Heartmath is a Californian research-based organisation who have been studying the link between the heart and the brain as a holistic approach to understanding human health since the early 1990s. Its research and the techniques they have developed create lasting improvements in physiological function. Heartmath has published peer-reviewed studies showing that Heartmath interventions can help people with a wide variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, and autoimmune conditions, as well as improving both physical and cognitive performance.

Much of Heartmath’s research centres around the Vagus nerve. The Vagus nerve acts as the main messenger between the brain and the heart. While many scholars and clinicians promote the idea that the brain controls the body, there are in fact around 80% more nerve fibres running from the heart to the brain than there are from the brain to the heart. The heart also has the highest bioelectric field of any organ in the body, around 60 times that of the brain, allowing it to regulate all other bodily systems.

Additionally, the heart has been found to have an area with a brain-like structure, which has been shown to have the capacity to retain memories, learn, and make decisions. As a result, it has the capacity to produce neurotransmitters and hormones that act as signals, effectively sending messages to the brain and other parts of the body that change or maintain thoughts, behaviour, and functioning.

Heartmath’s research suggests that this means that heart is able to override the brain and plays a significant role in regulating brain activity as well as wider physiological function via the messages it sends through the vagus nerve. It’s activity and ability to do this can be measured through heart rate variability (HRV).

This knowledge has enabled Heartmath to design a number of interventions to regulate physiology, promoting shifts in brain function and improving health and wellbeing outcomes at the same time. These are relatively simple exercises based on the production of neurotransmitters/hormones in the heart and functional changes in physiology.

They have been shown to have a greater and more lasting effect on physiology than other mindfulness-based practices, while they have also been shown to improve the efficacy of more traditional treatment approaches, such as corticosteroids in autoimmune disease. In addition, they promote not only a sense of wellbeing, but also an alertness that correlates with a change in brainwave state to alpha waves, which are associated with high creativity and focus.

For your first appointment, Lou Chalmer will invite you to discuss any specific issues that you might have noticed. She is able to assess your HRV and respiratory rate using specially designed, highly sensitive sensors. This allows her to pinpoint how your physiology might be affecting you day-to-day and relate to your concerns.

She will then work with you to develop a self-care plan that will then allow you to retrain your nervous system to function at a more optimal level. This includes both short, meditation-like exercises, as well as wider and more holistic changes that you can make to improve your sense of wellbeing and help you learn to self-regulate your physiology.

On an ongoing basis, Lou will monitor your progress in shifting your baseline physiology. She can then help you make adjustments to your self-care routine as necessary and depending on which approaches feel comfortable and achievable to you.

Lou is dedicated to working with you from a collaborative, client-centred approach. This means that your needs are prioritised at all times throughout the process. Her overall aim is to empower you with the skills and knowledge to achieve wellbeing that starts from within.