Even before we had a term for it, humans have always known stress; today it is relentless. The American Institute of Stress notes that 75 to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints, ranging from high blood pressure to depression and burn-out.

Based on extensive research, the people at HeartMath® (www.heartmath.com) say they have decoded how stress works and that most people are using the wrong approach, trying to de-stress the way they use a crash diet. As Gaby Boehmer, a spokesperson for HeartMath, explains it, “Stress is about rhythm—your heart rhythm.”

HeartMath has created Freeze-Framer®, a software program that helps you get into the right rhythm. HeartMath claims its approach works because it teaches people to neutralize stress as they move through the day, mentally and emotionally “re-calibrating” so the stress doesn’t accumulate.

In From Chaos to Coherence, HeartMath’s cofounders, Doc Childre and Bruce Cryer, give the example of a performance review: “[This can be] one of the most emotionally draining and commonly avoided organizational activities. Yet it can be a rich opportunity for growth if based on authentic communication where each person’s highest good is the primary objective. … Using Freeze-Frame at the start of this process can neutralize or reduce anxiety while creating a strong field for rapport instead of antagonism.”

HeartMath researchers say that with every beat of the heart, intricate messages are sent to the entire body; their research demonstrates a critical link between the heart and emotions and demonstrates how the heart responds to emotional and mental reactions. Cryer explains, “As we experience emotional reactions like frustration, irritation, anxiety, worry, guilt or anger, heart rhythms become incoherent [interfering] with the communication between the heart and brain. … This consistent imbalance can put a strain on the heart and other organs, and eventually lead to serious health problems. When we experience heart-felt emotions like love, care, appreciation and compassion, the heart produces coherent, or smooth, rhythms that enhance communication between the heart and the brain.”

The HeartMath setup involves wearing a finger pulse sensor that feeds your heartbeat into your PC, where you can watch your heart rhythms on the monitor while practicing their simple techniques to train you to shift into “the zone” where your body, mind and emotions are synchronized. Result: more mental clarity, higher energy levels, enhanced performance—and less stress. Fortune 500 companies (including Cisco Systems, Motorola, Hewlett Packard, Boeing, Liz Clairborne and Sony) are bringing this software into their organizations to improve employee performance and reduce organizational healthcare costs.

269 pages, $16.00; HeartMath LLC 2000. For a forthcoming
Networking University webinar with the HeartMath people,
check our Web site: www.networkingtimes.com/