Whilst meditation and behavioural therapies are proven to greatly reduce stress, a particularly useful therapy that we employ at Sensatori is a biofeedback technique called ‘Heartmath’.
The increasingly detrimental effects of stress on general physical health and emotional well being are only too apparent. In fact it seems reasonable to conclude that stress-related problems have reached epidemic proportions. We are all continually bombarded with a constant stream of information, deadlines to meet and unrealistic goals to achieve. Despite a plethora of self-help books and DVDs many people attempt to control their stress by using mood-altering substances, with the concomitant risk of addiction developing. Heartmath provides a simple, safe, quick method of dealing with stress ‘in the moment’.
The Heartmath technique recognises the heart as both a physical organ and the body’s intuitive feeling centre. Harnessing the healing energy of the heart enables us to transform stress into healthy, positive feelings which will stop emotional drains and help to restore energy and vitality.
Over 20 years ago Doc Childre in the United States first correlated the activity of the physical heart with people’s emotional state. He found that the beat to beat changes (heart rate variability) reflected changes in emotional states. Positive, uplifting emotional states like caring, love and compassion generated smooth, ordered heart rhythms, whereas negative or stressful emotions generate disordered heart rhythms. When positive emotions are generated the heart rhythms are said to be coherent; in this state individuals higher brain
functions are facilitated. People gain the ability to control stressful thoughts, they think more clearly and are able to organise their thoughts more logically.
Practice in the Heartmath technique allows people to build up a reserve of emotional energy which has been scientifically demonstrated to significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, increase DHEA levels (the longevity hormone) and to boost neurotransmitters in the brain.
Heartmath uses the power of the energetic heart to create positive emotions to prepare us to face life’s stresses head-on. In this way Heartmath differs from meditation. It is not simply a relaxation technique but allows us to ‘get into the zone’ and deal with a variety of stressful situations promptly and effectively. It is clearly not a good idea to be in a meditative state when driving on a busy motorway, but the use of Heartmath will enable a person to keep calm, think rationally and maintain alertness without becoming stressed.
Instead of resorting to quick fixes like eating comfort foods, drinking excess amounts of coffee, smoking cigarettes or cannabis, drinking too much alcohol or using other drugs of addiction, Heartmath provides an alternative that will transform our physical and emotional health, and enable us to successfully deal with the stressors which are a prime reason for relapse into substance abuse.