The Origins of Heart Rhythm Meditation

Modern Updates
Reverse RSA

At IAM, Heart Rhythm Meditation (HRM) has been updated to incorporate what we have learned from scientific measurements of the heart, lung capacity, carbon-dioxide levels, and temperature of extremities. Specifically, we have studied Heart Rate Variability and end-tidal CO2 levels during HRM. These scientific studies have confimed and strengthened several key aspects of the method of HRM, especially the necessity for a full breath, coordinated with the heartbeat.

We have tuned the method of HRM to produce the maximum increase in Heart Rate Variability (HRV). Recently it has been discovered that the single best predictor of heart disease is low HRV; this is a more accurate predictor than high cholesterol or high blood pressure. Heart Rhythm Meditation is the only method discovered so far for increasing HRV. There are other methods that produce coherent Heart Rate Variability waves, but HRM also increases the amplitude of those waves. Also, 100% coherence is a reliable and steady result of HRM because we use the actual heartbeat as the entrainment rhythm.

It is vitally important to ensure that a breathing practice does not reduce CO2 levels, a condition known as hypocapnia, resulting from breathing too quickly. A certain level of CO2 is necessary to keep the pH of the blood from becoming alkaline, otherwise the oxygen content of the blood cannot be transferred to the tissues and the brain will suffer oxygen deprivation. Many breathing techniques either deliberately or inadvertently induce hypocapnia and are therefor not suitable for long-term use. The technique of Heart Rhythm Meditation ensures healthy blood chemistry.

Recently we discovered that the well-known mechanism called RSA (Respiratory Sinus Arrhythmia), responsible for speeding the heartrate during inhalation, is inoperative during HRM, replaced by another mechanism that has the opposite effect, as shown in the diagram above. This will be the subject of future studies. The reverse-RSA effect we see in Heart Rhythm Meditators is a much stronger linkage between breath and heartbeat than is the RSA mechanism, which has only a weak effect. This may account for why it is that HRM produces such beneficially large increases in HRV.