I help people develop helpful states and skills with the aid of heart rate variability biofeedback. I do this via
Heart rate variability refers to the natural speeding up and slowing down of your heart rate moment-to-moment, beat-to-beat. This speeding up and slowing down is influenced by many things including, as examples, how you are breathing and what you are feeling.
The pattern of speeding up and slowing down of your heart beat can influence how you feel, your ability to both cope with, prepare for, and recover after tasks and stressors, as well as certain aspects of how your brain functions either facilitating or inhibiting aspects of cognitive functioning such as those involved when you are studying, writing an exam, or problem-solving.
Heart rate variability biofeedback basically refers to the use of technology that gives you live feedback about the patterns of speeding up and slowing down your heart is creating as it beats, and it and helps you learn how to influence the pattern of how your heart is beating in helpful ways. Heart rate variability biofeedback gives you live, real-time objective feedback that helps you actively learn how to influence your state in helpful ways.
Based on research to date, it is reasonable to say both that everyone can benefit from training in heart rate variability biofeedback in general, and that some people will find this an immensely useful skill to develop due to specific states and experiences they have or have had. For example, people who experience significant anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, high stress situations where they have to perform well, people who become overwhelmed or who become dysregulated (e.g., who get overwhelmed due to trauma related triggers and impacts), people who are experiencing health difficulties, physical pain, or emotional pain—can all benefit for various reasons related to the ways that the pattern of our hearts beating influences our brain and bodies.
In my practice, I utilize heart rate variability biofeedback for people with experiences and/or who work in situations such as those listed above. As part of this work, I teach people specific self-management skills such as learning to breathe and/or to focus their attention ways that influence the pattern of their hearts’ beating in helpful ways.
Because the thoughts that we have and emotions we have both arise out of our physiological states and influence our physiological states, and because our ability to cognitively process information and to work with our emotions and environment is influenced by our physiological states, learning to shift into helpful physiological states is immensely valuable.
I often use the analogy of the ground from which everything is growing. If the ground from which your thoughts and emotions are arising is chaotic or highly stressed, this will influence the kinds of thoughts you are having, the kinds of emotions you are having, the level to which you feel depleted or rested, and it will also greatly influence your ability to effectively function, problem-solve, learn, and perform.
There are numerous ways to influence the ground. Within the psychological realm, one of these ways is by learning to cultivate certain states using your breath, your attention, your ability to connect with or imagine certain thoughts and emotions.
Dr. Alan Watkins does a fantastic job of illustrating the importance of working with emotions and thoughts by including therapy work at the level of the ground in these TEDx presentations, Being Brilliant Every Day, Part I and Being Brilliant Every Day, Part II.