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Old 03-12-2007, 02:46 AM   #49
Join Date: Mar 2007
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Default Heart-Brain Entrainment

Heart-Brain Entrainment

When the brain entrains to the heart, connectivity increases between brain and body. Conversely, the location of consciousness in the brain leads to an increased disconnection between brain and body. When one shifts into heart-oriented cognition, mental dialogue is reduced.

Sympathetic and parasympathetic nerve pathways and the baroreceptor system directly link the heart and brain, allowing communications and information to flow freely. Messages flowing from the heart to the brain during this shift to coherence significantly alter the brain's functioning, especially in the cortex, which profoundly affects perception and learning.

Thus a new mode of cognition is activated: the holistic/intuitive/depth mode. Heart researcher McCraty comments, "[heart entrainment] leads to increased self-management of one's mental and emotional states that automatically manifests as more highly ordered physiological states that affect the functioning of the whole body, including the brain. The practitioners of these heart focus techniques report an increased intuitive awareness and more efficient decision-making capability that is beyond their normal capacity from the mind and brain alone."

Shifting the focus of consciousness to the heart--and away from the forebrain--results in entrainment of large populations of cells in the forebrain to cardiac functioning (rather than vice versa). These populations of forebrain cells begin oscillating to the rhythms produced by the heart, and the perception of those populations of cells, the kinds of information they begin to process during entrainment, is very different from what they process when entrainment is not occurring.

The human brain operates in a state that is far from equilibrium; it, like the heart, is a complex, nonlinear oscillator. Every day, there is an incessant stream of incoming data--material to "think" about. These incoming signals cause the system to constantly shift from one state to another in response to the incoming signals. The system constantly wobbles in and out of dynamic equilibrium, reestablishing a new homeodynamic every time it is perturbed. The neurons in the brain are nonlinear, oscillators themselves, and can be influenced by extremely weak perturbations. They are very sensitive to such perturbations, for they, like all nonlinear oscillators, use stochastic resonance to boost signal strength. A shift in the heart's electromagnetic field is a perturbation that the brain has been evolutionarily intended to respond to. And when the heart goes coherent, the brain immediately begins to respond.

Coordinated interactions across extracellular space lead to long-range, coordinated dynamics of heart and brain function during heart/brain entrainment. When brain neurons entrain to the heart's ECG activity, the timing of neuronal firings alters, and research shows that the timing of neuronal firing conveys several times more information than the firing count. Analysis of electroencephalogram readings shows that the heart's signals are strongest in the occipital (posterior) regions of the brain and the right anterior (front) sections of the brain. The brain's alpha rhythms also synchronize to the heart, and their amplitude lowers when they do so. The brain's alpha rhythyms are the fastest of the brain's electromagnetic waves. Their amplitude is lower when brain arousal is lower or when a person concentrates on external sensory phenomena rather than on abstract analytical or symbolic thoughts.

After heart/brain entrainment, when a combination of both heart and brain waves are taken by electrocardiogram, what is seen is that the brain waves ride on top of the heart waves. Not only are they oscillating together; the brain's wave patterns are, in fact, embedded within the larger field of the heart.

Hippocampal activity increases considerably when cognition is shifted to the heart, heart coherence occurs, and the brain entrains to the heart. Focusing on external sensory cues activates hippocampal functions, since all the sensory systems of our bodies converge in the hippocampus. The increased demand on hippocampal function stimulates stem cells to congregate in the hippocampus and form neurons and neuronal complexes. The reduced cortisol production that occurs during heart coherence directly enhances hippocampal activity as well. The hippocampus, in other words, comes strongly online. It begins sifting the electromagnetic fields the heart is detecting for embedded patterns of information, eliciting meaning from background information. The hippocampus then sends information about those meanings to the neocortex, where it is encoded as memories. The more that sensory focus is on external environments, the more activated the hippocampus and its analysis of meaning becomes.

Shifting attention to any particular organ--in this case, the heart--increases registration of the feedback from that organ in the brain. This increase is measurable in electroencephalogram patterns. The shift to heart awareness initiates an alteration in body functioning via physiological mechanisms that operate through neural registration of organ feedback on the brain.

This kind of synchronization does not occur spontaneously, unless people habituate heart-focused perception. Since we have been habituated to the analytical mode of cognition through our schooling, taught to locate our consciousness in the brain and not the heart, this type of entrainment must be consciously practiced. (For most of us, heart-focused perception is not a natural mode of processing information, though it was for ancient peoples and sometimes still is for indigenous cultures.) Even though the brain entrains with the heart through heart-focused techniques, the brain tends to wander in and out of entrainment. Because of the brain's long use as the dominant mode of cognition, this entrainment is not permanent. Practice in entrainment helps the brain and any other system to main synchronization for longer and longer periods of time.

The goal of life is the discovery of the intelligence of the heart. No matter where one journeys away from ones Heart-eye, all roads lead back to it...usually found again on ones death bed. "The intelligence of the heart is the intelligence of the Universe to hold itself in unison." ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce

The dream of our waking life and the awakeness of our dream life are revealed.
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