Written by Tomas

August 5, 2020

A person’s ability to adjust one’s emotional response to the challenges and situations in daily life is central to overall health and well-being. In addition, it will also help you to communicate effectively, while drastically reducing misunderstandings and improving performance overall.  

Emotional regulation begins with the decision to become more self-aware of your level of emotional resilience or your capacity to calmly and efficiently handle emotionally charged situations, your internal baseline. The Institute of HeartMath® has studied human physiology at great depths and have determined that our heart rhythm patterns are the best reflection of our inner state. The specific heart rhythm pattern they have determined to express our current physiological state is Heart Rate Variance (HRV). 

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is the part of the nervous system that controls the body’s internal functions, including heart rate, gastrointestinal tract, and secretions of many glands. The ANS also controls many other vital activities such as respiration, and it interacts with immune and hormonal system functions. It has been well documented that mental and emotional states directly affect activity in the ANS. Considerable evidence suggests evolution of the ANS, specifically the vagus nerves, was central to development of emotional experience, the ability to self-regulate emotional processes and social behavior and that it underlies the social engagement system. As human beings, we are not limited to fight, flight, or freeze responses. We can self-regulate and initiate pro-social behaviors when we encounter challenges, disagreements, and stressors. The healthy function of the social engagement system depends upon the proper functioning of the vagus nerves, which act as a vagal brake. This system underlies one’s ability to self-regulate and calm oneself by inhibiting sympathetic outflow to targets like the heart and adrenal glands. This implies that measurements of vagal activity could serve as a marker for one’s ability to self-regulate. This also suggests that the evolution and healthy function of the ANS determines the boundaries for the range of one’s emotional expression, quality of communication and the ability to self-regulate emotions and behaviors.1 The investigation of the heart’s complex rhythms or HRV began with the emergence of modern signal processing in the 1960s and 1970s and has rapidly expanded in more recent times.2The irregular behavior of the heartbeat is readily apparent when heart rate is examined on a beat-to-beat basis but is overlooked when a mean value over time is calculated. These fluctuations in heart rate result from complex, nonlinear interactions among a number of different physiological systems. 


Emotional regulation begins with the decision to become more self-aware of your level of emotional resilience.

Heart rate variability also indicates psychological resiliency and behavioral flexibility, reflecting an individual’s capacity to self-regulate and effectively adapt to changing social or environmental demands.4 5 

The HeartMath Institute has created biofeedback devices, The EmWave Pro & InnerBalance, to determine what’s happening inside of us and learn how to shift into a state of balance, self-reliance and renewing feelings, such as appreciation, gratitude, and compassion. Both devices measure HRV as well as heart coherenc. Incoherent heart rhythm patterns are characterized by a jagged waveform and is typical of stress and negative emotions such as anger, frustration, and anxiety. A coherent heart rhythm pattern is typically observed when an individual is experiencing a sustained positive emotion, such as appreciation, compassion, or love and is characterized by sine-wave-like waveform (see the image below).   

Using these devices in conjunction with easy to learn heart coherence techniques, like heartfocused breathing® (explained below) have been verified to create coherent heart rhythms influencing the mind into a calm and focused state in which individuals will experience clarity of thought, speech and emotional composure.  



Heart Focused Breathing® 

Focus your attention in the areas of the heart. Imagine your breath flowing in and out of your heart and exhaling through your heart or chest area, breathing a little slower and deeper than usual. Suggestion: Inhale for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds (or whatever rhythem is comfortable).   

Visit the contact portion of the webpage to set up a complementary consult to learn more about emotional regulation and how you can benefit from personal coaching or training for your organization. Also contact us if you would like to purchase an Innerbalance or EmWave Pro or select the product(s) you would like on the shop page when available.  

-Tomás Germán-Palacios

Certified HeartMath® Trainer & Coach 

1.Porges, S.W., The polyvagal perspective. Biol Psychol, 2007. 74(2): p. 116-43

2.Singer, D.H., et al., Low Heart Variability and sudden cardiac death. Journal of Electrocardiology, 1988 (Supplemental issue): p. S46-S55

3. Science of The Heart. HeartMath Institute p.13

4.Berntson, G.G., et al., Cardiac autonomic balance versus cardiac regulatory capacity. Psychophysiology, 2008. 45(4): p. 643-52

5.Beauchaine, T., Vagal tone, development, and Gray’s motivational theory: toward an integrated model of autonomic nervous system functioning in psychopathology. Dev Psychopathol, 2001. 13(2): p. 183-214 6.Science of The Heart. HeartMath Institute p.27

6. Science of the Heart. HeartMAth Institute p. 27

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