How HeartMath Training Helps You Live Longer

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There are two kinds of stress- good stress and bad stress.

Good stress is called eustress, and is fairly subjective in that it is defined by how you respond to a stressor– do you feel excited or hopeful thinking about it? Positively challenged?  In amounts that you can handle, stress may even have a protective or strengthening effect.

Then, there is bad stress, or distress.  This post will talk about one of my favorite tools to hack bad stress.  Distress usually comes from a feeling of overload, having too much to do, or a sense of lack of control.  Stress can be a horrible thing, or it can be an opportunity to achieve more mastery in your life.

In Step 3 of the Bulletproof Personal Upgrades Series, you learned about the importance of hacking your stress levels for optimal performance.  You also learned how too much stress makes you weak, fat, and infertile.  Stress causes many problems, but one of the most powerful is decreased lifespan.  Not only does stress decrease the quality of your life – it also decreases the quantity.  Most people think of HeartMath as something that just improves your performance on a daily basis, but in fact, the longevity and anti-aging benefits are just as important.


How Stress Shortens Your Life

Stress is a killer.  It is so hard on your body, it actually decreases the speed of wound healing.  It also makes you more susceptible to diseases like cancer.  Perhaps worst of all, it shortens your life.  People with the highest stress levels live far shorter lives than those who are more relaxed.

In one study, people with the highest stress levels lived a decade – yes, ten whole years – shorter than those with the lowest stress levels.  Even when confounding variables were accounted for, people with the happiest and most relaxed mindsets lived longer than their more negative and stressed counterparts.  People who are less satisfied with their lives are more likely to suffer from mental and physical disabilities.  Even up to 20 years after a major depressive episode, these people still have a higher risk of early death.  On the other hand, happy people have the opposite effect.  They tend to live longer, fuller, and healthier lives.

So the obvious solution is to handle stress better and be a happier person, for some, that’s easier said than done.  There are several ways to hack your happiness and hack your stress levels.  The one that tells you how well your doing, is biofeedback.  My preferred daily tool is the EmWave2.


How HeartMath Kills Stress (Before Stress Kills You)

Extensive meditation is associated with increase telomere length, better mental health, better immune function, and longer life.  Clinical trials have also shown that meditation can decrease distracting, stressful, or annoying thoughts.  The research into the effects of stress management on longevity is ongoing, but most of it suggests that mastering stress is great way to extend your life.

Meditation is one way to reduce your stress levels, but most people I work with don’t have time for long sessions of focused breathing every day.  You could hook your brain up to a multimillion dollar EEG machine for a week like I did to supercharge your progress, but most people are probably not willing to go that far.  Luckily, there is a convenient, effective, safe, and even fun way to hack your stress levels to the bare minimum: HeartMath.

HeartMath is a stress management system that helps you synchronize your brain and heart for optimal stress resistance and mental performance.  It trains you to optimize your heartbeat to levels that are normally only possible with specific meditation or yoga.  I became a certified HeartMath instructor in 2010 for a reason: this kind of training is one of my most important hacks of all time.

I used to get worked up just planning a day trip into the city.  Now I can travel around the world for my day job, manage a blog ranked in the top 100,000 global websites, act as president of the Silicon Valley Health Institute, write a book on how to make better babies, and do about ten other projects at once – without missing a beat.  Not only that, I can do all of this without compromising my long-term health or short-term performance.  By using HeartMath to hack my mind and body – I’ve achieved the Bulletproof State of high performance – and so can you.


How to Use HeartMath To Live Longer

The beauty of HeartMath is its simplicity.  You can do many of the HeartMath techniques without any tools or training, but for measurable results, try an emWave.  The emWave is a small device about the size of an iPod that displays your heart’s level of coherence.   Once you connect the sensor to your ear, you focus your mind on making the small light on the emWave turn from red, to blue, to green.  Once it turns green, you’re in a state of high coherence – the Bulletproof state of high performance.

HeartMath is easy to learn and starts working for most people immediately.  You may need a few days to get the hang of it, but once you do, you’ll be on your way to better thinking and a longer life in no time, like this commenter.

What kinds of things do you find stressful? What are some of the things you do to help manage stress?




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By Dave Asprey

  • Morgan Huff

    Hearing you tout the benefits of the emWave I picked mine up about two months ago. This is the first tracking I’ve done using a device and the experience is, well, amazing. (Thanks, Dave!)

    This gizmo is compelling and kind of addictive — I’ve found I want to monitor myself throughout the day, walking, at the computer, post workout, playing music … the feedback is immediate, insightful and (still for me) somewhat mysterious.

    For instance, it seems much harder to maintain coherence (green light) while walking versus standing/sitting. And frequently I will bounce from a solid green to red with no apparent change in sensation (Am I still learning to notice subtleties?).

    Payoff is already big. Using daily, it has attuned me to how much stress I have been holding in my body (stomach, shoulders) and how shallow my breathing patterns can be. And, actually, how chaotic my mental can become. It’s like Yoda in a little box dispatching sage advice with a tiny colored light.

    I just finished reading the book, Heartmath Solution, and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the strategies they’ve discovered for dialing-in coherence or practicing with the emWave.

    Quick question: are you familiar with Stephen Porges and his work on HRV in children? (His work is mentioned in the book ‘WAIT: The Art and Science of Delay’ but not an extensive account.) As a dad and Heatmath instructor, what do you suggest for helping kids learn some of the techniques?

  • I have an Emwave2, but have only used it a few times. I need to take time to do it every day. I know my stress levels are higher than they should be. The few times that I used it, I was able to turn on the green light on level 1 and 2, but I found levels higher than that more difficult. I wasn’t sure if I was getting the benefits at levels 1 or 2. Maybe I’ll get the book to help me learn more about using it.

  • NewArete

    The EmWave2 has been great to me.

    The feedback has sort of acted like a super-charger for my meditation practice.

    Highly recommended

  • NewArete

    I’ve really been wondering about what we’re actually doing when we train HRV and coherence.

    I’ve speculated that the high HRV/coherent states have a relationship to tibetan compassion/loving-kindness meditation.

    If there is a parallel, the EmWave is almost certainly causing regulation of the emotion circuits (e.g. amigdala) in the brain:

    Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise

  • Guest

    Check out “Myth of Stress”

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  • josh

    Would you recommend the handheld device or the desktop version?

    • Marek Jacenko

      check Stone device at biofeedback. com

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  • Brad

    I first learned of HeartMath 7 years ago at The Crossroads Institute where I was treated for heavy metal poisoning after a vaccine fried my brain and I began to BioHack. The desktop version is great, but the handheld is very convenient. I would also recommend their books to help understand why it is doing what it is doing.

  • Stageman

    I just got one of these. For optimal results, how long should my sessions be, and how often should i be using it?

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  • Trey Tanella

    Question about the different devices to hack stress:
    Does the emWave use your HRV to determine your heart’s level of coherence? or in other words, Stress?
    And if so, then what is the difference between emWave and HeartMath Inner Balance?
    And what is the difference between HeartMath Inner Balance and my HRV Sense app that I use to track my HRV with my chest strap?
    Thank you for clarifying between these different devices.

    Your work is inspiring.

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