The Institute of HeartMath in Boulder Creek, California is the leading non-profit research center for studying the science of the heart and how it affects health and well-being. The center discovered what it calls heart rhythm coherence which is triggered by positive emotions such as love. Rhythm coherence has important implications for not only emotional harmony, but also for physical health. The researchers found that when the heart has a steady, balanced, and smooth rhythm, blood pressure is lowered and the bodily systems work efficiently. When the heart rhythm is erratic and stressed, numerous health consequences of the nervous, cardiovascular, hormonal and immune systems occur.
As explained by the institute:
"Scientific research now tells us plainly that anger, anxiety and worry significantly increase the risk of heart disease, including sudden cardiac death. Landmark long-term studies conducted by Dr. Hans Eysenck and colleagues at the University of London have shown that chronic unmanaged emotional stress is as much as six times more predictive of cancer and heart disease than cigarette smoking, cholesterol level or blood pressure, and much more responsive to intervention."
The institute has developed several tools to help individuals train and develop their positive emotional systems while creating health promoting coherence. The freeze-frame technique helps individuals to detach from negative emotions in the moment; it brings awareness to the heart while generating genuine positive feeling such as love, appreciation, or compassion. According to the HeartMath Institute, "This process prevents or reverses the body's normal destructive stress response, and changes the bodily feedback sent to the brain, thus arresting physiological and psychological wear and tear." Another technique is referred to as the heart-lock; this empowers people to 'lock-in' positive emotions of the heart to boost energy, amplify clarity along with peace, and encourage physiology to maintain longer periods of coherent harmony. A third method is called the cut-thru which assists individuals in shifting their habitual stress response in the moment from negative to neutral or even positive.
Research at the University of Berlin also confirmed that a loving, joyful orientation stimulates health and well-being. In a pilot study, loving-kindness meditation was shown to reduce chronic pain, psychological distress, and anger. According to the study:
"Positive emotions, compassion and happiness help us to feel better, particularly in stress, and further they improve bodily functions: Love, compassion and joy make our immune system function better and help to battle diseases."
As stress continues to escalate in modern life while negatively affecting health, a heart-centered orientation is the key to maintaining zest, balance, and flourishing vitality.
Love Promotes Health", Charity-University Medicine Berlin, Institute for General Practice and Family Medicine, Neuroendocrinology Letters No.3 June Vol.26, 2005
"Love for No Reason", Marci Shimoff, 2010, Simon & Schuster, Inc. New York