The Central Role of the Heart in Generating and Sustaining Positive Emotions
A Scientific Monograph e-booklet by Dr. Rollin McCraty and Dr. Robert A. Rees
The Benefits of Heart Coherence to Human Physiology
Did you know your heart plays a central role in the positive emotions you experience such as care, appreciation, compassion and love? It’s true, and many years of research shows that experiencing these emotions can greatly improve your health and quality of life. This insightful work explains in simple terms the heart’s role in the emotional process and how intentionally experiencing positive emotions can help you achieve what is known as heart coherence, a
psychophysiological state marked by calm, emotional balance and alertness. It is a state that is conducive to improved cognitive capability for problem-solving, decision-making, long-term memory and more.
Heart coherence not only provides immediate benefits, but also works over the long term with the brain in what is known as a repatterning process. As you experience positive emotions and learn to achieve coherence routinely, “the maladaptive patterns that underlie the experience of stress are progressively replaced by healthier physiological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral patterns as the ‘automatic’ or familiar way of being.” HeartMath’s emotion-refocusing tools and techniques, which also are discussed, were designed and have been scientifically shown to promote the repatterning process. The authors of the monograph, which originally appeared in the Oxford Handbook of Positive Psychology, also introduce heart-rhythm-coherence feedback training, which is useful in conjunction with these tools and techniques for facilitating heart coherence.
Key Discussion Topics
The Physiology of Positive Emotions
Psychophysiological Coherence and Positive Emotional States