The HeartMath Solution: The Heartmath Institute’s Revolutionary Program for Engaging the Power of the Heart’s Intelligence by Doc Lew Childre, Howard Martin, Donna Beech

Summary
  1. Our heart has an intelligence which impacts our physical/mental/emotional health more than most people realize. This book will teach you how to harness the power of the heart to potentially help you make better decisions, better control your emotions, increase personal productivity, slow down aging, enhance creativity, and many more positive benefits
Key Takeaways
  1. Why the heart and the HeartMath Solution?
    1. Our theory is that the heart links us to a higher intelligence through an intuitive domain where spirit and humanness merge. We can develop the perceptual capacity as we learn to do with stages and philosophers have asked us to do for ages simply listen to and follow the wisdom of the heart. Heart intelligence is truly emotional intelligence and we’ve concluded that intelligence and intuition are heightened when we learn to listen more deeply to our own heart
    2. Too often the relationship of our thoughts and emotions and how they effect physical change is ignored
    3. Health is a delicate balance of rhythm, while disease (“dis-ease”) results from dis-rhythm
    4. The heart is at the core of our body and at the core of how we think and feel. The solution is derived from realizing that the heart is both a physical object, a rhythmic organ, and love itself
    5. By practicing the HeartMath solution, you’ll be able to clearly see when you’re in stress. Then you can use Freeze-Frame to determine your best course of action. But even once you have intuitive clarity on what to do, you may still experience residues of uncomfortable or perplexing feelings. When those residues clog the system, you need to apply Cut-Thru, shifting your emotional state so that you’re not only thinking better but also feeling better. Both intelligence and intuition are heightened when we learn to listen more deeply to our own hearts
    6. Activating heart intelligence + managing the mind + managing the emotions = energy efficiency, increased coherence, enhanced awareness, and greater productivity.
    7. A primary goal of the HeartMath Solution is to increase coherence, bringing us to a state of optimal efficiency. Stress creates incoherence in our system, so increasing coherence necessitates reducing stress.
    8. The goal of HeartMath is to help you learn to generate emotional and mental coherence deliberately – on demand – so that ultimately you spend more of your day at this optimal, regenerative level of energy efficiency
  2. 10 key techniques and tools that govern the HeartMath solution
    1. Acknowledge your heart intelligence and its importance for making choices big and small
    2. Reduce stress and live more often in a state of coherence
    3. Learn and apply Freeze Frame which creates a balance between the two branches of the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic and parasympathetic
    4. Accumulate energy assets and decreased energy deficits
    5. Activate core heart feelings such as love compassion courage patients sincerity forgiveness appreciation care and more
    6. Manage your emotions
    7. Care but don’t overcare – when we care too much, it turns into anxiety, worry, insecurity
    8. Learn and apply Cut-Thru – a method to help you stop experiencing emotions that create incoherence and energy deficits
    9. Do heart Lock-Ins – amplifies the power of your heart. Quieting the mind and sustaining a solid connection with the heart – locking into its power – adds buoyancy and regenerative energy to your entire system. it also makes it easier to stay in contact with your heart intelligence and its intuitive messages amidst your daily activities
    10. Actualize what you know – applying all these tools to your daily life
  3. Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
    1. Our emotional states are reflected best in our heart rhythms, as seen in HRV measurements. HRV is defined as a measurement of beat-to-beat changes in the heart rate. Loss of variability is actually a sign of disease and a strong predictor of future health problems. In essence, HRV is a measure of the flexibility of our heart and nervous system, and as such reflects our health and fitness. It also allows us to listen in on and interpret ongoing, two-way conversations between our heart and our brain and is an important measurement to how well we’re balancing our lives mentally and emotionally. Disharmony in our heart rhythms leads to inefficiency and increased stress on the heart and other organs, while harmonious rhythms are more efficient and less stressful to the body’s systems. Our heart rhythms affect the brain’s ability to process information, make decisions, and solve problems, and experience and express creativity.
    2. Head is great at pattern recognition but it can easily get locked into set patterns. Getting locked into this closed mindset can often hurt us and cut off our creativity. The intelligence of the heart, on the other hand, processes information in a less linear, more intuitive and direct way. The heart isn’t only open to new possibilities, it actively scans for them, ever seeking new, intuitive understanding. The head “knows” but the heart “understands”
    3. The head often leads us into rationalizing and conceptualizing an issue instead of actualizing what the heart already knows and has communicated. When we react to life from the head without joining forces with the heart, our single-mindedness often leads us into childish, inelegant behavior that we’re ashamed of. If, on the other hand, we get the head in sync with the heart, we have the power of their teamwork on our side and can make the changes we know we ought to make
    4. The lower heart refers to those feelings that are colored by the attachments and conditions placed on them by the mind. Conditional love is a good example. The higher heart is more allowing. It doesn’t hedge or barter. Authenticity is its own reward for the higher heart. But it takes emotional maturity to manifest the heart’s qualities with consistency
    5. When we learn to manage our emotions long enough to stop and shift our attention to the quieter message of the heart, we can gain a wider perspective on any situation, often saving ourselves from hurt, frustration, and pain
  4. Entrainment
    1. The heart is the strongest biological oscillator in the human system and therefore, the rest of the body’s systems are pulled into entrainment with the hearty’s rhythms. The heart communicates with the rest of the body in three ways: neurologically (nerve impulses), biochemically (hormones and neurotransmitters), and biophysically (pressure waves). However, there may be a fourth way – energetically (through electromagnetic field interactions). The heart’s EMF is the most powerful produced by the body, it not only permeates every cell in the body but also radiates outside of us; it can be measured up to 8-10 feet away with sensitive detectors called magnetometers. It not only affects our own brains and bodies but can also be registered by the people around us. When your body is in entrainment, its major systems work in harmony. Your biological systems operate at higher efficiency because of that harmony, and as a result you think and feel better
    2. When we get the head in sync with the heart, the power of both works for us and we can make changes that we know we ought to make
    3. Can develop their ability to maintain entrainment by sustaining sincere, heart-focused states such as appreciation and love
  5. Freeze-Frame
    1. A technique to increase and improve the communication between your heart and mind while reducing stress. It is invaluable for managing thoughts to prevent the needless depletion of energy. Because this technique increases mental clarity, it will help you make sound decisions, even in what would formerly have been highly stressful situations
    2. It is important to monitor our inner thoughts and feelings. Some of it adds energy, while others deplete it. Understanding energy assets and deficits provides a key to accessing your heart intelligence. Core heart feelings such as appreciation, non-judgment, and forgiveness increase energy assets and eliminate many deficits.
    3. We can look at life as a high-speed movie. We get so caught up in the momentum of the story that we forge that it’s made up of individual moments. From one minute to the next, we having an astonishing range of thoughts, emotions, and experiences. So, Freeze-Frame enhances your power to stop your reaction to the move of life at any moment. It allows you to get a clearer perspective on what’s happening in a single frame and allows you to edit the next frame from a point of balance and understanding. It can be done anytime, anywhere, whenever you want to stop stress in its tracks and get quick intuitive access. Setting daily alarms and reminders can be helpful
    4. You must learn to entrain your biological systems to your heart. This allows in access to new information and a shift in perfection. By shifting focus toward your heart and away from whatever problem you face, you divert energy from your perception of the problem. When you consciously act from a point of heart balance, you connect more naturally with what real self – not your reactive self – wants to think or do. Listening to your heart isn’t hard, but attuning to its inner signals is different for everyone and often takes a little practice
    5. Don’t underestimate the power of neutral. The ability to find neutral, and stay put there until your heart shows you clearly what to do, is a sign of balance and maturity. The neutral state is a conduit for objectivity in the moment
    6. The 5-step process creates a harmonious relationship between the head and the heart
      1. Recognize the stressful feeling and Freeze-Frame it. Take a time out
      2. Make a sincere effort to shift your focus away from the racing mind or disturbed emotions to the area around your heart. Pretend you’re breathing through your heart to help focus your energy in this area. Keep your focus there for ten seconds or more
      3. Recall a positive, fun feeling or time you’ve had in life and try to experience it
      4. Now, using your intuition, common sense, and sincerity, ask your heart, what would be a more efficient response to the situation, one that would minimize future stress?
      5. Listen to what your heart says in answer to your question. It’s an effective way to put your reactive mind and emotions in check and an in-house source of common sense solutions
    7. When to practice
      1. At transition points (from home to work or work to home) so that you are fully present in the moment
      2. Before conversations
      3. Any time communication is going off-track
      4. At the beginning of the day – set the tone for positive activity, calibrate your system for a coherent day, clear mental and emotional cobwebs
      5. At the end of the day, to feel positive completion of the day and ensure a good night’s sleep
  6. Coherence
    1. The state that makes the difference between a book light and a laser beam. Inner coherence is a benchmark of intelligence and a cornerstone of effective living.
    2. When a system is coherent, virtually no energy is wasted, because all its components are operating in harmony. When every system in your body is aligned, your personal power is at its peak. Learning to cultivate that rewarding state of coherence enhances our ability to adapt, to flex, and to innovate. It allows us to rapidly get back to a feeling of balance and poise after stressful events and to improve communication, health, and overall well-being. A balanced heart and agile mind create access to innate intelligence and an enhanced capacity for greater internal coherence – the optimal state of being
    3. An age of rising complexity, speed, distractions is taking away from our ability to be in coherence so, those who are able to, have a greater advantage than ever before. New research has found that what creates more stress for people than any other is having to shift concepts, intentions, and focus to too many different tasks, many times an hour.
    4. Lack of coherence affects our vision, listening ability, reaction time, mental clarity, feeling states, and sensitivity.
    5. It’s a vicious cycle: stress destroys coherence, and incoherence causes stress. Chronic stress is one of the most prevalent and dangerous situations today and affects every part of our health and psyche. The brain doesn’t know between real threat and perceived threat so the physical and emotional reaction is the same. Indulging anger is harmful in more ways than one. So, if we can’t express it or repress it, what do we do? The answer is to recognize the anger but choose to respond to the situation differently.
    6. The solution to stress management lies in how we perceive the stressors in our lives. It’s not really the events that cause stress; it’s how we perceive those events. Improving the communication between the heart and brain helps one achieve coherence. By paying attention to our perceptions and reactions, we can eliminate the chronic stress that seeps through our bodies like a slow poison. Learning how to alter our standard stress reactions by perceiving life’s events from a place of intuition, balance, poise, and flexibility require a major shift – through a shift from head to heart
    7. Heart + Head = Coherence
      1. The brain is not the sole source of intelligence. We can realize that it’s a  remarkable partner to the heart, not its master
  7. Energy efficiency
    1. Mental and emotional diets determine our overall energy levels, health, and well-being to a far greater extent than most people realize. Every thought, feeling, no matter how big or small, impacts our inner energy reserves
    2. Life is an energy economy game. Each day ask yourself, “Are my energy expenditures (actions, reactions, thoughts, and feelings) productive or nonproductive? During the course of my day, have I accumulated more stress or more peace?
    3. Keeping an asset/deficit sheet for a few days will give you a clear picture of your energy account
    4. Consciously evoking core heart feelings nourishes our bodies at every level
    5. Learning to “just say no” to emotional reactions isn’t repression. Saying no means not engaging the frustration, anger, judgement, or blame. Without engagement, you won’t have anything to repress
    6. By using your heart as a compass, you can see more clearly which direction to go to stop self-defeating behavior. If you take just one mental or emotional habit that really bothers or drains you and apply heart intelligence to it, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your life
  8. Power Tools of the Heart
    1. Sincerity is the generator that brings core heart feelings such as appreciation and forgiveness into coherence and gives them power. By coming into coherence, we learn to take our emotions from a light bulb to a laser beam, applying them with focused intention and consistency. Sincerity is essential, it motivates our heart and aligns our true intentions.
    2. Power Tool 1: Appreciation
      1. Appreciation is a blend of thankfulness, admiration, approval, and gratitude
      2. It is magnetic and highly energizing, helping to bring you into coherence and entrainment
      3. Opening your heart is like putting a wide-angle lens on the camera of your perception. Suddenly, more of the world comes into view
    3. Power Tool 2: Non-judgment
      1. Judgments create stress and incoherence, and these limit the full range of our intelligence. Yet we’re socially conditioned to judge
      2. One of the most important things to note about the downside of judgment is that the person judging is the one who’s hurt the most
      3. Making a mistake and then judging yourself harshly is simply adding fuel to the fire
      4. The heart can give you the awareness needed to become more neutral, letting things unfold. That’s what non-judgment is all about. It allows you to be aware of your opinions but always be open to new thoughts, actions, ideas, people, etc.
      5. When you find yourself in strong judgment, use the Freeze-Frame technique to get neutral and find a more balanced, intuitive perspective
    4. Power Tool 3: Forgiveness
      1. You don’t forgive others for their sake, but for yours. Forgiveness is simply the most energy-efficient option you face, and the only one that will foster health and well-being
      2. The incoherence that results from holding on to resentments and unforgiving attitudes keeps you from being aligned with your true self and blocks you from your next level of quality life experience
      3. Forgiving yourself is often the hardest part but also the most important. Compromised forgiveness means that somehow the effort was incomplete. That lack of completion can mean the difference between a breakthrough into a completely new and different life experience and the same old patterns repeating themselves.
    5. Fulfillment is based on two elements: awareness and performance. Self-development comes from the increased awareness of where you are right now and learning what is needed in order to grow. And self-expression is how you perform, what you do about it
  9. Management of emotions
    1. Emotion = energy in motion. It’s the feeling sensation and physiological reaction that make a specific emotion positive or negative, and it’s our thoughts about it that give it meaning.
    2. Emotional energy works at a higher speed than the speed of thought because your feeling world operates at a higher level than your mind. We evaluate everything emotionally as we perceive it. We think about it afterwards
    3. Heart coherence helps balance our emotional state. It aligns head and heart to facilitate higher brain function, which appears to create a direct link to intuition or super-high-speed intelligence. Intuition bypasses mental analysis and gives us direct perception independent of any reasoning process. Intuition gives us clarity on how to direct and manage our feelings before we invest emotional energy into them
    4. Emotions in themselves aren’t really intelligent but have an organizing intelligence behind them. How we organize our thoughts and emotions and what we do with them reflect our intelligence. When we let our unmanaged thoughts dictate how we respond emotionally, we’re asking for trouble
    5. A benchmark of new emotional management lies in realizing that our past can no longer be blamed for our actions in the present
    6. Biochemistry affects our emotional responses, but our emotions affect our biochemistry in turn as well. Biochemicals are actually the physiological correlates of emotions
    7. Emotional intelligence implies the ability to self-regulate our moods, control our impulses, delay gratification, persist despite frustration, and motivate ourselves. When we’re equipped with these strengths, the twists and turns of life don’t get us down. We roll with them
    8. There are two major mind-sets that quickly compromise efforts at emotional management: justification and principle. These mind-sets trap your emotional energy in hurt, blame, fear, disappointment, betrayal, regret, remorse, and/or guilt, which create cumulative drain and deficits in your system. Any rationalization of deficit emotions traps our emotional energy in hurt, blame, fear, disappointment, betrayal, regret, remorse, or guilt
    9. Taking the significance out of issues and events is second nature to adults dealing with kids but we don’t tend to offer that same help to ourselves. The problem is that when we ignore one deficit emotion and refuse to take the significance out even after we’re aware of it, the emotional depletion builds, undermining our progress in other areas
    10. One of the main keys to emotional management is learning to quickly arrest a draining or deficit emotion and generate an attitude shift from a place of deep heart maturity. To reclaim the energy out of a deficit emotion, we have to take out the significance we’ve assigned to it. To take the significance out, we first make an effort to back off; then the heart can open up.
    11. Emotions liquefied become flow, and mind aligned with heart becomes intuition
  10. Care and Overcare
    1. Care is a powerful motivator. It inspires and gently reassures us. Care feels good – whether we’re giving it or receiving it. Care provides a conduit for your spirit’s expression in the midst of human existence. The more you truly care, the more you’ll come to know of yourself and others
    2. When we cross the line into overcare, our original caring is tainted by stress. It then becomes self-defeating, because it compromises our available energy to perform
    3. Perfectionism, over-attachment, projection of thoughts/mental images about the future, worry, anxiety, insecurity, expectations, comparisons are all manifestations of overcare
    4. Signals from the heart let you know when your care has become overcare, if you’re willing to listen. Every time you eliminate an overcare, the relief is tremendous, and you store away power that makes fighting overcare easier the next time
  11. Cut-Thru
    1. The purpose of Cut-Thru is to help people recognize and reprogram the subconscious emotional memory paths that, through long-term reinforcement, influence our perception, color our day-to-day thoughts and feelings, and condition our responses to future situations. Cut-Thru is for more deeply ingrained emotional issues than Freeze-Frame can help you resolve
    2. Cut-Thru facilitates emotional coherence and allows you to transform emotions you don’t want into new, regenerative feelings. And it does so without resorting to rationalization or repression
    3. Use Cut-Thru to shift out of emotions that are draining your energy, regain emotional balance, and eliminate long-standing emotional issues
    4. Managing emotions with Cut-Thru requires that you first recognize how you’re feeling. Breathing through the heart and solar plexus helps you anchor your emotions. Assuming objectivity leads to emotional maturity
    5. Cut-Thru helps you build your self-motivation, emotional capabilities, empathy, and you’ll begin to move through life at the most efficient speed possible – the speed of balance
    6. The 6 Steps of Cut-Thru
      1. Be aware of how you feel about the issue at hand
      2. Focus on the heart and solar plexus – breathe love and appreciation through this area for ten seconds or more to help anchor your attention there
      3. Assume objectivity about the feeling or issue – as if it were someone else’s problem
      4. Rest in neutral – in your rational, mature heart
      5. Soak and relax any disturbed or perplexing feelings in the compassion of the heart, dissolving the significance a little at a time. Take your time doing this step; there’s no time limit. Remember, it’s not the problem that causes energy drain as much as the significance you assign the problem
      6. After extracting as much significance as you can, from your deep heart sincerely ask for appropriate guidance or insight. If you don’t get an answer, find something to appreciate for a while. Appreciation of anything often facilitates intuitive clarity on issues you’ve been working on
  12. Heart Lock-In
    1. This technique helps you discover that you have your own internal source of regeneration. Quieting the mind and sustaining a solid connection with the heart – locking into its power – adds buoyancy and regenerative energy to your entire system. The more your core heart feelings come into play, the more you realize how much can be gained from a loving, open-hearted perspective. It helps with coherence, entrainment, improves immune functions, helping with mental, physical, and emotional health
  13. HeartMath in school and at home
    1. Heart Lock-In can be done with your children at the start of family time, quality time, or before dinner or bed
    2. Having kids do Freeze-Frame or Cut-Thru helps them calm emotions, better communicate, gain mental clarity, gain wider perspective and better understand what they’re feeling and why. Fostering emotional management from the heart may be one of the greatest gifts you can give children
    3. When emotions run high at school or during sports, performing these same techniques will have similar positive effects
What I got out of it
  1. Some really helpful tips and shows the power of coherence, HRV, entrainment, breathing properly, the power of neutrality. A physical, minimum effective dose to get many (not nearly all!) of the benefits associated with meditation.