HeartMath Institute

HeartMath Institute is a research institute engaged in scientific research into the heart since the early 1980s. The researchers found that the heart has about 40,000 neurons, which are similar to our brain cells.

Further research led to clarifying insights, and it increasingly turned out that the assumptions that scientists had made for decades turned out to be a reality. Our heart is an intelligent organ with its own “brain” and provides access to our intuition.

Research by HeartMath Institute

The insights that HeartMath Institute gained over the years have revolutionized science and even opened a new branch in the science of heart health: neurocardiology, a field in which research is conducted into heart intelligence.

In recent decades, HeartMath Institute has conducted hundreds of scientific studies into how we can use this enormous intelligence source and especially emotions. In our modern times and western society, we are very active in the cognitive field, and our heart intelligence has increasingly disappeared into the background.

This results in consequences like a declining stress tolerance, lower productivity, and less happiness in life. HeartMath Institute’s research has led to many practical tools to reduce or even eliminate these consequences and enjoy life to its fullest.

Heart coherence: measuring your happiness

HeartMath has developed tools that make it possible to measure happiness and stress tolerance. Their sensitive equipment has been designed to measure heart rate variability (HRV), which is a good indicator of how emotionally and stress-resilient someone is.

The HeartMath Institute scientists have also discovered that the heart emits a powerful electromagnetic signal – like a transmitter – which enables us to “perceive” people in our environment energetically. This shows why we feel good with some people and not with others who are “on a different frequency.”

For measuring heart coherence – a state in which our vital body processes (heart, respiration, and blood pressure system) work together harmoniously – HeartMath has developed a series of devices to train our heart rate variability. This enables us as individuals to make ourselves more resilient and improve our general health.

Exercises developed by HeartMath Institute

HeartMath Institute has developed a wide variety of exercises over the years. These exercises are easy to apply, also in work situations. Despite the simplicity, these exercises are surprisingly practical. Examples are the HeartLock Method, Quick Coherence, and Heart-focused breathing exercises.

HearthMath Institute equipment

HearthMath Institute has developed several devices that monitor heart health. Examples are the InnerBalance Trainer, the emWave2, and the emWave Pro.

Each of these devices measures in real-time how the heart is doing, and you get feedback on your monitor on how stressed or happy you are. With the techniques developed by HeartMath, you can easily and quickly overcome this stress, with which you increase heart coherence and improve your health.

Doc Childre, founder of HeartMath

Doc Childre is the founder of HeartMath Institute. He is a worldwide authority in the field of stress reduction, building mental resilience, and optimizing personal effectiveness.

Together with Rollin McCraty, Research Director at HeartMath, he developed the HeartMath® System, which includes practical, heart-related tools and technologies. With these technologies, people of all ages and walks of life can improve their health, performance, and well-being.

The HeartMath System is widely used by Fortune 500 companies, the United States military, hospitals, clinics, schools, and many thousands of individuals looking to improve their emotional resilience.

In 1991 Childre founded the non-profit organization HeartMath Institute (HMI), a research and education organization. HMI’s organizational, educational, and clinical research on emotional physiology and self-regulation has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented at many scientific conferences around the world.

He chairs HMI’s Scientific Advisory Board and the Global Coherence Initiative Steering Committee (GCI), and HeartMath LLC. He is also an advisor to CEOs, scientists, educators, and the entertainment industry through his company Top-Down.

He has shared endless knowledge and enthusiasm about the human heart in numerous publications and a dozen books, including The HeartMath Solution, From Chaos to Coherence, The HeartMath Approach to Managing Hypertension, and the Transforming book series: Transforming Anger, Transforming Stress, Transforming Anxiety, and Transforming Depression.

Doc Childre also created the award-winning emWave® heart coherence feedback technologies.

Howard Martin, co-founder of HeartMath Institute

Howard Martin is one of the original leaders who helped Doc Childre found HeartMath. Since its founding in 1991, he has been involved with the organization as a key spokesperson and manager. In 1999 he co-wrote The HeartMath Solution with Doc Childre. This book is considered “the bible of the intelligence of the human heart.”

Howard also co-authored the book Heart Intelligence, Connecting with the Intuitive Guidance of the Heart.

Martin played a key role in launching the Global Coherence Initiative (GCI). Since its foundation in 2008, he has been a member of the steering committee and spokesperson for GCI.

During his career at HeartMath Institute and the Global Coherence Initiative, Howard Martin has been instrumental in delivering practical yet dynamic programs to tens of thousands of people worldwide.

With his enthusiastic approach, he has delivered numerous keynote presentations and training programs for Fortune 100 companies, government agencies, all four branches of the United States military, and many school systems in more than 50 cities on four continents.

As a key spokesperson for HeartMath, Howard conducts approximately 75 media interviews and webinars annually, including all major US television networks, major magazines, and numerous documentaries. He speaks internationally about developing the new intelligence needed to navigate our lives in these changing times and the importance of global cohesion.

Rollin McCraty, HeartMath Research Director

Rollin McCraty, Ph.D., is research director at the HeartMath Institute in the United States. He is also a professor at Florida Atlantic University. McCraty is a psychophysiologist with an extraordinary interest in the physiology of emotions. One of his main areas of focus is the mechanisms by which emotions influence cognitive processes, behavior, health, and the global interconnectedness between humans and the Earth’s energetic systems.

He has worked at HeartMath Institute since its foundation in 1991 by Doc Childre. Together they have worked closely together and played a pioneering role in the field of neurocardiology. In addition, McCraty was in charge of developing the HeartMath System of tools and technology, such as the Inner Balance Trainer and emWave2.

McCraty and his research team have collaborated with universities around the world over the decades, including Stanford University, Dalhousie University in Halifax, Prince Sultan Cardiac Center in Saudi Arabia, and the University of Lithuania.

His sensational research results earned him a lot of publicity worldwide and contributed significantly to the fame of HeartMath Institute. He has been interviewed for many feature articles in leading magazines, such as Natural Health, Men’s Fitness, and American Health.

McCraty has also appeared in several TV shows and documentaries, including I Am, The Truth, The Joy of Sox, The Power of the Heart, and The Living Matrix.

McCraty’s interesting research on heart rate variability, heart coherence, and their interaction with our environment has received a lot of international attention in the scientific community, and his research continues unabated. The role of the heart in health, behavior, performance, and quality of life has proven undeniably valuable today.

In addition to his position at HeartMath Institute, he is also one of the leaders of the Global Coherence Initiative and the creator of the Global Coherence Monitoring System, a worldwide network of magnetic field sensor sites. Hereby the relationships between human and geomagnetic field environments and the interconnectedness of and communication between all living systems are investigated.

The research so far has led to important insights into how these fields function and how the systems mutually synchronize and interact.

Frequently asked questions

Is HeartMath scientifically based?

Yes, all the techniques and equipment developed by HeartMath are based on a massive database of scientific research built up over the past 30 years of its existence.

When was Heartmath Institute founded?

In 1991, Doc Childre founded the nonprofit HeartMath Institute (HMI) as a research and educational organization. HMI researches emotional physiology and provides education regarding stress and emotions and their influence on the physiological processes in our bodies. HeartMath’s study has been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented at numerous scientific conferences worldwide.

What is HeartMath used for?

The techniques of HeartMath Institute are mainly used to increase heart coherence and thus give the body and mind more resilience in stressful circumstances. Police and emergency services and military personnel benefit greatly from an increased resilience to stress. The goal of HeartMath Biofeedback is to teach you how to use your mind to balance the body and emotions. This balanced state is called coherence.

How to do HeartMath breathing?

Place your hand on your heart area and focus your attention on this spot while breathing in and out gently. Usually, HeartMath recommends breathing in for about 5 to 6 seconds and breathing out for 5 to 6 seconds. Make sure your breathing is smooth, unforced and comfortable. If you have trouble breathing at a steady pace, you can use a paced breathing tool.

Why the name "HeartMath"?

Doc Childre, the founder of HeartMath Institute, believed when he founded it that the terms “Heart” and “Math” reflected two essential aspects of the work done at the Institute. 

On the one hand, the word ‘heart’ has a universal meaning: on the one hand, the physical heart, but also its intangible qualities, such as wisdom, love, compassion, courage, and strength.

The word ‘Math’ reflects the systematic unfolding of the qualities of the heart. It also refers to physiological and psychological equations to access and develop the incredible intelligence of the heart.

What is HeartMath?

HeartMath is a system of methodologies aimed at improved emotional, mental, and physical health. The entire package of easily applicable techniques and additional equipment to measure results is based on over 30 years of scientific research. 

HeartMath is recognized as a highly representative organization with an excellent track record. All over the world, police forces, emergency services, and defense personnel benefit from increased stress resistance through the HeartMath techniques. 

What is the HeartMath system?

The HeartMath system is built on three foundations:

  • Performance enhancement: by training heart coherence, the user is able to handle stressful situations in a relaxed manner, think more clearly, and work accurately. 
  • Stress reduction: heart coherence is the opposite of stress. Applying the HeartMath system reduces stress, and the user benefits from improved stress tolerance. 
  • Mental and emotional self-management: by applying the HeartMath techniques, the user learns how to self-manage the emotions and the physiological reactions to them. In this way, you are able to gain control over your feelings and behavior. 

What is the organization of HeartMath Institute like?

At the base HeartMath Institute is three companies with complementary missions: 

  • HeartMath Institute (HMI): an innovative nonprofit research and education organization. 
  • HeartMath LLC: a pioneering performance and consulting company providing unique programs, products, and technology to improve performance, productivity, and health and reduce stress
  • Quantum Intech: a licensing and development company focused on biometric and emotion regulation technology products.

Who uses HeartMath?

HeartMath Institute’s techniques and technologies are used by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, including healthcare personnel, police and other emergency services, educational institutions, defense, and government agencies. 

HeartMath provides services, equipment, and training programs to organizations. Training programs include leadership and management training and employee wellness and professional development programs. 

HeartMath Institute provides a wide range of products and programs for consumers and health professionals, including the Inner Balance and emWave® technology. Consumers can also take training courses to become a HeartMath Coach.  

Is founder Doc Childre a doctor?

No, Doc Childre is not a physician, and Doc is his actual name, given to him by his father. Although he is not a physician, he has taught many cardiologists about heart health. When founding HeartMath, his goal was to research heart intelligence and develop a simple, step-by-step system to improve it. In addition, he wanted to create scientifically validated tools that anyone could use to measure it. 

His years of research have yielded numerous important, new insights. Not only does it appear that the brain drives the heart, but vice versa. The researchers at HeartMath Institute discovered that the heart has a network of 40,000 neurons comparable to those in the brain. The heart has a brain that “thinks” autonomously and sends signals to the brain. 

Doc Childre assembled a team of world-class researchers, physicians, and health experts to research and validate the HeartMath System. 

What is the difference between personal, social, and global coherence?

Personal coherence is a psychophysiological coherence, where there is a synchronization between physical, mental, and emotional systems. Heart rhythm patterns can measure this coherence. The more coherent the heart rhythm pattern – represented by a smooth sinus pattern – the greater the degree of coherence. Heart coherence is defined in HRV (heart rate variability, which reflects the interval between heartbeats). In a state of personal coherence, stress decreases, energy levels rise, and the brain and our heart-brain work together optimally. The brain is in a state of optimal clarity, perception, and performance. 

Social coherence occurs when there is a degree of coherence between different people. This can be a couple, but also a group of people. You then notice that you are ‘together on the same frequency within a social setting.’ The communication runs smoothly, together you feel powerful, harmonious, and effective. 

Global coherence is the name for global coherence, which refers to the larger community’s mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. People live in harmony with their hearts, each other, and society. HeartMath Institute believes that global coherence is highly achievable when many people focus their heart intention on a common goal.

Where do I start if I want to get started with HeartMath?

HeartMath Institute’s work is extensive and comprehensive. The best place to start is with the e-book Science of the Heart, written by the staff of the HeartMath Research Center. This comprehensive monograph provides fundamental and detailed summaries of HeartMath Institute’s many years of innovative research. 

The books will introduce you to the terms heart rate variability, entrainment, coherence, head-heart interactions, and the scientific discoveries that form the basis for the HeartMath System’s measurement devices and techniques.

In addition, HeartMath has published quite a few books explaining heart coherence in relation to factors such as stress, anger, anxiety, and depression. HeartMath Solution and Heart Intelligence are mighty exciting books to read if you are interested in HeartMath research. 

Are HeartMath techniques a type of relaxation or meditation technique?

Although HeartMath techniques provide many benefits to the body, mind, and emotions, HMI does not consider them forms of meditation because their purpose and effects are quite different from regular relaxation and meditation techniques. Professional meditators say that HeartMath facilitates their meditation experience by improving their focus, emotional management, and self-awareness.

What is the role of breathing in stress reduction, according to HeartMath?

Controlled rhythmic breathing exercises can control heart rate and emotions and have a calming effect on the body. HeartMath research shows that the impact of stress can be remedied primarily by actively evoking positive emotions. These can be feelings of appreciation, care, or compassion. In addition to stress reduction, these positive emotions have a much more comprehensive range of potential health benefits than rhythmic breathing alone. 

By using HeartMath equipment such as the Inner Balance Trainer or the emWave, you’ll see how eliciting positive emotions helps synchronize the nervous system and bring about positive changes in heart rhythm patterns.

How do I teach my children HeartMath?

HeartMath Institute has several tools available to teach the techniques to children. On the HeartMath Tools page, you will find tools for adults, adolescents, and children. The HeartMath tools for children are designed explicitly for their accessibility and designed to teach children to connect with the heart.  

Also available are games and training programs for ages 7-11 and teens ages 12-18, which can be used at home and at school. 

The HeartMath programs for children and adolescents help them learn and master more emotional awareness and self-regulation skills. 

Can I visit HeartMath Institute?

HeartMath only receives business visitors or participants for research purposes. Unfortunately, it is impossible to accommodate all interested parties and give them a tour. Scientists, doctors, psychologists, and teachers can make an appointment for a visit. 

You can make an appointment at info@heartmath.org or by calling (831) 338-8500. In Boulder Creek, California, Headquarters is an hour’s drive from San Jose International Airport.

Which authors refer to HeartMath's research in their books?

Authors who cite HeartMath research in their books include Dr. Deepak Chopra, Dr. Barry Sears, Patricia Aburdene, and Stephen R. Covey. In addition, scientists such as Dr. Joe Dispenza, Gregg Braden, Bruce Lipton, and Nassim Haramein are well-known names who regularly reference the Institute. 

Can I learn HeartMath techniques without taking a course?

Yes, you can master the easily applicable and easy-to-learn HeartMath techniques in no time. On Youtube, you can find numerous videos with a guided meditation that take you step by step through learning to experience heart coherence. You can also check out the HeartMath Tools for Well-Being in the Free Resources.

If you want to speed up the learning process, the advice is to purchase an Inner Balance Trainer or emWave device, allowing you to track your progress. 

Is there a HeartMath catalog of products available?

You can request a printed catalog of all HeartMath products and services at info@heartmath.org. This catalog contains specific products and educational literature related to HeartMath’s research.

Is HeartMath a pseudoscience?

No, the research of HeartMath Institute is based on scientific research. The scientists connected to the Institute train cardiologists, psychologists, and psychiatrists worldwide and substantiated their presentations with impeccable sources.

Does HeartMath improve HRV?

Yes, the HeartMath techniques improved heart rate variability (HRV) and were extensively researched before they saw the light of day. They have amply proven their effectiveness over the years. An improved HRV improves resilience to stress, reduces wear and tear on the nervous system, and facilitates the body’s regenerative processes. Regular practice of HeartMath techniques helps build up coherence and restore a low HRV to healthy values.


Who started HeartMath?

Doc Childre is the founder of the Institute of HeartMath® in Boulder Creek, California, and has provided scientific proof of the “intelligent heart” theory.

Where is HeartMath Institute located?

HeartMath Institute’s headquarter in Boulder Creek, California, an hour’s drive from the San Jose International Airport.

Can children use HeartMath?

Yes, HeartMath has free and paid tools for children ages 2 to 6 to help children playfully connect with their hearts. 

With parental guidance, the Shift and Shine™ Technique can help children develop positive emotions learn about and enrich the valuable characteristics of the heart. 

Does HeartMath have an app?

Yes, the app connects to the Inner Balance Trainer via Bluetooth and is available for iOS and Android smartphones and tablets. Lightning is the wired version for iOS devices with a Lightning connector, and USB-C is a solution for Android devices with a USB-C connector. 


What is HeartMath Power Spectrum?

The Power Spectrum graph is a feature that can be viewed while running a session in the HeartMath App and is available for the emWave Pro, emWave Pro Plus, and the Inner Balance App. This feature is not available in emWave2 software.

When you press the Stop icon and end a session, the format of the graph changes to Spectrum Average, this view of Spectrum Average is also displayed when you view a session from the Progress view.

In Inner Balance, the Spectrum graph is always displayed in one of the Session views unless you have disabled it in the view settings. In Inner Balance, the chart does not change to Spectrum Average at the end of a session.

The Power Spectrum graph represents heart rhythm data in terms of frequency. The graph is intended to provide insight into the physiological responses that result from events during the session. The amplitude on the vertical axis categorizes frequencies or cycles of repeating rhythms in the heart rate pattern. An excellent example of a repeating rhythm is our breathing. If we breathe in slowly for 5 seconds and breathe out slowly for 5 seconds, this completes an entire 10-second breathing cycle.

What is a good HRV score for HeartMath?

  • 0.5 Basic – good beginners level
  • 1.0 Good
  • 2.0 Very good
  • 3.0+ Excellent

Heart Coherence: Coherence refers to internal harmony. Increased coherence provides better inner balance, better health, and increased creativity, resilience, and productivity.

Coherence score: The heart coherence is measured by heart rhythm pattern. A coherent heart rhythm is a stable, regularly repeating rhythm that resembles a sine wave with a single frequency between 0.04-0.24 Hz (3-15 cycles per minute). The scoring algorithm continuously checks the most recent heart rhythm data.

The more stable and regular the heart rhythm frequency is, the higher the coherence score. Scores range from 0-16. With practice and everyday use, you will notice your average coherence score. The score can fluctuate when you are more or less focused and subject to stress. 

What are the benefits of HeartMath?

HeartMath® is a scientifically based technique that helps to master feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, and restlessness. The direct benefits of the HeartMath exercises are: 

  • Focus and a clear mind
  • Calmness and rest
  • Resilience in the face of stress
  • Increased self-confidence. 
  • Better quality of sleep
  • More energy
  • Good physical health
  • Greater happiness in life

What are the HeartMath techniques?

The three most powerful HeartMath techniques are Freeze-Frame®, Cut-Thru®, and Heart Lock-In®. In the book The HeartMath Solution by HeartMath Institute founder Doc Childre and Howard Martin, the exercises are discussed in detail and backed up with scientific data. 

Freeze-Frame – is a simple exercise that allows you to make a significant shift in perception within one minute. 

Leave your thoughts alone for a moment and focus on the area around your heart. Keep your attention there for at least ten seconds and keep breathing normally. Think of a good time you once experienced or another positive feeling about a person or pet. Recall this feeling and associate yourself with it, so you experience the feeling again. Remember not to try to visualize it, but try to feel it fully.

  • Ask yourself a question from your heart: “What can I do in the current situation to make it different?” or “What can I do to avoid stress at this moment?”
  • Listen for your heart’s response.
  • You may not hear anything, but you may feel calmer yourself. Maybe you’re getting confirmation of something you already know, or perhaps you’re experiencing a complete shift in perspective, giving you a better overview of the current situation. Maybe you have no control over the situation. In that case, you can let go of that frustration and focus on your perception of the problem. 

Cut-Thru – is a technique designed to help us better manage emotions. It allows us to “cut through” complex, long-lasting emotions, moving dynamically from one place to another.

Be aware of how you feel about a situation or issue. Focus on the heart area and center yourself by breathing in for a while through the heart or chest area. Breathe love and appreciation through this area for 30 seconds or longer to help you anchor your attention there.

Next, stand objectively before the feeling or issue, as if it were someone else’s problem. Rest in this state of objectivity/neutrality in your rational, mature heart.

Soak and relax all disturbed feelings into the compassion of your heart. Resolve the meaning of the problem bit by bit and visualize how you are doing this for a more powerful effect. Realize that it is not your problem that is draining energy, but your perception that is making the problem bigger.

Heart Lock-In – Instead of fixing a negative feeling, the Heart Lock-In exercise is about experiencing your heart on a deeper level.

  • Take your attention away from your mind and focus on your heart.
  • Recall a feeling of love, gratitude, or appreciation. Focus on this feeling and try to hold this feeling for five to fifteen minutes. 
  • Send that feeling of love or appreciation gently to yourself and others.
  • The Heart Lock-In exercise can provide physical, mental, and spiritual regeneration within fifteen minutes.

Is HeartMath a form of biofeedback?

The HeartMath method of measuring heart rhythm variability is a form of biofeedback. Heart rhythm variability is the yardstick for measuring the degree of heart coherence. The higher the heart rhythm variability, the greater the degree of heart coherence. 

What is HeartMath coaching?

HeartMath coaching is a method in which a therapist teaches you to train a higher degree of heart coherence. Through a scientifically validated system of simple and powerful self-regulating techniques, you learn to transform fear, anger, and frustration, strengthening your resilience and improving your well-being.


What is a HeartMath device?

HeartMath Institute’s devices include the Inner Balance Trainer, emWave2, and emWave Pro. All devices measure Heart Rate Variability (HRV), which shows how emotional states affect our nervous system. HeartMath has been a pioneer in HRV research and self-regulation training for over 30 years.

How does HeartMath measure heart coherence?

Heart coherence is measured through an HRV analysis. Based on this analysis, the intervals between heartbeats are measured. As someone experiences more positive emotions, such as feelings of appreciation, gratitude, and love, the heart rhythm pattern becomes ordered, and you can observe a sinusoidal wave on the measuring equipment. The heart rhythm pattern of someone who is angry and frustrated is irregular and full of sharp highs and lows. 

How do you do HeartMath breathing?

Place your hand on your heart area and focus on this spot while breathing in and out gently. Usually, HeartMath recommends breathing in for about 5 to 6 seconds and breathing out for 5 to 6 seconds. Make sure your breathing is smooth, unforced, and comfortable. If you have trouble breathing at a steady pace, you can use a breath pacer

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