You Experience the World By How You Feel!

  • What is your filter/emotional soundtrack?
  • You can rewire your brain by listening to your heart.

Our Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) releases 1,400 hormones based on how you perceive a situation.

Consists of Two Sub-Systems:

Sympathetic (Fight or Flight):

  • Speeds things up/creates stress-producing hormones, such as cortisol, adrenaline, epinephrine and n
  • Releases 1,400 stress-producing hormones, whether it’s a full-on crisis or just a mild irritation.
  • Occurs again when you tell someone about it later because the brain can’t tell if you are still in the situation or not.

Parasympathetic (Rest and Digest):

  • Slows things down/releases stress-relieving hormones, such as DHEA, dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin.
  • Releases 1,400 stress-relieving hormones when you are happy or grateful.
  • Visualization technique or just imagining good times causes this release because the brain doesn’t know the difference as to whether you are there or not and releases the chemicals as if you actually were.

Heart Rate Variability (HRV):

  • Regulated by the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the ANS.
  • It is the measured variation in the time interval between heartbeats.
  • Looks at the space between the beat-to-beat interval. The wider the distance, the greater the indication that there’s less stress (the parasympathetic system is in control); the closer the distance, the greater the indication that there’s more stress (the sympathetic system is in control).

Heart-Focused or Intentional Breathing:

  • Creates good heart rate variability.
  • Assists with accessing your parasympathetic system, which releases 1,400 stress-relieving


Focus your attention in the area of your heart. (You can place your hand on your heart).

Imagine your breath is flowing in and out through your heart.

Breathe a little slower and deeper than usual. (Inhale for five seconds and exhale for five seconds.)

Breathe in love and gratitude; breathe out love and gratitude.

Case Study #1:

50-plus male with a complicated month-long hospitalization for meningoencephalitis, which caused numerous acute lacunar infarcts and mitral valve vegetation leading to mitral valve replacement surgery.

Initially when working with therapy, the patient would hyperventilate with out-of-bed activity. His pulse would elevate to >100 bpm, O2 SATs would decrease to <90%, BP would increase, and he would become diaphoretic. His coherence at the outset of his first HRV training using HeartMath technologies was 0%. S/p tx his HRV was 100%. With three tx sessions, he no longer experienced difficulty with vitals or anxiety with treatment and eventually safely discharged home alone.

Case Study #2:

65-plus male with medical history of CAD s/p stents, lung CA s/p lobectomy, COPD with emphysema and fibrosis, chronic hypoxemia (4L O2), and pulmonary HTN. He had been hospitalized four times for respiratory failure in three months’ time. At the onset of the patient’s initial HRV training using HeartMath technologies, the patient’s pulse was 120 bpm and O2 SATs were 87% on 4L of O2 at rest. S/p HRV training his pulse decreased to 96 bpm and O2 SATs increased to 96%. After discharge from therapy, the patient had no further re-hospitalizations for a month and a half, when he was discharged to an SNF nearer home.

View poster: Heartrate Variability Training: The Resilience Advantage (PDF format)

By Sonya Taylor, OTR/L, Park Manor Rehabilitation Center, Walla Walla, WA