A Change of Heart Changes Everything

Posted by M ws On Tuesday, July 24, 2012 0 comments
A California institute demonstrates how people can actually make their heart beat in a healthier way. Through its research, the Institute of HeartMath proves that health starts with love, and that love can reduce stress. It is a method that is used by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide and more than 100 organizations–from global corporations to hospitals to government agencies and schools. This simple method is changing the world. A report from Boulder Creek, California.

Jurriaan Kamp | June 2005 issue

All you need is love, sang John Lennon.

True, according to most people.

The only challenge: how do you create love?

A quite startlingly simple answer was found to that question in the redwood forests of Boulder Creek, California, south of San Francisco. Since 1991, the Institute of HeartMath has generated a large body of convincing scientific evidence that it is indeed possible to create love. HeartMath’s research shows that emotions work much faster, and are more powerful, than thoughts. And that—when it comes to the human body—the heart is much more important than the brain to overall health and well-being—even cognitive function—than anyone but poets believed. Its dominance inside the body is now clearly demonstrated. Thinking clearly with your brain is useful. But feeling positively from your heart provides an amazing boost to health and creativity.

Briefly re-experiencing a cherished memory creates synchronization in your heart rhythm in mere seconds. This increases the release of healthy, energizing hormones, while at the same time decreasing levels of damaging stress hormones, at the same time your immune system is strengthened, blood pressure decreases … and health and focus increase. Using a simple prescription that consists of a number of exercises that anyone can do anywhere in a few minutes—the details are coming shortly—HeartMath is successfully battling the greatest threat to health, happiness and peace in this world: stress.

Stress is the plague of our time, an epidemic that is spreading rapidly. The World Health Organization (WHO) raised the alarm 20 years ago, but things have only gotten worse. Every day some one million Americans fail to come to work due to stress. The European Union estimated in 2000 that the annual price tag of stress, in the form of healthcare costs and lost productivity, amounts to some three to four percent of the EU’s gross domestic product. Stress is one of the most important causes of high blood pressure, which afflicts one in three adults in Europe and North America and is the cause of many serious illnesses such as heart disease and stroke. Stress also lies at the basis of depression and burnout.

“The good news is that the negative effects of stress can be effectively countered more easily than people might imagine. This leads to better performance in every aspect of life. It is therefore a smart strategy for every organization to tackle this source of excessive costs and human strain,” according to HeartMath’s president and CEO Bruce Cryer.

That insight has now permeated many companies and institutions. Managers are sent to stress seminars. Yoga lessons are offered at company headquarters. And there are even companies that encourage their employees to take vacations. But these measures aren’t very effective as long as stress continues to permeate the corporate culture. The sense of relief from a yoga lesson or a weekend at the beach is often lost during the first chat with a frustrated colleague at the coffee machine. A successful anti-stress strategy provides results precisely at the moment the stress is experienced. This is what HeartMath does, which is why its client list now includes such leading companies as Hewlett Packard, Shell, Unilever, Cisco Systems, and Boeing.

HeartMath was established in 1991 by Doc Lew Childre. Childre had made a name for himself as a researcher and advisor to companies and scientific institutions. With the founding of HeartMath, he embarked on his mission to demonstrate that the heart was central to human health, success and fulfillment. While HeartMath’s techniques emphasize the importance of emotional self-management, HeartMath is no new age phenomenon. It is a research institute that in the space of nearly 15 years has published a large body of scientific research in established and respected publications such as the Harvard Business Review and the American Journal of Cardiology. Those publications support HeartMath’s central aim of presenting revolutionary scientific discoveries in a solid, “bullet proof” way. It has demonstrated significant cost savings for healthcare organizations struggling with staff turnover, and has shown significant health benefits in an array of studies covering congestive heart failure, diabetes, asthma, and hypertension. As Cryer says, “HeartMath is not based simply on belief. There are proven physiological reactions in how emotion, heart and brain interact.” In other words: HeartMath’s work is kept scrupulously free of the obvious potential for opportunism.

Which is admirable given that financing and survival issues have presented tricky challenges for the organization through the years. HeartMath’s location reflects this cautious strategy. The institute is located in a group of buildings on a lovely retreat-like setting in Boulder Creek, a town that is nearly impossible to find among the tall trees of the ancient Californian forests. Stress and Boulder Creek have little to do with one another, I realize, following a drive through the pouring rain. And yet the decision to locate HeartMath here was not so odd. Forty-five minutes down the road is a well-known hotbed of this “modern plague:” Silicon Valley.

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