For over 20 years, Calgary’s Tracey Delfs, owner of BalanceQuest has been expanding and sharing her expertise as a sought-after speaker, mental wellness coach, mindfulness teacher, and yoga instructor. Her passion has allowed her to travel the world to learn from Thich Nhat Hanh, the “Father of Mindfulness” at his retreat centres in France and Germany.
Tracey has helped people learn to live a calmer, more focused and happier life. Adding to her toolbox, Tracey has been a strong advocate of HeartMath™ as a certified coach and trainer. “I feel my life’s purpose is to share these various practices; whether it’s meditation, mindfulness, yoga or HeartMath™, they’re all different roads leading to the same destination.”
So, what is HeartMath™?
Located in California, the HeartMath Institute is a global leader in emotional physiology and stress-management research, based on over 31 years of scientific research on the psychophysiology of stress, resilience, and interactions between the heart and brain. These studies appear in many peer-reviewed journals, including; The American Journal of Cardiology, Harvard Business Review and Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
According to the HeartMath™ Institute, “Most of us have been taught that the heart is constantly responding to “orders” sent by the brain. However, did you know the heart sends more signals to the brain than the brain sends to the heart? These heart signals significantly affect brain function, influencing emotional processing and higher cognitive function such as attention, perception, memory, and problem-solving. In other words, not only does the heart respond to the brain, but the brain continuously responds to the heart.”
“Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”
With biofeedback equipment like the HeartMath™ Inner Balance and emWave (emotion-wave) technology, HeartMath™ practitioners can help monitor their heart rate variability rhythm (HRV) to see how stress impacts their bodies. Tracey says what differentiates HeartMath™ is how it teaches you to bring positive emotions into your meditation and breathing techniques. “The focus is about exploring our emotions and how they affect our physiology, emphasizing positive emotions help to bring us into a state of coherence.”
Through years of research, HeartMath™ studied how your HRV reflects the state of your emotions and nervous system. “When you’re stressed, anxious or irritable, the graph shows an erratic pattern, and our heart signals incoherence waves to the brain. However, if you focus on positive feelings, the signals from your heart to the brain are coherent and aligned.
Tracey says you don’t need to use biofeedback equipment to achieve the benefits. Just by using the HeartMath™ techniques; you can learn to get your nervous system, cardiovascular, hormonal and immune systems working together efficiently and harmoniously towards a coherent state.
HeartMath™ 101 includes:
“Heart Focus Breathing is about directing the attention to the heart area and breathing a little deeper and slower than usual,” says Tracey. “Our minds mirror our breathing. When we’re stressed and anxious, our breathing is erratic, but you can begin to settle your mind if you can lengthen and deepen your breaths. Try to breathe in and out for a count of five.”
Activate a Positive Feeling, imagine a positive event or a special place that makes you feel good and try to relive or experience that feeling.
For Tracey, it’s peaceful moment on the beach in Thailand. “By re-experiencing the joy of everything I felt, I can relive this happy experience. My body will release all those good hormones like endorphins and change by HRV into this smooth sine-wave-like pattern. It’s the opposite of PTSD. My body doesn’t know the difference, whether I’m having the experience or recalling it.”
Quick Coherence Technique
Combining Heart Focused Breathing and Activate Positive Feeling
- Heart Focus: Focus all your attention on your heart
- Heart Breathing: Imagine your breath flowing in and out through that area as you focus on your heart.
- Heart Feeling: As you continue to breathe through the area of your heart, recall a positive feeling that made you feel good and gave you joy and tries to re-experience it.
Tracey says the key is learning how to self-activate and sustain a positive emotion. “Whether using the HeartMath Inner Balance sensor that tracks and helps to monitor your coherence level or practicing the HeartMath™ techniques, the goal is to achieve more calm, balance and positivity towards yourself and to everyone you interact with. And who knows, perhaps create a ripple effect out into the world creating global coherence. Just imagine a world with more peace and happiness.”
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Marylene Vestergom is a Toronto freelance writer who has reported at four winter Olympic Games for CBC and CTV. Her work has appeared in the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and other leading media outlets. Her focus includes health, fitness and lifestyle trends.