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HEART RATE VARIABILITY AND STRESS RELIEF

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.

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