What does coherence mean? At the HeartMath Institute (HMI), when we refer to coherence, we are talking about a mental, emotional and physical state – where the mind, heart and nervous system align and function in a higher degree of balance and harmony.
HMI’s scientists have spent years researching the state of coherence. Two of our key findings are found in the answers to two important questions.
What does coherence mean to you?Each individual’s coherence is tied to the myriad processes that make us who we are – cardiac, brain, nervous, hormonal and immune systems, among others. Although these processes and their subsystems function independently, they do synchronize with each other.
As HMI Director of Research Dr. Rollin McCraty puts it, "Coherence is the energetic alignment and cooperation of all of our systems."
Simply said, when we are in coherence, we perform at our best – athletes might call it being in ‘the zone;’others may refer to it as being in the flow or feeling in sync. When we’re in a coherent state – we feel good and we’re in balance.
Measuring Your CoherenceYour coherence level typically provides a window into your mental, emotional and physical health. Ask yourself:
•Is my heart and brain communicating optimally? •How attuned is my intuition? •Do I anger easily and find it hard to move on? •How reliable and effective are my decision-making skills when I need them?
All of these can be good indicators of your coherence level, but scientists have an even more precise measure: heart rate variability (HRV).
Heart rate variability refers to the beat-to-beat changes in your heart rhythms. By viewing your heart rhythms with an electrocardiograph or other heart-monitoring device such as HeartMath’s coherence-building emWave® technology, you can detect your level of coherence.
Low HRV, typically less ordered or unbalanced heart rhythms, indicates low coherence and probably more negative answers to questions like those above.
High HRV is indicative of more ordered, balanced rhythms and a greater likelihood of optimal heart-brain communication, stronger access to intuition, good energy levels, etc.
Can you influence your coherence level?YES! The other key finding about coherence is that you can actually raise it – intentionally.
A simple but highly effective method of raising your coherence, one that anyone can learn, is to intentionally replace negative emotions with positive ones. This is called emotion self-regulation.
Positive emotions such as appreciation, caring and compassion generate coherent heart-rhythm patterns and help move us into greater coherence. Using HMI’s simple Quick Coherence Technique, you can move from in-coherence into greater coherence. Click to learn the Quick Coherence® Technique.
Take care, and happy coherence building!