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  • Writer's pictureKathryn Watson

The Heart- Brain Connection

Most people have heard of the mind body connection. At first it sounded like a strange idea to many people. But soon it became widely accepted. After all, it makes sense that this wonderful vehicle we travel through life in is connected.

The Heart/Brain Connection

The Heartmath Institute has been researching the connection between the heart and the brain for over 20 years. Surprising to most people, they discovered that the heart sends more orders to the brain than the other way around. Even more interesting is the fact that the heart signals have a strong influence on the brain functioning.

Not only can the heart influence emotional processing but it also affects attention, perception, memory and problem solving.

Different Emotional States Observed in the Heart Rhythms

For instance, when someone is experiencing a period of high stress and negative emotions the heart rhythm becomes erratic. Interestingly, the corresponding pattern of neural signals traveling from the heart to the brain inhibits higher cognitive functions.

In Other Words

When we are stressed our ability to think clearly, to remember, learn or make effective decisions is compromised. How you feel emotionally may affect your cognitive functions. While most studies looked at short term function I have to wonder what long term chronic stress is doing to our brain.

The Great News Is We Can Change

Learning to become stress resilient is the key to maintaining a healthy heart and brain. There will always be stressful situations in your life. There is no way around that short of living in a bubble. But then even that would become stressful over time.

Stress Resilience

This is about being able to bounce back after a stressful event and move forward with your life. Stress resilience is being able to accept disappointments. A stress resilient person embraces change and looks forward to the new opportunities it may bring. To be stress resilient means to be able to forgive and let go of negative emotions that tie you down.

How to Become Resilient

The Heartmath Institute has created a tool to help you manage your emotions. The Emwave is a handheld tool to help you train your mind and heart. This training systems uses researched based tools and games to help you become more stress resilient.

Meditation is Another Way to Train Your Mind

Meditation may be easier to do that you imagine. You do not have to sit cross legged on the floor to meditate. You do not have to chant or hum. You can if you want to but meditation is simply the act of retreating within. Relaxing your mind and your body can feel better than you ever imagined.

There are a lot of tools on the market to help. You can even download a free app called Insight Timer to your smart phone to help. The app offers hundreds of guided meditation practices. The range from 4 minutes to over an hour. You choose the time that works for you. If you prefer music only or even silence you can use the timer. with this you can set bells to chime at intervals or only at the end of your meditation.

Stress Does Affect How We Think and Process Information

Getting a handle on stress early may just help you to keep your mind working well for a long time.

Pat Mack has been helping families make the right decisions to care for someone they love since 1997. Email Her Today for more information.

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