Psychologists once maintained that emotions were purely mental expressions generated by the brain alone. We now know this is not true. Emotions have as much to do with the heart and body as they do with the brain. Of all your body’s organs, it is the heart, a growing number of scientists theorize, that plays perhaps the most important role in our emotional experience. What we experience as an emotion is the result of the brain, heart, and body acting in concert.
Since its founding in 1991, HeartMath has been dedicated to decoding the underlying mechanics of stress. IHM’s Research Center is committed to the study of the heart and the physiology of emotions and has conducted many studies that identified the relationship between emotions and the heart. A number of HeartMath’s studies have contributed new insight to the scientific community’s understanding of how heart activity is linked to our emotions and health, vitality and well-being.
Emotions and the Heart
HeartMath studies define a critical link between the heart and brain. The heart is in a constant two-way dialog with the brain. Our emotions change the signals the brain sends to the heart and the heart responds in complex ways. Today we now know the heart sends more information to the brain than the brain sends to the heart, and the brain responds to the heart in many important ways. This research explains how the heart responds to emotional and mental reactions and why certain emotions stress the body and drain our energy. As we experience feelings like anger, frustration, anxiety and insecurity, our heart-rhythm patterns become more erratic. These erratic patterns are sent to the emotional centers in the brain, which recognizes them as negative, or stressful feelings. These signals create the actual feelings we experience in the heart area and elsewhere in the body. Erratic heart rhythms also block our ability to think clearly.
Many studies have found that the risk of developing heart disease is significantly increased for people who frequently experience stressful emotions such as irritation, anger or frustration. These emotions create a chain reaction in the body: stress-hormone levels increase, blood vessels constrict, blood pressure rises and the immune system is weakened. If we consistently experience these emotions, it can put a strain on the heart and other organs and eventually lead to serious health problems.
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