What is HeartMath?

HeartMath is a biofeedback-based program that incorporates the science of Heart Rate Variability as a marker to determine and alter the functioning state of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). This system is often discussed in terms of “fight or flight” versus “rest and repair” or “feed and breed”. These ANS states are technically termed sympathetic and parasympathetic, respectively.

https://www.heartmath.org/science/  Videos and description of HRV – what it is and what it is not!

HeartMath is a biofeedback based program that incorporates the science of Heart Rate Variability as a marker to determine and alter the functioning state of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). This system is often discussed in terms of “fight or flight” versus “rest and repair” or “feed and breed”. These ANS states are technically termed sympathetic and parasympathetic, respectively.

Essentially, the proven coaching techniques in conjunction with the biofeedback software train the brain and heart to be in “coherence”. This optimizes, orders and resets the ANS to default to the healing parasympathetic state. 

Here is a video by HeartMath co-founder Rollin McCraty explaining a bit more about the science behind HeartMath.

Six weeks of biofeedback training with coaching, in conjunction with at-home practice time, is all it takes to see measurable changes in performance or behaviors as well as in physiological markers. Things like measurable increase in response to an anti-viral medication while reducing anxiety for AIDS patients recovering from substance abuse, decreased anxiety in adolescents with eating disorders, improved academic performance in students,  reduced chronic pain in veterans and even management of hypertension  are seen throughout the abundance of research. You can take a look at some of it here.

Why HeartMath? 

Retraining the Autonomic Nervous System to “default” to a parasympathetic state, rather than the typical, modern sympathetic stress response is a great way to take control of one’s health. Having tools to reset the body after stress and to better prepare can make a measurable difference in all facets of life and for future wellness!

By retraining the limbic system to stay calm and organized, predictive health measures can be impacted daily. This means that we can each shift the physiological indicators that are used in the medical community to predict risk of disease development. Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is used to predict things from longevity to heart-attack risk and survival to diabetes to PTSD and mood disorders. It also effectively enhances the immune system for a more effective protective effect.

For HeartMath to make a difference, there is no monthly refill cost and upkeep needed beyond the time and the commitment to establish the coherence techniques in daily routines. This process generally takes six sessions over six to eight weeks for a fundamental understanding and application of the HeartMath technique. Practice can be done silently and stealthily at a desk, while hiking in nature or even during a stressful commute. For these reasons, HeartMath training is highly sustainable!

HeartMath for Children (Smart Brain, Wise Heart)

At UWA we now offer HeartMath biofeedback training for children ages 9 to 16 to teach self-management through Heart Rate Variability or Autonomic Nervous System re-entrainment or calming techniques. This gives children tools for managing stress and maneuvering emotions.

Children trained in emotional self-regulation have more tools for facing the everyday challenges of life. In the January 2011 issue of Child Development magazine, a meta-analysis of social and emotional learning programs like HeartMath for children revealed a statistically significant improvement in academic performance, attitudes and behavior in those trained to self-manage their emotions.

In the peer-reviewed journal Integrative Physiological and Behavioral Science, another study showed overall improvement by middle-school students taught HeartMath techniques. For participating students an improvement was seen in cognitive function, mental clarity, health measures and emotional balance. This included anger and stress management, reduced risk-taking, improved personal relationships and improved academic performance. Impressive!

In children, emotional self-management techniques using Heart-Rate Variability have been shown to decrease anxiety symptoms, improve conduct and social behavior, calm obsessive compulsive behavior and improve attention  in children.

The folks at the HeartMath Institute developed a powerful at-home curriculum entitled Smart Brain, Wise Heart to be used in conjunction with the biofeedback program, HeartMath coaching, which is provided at our office. It is an easy to watch, interactive program with videos and learning scenarios to help develop emotional self-management skills in the young.


Smart Brain, Wise Heart Sample

Free resources for children ages 2 – 6 years

When can HeartMath help?


Peer-reviewed medical research and clinical trials have demonstrated that HeartMath can successfully be used clinically to support the following:

  • ADHD
  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Asthma
  • Atopic Dermatitis
  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular Rehab
  • Chronic Pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diabetes Type l and Type ll
  • Environmental Sensitivity
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Headaches: tension type and migraine
  • Hypertension
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Immune System Dysfunction
  • Insomnia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Physical therapy and rehabilitation
  • Recurrent abdominal pain
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy (complex regional pain syndrome)
  • Stress
  • Tics/Tourette’s syndrome
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Ulcerative Colitis
  • And more…


By optimizing the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) function, hormone shifts occur.  Hormone ratio changes reduce the impact of stress. These measured changes induced by HeartMath use include:

  • Increased longevity
  • Improved memory
  • Increased resilience to adversity
  • Increased cognitive flexibility, creativity and intelligence
  • Improved job performance and achievement
  • Increased happiness!

Who loves HeartMath?

HeartMath biofeedback training is endorsed and used by NASA, Kaiser Permanente®, Cedars-Sinai, Stanford School of Medicine, and the Department of Veteran’s Affairs.  Other organizations have worked to bring heart coherence to the public attention through educational and information work. These include Dr. Mark Hyman’s recent Broken Brain 2 series, CBS, Wall Street Journal, Body & Soul, Roll Call, Reader’s Digest, CNN, Natural Health Magazine, ABC World News Tonight, Mashable, Today and Healing Quest.

Here at Universal Wellness Associates, we have clients that love it too!

HeartMath Feedback Testimonials and comments

"I’m so grateful for my HeartMath experience at UWA and for everything Jean has taught me. I’ve struggled with anxiety and moments of panic for years. HeartMath has taught me to learn to tune into my body better and refocus my feelings of overwhelm. The deep breathing and visualization exercises taught during HeartMath really have proven useful for me in my everyday activities to control my stress reactions. I’s also taught me how to build more appreciation for my heart and how important building my own personal physical intuition is. I will continue to practice HeartMath every day! Thanks so much for the knowledge and experience!"
Steph V.
“The HeartMath practice surprised me because I was able to see how often I was stressed. That realization was my starting point. This was valuable because muscle tightening, spasms and headaches are related to stress. As I practice, I’m really excited to think that I can have some control over these physical issues, instead of allowing the stress to come out in my muscles. The “heartfelt gratitude” part has helped me get in touch with what that really means to me and how it relates to my stress level. It has helped me make that connection in a way that I hadn’t been able to access before. During the week I envision myself sitting at the biofeedback station, using the HM strategies, then I can identify how it feels to be deeply relaxed. The HM principles are so helpful in identifying the feeling of coherence. I don’t know if I could do it without the visuals. If I had just heard about it or read it in a book, for me, it just wouldn’t have been as effective.”
"HeartMath has been amazing! I started it not knowing exactly what it was or if it would be helpful. I am so glad that I did start it! Heart Math has helped me in so many ways: Helped me decrease my stresses, which has helped increase my energy, and helped me be calmer and more positive. It has been a great tool to improving both my physical health and emotional health. Jean, is a wonderful teacher! She is very positive, supportive, encouraging and so insightful! I know that her guidance has helped me make these changes. I am so grateful for her help and kindness!"
" Jean is a gifted teacher and healer! I leave her office with increased energy, optimism, and a greater sense of well-being. This carries over into my life. For example, while in a doctor’s office recently, my oxygen saturation level rose by three points within seconds of beginning a HeartMath breathing technique. I find that being in Jean’s presence is, in itself, healing."
"It is an amazing technique that is useful for every person and can be done by anyone!"
"I’d recommend HeartMath. It is very calming and relaxing. A good tool to help deal with stress."
"It has helped decrease the tension in my body, a big relief!"
"It has helped my anxiety tremendously!"
"I’m feeling less overwhelmed and more positive in times of stress!"
"HeartMath was a “life-changing” experience!"