The Techniques of HeartMath

The old instructions on "Freeze-Frame"

This is from memory (can't find the source book). Does anyone have an official version?

  1. Be aware of your breath.
  2. Count mentally to 6 while you breathe in, and count mentally to 6 as you breathe out.
  3. Imagine your breath comes into your heart and out of your solar plexus.
  4. If any "negative" emotions arise, freeze them, and replace them with memories of appreciation.

Notice that the timing of breathing and the mention of the solar plexus are not a part of the new instructions, below.

The Five Steps of "Freeze-Frame"

  1. Recognize the stressful feeling and freeze-frame it. Take a time out.
  2. Make a sincere effort to shift your focus away from the racing mind or disturbed emotions to the area around your heart. Pretend you're breathing through your heart to help focus your energy in this area. Keep your focus there for 10 seconds or more.
  3. Recall a positive, fun feeling or time you've had in life and attempt to re-experience it.
  4. Using your intuition, common sense and sincerity, ask your heart, "What would be a more efficient response to the situation, one that will minimize future stress?"
  5. Listen to what your heart says in answer to your question. It's an effective way to put your reactive mind and emotions in check and an in-house source of common-sense solutions.

-- from HeartMath, "From Chaos to Coherence"

The "Cut-Thru" Technique

During a one-day training session, subjects were taught a new behavioral intervention called "Cut-Thru." The Cut-Thru technique is designed to address the negative "thought loops," self-perceptions and set emotional responses that are frequently triggered by novel situations. Thus, individuals are taught to alter their automatic responses to stress that are generated by old emotional programs involving hostility, guilt and anxiety. They are taught to generate new, more appropriate responses through the induction of a positive emotional state. This is achieved by the practice of a number of specific steps that help reorient perception of past, present and future stressors and reduce or eliminate unproductive mental and emotional responses.

  1. Step 1: Individuals take an "inner weather report" and identify their current emotional state. If their current emotional state involves worry, anxiety, or distress ("rain"), then individuals are shown how to shift their mood and choose a more positive perspective ("sunshine").
  2. Step 2: Individuals focus attention in the area of the heart, holding any remaining uncomfortable feelings in that area. This aims to prevent any mental attempts to analyze the feelings of discomfort, worry, anxiety, or guilt which would lead to a reentry into the negative thought loop. If unpleasant feelings still remain, individuals are instructed to "stir" or "blend" them in with the positive feelings generated in Step 1 while maintaining their focus of attention in the area around the heart. While it is difficult to develop scientific descriptions for subjective experiences, many individuals report that they perceive a mixing or stirring sensation in the area of the heart during the practice of this step. One physiological correlate that was commonly observed during this step was the appearance of a sinusoidal heart rate variability pattern (see Results).
  3. Step 3: Individuals consciously generate a feeling of inner peace and calm. This state promotes increased coherence in a number of physiological systems and facilitates a clearer perspective on the situation that led to the emotional turmoil.
  4. Step 4: Once individuals are in a state of increased physiological and emotional coherence, they go back in time to re-experience the original feeling of care they had about the situation or person and examine how the negative emotional state developed. The purpose of this step is to understand the difference between care and caring too much, or "overcare" (Childre, 1996), which is associated with emotions such as anxiety, worry, and guilt. This step helps the person discriminate the fine line between a balanced, healthy caring perspective and the dysfunctional worrying, over-attachment, and disappointment that characterizes "overcare." It has been suggested that "overcare" underlies many well-recognized negative emotional states, such as anxiety, guilt, and hopelessness (Childre, 1996). Such states, if left unchecked, can lead to exhaustion and burnout.
  5. Step 5: Having generated feelings of positivity, calm, and understanding, individuals determine what a more efficient response or solution to the situation would be and enact it.

-- from "The Impact of a New Emotional Self-Management Program on Stress, Emotions, Heart Rate Variability, DHEA and Cortisol", by HeartMath staff: Rollin McCraty et al.

"Heart Lock-In" Technique Using Music

  1. Find a comfortable spot to sit and relax and close your eyes.
  2. Now just relax and breathe deeply.
  3. Next, focus your energies in the heart area.
  4. Send a sincere feeling of love or appreciation to yourself and others. Just relax in the heart until the music stops. (Music by Doc Childre is played.)

-- from HeartMath, "From Chaos to Coherence"