the technique without the device. And it still works. But the device is there to help people learn more quickly how to achieve that state. What’s the benefit of using it versus not using it?

Deborah: Yeah, it helps you learn this state, but it also helps you to stay honest cuz you can think you’re loving and you’re in your heart, and you are, but you may not be in coherence because the brain-mind isn’t synchronized with the heart. So like said, I still use it, and I love it. And I use it every morning, and I use it if I really get stressed or if my technique by itself doesn’t feel complete, then I’ll get on it and use it, make sure I’m doing it right. Make sure I get in that coherence, meaning be more meaningful. You have, you know, mean business to really shift. And then when I see the response, I feel it, I go, okay, it’s all released. Cause you don’t want stress to build up and accumulate, and using the HRV biofeedback, the device really help releases the accumulation. And again, it’s so important to do that for better sleep, weight management, anxiety, depression, for chronic diseases. Cause it’s so easy to think. Well, I feel calm. That’s way different than knowing that the body has really responded when you’re in that heart rhythm.

Dr. Patti: This is especially true for so many people who’ve kind of been taught to ignore those body signals and just push through and perform. And you know, they don’t even know their bodies anymore.

HRV, heart coherence, anti-aging & longevity

Deborah (49:29): Exactly. We were trained that way. You talk about anti-aging or longevity. If you practice this heart rhythm coherence, it increases your HRV. It usually takes several months to see it change in the amount of HRV, but you’re developing that emotional resilience and flexibility through the practice that then reflects itself in the amount so that you increase that even as you’re getting older. There is age-related HRV decline, so you’re really protecting yourself against aging, and there’s been research on HRV, telomeres, and genes. And there’s just so much that when you start managing your emotional response and your HRV pattern, it has a global impact on the autonomic nervous system, on how you think, how you perceive, how you feel, and how the body functions.

Dr. Patti: And we can probably find those studies with the telomeres. Like they must be linked from your website. I would imagine.

Deborah (49:22): Yes.

HeartMath study on DHEA & cortisol

Dr. Patti (50:41): Beautiful. Any other studies with markers of aging where people can see a clear effect that their practices have on their long-term wellbeing?

Deborah: Well, the most clear effect is on cortisol. We did a research study some years ago where we taught a group of 30 women from a women’s health center here near Santa Cruz, where we are, a HeartMath technique. We had a controlled group as well, and they did it every day, and we did pre and post-saliva tests. We looked at salivary IgA; we looked at DHEA and cortisol. And at the end, we sent the samples to a lab to analyze. And we did it again after just 30 days. And the lab manager called us and said, what kind of vitamin pill are you giving these people? And he said I’ve never seen anything like this. An average 100% increase in DHEA, which is called the anti-aging or vitality hormone, in just 30 days accompanied by a 23% reduction in free cortisol.

What are you recommending? When we told him it was a HeartMath technique, they were doing it every day to manage their reactions and their emotional system, and their autonomic system. People were blown away. Doing this from the inside out is healthy. You can overdo taking DHEA, and you need cortisol to wake up in the morning, but having that proper balance cuz Pregnenolone alone is the precursor for both of them. And the more cortisol, the less DHEA you have, and the more DHEA you have tends to be less cortisol. So as you do the HeartMath technique, stuff balances up on its own because it’s regulated by your emotions, your stress response, and your autonomic nervous system.

Amir: Beautiful. Yeah, that was wonderful. And I know this is the time, we already passed it. So I just wanted to say, Deborah, thank you from literally the bottom of my heart and our hearts for joining us and sharing this beautiful message.

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